Review Nikon AF-S 50 mm 1.8G

Nikon 50 mm

Nikon AF-S 50mm 1.8G & Nikon D3200 / D5100 (N APS-C)

A few months ago we tested the Nikon 50 mm 1.8G with a Nikon D5100 camera and with a Nikon D700 camera. In this review we will take a look at its performance with the 24 megapixel Nikon D3200 . The Nikon AF-S 50mm 1.8G has entered the market in 2011 in order to substitute the Nikon 50 mm 1.8D. The greatest progress is the autofocus; it is now in the lens. The previous model was devoid of a built-in AF drive, making that lens not suitable for all Nikon cameras. The Nikon 50 mm has many competitors; think of the 50 mm 1.4 lenses of Nikon and Sigma and the standard kit lens of Nikon. Concerning dimensions, recommended retail price and weight, there are no big differences between the Nikon kit lens and the Nikon 50 mm 1.8G. The Nikon 50 mm lens distinguishes itself with a much larger maximum aperture, while the kit lens disinguishes itself with the integrated image stabilization. When image stabilization would have been added to the Nikon 50 mm, it would have become a universal lens.

Nikon 50 mm


Construction and autofocus

The Nikon is lightweight, but feels less plasticy than the Nikon kit lens. The focus ring turns very smoothly and when there is a filter on the lens, it does not rotate. Very handy when using a polarizing filter. The Nikon is supplied including a lens hood, which is firmly attached.

The new Nikon 50 mm 1.8 is an AF-S type, which means an internal AF drive. This drive is very smooth; focusing with a Nikon D5100 takes 0.2 seconds with a focus stroke of 15 meters to 1.5 meters. I expected less noise from the AF. In low light, this camera has a hard time focusing, both with the middle AF sensor as with the other AF sensors. The AF light helps insufficiently in such a situation.


The vignetting of this Nikon standard lens is almost 0.5 stops, which means you may encounter a bit of visible vignetting with the aperture wide open. If youstop down to f/4.0, the vignetting is so low that it will be invisible.


Distortion Nikon 50 mm

The distortion is low, not even half a percent. But, truth be told, I expected an even lower distortion. It is not that hard to make a 50 mm 1.8 and due to the small APS-C sensor, only a limited part of the image circle is used. Thanks to the in-camera correction by the Nikon D3200 , distortion in jpg files is lower than in RAW files or in Nikon D5100 jpg files.



A big difference between a kit lens and a 50 mm 1.8G is the widest aperture. The EXIF data indicate that this Nikon is not an f/1.8 but an f/1.7 lens. The Nikon kit lens has a maximum aperture of f/5.6 at 50 mm. This saves up to 2 1/2 stops with the 50 mm 1.8! You can nicely play with the depth of field. What we also see is that blurry parts are displayed nicely woolly. All in all, the image transfer is much better than that of the Nikon 18-55 mm kit lens.Bokeh 1 Nikon 50 mm 1Bokeh 2 Nikon 50 mm 1

Bokeh 3 Nikon 50 mm 1




With strong back light, we see both ghosting and flare. However, on this point too, the 50 mm performs much better than the Nikon kit lens.

Flare Nikon 50 mm 1

Resolution Nikon 50 mm 1.8G

Looking at the resolution, the Nikon 50 mm performs a little better with a Nikon D3200 than with a Nikon D5100, which is not unexpected given the extra megapixels in the Nikon D3200 . But in this review, the difference between center reoltion and corner resolution was larger than in our Nikon 50 mm + Nikon D5100 review.
The center is already sharp at f/2.8 and much better than the kit lens at f/5.6 or f/8.0. The corner sharpness lags somewhat behind, but already at f/5.5 the top is reached. This is higher than the top of the Nikon kit lens. All in all, you win about 2 stops over the kit lens, which is much. The graph shows the resolution based on JPEG files.Resolutionnikon50g-d3200VolopencentrumNikon-50mm-sample-image
Click on the image for a comparison of the corner sharpness at f/1.8 anf f/8

Chromatic aberration Nikon 50 mm lens

The chromatic aberration of this Nikon standard lens is low, even without in-camera correction (move your mouse over the image for the results with the Nikon D5100). This is measured at the corners and it is favorable that the difference between the minimum and maximum values is low.


Conclusion Nikon AF-S 50mm 1.8G review


  • Low vignetting
  • Low distortion
  • High center resolution
  • Nice bokeh
  • Fast autofocus


  • Vignetting of RAW files @ f/1.8 a little too high
  • Center sharpness is higher than coner sharpness
  • AF hunts in low light

Because of in-camera correction of jpg files for distortion and chromatic aberration, this lens has a higher score in combination withe Nikon D3200 in comparison with the Nikon D5100. Als the resolution of this lens is a little higher with the Nikon D3200 than wth the Nikon D5100, even though this review show a larger dufference between center resolution and corner resolution.  The Nikon 50 mm 1.8G has almost the same size, weight and recommended retail price as the Nikon 18-55 3.5-5.6 mm standard kit lens. This 50 mm 1.8G performs much better than the kit lens in terms of distortion, vignetting and resolution. You can also play with the depth of field due to the high speed of this lens. The display of blurry parts is nice and the lens is fairly insensitive to back light. Yet, there is not only praise for this fairly inexpensive little lens. A small drawback is vignetting of the Nikon 50 mm 1.8G at full aperture and AF hunting in low light, this should be just a bit smaller.




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