After yesterday's post I began looking for a used, manual focus lens that I could purchase to use on my Nikon F2 which would be inexpensive, fast and a solid performer. It is easy to blog that it is possible to get an inexpensive fast lens, and another thing to actually buy one.
So let me introduce to you my new (to me) Nikkor 50mm f/1.4. I found this at a nearby brick and mortar camera store and was able to purchase it for GBP 140. They also had a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 for a mere GBP 49 which is a steel but I wanted that extra stop of light and I REALLY paid for it. To put this in perspective a new Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S is GBP 350. So here we have a lens for less than half of a new autofocus lens.
I purchased an AI-S type lens specifically for it to work on my Nikon F2. The new AF-S does not work on the Nikon F2. So the key was to find a lens that would work on my film camera but that I could also use on my digital.
This lens is SMOOTH to focus and very easy to use. In is small and light but is built solidly (unlike the 50mm f/1.4G which seems a bit plastic to my feel) and will work on any Nikon. The reviews will tell you that it is a bit soft wide open but a stop or two down and it is tack sharp. There is also a slight issue with chromatic aberration which shooting in color. All of this is indeed true.
The chromatic aberration (a color shift at points of high contrast) is easily manageable with post processing software (with Lightroom it is one click to fix) and in film this is not really an issue. While I had not seen this to be a big issue it is visible when shooting wide open.
The lens is a stellar performer. It is fast, sharp and well built. I love the bokeh, which is creamy and consistent as can be seen in the tea tray image below or in the portrait of my son. I can throw it on my Nikon F2 and it is perfect well balanced. The focus is smooth and the aperture clicks are clear and sure. When I put it on my Nikon D800 the lens is small and light but fits well.
Below are some test images I took with this lens. The image of a bridge has been cropped. The tower image has seen post processing but the coffee cup and the tea tray have not seen any processing. The image of my son was shot at 400 ISO. All images shot on the Nikon D800 using the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AI-S and all are shot at f/1.4.