Why are there no good AF 50mm lenses available for Nikon?

Started Dec 17, 2012 | Discussions thread
ROOOO
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Re: My first test
In reply to Peter Jonas, Dec 31, 2012

This can be achieved by lots of practice. What will also be very important though is your attitude. Wether you genuinely want to scceed, or just looking for excuses to dismiss a system. Judging by the large number of successful professionals using Nikon equipment I'd say that should be possible.

I agree. My attitude towards Nikon is definitely tentative at this point. I'm willing to give it a try, but no, I'm not committed to absolutely making it work for me at this point. I would try Canon again before I were to make that sort of decision.

I have been dabbling with an M8 for the past couple years, but the 40mm f/2 I have isn't sharp at f/2 and the 35mm f/1.4 I have is great at f/1.4 but tough to focus correctly at f/2.8 and f/4. I assume that I'm making things easier and giving myself a larger DOF by going to f/4 but then focus shift throws my images out of focus. Perhaps, the lesson here is that super fast lenses rarely work correctly off the shelf and I should just have them calibrated.

I refer you back to your original post in which you were concerned about there not being great 50mm AF lenses available for a Nikon system. However, the only attribute you mentioned there is being sharp wide open.

Your above post is not very closely related to your original concerns. I.e.: you talk about different matters here. These are also relevant issues, but have very little to do with your original concerns, to which all my previous replies were related. I feel you are shifting the goal posts ...

The goal is to have a fast 50mm lens that performs well on a full-frame body at the most common apertures I use from 1.4 to 5.6 and delivers a rendering that I really like enough to spend $2-$4k getting myself into this system. The only other focal length I can see myself using is 85mm--not because I like the perspective, but because I like the way the 85/1.4 renders images. I have no iteration of acquiring any other lenses.

See my answers to your questions below:

For our benefit could you please clarify:

  1. What it is that you think makes a great 50 mm lens
I suppose it's the following: 
  • -Large aperture
  • -Consistently sharp and contrasty from wide open to stopped down across the frame
  • -Minimal focus shift--i.e. not noticeable in normal shooting--when stopped down to f/2.8, f/4, etc. 
  • -Can be focused easily and very precisely--obviously, the body plays a role in this too. One of the reasons I'm interested in a digital body is that I'm looking for something that will focus quickly and, ideally, also track a moving subject. I believe this is called servo mode on Canon. Others call it continuous autofocus. My requirement here includes that it can be focused without too much trouble in low light situations. The sort that might call for 1/50s shutter speed at ISO 6400. This can be manual focus or autofocus. 
  • -Minimal flaring--can handle back (sun) lit scenes well. This is something that my 50mm Summicron does not do well. It flares very easily.  
  • -Good contrast, color rendition and modern rendering
  • -Minimal fringing in high contrast areas--also, a function of the body, obviously 
  • -Bokeh that is pleasing, smooth, and not distracting
  • -Some sort of special look--I can't explain it, but I know it when I see it. Perhaps, the most special I regularly encounter online are those of Canon's 85mm f/1.2 and Konica's 60mm f/1.2 Hexanon-M. 

  1. What it was that you thought would be lacking in a Nikon lens
My concerns were, primarily, sharpness wide open vs. stopped down, contrast, busy bokeh, and focusing ability. Flare wasn't a concern, but I also had no idea what to expect. 
  1. What your findings are now that you have bought and tested the Nikon 50mm/f1.4G

Contrast is not as high and color rendition not quite as good as I had hoped. Sharpness is not as bad as I had feared but not as good as would be ideal. Bokeh is not as bad as I had feared–not the greatest ever, but OK for me. Focusing is often slow, especially indoors. It's not a deal breaker, but it sounds like I would be better off with the 1.8g for its focussing speed.

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