Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?

Started Sep 15, 2013 | Discussions thread
kiirokurisu
Regular MemberPosts: 385
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to Stilograph, Sep 15, 2013

Allow me to present a totally opposite opinion to the previous posters: I bought a new (i.e. not used) 50mm 1.2 two weeks ago and in that short time I have absolutely fallen in love with it. The lens has a unique rendering and wonderful contrast that is not present in any of the newer 50mm Nikon lenses. Stopped down to f8 for landscapes it is the sharpest 50mm lens I've ever used, and sharper for example than my 70-200 f/4 at 70mm (which I consider a superb lens).

In my experience the lens is definitely not soft at f/1.2. The DOF is of course razor thin, but where the focus hits it is perfectly sharp (but perhaps slightly lower in contrast). Away from the focal plane, wide open you will see a bit of coma which can give everything a bit of a soft veil, but this depends highly on the subject matter you're photographing. It is actually extremely flattering to people's skin.

So yes, it is a challenge to use wide open, but that should really not be unexpected. If you employ a bit of patience then you can get superb results. It particularly excels in low light (as you might imagine) - I've gotten very good results in a dim restaurant at 1/50th f/1.2 ISO6400. The massive aperture allows shutter speeds that still freeze your subject reasonably well. Generally you will get better results if you are at least 4 feet from your subject, as this gives sufficient DOF for a successful portrait (e.g. upper body in portrait orientation, or head and shoulders in landscape). Closer than this you will find that a person's iris will be in focus but their eyebrow won't be! There is also a bit of field curvature wide open (but much less than e.g. the Sigma 35mm 1.4)

The only other thing I've noticed is that the substantial vignetting wide open seems to somehow throw off matrix metering, often yielding shots underexposed by nearly a full stop. I found that spot or centre weighted worked far better when not stopping the lens down.

My experience using this lens is on a D600, so full frame. I think it would be a much more difficult lens to work with on a crop sensor body. But if you're shooting full frame, I would say just get it. I dithered for months about buying this lens, and now that I've gone ahead I have absolutely no regrets. Superb lens.

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