Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?

Started Jul 7, 2011 | Discussions
Jamesch
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Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
Jul 7, 2011

So I've been thinking I should buy one of the old, but supposedly very good Nikon E series 50mm/1.8 lenses. It goes on ebay for around $50 + shipping.

Then I just found out that a new Nikkor 50mm/1.8D is not expensive either at around $150 altogether.

Are these two a lot different? Ken rockwell says the new Nikkor is one of the sharpest lenses ever, actually my friend has one and I am going to try a few shots with it, but I donĀ§t know how the E series would compare.

Do you think if I buy the Nikkor I would be able to sell it better later when maybe a native NEX lens comes out?

Any other aspects to consider?

Alupang
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Re: Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
In reply to Jamesch, Jul 7, 2011

My answer is neither. I'd hunt ebay for a Canon FDn 50mm f1.4 or Minolta for under $80.

Nikkors just seem to be more expensive, probably because they still can be used on Nikon's AF DSLRs today. So I stay away from Nikon. Take for an example the Nikkor 28mm f2.8. Good luck finding one on ebay mint for under $300. The Canon FDn 28mm f2.8 are dirt cheap though--under $50 easy.

Is the Nikkor 28 better than the Canon 28? 6X better?

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Jamesch
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Re: Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
In reply to Alupang, Jul 7, 2011

Alupang wrote:

My answer is neither. I'd hunt ebay for a Canon FDn 50mm f1.4 or Minolta for under $80.

Nikkors just seem to be more expensive, probably because they still can be used on Nikon's AF DSLRs today. So I stay away from Nikon. Take for an example the Nikkor 28mm f2.8. Good luck finding one on ebay mint for under $300. The Canon FDn 28mm f2.8 are dirt cheap though--under $50 easy.

Is the Nikkor 28 better than the Canon 28? 6X better?

I already have a Nikon adapter for my NEX, and I don't want another one for Canon. In the long run I am hoping for more native lenses, but meanwhile I enjoy manual photography. So I don't want to invest in a new system again.

The E series Nikon for $50 is pretty cheap too so why would you not buy that?

Also $150 for a brand new Nikkor with international guarantee is not a lot really. I think people would buy that off me in case I want to sell it in the future.

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RussellInCincinnati
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doubt the 50/1.8D is 3 times better than Series E
In reply to Jamesch, Jul 7, 2011

There are 2 different versions of the Nikon Series E 50mm F1.8. One version is about the same weight as the newer Nikon 50mm F1.8D, the other Series E version is about 20 grams lighter.

http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/emfgfg20/eserieslenses/htmls/283550mm.htm#50mm

The coatings on the Series E lens are not going to be as good as on the 1.8D. Maybe the 1.8D has a tiny bit more central sharpness. Maybe the Series E has some less lateral color, that shows up away from the center of the frame. It is hard to imagine the optical performance of the 2 different lenses being significantly different, as long as nothing's happened to significantly damage the E lens in the last 30 years or so.

Doubtful that the newer $150 1.8D lens is going to be 3 times "better" in some ways, assuming you get a good condition $50 Series E. Not much chance of losing a lot of money on the series E lens, used Series E lenses start at around $40 on eBay. The 1.8D lens starts at around $75 on eBay.

If there's a decent chance that you're not going to keep the lens for years and years, then the total cost of ownership of the Series E lens has to be "a lot" less than the 1.8D, and am not sure if you'd ever notice a difference between the 2 lens' performance. I would go for the used lens in this case, because of the financial risk being near zero. Much lower than the risk you'll have of never making much use of that manual, prime mild telephoto lens before you decide you'd prefer something more automatic.

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Alupang
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Re: Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
In reply to Jamesch, Jul 7, 2011

Jamesch wrote:

I already have a Nikon adapter for my NEX, and I don't want another one for Canon. In the long run I am hoping for more native lenses, but meanwhile I enjoy manual photography. So I don't want to invest in a new system again.

Ah, you already have an adapter for nikon. I see.

The E series Nikon for $50 is pretty cheap too so why would you not buy that?

I'm under the impression that the E series Nikon is their cheaper line of lenses. I would guess an E series Nikon 50mm f1.8 isn't as good of a lens as a Canon 50mm f1.4. Adapters cost only $25...so don't forget to take that into account.

Also $150 for a brand new Nikkor with international guarantee is not a lot really. I think people would buy that off me in case I want to sell it in the future.

True but you could say the same for any lens...actually you would retain more of your investment (or even profit!) if you purchased a slightly used lens at a bargin price. If I was buying a 50mm, I would certainly go for f1.4 aperture, regardless of brand.

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glacierpete
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Re: Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
In reply to Jamesch, Jul 8, 2011

Optically the Nikon AF 50 1.8 is a very good lens, but it is an AF lens, you dont get the same smooth manual focusing feeling compared to a manual lens.

Another excellent lens is the C/Y Zeisss 50mm 1.4, you might be able to find a used one for a reasonable price. I would rather look on craiglist instead of ebay. My Photo dealer has rows of Minolta 50 1.4 lenses for about Euro 50, so $50 for a E (economy) series 50mm 1.8 Nikon seems a bit high.

I already have a Nikon adapter for my NEX, and I don't want another one for Canon. In the long run I am hoping for more native lenses, but meanwhile I enjoy manual photography. So I don't want to invest in a new system again.

The E series Nikon for $50 is pretty cheap too so why would you not buy that?

Also $150 for a brand new Nikkor with international guarantee is not a lot really. I think people would buy that off me in case I want to sell it in the future.

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Jamesch
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Re: Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
In reply to glacierpete, Jul 8, 2011

glacierpete wrote:

Optically the Nikon AF 50 1.8 is a very good lens, but it is an AF lens, you dont get the same smooth manual focusing feeling compared to a manual lens.

Another excellent lens is the C/Y Zeisss 50mm 1.4, you might be able to find a used one for a reasonable price. I would rather look on craiglist instead of ebay. My Photo dealer has rows of Minolta 50 1.4 lenses for about Euro 50, so $50 for a E (economy) series 50mm 1.8 Nikon seems a bit high.

No craigslist here in Hungary unfortunately, and dealers ask at least 30% higher for everything than in the US, so ebay is the only way for me.

Also there is not too many Zeiss 50mm/1.4 lens on ebay either, not for a reasonable price anyway.

Why is everyone saying I should get 1.4? Is it that much faster? I wouldn't think so and I've also read it usually has more distortion and maybe softness on the edges wide open.

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Jamesch
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Re: Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
In reply to Jamesch, Jul 8, 2011

BTW I was testing my friend's Nikkor 1.8D yesterday and it gives the same angle of view as 50mm with the NEX 18dd kit lens.

I thought this Nikkor is for full frame so it should give a less wide angle, more like a 75mm for APS-C would.
Isn't this riight?

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Alupang
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Re: Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
In reply to Jamesch, Jul 8, 2011

Jamesch wrote:

Why is everyone saying I should get 1.4? Is it that much faster? I wouldn't think so and I've also read it usually has more distortion and maybe softness on the edges wide open.

Because 50m f1.4s are usually made to a higher "pro" standard than the typical cheaper f1.8s. Take Canon for example. Their f1.8 50mm isn't even multi-coated but the f1.4 50mm is Canon's Reference Lens--the lens Canon uses to test all other lenses for color and contrast.

The Canon 50mm f1.4 should outperform the 50mm f1.8 at any same aperture. I would guess the Nikkors would behave the same.

This is my belief, but I could be wrong about other brands.

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fermy
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Re: Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
In reply to Alupang, Jul 9, 2011

Alupang wrote:

Jamesch wrote:

Why is everyone saying I should get 1.4? Is it that much faster? I wouldn't think so and I've also read it usually has more distortion and maybe softness on the edges wide open.

Maybe because they've bought 1.4 themselves? Any of the lenses that you mentioned would be a bit soft on the edges wide open. And yes, f1.4 is 2/3 stops faster.

Because 50m f1.4s are usually made to a higher "pro" standard than the typical cheaper f1.8s. Take Canon for example. Their f1.8 50mm isn't even multi-coated but the f1.4 50mm is Canon's Reference Lens--the lens Canon uses to test all other lenses for color and contrast.

One thing to understand, is that f1.4 needs better coating because it has a big exposed front element. On f1.8 lens the front element is smaller and a bit more recessed, giving it sort of a natural hood, which sometimes does a better job than the coating.

The Canon 50mm f1.4 should outperform the 50mm f1.8 at any same aperture. I would guess the Nikkors would behave the same.

This is not so straightforward. I have both FD 50mm f1.4 and f1.8, and even FL f1.8. f1.4 will outperform f1.8 up to about f2.8, after that they are indistinguishable.

Make no mistake, f1.4 is more expensive and better lens. But you are paying primarily for 1 stop advantage. f1.4 is not made to a higher or "pro" standard, it's a solid, relatively inexpensive consumer lens.

E-series Nikon used to be a budget lens. I have no experience with Nikon lenses personally, but it's reputation is solid, especially in optical department. There was a lot of criticism of cheap, plastic construction. However, you have to keep in mind that "cheap plastic construction" of that era is probably a lot better than "good quality construction" of today.

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Alupang
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Re: Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
In reply to fermy, Jul 9, 2011

fermy wrote:

One thing to understand, is that f1.4 needs better coating because it has a big exposed front element. On f1.8 lens the front element is smaller and a bit more recessed, giving it sort of a natural hood, which sometimes does a better job than the coating.

Nice point. Plus the f1.8 is certainly a lighter and smaller lens too. If I was going to buy an f1.8, I would set a price goal of around $20-30 tops. Nothing wrong with a f1.8 50mm--I would just advise to spend a bit more for a f1.4.

The Canon 50mm f1.4 should outperform the 50mm f1.8 at any same aperture. I would guess the Nikkors would behave the same.

This is not so straightforward. I have both FD 50mm f1.4 and f1.8, and even FL f1.8. f1.4 will outperform f1.8 up to about f2.8, after that they are indistinguishable.

Well that's huge in my opinion. For a lens to outperform another lens in such a highly desired aperture range (from f1.8 to f2.8) is a big plus for the f1.4 lens.

Make no mistake, f1.4 is more expensive and better lens. But you are paying primarily for 1 stop advantage. f1.4 is not made to a higher or "pro" standard, it's a solid, relatively inexpensive consumer lens.

To say the f1.4 is a more expensive and better lens but not made to a higher standard is, in my opinion, a contradiction.

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Alupang
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Re: Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
In reply to Alupang, Jul 9, 2011

One more point: 50mm f1.8 VS 50mm f1.4. For around $30-40 difference, you gain nearly a whole stop. Name another focal length where one stop can be purchased so cheaply. IMO, paying just $30-40 for one stop is a fire-sale steal.

The only argument in favor of the f1.8 is size and weight--and I have to admit, those Olympus OM 50mm f1.8s are pretty darn cute pancakes.

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fermy
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Re: Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
In reply to Alupang, Jul 9, 2011

Alupang wrote:

Well that's huge in my opinion. For a lens to outperform another lens in such a highly desired aperture range (from f1.8 to f2.8) is a big plus for the f1.4 lens.

Well, it would have been huge if the difference in f1.8 to f2.8 range were huge. It isn't. You can see it at 100% side by side, but practically it's insignificant, especially for portraits, which would be the primary use.

To say the f1.4 is a more expensive and better lens but not made to a higher standard is, in my opinion, a contradiction.

Not really. Higher standard implies significant increase in quality. Here we are splitting hairs. The price increase is for features (speed increase, coating).

In general, I agree that with current prices stepping up to FD f1.4 from FD f1.8 is well worth the small premium it involves.

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Jamesch
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Re: Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
In reply to fermy, Jul 12, 2011

First of all thanks for all the info and answers.

I understand that you consider $20-30 a reasonable price for 50mm/1.8 but the E series Nikons go for about twice as much on ebay plus shipping (not to mention not everyone ships to Europe, so it is even harder to find a cheap one, but that is my problem) so I just shouldn't buy one or what?

Also the cheapest 1.4 I found is $140 with shipping, which is in the same time tempting, but not exactly the price range I was looking for. (That is a used manual Nikon, that I am not sure I will be able to resell easily)

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draganflyer
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Re: Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
In reply to Alupang, Jul 12, 2011

I have been shooting an e series 1.8 extensively for some months now, and even more with peaking. I think it's one of the best values in lenses out there. Mine is incredibly sharp, with the Nex will shoot almost in the dark, and has great color rendition.

I think the sheer numbers produced has something to do with it. nikon has cranked these lenses out in the hundreds of thousands for years, so there are lots available. They have also had ample time to work out all the bugs in the lens, leaving you with a very fast, very sharp, trouble free lens for very little money. If you've already got the adaptor, I'd say go for it. You can always pick up the new incarnation if you like it enough, although I suspect you'll be very happy with the bargain basement version and the images it produces....I know I am

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fermy
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Re: Nikon E series legacy or AF Nikkor new 50mm lens to buy?
In reply to Jamesch, Jul 12, 2011

Jamesch wrote:

First of all thanks for all the info and answers.

I understand that you consider $20-30 a reasonable price for 50mm/1.8 but the E series Nikons go for about twice as much on ebay plus shipping (not to mention not everyone ships to Europe, so it is even harder to find a cheap one, but that is my problem) so I just shouldn't buy one or what?

Well, I wouldn't. I would buy either f1.8 or f1.4 lens in one of the dead mounts (Canon FD, Minolta MD, Contax/Yashica, Konica AR) etc. You'll get the same quality as Nikkors for half price or less.

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mjkerpan
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I actually prefer the Series E
In reply to RussellInCincinnati, Jul 12, 2011

I shoot the 50/1.8 Series E and it's great. Yes the cheapo coatings can lead to a bit of flare sometimes, but you won't really notice unless you like shooting right into the sun. In terms of sharpness, contrast and everything else, I find the Series E to be the equal of the AF/AF-D 50/1.8 and the Series E has the advantage of NOT having the tons of cosmetic plastic which was added to turn the svelte pancake Series E into something more "traditional" looking. F mount lenses are bug enough with the NEX adapter, so small is definitely good.

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