Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?

Started 11 months ago | Discussions
Stilograph
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Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
11 months ago

Hello to all.

I'm considering purchasing this fine lens, but was wondering if you good folks have any experiences on using it for portraits wide open? I've red it's semi-useless because of the lack of contrast at 1.2, but would like to stand corrected. Any samples or such? Horrible user experiences?

Regards

Heikki

leighton w
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to Stilograph, 11 months ago

Stilograph wrote:

Hello to all.

I'm considering purchasing this fine lens, but was wondering if you good folks have any experiences on using it for portraits wide open? I've red it's semi-useless because of the lack of contrast at 1.2, but would like to stand corrected. Any samples or such? Horrible user experiences?

Regards

Heikki

The 50mm FL doesn't make for that good of a portrait lens to begin with, but shooting at 1.2 is hard to get all the subject's features into focus. So it's not the contrast you have to worry about, but the DOF.

Having said that, it does make a wonderful lens for full body portraits or group portraits as long as it's stopped down. Here's a sample at f/11.

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larrywilson
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to leighton w, 11 months ago

Using any lens at an f1.2 or even an f1.4 will have almost no dof, best to use at say an f2.0 or smaller f stop.  The focal length for portraits is a little short on an ff camera, but not bad on a cropped sensor.  It is one beautiful lens, beautifully constructed, smooth as silk focus ring and is small, I got it just for looks ha ha!!!!  No actually it is an excellent lens optically.  Just darn fun to use.

Larry

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Carsten Pauer 2
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to Stilograph, 11 months ago

I'm considering purchasing this fine lens,

LoL.

but was wondering if you good folks have any experiences on using it for portraits wide open?

The Lens is useless wide open for sharp Portraits, if You want a soft Focus around F/1.2-F/1.4 buy this Lens.
The Lens is OK at F/2 on a APS-C Sensor.

I've red it's semi-useless because of the lack of contrast at 1.2,

Yepp, that can i Confirm.
When You reduce the Resolution to 1/3 from the Original and put alot sharping, the Result is fair.

but would like to stand corrected. Any samples or such?

Here some from my Sold NIKKOR AI:

Horrible user experiences?

Just buy it, You don't lose much Money when You Sold this Lens again...

Regards: Carsten

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kiirokurisu
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to Stilograph, 11 months ago

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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paulski66
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Any samples you'd be willing to share, kiirokurisu?
In reply to kiirokurisu, 11 months ago
No text.
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kiirokurisu
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Re: Any samples you'd be willing to share, kiirokurisu?
In reply to paulski66, 11 months ago

Sure, I'll get some together when I'm back home tonight.

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larrywilson
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to kiirokurisu, 11 months ago

I totally agree that the Nikon 50mm f1.2 is optically an excellent lens.  Yes at an f1.2 and 1.4 the dof is really small and a person has to be really careful to pin point where you want the sharp focus to be.  Its the best 50mm lens I have had and if used carefully is sharp at wide apertures.

Larry

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stevo23
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to Stilograph, 11 months ago

Stilograph wrote:

Hello to all.

I'm considering purchasing this fine lens, but was wondering if you good folks have any experiences on using it for portraits wide open? I've red it's semi-useless because of the lack of contrast at 1.2, but would like to stand corrected. Any samples or such? Horrible user experiences?

Regards

Heikki

It's a waste if you plan to stop it down. It's strength is that it's the sharpest lens Nikon makes at f2.0 which is reportedly it's peak sharpness. So I guess that would be a nice portrait feature. At f1.4, it's the same as the others. Stopped down, it's not any better. So if you need to or plan to stop it down past 2.8 or so, you're wasting money.

And I'm not ashamed to say I read all this on the internet...

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kiirokurisu
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to stevo23, 11 months ago

stevo23 wrote:

It's a waste if you plan to stop it down. It's strength is that it's the sharpest lens Nikon makes at f2.0 which is reportedly it's peak sharpness. So I guess that would be a nice portrait feature. At f1.4, it's the same as the others. Stopped down, it's not any better. So if you need to or plan to stop it down past 2.8 or so, you're wasting money.

And I'm not ashamed to say I read all this on the internet...

Let me guess, the person who wrote this has the initials KR?

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TWHook
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to kiirokurisu, 11 months ago

I too recently bought this lens and have been playing around it with for the last two weeks. I think there is the potential to so some interesting things and I look forward to learning better how to use it.

For discussions sake, here are a variety of shots: the first two are at 1.2 handheld, the third is at 1.2 with a tripod and the fourth is handheld at 2.0.

Handheld 50 1.2 1/640 iso 200 D800

Handheld 50 1.2 1/640 iso 200 D800


Tripod 50 1.2 1/60 iso 200 D800

Handheld at 2.0 1/400 iso 200 nikon d700

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windsprite
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to Stilograph, 11 months ago

I have the Ai version, and to cut to the chase, I like my Sigma 50/1.4 a lot better for wide aperture shooting.  Much nicer bokeh.  Of course, it depends on what kind of look you're after.  You might enjoy the more "edgy" bokeh of the f/1.2.  I like the creamy Sigma bokeh, myself.

As far as contrast, yes, you can get a veil effect at f/1.2.  Some people might like the dreamy look.  If you don't, you can mostly get rid of it by adding some contrast and clarity in post, or large-radius USM.  I find that works better on close-up shots, though.  As the focus gets farther away, for better or worse, you're kind of stuck with the look.

I will say that the lens is sharp even wide open, though some people might be fooled by the shallow DOF and low contrast.  As others have said, it's super sharp and contrasty from f/2.

The lens is a beauty to hold and behold.  I love the solid metal construction and smooth manual focus.  If this is something that appeals to you but you prefer smoother bokeh, you might look into the Voigtlander 58/1.4.  I haven't seen any direct image comparisons, so I could be wrong, but from viewing online samples, I really wish I had bought that lens instead.

Julie

Stilograph wrote:

Hello to all.

I'm considering purchasing this fine lens, but was wondering if you good folks have any experiences on using it for portraits wide open? I've red it's semi-useless because of the lack of contrast at 1.2, but would like to stand corrected. Any samples or such? Horrible user experiences?

Regards

Heikki

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kiirokurisu
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to windsprite, 11 months ago

Your comments match my experiences exactly. I previously owned a Sigma 50mm 1.4 and did like the bokeh, but I wanted a lens that would be sharper stopped down for landscapes (which the Sigma does OK but the Nikon 50/1.2 is superb at). The Sigma does also have way, way less vignetting wide open, due to its truly massive front element.

The 50/1.2 has unique bokeh which might be regarded as ugly by some. You shouldn't rely on it to smooth a busy background with lots of fine detail into a smooth creamy mush. However, used well it can be very effective.

Following are some samples demonstrating sharpness at wide and narrow apertures. I don't have any bokeh samples right now that I have permission to publish, but there are plenty of those to be found on flickr for example.

Wide open at f/1.2, focus is on the large branch near the centre of the frame

100% crop from focused area

Landscape at f/8, focus on infinity

100% crop from near centre of frame

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coudet
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to Stilograph, 11 months ago

Stilograph wrote:

I'm considering purchasing this fine lens, but was wondering if you good folks have any experiences on using it for portraits wide open? I've red it's semi-useless because of the lack of contrast at 1.2, but would like to stand corrected. Any samples or such? Horrible user experiences?

It's really not that fine. If you do decide to buy it (used), remember not to overpay.

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kiirokurisu
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to coudet, 11 months ago

coudet wrote:

It's really not thatfine. If you do decide to buy it (used), remember not to overpay.

Do you have some kind of pathology regarding fast 50mm lenses? Why not keep your pointless comments to yourself?

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Stilograph
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to kiirokurisu, 11 months ago

Thank you all for the answers. I should have clarified that I would be using it on D600 and also on my OMD-EM5, because why not.

The practical application for it would be enviromental porrtraits, and propably stopped down to f4-f8. But the wide open performance interests me, why would anyone buy this if they werent using it wide open?

Anyway, I'm glad to hear it's a sharp cookie. And thank you for the image samples and user experiences. It's always a diffrent story to hear things from someone actually using the lens, then to read someones opinion who had it on test drive for 2 days.

Judging the tree branch here only, it does seem a well behaved lens wide open. I mean, you can't expect it to be void of a little softness, and I don't care about that. Not a pixel peeper. Might as well get it now, since my store has it second hand for 449 euros with a guarantee.

Thank you all for the friendly answers.

Regards

Heikki

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coudet
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Who peed in your cornflakes?
In reply to kiirokurisu, 11 months ago

kiirokurisu wrote:

coudet wrote:

It's really not thatfine. If you do decide to buy it (used), remember not to overpay.

Do you have some kind of pathology regarding fast 50mm lenses?

Hell no! I *love* them, fast 50s are my favorite lenses in the world. Big fan of Leica 50mm F/1.4.

Why not keep your pointless comments to yourself?

You attack me cause my opinion is different than yours?

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kiirokurisu
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Re: Who peed in your cornflakes?
In reply to coudet, 11 months ago

Edit: I shan't bother.

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Boris
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to Stilograph, 11 months ago

At f1.2 not very sharp and lacks contrast, f1.4 is usable if you hit focus. By f2 the lens is very sharp. Very well built lens.

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Carsten Pauer 2
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to Stilograph, 11 months ago

Might as well get it now, since my store has it second hand for 449 euros with a guarantee.

For a used one, You should not more pay as € 200-250 for this Lens.
I have paid € 120 for a used one...

Regards: Carsten

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