Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?

Started Sep 15, 2013 | Discussions
stevo23
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to kiirokurisu, Sep 16, 2013

kiirokurisu wrote:

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?

He's one of them...

That was all to say, take my comments with a grain of salt. I see that actual owners (to my surprise) of the lens have commented in. Their comments make me want one!

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MisterHairy
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to Stilograph, Sep 16, 2013

It is a very lovely lens indeed with far smoother out of focus rendering than pretty much all of the other options that you have available, including the Zeiss 50/1.4. It is not so bad wide open, and indeed, a slightly more gentle drawing style at the largest aperture settings can be much more pleasing than poke-your-eyes-out sharpness when you are looking for that sort of shot.

Portraits at f/1.2 can be a challenge to master but are ultimately unrewarding. A single sharp eyelash with everything else swimming around out of focus is more of an internet meme than a useful style, but thankfully, your original post shows that you aren't planning to use it that way.

Then there is the aspect of actually getting precise focus with these fast lenses. If you're using an unmodified modern DSLR then you can't see the shallow DOF in the viewfinder (you'll see something roughly equivalent to a couple of stops down from the 1.2 max) so you have to be adept at hitting the middle of the "in focus" zone. This can be a tad tricky if you're not well practised at it.

Fit and finish is every bit as good as the Zeiss lenses and the focus ring is just as smooth and perfectly damped.

These are still being manufactured today and a grey market one can be had for a very nice price, and as someone else has said, if you decide to sell it on, you can do so at relatively little loss. It's not a lens for everyone, but I would always recommend that people give one a try

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Rexgig0
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to Stilograph, Sep 16, 2013

Most lenses perform better when stopped-down a bit; the 50mm 1.2 AI-S is no exception. Moreover, I do not always want a razor-thin depth-of-field. Much of my love for this lens is, quite simply, due to its pleasing build quality. The ability to open the aperture in low light, or when I do want extremely shallow DOF, is a bonus. I wish I had owned this lens when my eyes were younger, and could see much more clearly!

This lens seems sharper at f/2 than either my 50mm 1.8D or 50mm 1.4G. This, alone, makes it worth having, for low-light shooting.

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heulwen
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to Stilograph, Sep 16, 2013

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

I don't have the lens anymore, but I usually chime in when I find a thread abobut it, as I truly loved it. Planning on getting a new one as soon as possible.
Anyway, I don't have many samples I'm keen on sharing, as I took them a couple of years ago and one could say my photography has evolved a bit since then, but this is one picture I still love:

It is difficult to nail focus wide open, but when you do, the lens is sharp enough. As someone else already said, the dof is extremely thin and there is usually some veiling and lack of contrast, which one can easily mistake for softness.

This is not a lens you just strap on the camera and right away get great pictures with. It takes practice. But when you do find that tune, this lens truly sings. Yes.

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inasir1971
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to Stilograph, Sep 16, 2013

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

I've had mine for about a year (bought new from dealer).

A couple of things you should know about it before you get one:

* aperture control is only through the aperture ring which only allows setting full stops apart from 1.2 - that is 1.2, 1.4, 2, 2.8 etc.

* as a non-CPU lens there is no way (currently) to influence when the AF indicators show through AF fine tune on bodies with that function (current firmware does not allow an adjustment of the default fine tune for non-CPU lenses)

* it has straight aperture blades (most modern lenses use rounded ones) so apart from f/1.2 (and possibly f/1.4) out of focus highlights are polygonal (rather than circular)

I much prefer using it through a Metabones Speedbooster on my Fuji X-E1 (which has EVF and focus peaking) over use on my Nikon bodies.

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sgoldswo
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Very positive, amongst my favourite lenses
In reply to Stilograph, Sep 16, 2013

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

One of my favourite nikon lenses by far. A really lovely render which is hard to find in modern lenses, results just pop between F2.8 and F5.6. The real problem wide open is the extremely thin DOF, but it is a bit soft and dreamy too, though as you'll see below, this can give you some memorable images.

Here's some examples with this lens:

About F2.8-4

F4

F1.2 or F2

F1.2

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kiirokurisu
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to heulwen, Sep 16, 2013

heulwen wrote:

This is not a lens you just strap on the camera and right away get great pictures with. It takes practice. But when you do find that tune, this lens truly sings. Yes.

Thanks for your wonderful post - that photograph is a perfect example. It really is true that this lens has a je ne sais quoi and a uniqueness about it. People tend to either love it or hate it. Me, I love it.

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KenHill
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Re: Very positive, amongst my favourite lenses
In reply to sgoldswo, Sep 16, 2013

I have used a 1.2 for a long time and just recently got a newer one.  What hasn't been said was the natural and accurate colors it gives you wide open at lower ISO's for street and landscape use at twilight/dusk.  I don't think there is another lens that can touch it.

Here's a shot I took several weeks ago to make the point.  WYSIWYG

Twilight in the rain

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Jonathan Siegel
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Re: Very positive, amongst my favourite lenses
In reply to KenHill, Sep 17, 2013

I've been primarily shooting with this lens and the 85mm 1.4 for the last few years on my D700. It's the best 50mm I know of at the moment, and I almost always shoot with it wide open. It has a very particular characteristic, which really sets it apart from other 50mm lenses. It's best used at night, which is what the f1.2 was intended for, but I find it also fantastic for food photography, and of course landscapes if you feel like stopping it down. Here are some examples:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/9436044472/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/9431220829/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/9020653787/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/9057300239/

and when I used to shoot with it on my old D300, this is what it looks like:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/4565322569/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/4776860685/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/4466631427/

I highly recommend this lens, my sadly got smashed in an accident last week, but I intend to buy another one when I get a chance soon.

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CFynn
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Re: Very positive, amongst my favourite lenses
In reply to Jonathan Siegel, Sep 17, 2013

Jonathan Siegel wrote:

I've been primarily shooting with this lens and the 85mm 1.4 for the last few years on my D700. It's the best 50mm I know of at the moment, and I almost always shoot with it wide open. It has a very particular characteristic, which really sets it apart from other 50mm lenses. It's best used at night, which is what the f1.2 was intended for, but I find it also fantastic for food photography, and of course landscapes if you feel like stopping it down. Here are some examples:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/9436044472/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/9431220829/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/9020653787/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/9057300239/

The D700 may be the best match for this lens.

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windsprite
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Re: Very positive, amongst my favourite lenses
In reply to Jonathan Siegel, Sep 17, 2013

Jonathan Siegel wrote:

I've been primarily shooting with this lens and the 85mm 1.4 for the last few years on my D700. It's the best 50mm I know of at the moment, and I almost always shoot with it wide open. It has a very particular characteristic, which really sets it apart from other 50mm lenses. It's best used at night, which is what the f1.2 was intended for, but I find it also fantastic for food photography, and of course landscapes if you feel like stopping it down. Here are some examples:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/9436044472/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/9431220829/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/9020653787/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/9057300239/

I love your photos and your style.

Funnily, these images illustrate exactly what it is I don't like about the f1.2's out of focus areas.    Realizing that it's an individual preference thing, I just don't care for the bokeh on your cake photo.  I think it works really well for your more edgy street-shooting style, though.

Julie

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unknown member
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to Stilograph, Sep 18, 2013

I bought a used Nikon 50mm f/1.2 with a 40xx serial number last year, it was soft and had low contrast wide open, stopped down to f/2 and it was fine but no better than my 50mm f/1.4G, the out of focus rendering was also horrible, so I sold it.

Last month I bought a new copy of the 50mm f/1.2 serial 41xx and its very sharp with open with much better contrast and out of focus rendering and completely usable, razor sharp by f/2 over most of the frame and the best lens I have ever used by f/4.

I used it on both my D600 and D800E and focus by using the confirmation build in to the cameras, focus confirmation is almost 100% when using the lens on the D800E but a little hit & miss on the D600 however the lens just seems to shine on the D600.

It's a great lens and maybe I just got lucky with my copy but I shoot it wide open quite often and the results are excellent.

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BasiliskPhoto
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to TWHook, Sep 18, 2013

TWHook wrote:

Handheld at 2.0 1/400 iso 200 nikon d700

The perfect dog for wide apertures. I have whippets, and their nose is so far from their eyes you need f8 to get the whole face in focus!

Very cute by the way - is it a Boston Terrier?

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unknown member
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to LWS2013, Sep 18, 2013
Last month I bought a new copy of the 50mm f/1.2 serial 41xx and its very sharp with open with much better contrast and out of focus rendering and completely usable, razor sharp by f/2 over most of the frame and the best lens I have ever used by f/4.

I will check this...

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TWHook
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Re: Nikon 50mm f1.2 user experiences?
In reply to BasiliskPhoto, Sep 18, 2013

BasiliskPhoto wrote:

TWHook wrote:

Handheld at 2.0 1/400 iso 200 nikon d700

The perfect dog for wide apertures. I have whippets, and their nose is so far from their eyes you need f8 to get the whole face in focus!

Very cute by the way - is it a Boston Terrier?

Thanks, you're right. With the sheer plane of focus of the 50 1.2 AT 2.0, focus is is better served with a dog with a pushed in nose than one with a prominent proboscis!

For the sake of due diligence, our dog is a French Bulldog puppy (about five months).

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