Nikon AF-Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D review
Studio Tests - FX format
The Nikon AF-Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D gives a somewhat mixed performance on FX, although one that will come as no surprise to anyone experienced at shooting film. Performance is unremarkable at wider apertures where the new Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM does much better, however image quality increases rapidly on stopping down, giving excellent results between about F4.5 and F16.
|Sharpness||In FX as on DX, the lens is soft wide open across the frame but improves rapidly on stopping down, with the centre excellent by F2, and the corners catching up at F4.5. Optimum results are obtained between F5.6 and F11, with excellent sharpness right across the frame; stopping down further naturally gives a gradual reduction in sharpness due to diffraction.|
|Chromatic Aberration||Lateral CA is extremely low with practically no visible fringing. However as on DX, the non-zero CA figures towards the centre at wide apertures betray a more problematic issue, high levels of mainly blue 'colour blur' due to axial chromatic aberration, which essentially disappear on stopping down to F2.8.|
|Falloff||We consider falloff to become perceptible when the corner illumination falls to more than 1 stop less than the centre. Falloff is about average for its class on full frame at 2.7 stops wide open, falling to below 1 stop on stopping down to F2.8; this will certainly be high enough to cause concern for some users.|
|Distortion||Distortion on full frame is about 1.3% barrel; this is towards the high end for a 50mm standard prime, and has the potential to be visible in real-world shots.|
FX compared to DX
Eagle-eyed viewers will no doubt have noticed that the MTF50 sharpness data at any particular focal length/aperture combination is distinctly higher on FX when compared to DX. This may at first sight appear unexpected, but in fact is an inevitable consequence of our presentation of the sharpness data in terms of line pairs per picture height (and thus independent of format size).
Quite simply, at any given focal length and aperture, the lens will have a fixed MTF50 profile when expressed in terms of line pairs per millimeter. In order to convert to lp/ph, we have to multiply by the sensor height (in mm); as the full-frame sensor is 1.5x larger, MTF50 should therefore be 1.5x higher.
In practice this is an oversimplification; our tests measure system MTF rather than purely lens MTF, and at higher frequencies the camera's anti-aliasing filter will have a significant effect in attenuating the measured MTF50. In addition, our testing procedure involves shooting a chart of fixed size, which therefore requires a closer shooting distance on full frame, and this will also have some influence on the MTF50 data.
Specific image quality issues
As always, our studio tests are backed up by taking hundreds of photographs with the lens across a range of subjects, and examining them in detail. This allows us to confirm our studio observations, and identify any other issues which don't show up in the tests. We tested the lens on both DX and FX bodies, ranging from the D90 to the top-of-the-range D3.
The AF-Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D shows generally good resistance to flare in normal shooting, and handles our 'real-world' flare test somewhat more elegantly than the Canon equivalent. With the sun placed in the corner of the frame, it shows a variety of flare patterns dependant upon aperture, but with a rather lower loss in contrast than the Canon (indeed at F5.6 the image is remarkably free of detrimental effects). However move the light source just outside the frame, and the image does exhibit an overall loss of contrast due to broad swathes of veiling flare.
|F2.8, Nikon D3||F5.6, Nikon D3|
|F16, Nikon D3||F6.3, Nikon D3 (sun out of frame)|
Background Blur ('bokeh')
One genuinely desirable, but difficult to measure aspect of a lens's performance is the ability to deliver smoothly blurred out-of-focus regions when trying to isolate a subject from the background, generally when using a long focal length and large aperture. The 50mm F1.4 can be made to blur even relatively close backgrounds into oblivion at wide apertures, a huge advantage for portrait shooting especially on DX.
The bokeh produced by this lens is perfectly acceptable, although perhaps a little 'busy' even wide open, and not as smooth as can be achieved with a high quality 70-200mm F2.8, for example. Perhaps its strongest characteristic is the tendency for out-of-focus highlights to show up as heptagons due to the 7-bladed aperture, which gets more noticeable and potentially distracting the further the lens is stopped down.
|F2.8, Nikon D3||F1.4, Nikon D3|
|50% crop, upper right||50% crop, upper left|
Lateral chromatic aberration is negligible in our studio tests, and is equally near-impossible to find in real-world shots; quite simply it's not an issue when using this lens. What can be problematic, though, is the presence of quite strong bokeh chromatic aberration, which is most visible at wide apertures. This tends to show up as fringing around high contrast edges which is magenta in front of the field of focus and green behind; the latter can also be accompanied by a magenta 'fill'. Note that as this isn't lateral chromatic aberration, it can't be removed by the in-camera processing of the latest Nikon bodies (D3, D300, D700, D90), and is also difficult to deal with in software post-processing.
|F1.4, Nikon D300||50% crop|
|F1.4, Nikon D3||50% crop|
Wide open, the 50m F1.4 also shows particularly strong blue fringing around in-focus high contrast edges; this is a halation effect which appears to be due to a combination of spherical aberration and axial chromatic aberration. This is particularly emphasized on DX cameras due to the extra effective magnification of the image, and again can't be easily corrected in post-processing. The effect reduces progressively on stopping down, with the width of the fringing approximately halving at F2, and disappearing completely at F2.8.
|F1.4, Nikon D300||100% crop, centre|
Softness and vignetting at wide apertures
Our studio tests show that this lens is not at its best at wide apertures on full-frame; central resolution is relatively low, and the corners extremely soft and subject to significant darkening through vignetting. However in this regard it's also important to appreciate that with the extremely small depth of field afforded by a 50mm F1.4 lens, and assuming a reasonably centrally-placed subject, the likelihood of any object in the corners of the frame being remotely in focus is in fact minimal, and corner resolution therefore near-irrelevant.
The images below illustrate the lens's performance for those inclined to shoot flat subjects at wide apertures; at F1.4 the centre of the frame is simply soft, and in the corner little detail is visible at all, a situation exacerbated by strong vignetting reducing the overall contrast. However at F4, the corners have nearly caught up with the centre for sharpness, and vignetting has become insignificant.
|Nikon D3, 1/8000 sec ISO 200||Nikon D3, 1/1600sec ISO 200|
|100% crop, centre||100% crop, centre|
|100% crop, top left corner||100% crop, top left corner|
Sep 10, 2008
Sep 7, 2011
Sep 7, 2011
Sep 9, 2011
|Moon 99% D55 C14 St-Zénon 20170806 DP by MarioSS|
from Best Picture of the Week
|Reeds on lake by kkardster|
from Abstracts in Nature
|Florence & the Machine by Dutch Newchurch|
from Second chances..
Photo sharing site 500px has just added support for wide-gamut color profiles such as AdobeRGB and ProPhotoRGB, even allowing users to filter their searches by color profile.
DJI just released a mandatory firmware update for the DJI Spark. If you own a Spark and don't update your firmware by September 1st, DJI will remotely ground your drone.
Affordable flash manufacturer Godox has updated its smartphone app so that it can be used to control all of its wireless X flash units, not just the A1 smartphone flash.
Western Digital's new My Book Duo external desktop storage system offers up to 20TB of storage capacity, and comes with RAID-optimized WD Red hard drives.
Version 1.04 of the Sony a6500 firmware can be downloaded from the Sony Support website now.
Not sure how to choose your first drone? In this article, the second of a 3-part series, we discuss what factors you should consider when deciding what drone is right for you.
NASA photo editor Joel Kowsky didn't just capture the solar eclipse from his vantage point in Wyoming, he also managed to capture the ISS buzzing across what remained of the sun.
In these videos, talented photographer and filmmaker Daniel DeArco breaks down several tips that will help flash photography newbies start experimenting with artificial light.
Photographer and master potter Steve Irvine makes incredibly intricate, functional ceramic pinhole cameras that look like robots and monsters.
Chinese gimbal manufacturer Gudsen has released a firmware update for its Moza Air that lets you control the direction and angle of the head remotely just by moving a small handlebar-mounted control unit.
Curious how the Sony a9 performs underwater? Our friends at Backscatter took the camera diving off the Baja California coast, to find out how it handled shooting great white sharks.
While most of the DPReview crew put away our cameras and just watched the celestial event, Rishi decided last-minute to hack together a rig and capture a few shots.
Defunct Russian camera maker Zenit is making a comeback, and they're planning to release a full-frame mirrorless camera in 2018.
The days where you're more or less locked into premium or first-party flash units has gone. They're less than $50 now, so there's one less excuse not to get one. Here's our case for adding one to your kit, and a few pointers to get you going.
If you're shooting the solar eclipse here's a hint: don't fry your camera's sensor. Use a proper solar filter that offers at least 16 stops of light filtration, along with UV and IR filtering. More important? Don't look at it unless you've got solar filters. Sensors can be replaced, your retinas can't.
Photographer Rick Wenner recently captured an odd event called the Race of the Gentlemen with a rather odd camera: The Phase One XF IQ3 Achromatic, the world's only 101MP black-and-white digital back.
Buying used is a good way to save some dough, and with the right precautions you can protect yourself from falling victim to a scam.
This two-part video series takes a deep dive into the world of dynamic symmetry and geometric composition, using iconic photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's brilliant photographs as a guide.
Award-winning photographer Jeremy Cowart tells the moving story behind this drone photograph, captured in the aftermath of the devastating wildfire in Gatlinburg, TN in 2016.
Happy 2017 World Photo Day! We asked everyone on staff at DPReview to share one photo that they took within the last year that makes them jazzed on photography. Here's what we chose.
French President Emmanuel Macron has lodged a legal complaint against a paparazzo who snuck onto the president's private vacation property to take pictures.
Ever wonder what the difference is between compressed, uncompressed and lossless compressed Raw files? Photography Life's Nasim Mansurov breaks it down for you in this informative article.
The oldest known portrait of a US president was just discovered after over a century in storage. It's going up for auction in October, where it's expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000.
If you're using the popular Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 Art lens with Sigma's MC-11 converter, listen up: you'll want to update your lens and converter firmware ASAP.
If you've heard it once, you've probably heard it a thousand times: never check in your camera gear when flying. This shattered $11,000 lens is what can happen when you do.
Lensrentals just did its first Cine lens comparison, pitting five top-notch 35mm primes against each other: the Zeiss CP.2 35mm T2.1, Canon CN-E 35mm T1.5, Sigma 35mm T1.5 FF, Rokinon Xeen 35mm T1.5 and Schneider Xenon 35mm T2.1.
A team of Google researchers have found that slightly warping watermarks when embedding them into images can help prevent automatic removal.
You don't have to empty your savings account to take your photography to the next level. These cheap buys cost about $50 or less, and come with outsized benefits for your photography.
Joey L, Dani Diamond, Brandon Woelfel and Jessica Kobeissi go head-to-head in an episode of "4 photographers shoot the same model."
The latest flagship phone from Asus combines a 12MP 1/2.55" Sony IMX362 main sensor with a smaller Sony IMX351 chip for 2x zoom and a background-blurring portrait mode.