50mm and 30mm. What can you tell me about options?

Feb 16, 2011
Lisbon / Portugal

How are you?

I am looking to get two primes. One is a classic 50 and another is something on the 35-30 range.

I am looking for fast aperture primes, with good OOF rendition, sharp and good colour and contrast.

I have read around the web, and I came to some options.

First, the 50, ordered by price, from the cheapest to the most expensive.

- 50mm 1.8g

- 50mm 1.4d

- 50mm 1.4g

- Sigma 50mm 1.4

Form what I read, the 1.8g has distortion but is very sharp.

The 1.4d is an older design, but has less distortion.

The 1.4g is only better than the 1.8g at f1.4.

The Sigma is heavier and can have QC issues with front or back focus.

As for the 30-35, again from cheaper to most expensive:

- 35mm 1.8g

- 35mm f2d

- Sigma 30mm 1.4 (not the new art version)

The 1.8g has once again distortion and is DX only.

The F2d is faster to focus on pro bodies but it is a bit slower in aperture.

The sigma is wider and can once more have QC issues...

So, based on this, what is your input. I don't have experience with any of these lenses, except I once owned the Sigma 50mm for canon.

Thank you for your help!

Nov 10, 2008
I would refer you to Photozone for detailed analysis. When I compare their results with lenses I own, I find them to be accurate. Also need to know DX or FX. 35 1.8 G does not stretch to FX in a manner acceptable to me and no amount of photoshop gets me there.
People who say it works, chose close up only or linear subjects on a slant. Anything looks good. It is a very acceptable lens on DX and I use mine all the time, D200, 7000.

Nikon takes some liberty with distortion, always has back to Nikon F and few complained. If you do not want to correct it with software, then Leica is the option.. Leica lenses have very little. Modern Nikons have a menu driven distortion correction for JPEGS. NX2 can be set to remove it automatically. Photoshop is heading that way. PTLens is the very best correction tool.

35 2.0 is a disappointing lens until 5.6 or 8. 35 2.8 AiS is far better. 35 2.0 manual focus is better.

Sigma. Well all I can say is a history of focusing problems and the lens can not be AF fine tuned unless you buy a separate module then that fixes it for one camera only.

I contend you will see little difference in 50 1.8 & 1.4.

If you want an ultimate 1.4, there is a new Zeiss on the way. It will put the Nikkors to shame, but Manual Focus only.

My lenses are manual focus, body driven AF which are decent, and all the G lenses from 24 to 105, and Leica R that I have adapted to Nikon.

I would not recommend 50 D lenses, neither. They have nasty focus shift and can not be AF tine tuned for all distances. I keep mine for emergencies. or bad weather or bad neighborhoods,use as a loaner, or when I don`t want to risk a good lens.

Pretty much you get what you pay for.
Mar 10, 2008
New York
If you want the best , you want Sigma 50 f1.4 and Sigma 35 f1.4
Yes, there could be focus problems with Sigma 50, but if you buy from reputable dealer, you can always return or exchange it if you don't like it. Sigma 35 f1.4 is the best in its class along with Nikon 35 f1.4, some say it is even better than Nikon.
If you want very good lenses that will not put you in debt, I recommend Nikon 50 f1.8 and Nikon 35 f1.8 AFS DX or Nikon 35 f2.0 AFD FX. If you don't mind manual focus, then there are some more options up there.
Sigma 30 f1.4 not the Art is prone to focus problems and other problems just like 50 or even more. If you get a good copy, you may like it, but it's DX only.
Nov 30, 2011
Indianapolis, IN
easy...... if you are shooting fx, the 50 1.8d and the 35 f2.... if you shoot dx.... the 50 1.8d and the 35 1.8 g.

why the 50 1.8d....? its super fast focusing, ultra sharp, lightweight, all for a price of around 120 bucks new and 100 bucks for a mint used copy, and maybe less. The 35 f2 is a great lens fo FX, but is a little pricier. For DX the 35 1.8 is top notch. it is light weight, ultra sharp, and can be had for under 200 bucks new.
Jan 4, 2008
New York City
What body are you shooting with? This makes a big difference.

The 35 f/2 has no focus motor. Are you shooting with a d3100? The 35mm f/2 will be MF only.

The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is a DC lens. The Nikon 35mm f/1.8g is a DX lens and they are both for a cropped sensor. Are you shooting with a D600? The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 AND Nikon 35mm f/1.8g will be crop mode only.
Last edited by a moderator:
Feb 19, 2006
LA (Lower Arkansas)
I've owned several of those lenses, and I'll give you my take on the best of them:

  • Sigma 30 1.4: if you're shooting DX, this is the lens you want. Bokeh is beautiful, focus is sharp. But you need to find a sharp copy as sample variation can be an issue. Find a good one and you've found one of the most exciting lenses you'll ever use.
  • Nikon 50 1.4D: Great, small lens. Bokeh isn't great (actually, it's fairly bad), but it's sharp. Sample variation isn't a problem.
  • Sigma 50 1.4: Big lens. 77mm filters. Sample variation is an issue (I bought expecting problems, and I had them. After recalibration, it is tack sharp). Bokeh is better than I've ever seen in the focal length. Center sharpness is amazing - and produces 3D-like images.
  • Nikon 35 AF-D: Small, and great on DX (Although I never got outstanding results from it.) Not so good on FX, as it was a bit bland in its renditions. Not as good as the manual focus versions. Susceptible to oily blades (particularly on the older versions).

If I shot DX and I had to choose among these lenses, I'd choose the Sigma 30 1.4 - but I'd buy used from someone who had a sharp copy. If I bought new, I'd expect focus issues. If these issues appeared, I wouldn't be surprised and would send the lens in for recalibration. If these issues were not a problem, I'd be happy and just use the lens. Either way, I'd be prepared for the worst.

If I shot DX, I'd choose the Sigma 50 1.4 - if physical size was not an issue. As with the 30 1.4, I'd expect the worst and hope for the best.

The Sigma lenses, when properly calibrated, perform at a level that is basically unmatched by Nikon equivalents. Of course, you have to find sharp copies, or have your copy/copies calibrated to achieve optimum performance. This takes approximately 30 days, so plan for this. But if you do this (or have this in your original copy), you'll have an amazing lens/lenses.
Dec 1, 2010
I like the 35mm f2 and have not found it NOT too wanting on either the D90, D300s or D700. It does suffer with CA, but I've been able to correct that in LR4 or ACR via CS6. Were I to upgrade this lens I would opt for the f/1.4 version, but I wish it were as small and light as the f/2 version! I hike quite a bit and want light weight lenses.

The only 50mm I've owned is the 50mm f/1.8 AF-D. I found it fast focusing on the D90, D300s, and D700, very little distortion, and CA. I just didn't use it all that much in 5+years so sold it. I don't "see" in that range though a vast majority do. Were I to purchase another 50mm lens I would get the newest 50mm f/1.8G lens which gets a great score on DXoMark.
May 16, 2006
Central Arkansas
I have 2 of the lenses on your list. Just bought the 30 1.4 and like Mark said, I was expecting the worst since it was new. Luckily mine is sharp.:Happy: The other lens I have is the AF non D version of the 50 1.4. I have to disagree with Mark a bit on the 50 1.4 a bit. IMO these lenses do exhibit sample variation. That's why some people say theirs is sharp and others call it soft. Mine has to be focus adjusted a lot on my D300 to be sharp. It's soft on my old d70s and I can't do anything about it.:mad: He's sure right about the bokeh though.:frown:
Aug 12, 2005
Famington Hills, MI
50mm is extremely disappointing in the 50mm range. Both Sigma and Nikon can do better. For best in range the Zeiss 50 mp f/2 is best across the image and can do macro. Downer? Extremely expensive and manuel. If you can stand the manuel focus and added focal length, the Voightlander 58mm Nokton is an option.

On the other hand, any 35mm 1.4 and you can't go wrong. Each has positives and minus, but the differences are very subtle and up to the user to choose which one suits them. I can speak for the Nikon 35 1.4 and the 35 Af-d. I used the f/2 version for years. I was begging for an update. For me it's only usefulness after I purchased the 1.4 was price and size.
Oct 3, 2008
First of all, get the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. It's a great lens and it's an awesome focal length on DX. Also, since you'll be getting a 50mm too, it makes more sense to get a 30mm than a 35mm.

About the 50mm: decide based on size and weight. If you don't mind these and want the best, go with the Sigma 50 1.4. If they do matter, I'd go with the Nikon 1.8G.

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