Can I get some input and info on the Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 AI-S?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by TMR Design, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. Does anyone own this lens or have some info to contribute. I'm starting to think about getting a ~50mm lens again and I'm interested in this lens or possibly the Voigtlander. The Zeiss is also attractive but many people seem to feel the 50mm f/1.4 (in my price range) is not up to the exceptional Zeiss standards and not necessarily better than the Voigtlander or even the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF-D.

    I want a manual focus lens in this focal length and love great bokeh but I'm not concerned with the lens being as fast. I don't see myself shooting at any aperture larger than f/4 but if an f/1.2 or f/1.4 lens means that it's that much sharper at f/4 then I'm up for it. If an f/2 lens is just as sharp at f/4 then that's cool too.

    Any input?
     
  2. I have the AI version of this lens. I find that I use it more often at F2 - the depth of field is just too shallow at F1.2

    I've heard that the manual focus 50mm f2 is a good lens; I'm not sure how it performs wide open, though. It is also a fraction of the cost of the f1.2 version.
     
  3. Cool. I'm not at all concerned with wide open performance. As I said, I want it to be sharp and a great performer at f/4 and smaller apertures. Shallow depth of field is not what I'm after and frankly, I find f/4 with the right working distances to be plenty shallow for portraiture which is what I'll be using it for.

    Paper thin DOF has never been of any interest to me. :biggrin:
     
  4. I also see that there are older AI-S versions on the 50mm f/1.4 at very good prices. I suppose some input on that and the 50mm f/1.8 might be of interest to me.

    Like I said, I'm looking for superb performance from f/4 to about f/11. Larger or smaller than that is not an issue.
     
  5. rotxlk82

    rotxlk82

    Jul 20, 2007
    UK
    As you can see in my signature I have the F2 version of the Nikkor 50mm. For a short while I had the 50mm F1.8 AF as well, I compared the duo at F2 and apart from a slight difference in colour reproduction I could see little difference in output.

    I guess the 1.4 AF model would therefore be similar to the older AI and AIS versions.
     
  6. Thanks Robert. So how would you rate the 50mm f/2? I'm looking for something that is at least comparable with the quality of my 105mm f/2.5 AI-S. At f/4 does it 'rock'?
     
  7. rotxlk82

    rotxlk82

    Jul 20, 2007
    UK
    It's certainly a very well made lens, like all old Nikkor stuff. The overall standard is far higher than the modern 50s.

    I can't really comment much on the image quality because I don't use it much on digital simply because my D50 won't meter AI and AIS glass and that makes it just too much of a fuss for me. At the moment the main draw of the high end bodies is the fact that they will give me metering with my 50 AI and the incredibly sharp 28 AIS.

    My limited experience however does tell me that the lens compares to the modern 50s, I can't really say a lot else.
     
  8. rvink

    rvink

    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    None of the Nikon 50mm lenses are exceptional for bokeh. Most models will produce good results if the subject is close (within a few feet) and the background is very distant. In that case the background is a complete blur. Few lenses would fail to produce good bokeh in that situation. Where the background is close behind the subject is a harder test for a lens. The 50/1.4 often does not perform well here - I have pictures with ugly "double-line" blurs, although the results can still be pleasant depending on the camera - subject - background distances, the texture of the background and the aperture used.
    The 50/1.2 and 50/1.8s are better but not great, I'd describe the rendering as "chunky" and not smooth. The 9 blade diaphram of the 50/1.2 (AIS version) helps to keep blurs more circular but that does not make the blurs any smoother.

    From what I have heard, the ZF 50/1.4 is slightly sharper in the corners but the bokeh is not great either.

    I have heard good reports of the CV 58/1.4. A little soft or lacking contrast wide open, but very good stopped down and with much smoother rendering.

    The Nikon 58/1.2 Noct is also very smooth from the pictures I have seen, but the price is astronomical!

    Since you intend to shoot at apertures between f/4 - f/11 the significance of bokeh is becoming less important since the backgrond is more defined. I'd say any of the 50mm lenses do well here, especially the AI 50/2 or AI 50/1.8. You might also consider the 45/2.8P which is a good performer in that range.
     
  9. cotdt

    cotdt

    Jul 14, 2007
    Bay Area, USA
    the 50/1.2 AIS is an excellent lens, better than the 50/1.4 in almost every aspect, including being noticeably sharper at f/2. but for the smoothest bokeh, try the sigma 50/1.4 or the zeiss 50/2, or the noct-nikkor. the little 50/1.8 is still the most contrasty of the 50's IMHO.

    i don't really like what i see from the CV 58/1.4. lots of double lines and edges in the bokeh.
     
  10. Thanks guys. Even though the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 is considered to be a great and sharp lens I have a problem with it, and many other of the AF lenses from Nikon. I am specifically getting this lens for portraiture in the studio. It's a specialty lens in that respect. I'm not at all concerned with AF. That being the case, I can't stand the horrible manual focus rings and cheap feel (and wobble) of the MF rings. I owned the 50mm f/1.4 and it produced nice images but I couldn't stand the MF ring. It's small and has lots of play and I found there to a consistent issue with the image shifting as you look through the viewfinder and turned the MF ring.

    I'm looking for a smooth MF ring that has a long 'throw' rather than some of the lenses where 1/4 small amounts are a lot and 1/4 turn is huge.

    That is why the AI-S lenses, the Voigtlander and of course the Zeiss are being considered.

    How is the smoothness and feel of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4

    I haven't had a chance to check one out and don't know anyone that owns it yet.
     
  11. cotdt

    cotdt

    Jul 14, 2007
    Bay Area, USA
    If you want smooth manual focus with long throw, then the 50/1.2 AIS is unbeatable. It is smoothness heaven, and built like a tank.
     
  12. rotxlk82

    rotxlk82

    Jul 20, 2007
    UK
    I've never used the 50/1.2 however if my 28/2.8 AIS anything to go by cotdt is right "smoothness heaven"
     
  13. cotdt

    cotdt

    Jul 14, 2007
    Bay Area, USA
    I had the 28/2.8 AIS, trust me the 50/1.2 is VASTLY smoother and tougher built.
     
  14. rotxlk82

    rotxlk82

    Jul 20, 2007
    UK
    Thanks for the info but...
    Please Don't tempt me, I've got enough glass... :cool: 
     
  15. rvink

    rvink

    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    In that case, look for AI (not AIS) glass. Most AI lenses have a longer focus throw than the equivalent AIS versions. The focus throw of some lenses are listed here: www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/specs.html#50slow.
    Since you mostly intend to shoot at medium to small apertures, I recommend the AI 50/1.8 - probably the best 50/1.8 lens Nikon made. The 50/1.4 is better only if you shoot at wider apertures. You can easily pick up nice copies on ebay for $75 - no need to spend hundreds on a Zeiss.
     
  16. rvink

    rvink

    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    I have both, and they seem the same to me, smooth and solid like any other AI or AIS lens.
     
  17. I always forget but can you explain the difference between the AI and AI-S lens? Is it the glass and optics or is it build, materials, etc.?
     
  18. rotxlk82

    rotxlk82

    Jul 20, 2007
    UK
    AIS lenses have a special tab cut into the mount which will help with exposure control on a handful of early 1980s camera bodies such as my Nikon FA.

    On modern cameras it is nothing to worry about and even on period bodies like my FA it makes very little difference.

    The easy way to ID an AIS is by looking at the apeture ring, if the smallest apeture setting (e.g. F22) is orange then your lens is AIS.
     
  19. rvink

    rvink

    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    In most cases the optics are the same and the build is similar. On all current cameras there is no difference in use.

    Some AI lenses also have the minimum aperture in orange. You need to look at the smaller aperture scale, on AI lenses this scale is white, on AIS the min aperture is orange. AIS also have a small "scoop" cut out of the lens mount, near the lens lock recess. You can also ID AIS lenses by the serial number. Check www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/lenses.html
     
  20. Thanks guys. I'm going to think about this and do some shooting at 50mm with my 35-70mm to make sure that the next lens should be a 50mm.

    I didn't want to get off track in this thread but I'm also considering another prime in the 24-30mm range for my full length shots in the studio. My requirements are the same, just a different focal length.
     
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