Normally, I would never use a 50mm lens for portrait work as shown here in this post. Why not? Because the 85mm is better. Way better. Always. People shots, like these ones, look better in telephoto. That is an undeniable, scientific fact. Take it to the bank. Ever since I got my 85 (Nikon’s new 1.8G version which is optically as good as the billion dollar 1.4 bigger brother version), my 50mm seldom saw the light of day. But I decided that I missed the 50mm focal length. It was my favourite for many years when I was shooting DX format (making it nearly an 85). So, I decided to get a copy of Nikon’s newest 50mm 1.8G lens. WOW. For the money, this lens is utterly fantastic!
I bought it because I want to shoot it at 1.8. I had heard about how great it was wide open and I had to see for myself. So, yep. It totally lives up to the hype. It’s awesome. It’s colours are punchy and saturated. It’s bokeh is great. It’s SHARP wide open and only gets better as you stop down. There is very little chromatic aberration. Sure, it’s a quick fix in Lightroom (like vignetting), but it’s great to know that the lens you are using is made well enough to handle it. The lens is also light. It’s compact. It’s inexpensive. What’s not to love?! This lens is Nikon’s gift to the photography world, for amateur and pro alike. Seldom do you ever run into a product that is of such good quality at an affordable price. #DEAL!
After cajoling the children to come and sit in a chair by a window (patio door, in point of fact), here’s the results. I shot the images mainly at 1.8, one at 5.6 to see the stopped-down performance and 2.2 which is where I would normally shoot a 1.8 lens. I like to stop down a little bit to gain extra performance and sharpness. But with this lens, you don’t have to. You can actually shoot it wide open and the results are superb.
Here is a 100% crop wide open. Aside from a quadrillion dollar Zeiss Otus, it doesn’t get much better than this in the 50mm range! Nikon currently doesn’t make a “Professional” Gold-Ring Nikkor at 50mm. They did come out with the 58mm 1.4G at a whopping $1700 (?!) but I’m not convinced the results are all that different to warrant the extra expense. In fact, it has several optical issues that, while they may give it character, it’s still not performing as clean as this 50 1.8G. Bang for your buck wise, Nikon’s current generation of 1.8G prime lenses are just awesome and worth every penny. I’ve greatly owning them and using them constantly. For the price points, the lenses are so good, it hardly warrants spending the extra thousand dollars to get the gold rings. Unless you care about showing off gold rings. Gold paint at the dollar store is like, a dollar. 😎
The idea that “You can’t take pictures now! The light is way too harsh!” is a bunch of crap. You can take pictures any time of the day in any lighting conditions. You have to use the light in many ways and some are far more pleasing than others! 🙂
The 5:16PM sun was streaming through our gigantic south-west facing window yesterday evening. It was nearly golden light as it was so rich and warm. BUT, the sun was also low on the horizon as it approached its setting – giving wicked shadows and brutal contrast. The ticket to making pictures happen (and I am NOT saying it makes for optimal pictures) is to break the rules. Put the subject between you and the sun. Shoot right into the light and see what happens! It’s crazy mayhem to say the least! I was fortunate that the bright light was also bouncing off the north-east wall in our house providing this really warm fill light to help illuminate my beautiful subjects. 😉 Are you going to get blow outs? Yep. It makes for some wild & ugly histograms! For pixel peepers, these shots are garbage. But you can still make pictures happen, regardless of the light and the time of day you have to make them.
These shots are inside my living room, all handheld with my 50mm f/1.8 lens. Are they optimal? No, not really. But they do give some really cool highlights/backlights that challenge the photographer to nail the exposure in less than optimal natural lighting conditions.
The greatest challenge I have in photography is covetousness. I’m talking about photography equipment here – drooling over newer, faster, crisper glass from Nikkor. 🙂 We all know that the paintbrush didn’t make Picasso, but I’m sure it didn’t really hurt things either!
One of my all time favourite lenses is my nifty-fifty. AF 50mm f1.8. I have used that lens to take literally thousands of shots across three camera bodies (D40, D80 and now my D300s). I love it! It’s fast. It’s sharp. It’s crisp. It’s cheap! That is, it’s inexpensive. However, my covetous eye has spied the newer 50mm f1.4G – it’s designed for FX bodies, which someday I hopefully will have. But a 50mm on a DX body gives you a nearly perfect portraiture lens at 75mm. And f1.4 is pure awesome. So, I now I am having crazy thoughts that I should have it. Ah, but life is full of small children for us at the moment who need food, clothes and diapers and other miscellany.
Life has a way of getting in the way of Photography budgets! 😉
If I could assemble an “essentials” list of Nikkors, this is what I would have in my bag:
AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G – ideal portrait lens on a DX body
AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED – HAVE IT! YAY! 😀 – Super fun Macro & telephoto portrait lens
AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8 ED VR II – perfect for wildlife, especially with a teleconverter
AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f2.8G ED – Incredible wide angle lens for landscapes
AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II – Awesome for portraits and even wildlife with a teleconverter
Estimated cost: just shy of $9000.00 CDN . . . It never hurts to dream! 😉