Author Topic: Nikkor 50mm comparison (AF-S f/1.4G vs f/1.2 ai-s vs f/1.8 ai-s e-series)  (Read 971 times)

acgiannopo

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Well, i added the e-series to the previous story... And i was pretty amazed by the results.

Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G
DSC_4183 by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr

Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 ai-s
DSC_4178 by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr

Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 ai-s e-series
DSC_4306 by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr

Images below are side by side comparison wide open and @ f/2 at center and corners or the edges of the frame.

1,4 vs 1,8 wide open center by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr

1,4 vs 1,8 wide open corner by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr

1,4 vs 1,8 @ f2 center by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr

1,4 vs 1,8 @ f2 corner by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr

1,2 vs 1,8 wide open center by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr

1,2 vs 1,8 wide open edge by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr

1,2 vs 1,8 @ f2 edge by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr

1,2 vs 1,8 @ f2 center by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr


things I noticed:
the newer af-s and the e-series are warmer than the f/1.2. The e-series has the less distortion. The e-series is sharper at center and corners than the newer af-s wide open. I think it is a little sharper @ f/2 too. The e-series is sharper than the f/1.2 @ f/2 in ther corners and has less chromatic aberration. The f/1.2 still is the sharper out of the three in the center @ f/2 and perhaps even wide open.


Roland Vink

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The slower 50mm lenses (50/2 and 50/1.8 ) tend to have less geometric distortion than the faster versions, and probably have less field curvature as well, so could be expected to perform well on the flat subject used in your tests.

Jacques Pochoy

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I would fully agree with Roland !  :)
“A photograph is a moral decision taken in one eighth of a second. ” ― Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet.

Airy

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Field curvature usually is exacerbated at short distances. I am not surprized by your results.
Differences in exposure make comparisons difficult, though.
If I were to judge after the last image pair, I'd say the f/1.2 at f/2 is definitely more contrasty, and possibly sharper, in the center than the f/1.8.

Comparing those fifties can be a frustrating experience, in the sense that drawing definitive conclusions is difficult. Also, the problem is correlating test results with shooting experience. I still don't get it why the 50/2 AI is one of my favourites, while apparently the "weakest" (at large apertures). Then again, I use it generally around f/4...
Airy Magnien

Birna Rørslett

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If one only should use a given lens at very short distances, such comparisons might have value in illustrating that field curvature differs between lenses. It is very difficult to extrapolate and infer other lens qualities from such a special case.

To better understand the behaviour of a lens it must be used under a mixture of shooting conditions and distances. *Same goes for useful comparisons.

Faster lenses in general are not as well corrected for field flatness as slower ones. 'Macro' lenses tend to be superior as flatness of field is a major design criterion for this kind of lens. Amongst the 50mm Nikkors, Nikon recommended using the 50/2 in its time for close-up work on a bellows, due to its better field flatness.

acgiannopo

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If one only should use a given lens at very short distances, such comparisons might have value in illustrating that field curvature differs between lenses. It is very difficult to extrapolate and infer other lens qualities from such a special case.

To better understand the behaviour of a lens it must be used under a mixture of shooting conditions and distances. *Same goes for useful comparisons.

Faster lenses in general are not as well corrected for field flatness as slower ones. 'Macro' lenses tend to be superior as flatness of field is a major design criterion for this kind of lens. Amongst the 50mm Nikkors, Nikon recommended using the 50/2 in its time for close-up work on a bellows, due to its better field flatness.

I've used the e-series for macro tests combined with the PN-11 extention tube from Nikon. I don't know if it is that good since i don't have any good experience in macro photography. The image below is a macro shot with the 50mm f/1.8 ai-s e-series and the PN-11 extention tube. The combination gives >1:1 magnification.

DSC_4293 by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr

acgiannopo

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The slower 50mm lenses (50/2 and 50/1.8 ) tend to have less geometric distortion than the faster versions, and probably have less field curvature as well, so could be expected to perform well on the flat subject used in your tests.

I've read that the e-series 50mm is a lens with minimum distortion. I don't use it very often though.

Birna Rørslett

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A final point abut using the 50mm class lenses: for magnifications > 1:1 (life-size) it is beneficial to mount the lens in reverse. in fact, most lenses designed for general photography will benefit from this practice.

acgiannopo

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Field curvature usually is exacerbated at short distances. I am not surprized by your results.
Differences in exposure make comparisons difficult, though.
If I were to judge after the last image pair, I'd say the f/1.2 at f/2 is definitely more contrasty, and possibly sharper, in the center than the f/1.8.

Comparing those fifties can be a frustrating experience, in the sense that drawing definitive conclusions is difficult. Also, the problem is correlating test results with shooting experience. I still don't get it why the 50/2 AI is one of my favourites, while apparently the "weakest" (at large apertures). Then again, I use it generally around f/4...

My favourite 50mm was the AF-S version. It was the fisrt lens i bought with my camera and the only lens i had for years. I remember having real problem using it wide open for a long time believing the lens was just crap @ f/1.4. It was then i realized that needed a small adjustment in AF in order to perform as it intented. ;D ::)

acgiannopo

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A final point abut using the 50mm class lenses: for magnifications > 1:1 (life-size) it is beneficial to mount the lens in reverse. in fact, most lenses designed for general photography will benefit from this practice.

Yes indeed. But i can asure you that the combination above gives magnification >1:1 (life-size). I've compared it with the true 1:1 life size macro 105mm AF Nikkor. ;)

Of course it isn't 2:1 or above but it is slightly >1:1.

Nikon D700 & AF Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 micro @ minimum focus distance (1:1)
DSC_1275 by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr

Nikon D700 & Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 ai-s e-series + Nikon PN-11 extention tube
DSC_1280 by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr

And another one with the AF Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 micro combined with the PN-11 extention tube (2:1)
DSC_1282 by Achilleas Giannopoulos, on Flickr

Birna Rørslett

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According to my field notes, AF Micro 105mm f/2.8 with PN-11 gives about 1.6x magnification? Is this the VR model of the 105?

acgiannopo

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According to my field notes, AF Micro 105mm f/2.8 with PN-11 gives about 1.6x magnification? Is this the VR model of the 105?

No, it is the previous one, the AF-D version. The PN-11 was designed to give 1:1 magnification to the older ai and ai-s version of 105mm micro if a can remember correctly. I thin, (not sure) that gives 2:1 magnification (or close to) to the newer ones.

Birna Rørslett

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The PN-11 combined with the 105/4 Micro-Nikkor does result in 1:1. With the AIS 105/2.8 Micro-Nikkor, the combination gives approx. 1.1X (1:0.88). On the AF/AFD 105/2.8 Micro-Nikkor, PN-11 gets you to 1.6X (max.).

This outcome simply reflects the fact that the newer Micro-Nikkor effectively shorten their focal length towards the near focus limit.

If one should have 2X with the PN-11, the actual focal length would be approx. 50mm.

rolubich

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The slower 50mm lenses (50/2 and 50/1.8 ) tend to have less geometric distortion than the faster versions, and probably have less field curvature as well, so could be expected to perform well on the flat subject used in your tests.

I have compared 50mm f/1.4 AIS and SC, f/1.8 AIS and AIS Pancake (Japan version), f/2 AI and 5.0cm f/2 S at about 1:20 magnification, my results are that pancake and 5.0cm S are virtually distorsion free, all the others have about the same amount of barrel distorsion.

richardHaw

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going to make my reply short. its hay fever season and im not feeling well  :o :o :o

many years ago, i did a test with the 50/1.8G, 50/1.8D 50/1.4G and the 50/1.4D.

me and my friends consensus was that the 50/1.4's have better resolution and microcontrast at f/1.8 than the 50/1.8's at f/1.8. this makes them better at this aperture (because theyre stopped-down, obviously!) ::)

the 50/1.2 is a VERY sharp lens wide-open but many lemons out there so it can be tough to find one that performs this way. focusing is also tough with a digital camera using the dot method. you will realize that this lens will give you critical focus a sliver of an mm before your dot solidifies in the finder. me and some people noticed that some digital nikons have this tendency but not with most film nikons but thats a story for another day.