OPTIMUS PRIME OF CAMERA LENSES – NIKKOR 50MM F1.8G

THERE’S A REASON WHY IT’S CALLED PRIME

Prime means something of first importance, which is the best of it’s kind. And that’s exactly what I felt about this lens when I started shooting with it. Even more so, because this little guy out performs its bigger older brother who is also double the cost. After being told about it by a friend of mine and being recommended by another, I ended up buying a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8g prime lens and photography has just not been the same ever since. If you own a DSLR I recommend that you do yourself a favour and invest in a prime lens if you still haven’t.

There are many reviews over the internet that say that this little guy out performs it's bigger older brother of F/1.4g which actually costs more than double. I haven't tried F/1.4g out for myself, though.
There are many reviews over the internet that say that this little guy out performs the Nikkor 50mm F/1.4g which actually costs more than double. I haven’t tried F/1.4g out for myself, though. Image courtesy – photographylife.com

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PRIME LENS AND OTHER LENSES

I am not sure of the technicalities behind it. You might want to check the Nikon website, if that’s what you are looking for. I’m gonna talk about this lens based on personal experience rather than technical data. I just call it as I see it. Also, you might want to go through my previous post to understand some of the basic camera terms. Since I have already dealt with these terms there, I am not going to explain them again and make the post unnecessarily long.

Quick review, first is the aperture, then the shutter and then the digital film. Aperture size is measured in f/stops, shutter speed is normally measured in fraction of seconds and the digital film has a light sensor, measured as ISO setting.

Going back to the lens name, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8g, Nikkor is the brand name of Nikon camera lenses, f/1.8 is the max aperture size and g is the lens type. I know how it feels if you are researching about DSLRs or it’s lenses for the first time, you just sit there and wonder what the hell does all that mean in a name and start your frantic search for information on google. Just trying to make sure that a brother (or a sister) doesn’t have to go through the difficulties I had while buying my first DSLR and it’s lenses. Hopefuly, I will have your back on such things in the future too.

Dang! I already started digressing, anyway, let’s first understand what this lens is all about.

50mm  FIXED FOCAL LENGTH

Technically speaking, focal length is the distance between the lens and that point in space in front of the lens where the light converges to form a sharp image. All the points before and after that point do not converge. That is why these points are not in focus and thus resulting in blur.

The Nikkor prime lens comes in 35mm and 50mm focal length. These lenses have fixed focal length. That means zooming in and out is not possible. You are supposed to move a step or two front or back to compose your shot. This doesn’t mean that the lens will only focus when you have your subject exactly at 50mm. You will only have to position your self or the subject to stay beyond 50mm and the auto focus or the manual focus using the focus ring will take care of the rest. Or you can also reduce the size of the aperture to may be a f/2 or 2.5.

Pinto. Notice how his nose has gone blur. This is because I was standing too close to him for the 50mm range.
Pinto. Notice how his nose has gone blur. This is because I was standing too close to him for the 50mm range.

F/1.8 APERTURE

This is the size of the lens aperture. The 50mm lens comes in variation of 1.8 and 1.4 but after having dealt with 1.8 already, I feel 1.4 may be too much of a good thing, and too much of anything is bad. I am not sure I haven’t ever used it.

The amount of light that this lens is able to open up to is humongous. I could shoot directly sunlit portraits at ISO400 at a shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second (yes, you read it right, 1/4 fucking thousandth of a second) and you will get a crip image when you review your shot on the screen of your camera.

This image shows how helpful a nikon 50mm prime lens can be in low light situations without having to use any flash.
The huge amount of light in take comes in handy while doing low light or in door shots. I am able to shoot at 1/100th of a second at ISO800 and still get a pretty good shot without using a flash.

DEPTH OF FIELD

Apart from the amount of light, aperture of a camera has one more function. Creating a DOF. I can go on talking hours about the intensity of DOF that I can see in this lens. I do a lot of portraits. And the DOF effect is just that perfect topping on the cake. A portrait shot is a portrait if the composition is done keeping the subjects face in mind and in focus , but having the DOF just makes them so much better. However use caution when taking close up portrait shots. Or you will end up having a blured nose tip like pinto, shown here in the first image.

THE NOT SO DOWN SIDES

I have said enough about the good that this lens can do to your pictures. I need not say more. There are some down sides to it too. Not that these things will get in the way of your shots, but if you are very much concerned about composition of your images, then these are a few things that you need to keep in check. Don’t worry though, the good that this lens can do over weighs the bad things.

  • Like I said earlier, you won’t be able to zoom in. You will need a telephoto lens with max focal length of at least 200mm. I have a 55-200mm Nikkor lens that satisfies my zooming needs. But I use that lens for long range candid portraits and only if I really need it.
  • Some might find 50mm to be too long. You won’t be able to take close up portrait shots of co-operative subjects without taking a few steps back. I actually find this to be a boon as I mostly do candids. And I can live with having to take a few steps back while taking normal portraits.
  • The aperture size can be an over load. F/1.8 is frickin’ huge. So huge that if you try to focus on the eye (which is a thumb rule of portraits) the nose will end up have a blurry nose tip. For taking close up portraits you might want to crank it down to F/2 or 2.5. It’s just the matter of reducing the aperture size which is also not much of a problem really.
  • Unlike other lenses that I’ve got, this does not have VR mode. But I hardly miss it when I am shooting at high shutter speeds.

Having said that, personally, shooting with the prime lens so far has been nothing short of trying the best ice cream with an over load of ice creamy goodness and delicious awesomeness. Only here you are able to adjust that awesomeness to your liking. It makes you think twice and compose your shot before you press that shutter button, which I actually enjoy while shooting with this lens.

EXPERIMENTING NIKKOR 50mm PRIME

If you still are feeling dicey, I will let my images do the talking. I shot these on the same day that I got the lens. I couldn’t wait to try it out. The day I got the notification that my lens will be delivered, I took my camera to work. After receiving it, I immediately tore it out of the packaging, fixed it on my Nikon D3300 and did some trial shots.

Sundaram
Sundaram
Mani
Mani

They have all been shot at F/1.8, 1/200 shutter speed and ISO200. Little did I know about the lens. Infact this is the first time I was shooting with this lens after having used my first DSLR, Nikon D3300, for just a week and still I could pull of these shots without using a flash. ‘Nuf said.

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