Pekka Buttler, 09/2022
The table below summarizes the lens’ key specifications (measurements based on pictured sample):
|Brand:||AF Nikkor||Lens name||50mm 1:1.4 D|
|Focal length(s)1||50 mm||Angle-of-view2||46°|
|Maximum Aperture||f/1.4||In Production||1986–1991 (AF)|
1991–1995 (AF (new))
|Lens mount||Nikon F||Subfamily (if applicable)||AF/AF-D|
|Length3||42,1 mm||Diameter4||64,4 mm|
|Filter ring diameter||52 mm||Weight||221 grams|
|Lens element count||7||Lens group count||6|
|Aperture blades (S/R/C)5||7 S||Focus throw||140 °|
|Minimum focusing distance||45 cms||Maximum magnification||1:6,8|
|Has manual aperture ring||YES||Has Manual focus ring||YES|
• The AF Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4 was among the first Nikon lenses introduced as an autofocus lens. That lens was then moderately revised in 1991 (outwards redesign and rubber focus ring) and upgraded to AF-D specs in 1995.
• Optically, the main difference between this lens and the late K-type Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4 introduced in 1976 is in the more advanced coatings of modern lenses.
• While introduced at a time when zoom lenses had taken over the mainstream, Nikon has produced in excess of 600 000 copies. At the time of writing, the lens has not yet been formally discontinued (but the writing is on the wall)
• Nikon’s dedicated lens hood for this lens is the HR-2, a rubber lens hood, but many steel hoods of various generation fifties work just as well. If you’d like a metal hood, my recommendation is the HS-9.
A brief genealogy of Nikon SLR lens types
Nikon is undoubtedly one of the great names in 35 mm SLR photography. The Nikon F mount has been in continuous production since 1959. During that time, the mount has developed/changed in some detail, however without ever fully sacrificing compatibility.
In short (a longer version is here), the development of Nikon’s SLR lenses can be traced as follows:
• 1959–1977: Pre-Ai. Manual focus lenses that use ‘rabbit ears’ to communicate selected aperture with the camera body.
• 1977–1986: Ai and Ai-s. Manual focus lenses that may have ‘rabbit ears’ for backward compatibility, but are designed to communicate selected aperture with the camera body through indentations in base of aperture control ring.
• 1986–today: AF and AF-D. Autofocus lenses that do not have a focusing motor within the lens, but rely on the focus motor within the camera. All AF and AF-D lenses are simultaneously Ai-s lenses (they are Ai-s lenses extended with AF) 6
• 1996–today AF-S and AF-P. Autofocus lenses that have an internal focusing motor and do not rely on the body having a focusing motor.
While Nikon (alike many competitors) started out with a longer-than-50 mm f/1.4 offering, the design of the fast standard lens was revised to 50/1.4 in march 1962. Thereafter Nikon’s fast fifty offering can be summarised as follows:
• 1962–1966 Nippon Kogaku Nikkor-S: 7 elements, 5 groups, 6 blades; MFD: 0,6 meters (metal focus ring)
• 1966–1973 Nikkor-S (F-type): 7 elements, 5 groups, 7 blades; MFD: 0,6 meters (metal focus ring)
• 1973–1974 Nikkor-S•C (C-type): 7 elements, 5 groups, 7 blades; MFD: 0,6 meters (metal focus ring)
• 1974–1976 Nikkor (K-type): 7 elements, 5 groups, 7 blades; MFD: 0,45 meters (rubber focus ring)
• 1976–1977 Nikkor (K-type): 7 elements, 6 groups, 7 blades; MFD: 0,45 meters (rubber focus ring)
• 1977–1981 Nikkor (Ai): 7 elements, 6 groups, 7 blades; MFD: 0,45 meters (rubber focus ring)
• 1981–2020 Nikkor (Ai-s): 7 elements, 6 groups, 7 blades; MFD: 0,45 meters (rubber focus ring)
• 1986–1991 Nikkor (AF): 7 elements, 6 groups, 7 blades; MFD: 0,45 meters (plastic focus ring)
• 1991–1995 Nikkor (AF new): 7 elements, 6 groups, 7 blades; MFD: 0,45 meters (rubber focus ring)
• 1995–today Nikkor (AF-D): 7 elements, 6 groups, 7 blades; MFD: 0,45 meters (rubber focus ring)
Since 2008 Nikon also offers a fast fifty AF-S variant (data sheet here) that is unrelated to the above genealogy.
Besides adapting, this lens can be used natively on all current high-end Nikon dSLRs and several earlier medium-to-high-end older Nikon dSLRs. Moreover, if the camera body contains a slot-drive focusing motor, this lens will even auto-focus7. Likewise, if the lens has been retrofitted with ‘rabbit ears’, it can be natively used on all Nikon F-mount film cameras ever produced (without the rabbit ears, it is limited to post 1977 bodies).
Thanks to being a fully manual lens (manual aperture, manual focus), the lens can be adapted to all mirrorless cameras using a suitable dumb adapter (and such adapters are easy to find). Moreover, a large range of special adapters (helicoid adapters, tilt/shift adapters, speed boosters) for using Nikon F lenses on most mirrorless systems are available. Currently no adapters for mirrorless exist that would allow autofocus through the slot-drive screw.
Using Nikon F lenses on non-Nikon SLRs and dSLRs is likewise a distinct possibility. Thanks to the relatively generous flange focal distance of the Nikon F mount (46,5 mm), adapter rings for all dSLR mounts are available as well as for a goodly portion of film-era SLR mounts. Such rings will not allow autofocus, and are unlikely to support auto aperture, but even then the lenses can be used in stop-down metering mode.
1 Focal length is (unless stated otherwise) given in absolute terms, and not in Full-frame equivalent. For an understanding of whether the lens is wide/tele, see ‘Angle-of-view’.
2 Picture angle is given in degrees and concerns the diagonal picture angle. Rule of thumb:
> 90 ° ==> Ultra-wide-angle
70–90 ° ==> Wide-angle
50–70 ° ==> Moderate wide-angle
40–50 ° ==> ‘Standard’ or ‘normal’ lens
20–40 ° ==> Short tele lens
10-20 ° ==> Tele lens
5-10 ° ==> Long tele lens
< 5 ° ==> Ultra-tele lens
3 Length is given from the mount flange to the front of lens at infinity.
4 Diameter excludes protrusions such as rabbit ears or stop-down levers.
5 S=straight; R=rounded; C=(almost)circular at all apertures.
6 There is a further sub-class of AF-D lenses called AF-I lenses that are otherwise AF-D lenses (meaning, fully Ai-s compatible), but have an internal focus motor. Only long tele lenses were made in AF-I variants.
7 As of this writing, the following Nikon dSLRs fully support autofocus, aperture priority and manual metered modes on Nikkor AF/AF-D lenses: D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, Df, D200, D300, D300s, D500, D600, D610, D700, D750, D780, D800, D800E, D810, D850, D7000, D7100, D7200