Pekka Buttler, 08/2022
The table below summarizes the lens’ key specifications:
|Brand:||Nikon (Nippon Kogaku)||Lens name||Nikkor-S Auto 1:1.4 f = 50 mm|
|Focal length(s)1||50 mm||Angle-of-view2||46°|
|Maximum Aperture||f/1.4||In Production||1962–1966|
|Lens mount||Nikon F||Subfamily (if applicable)||Pre-Ai (F-type)|
|Length3||49 mm||Diameter4||66 mm|
|Filter ring diameter||52 mm||Weight||302 grams|
|Lens element count||7||Lens group count||5|
|Aperture blades (S/R/C)5||6 S||Focus throw||160 °|
|Minimum focusing distance||60 cms||Maximum magnification||1:9,8|
|Has manual aperture ring||YES||Has Manual focus ring||YES|
• This lens has no direct predecessor, but it replaced the Nikon F-type 5,8 cm f/1.4 (1959–1962) in Nikon’s lineup.
• This “Nippon Kogaku” Nikon 50 mm f/1.4 was followed in 1966 by an outwardly relatively similar lens, that added one aperture blade and 20 grams in weight. This in turn was replaced by the multicoated NIKKOR-S•C in 1973.
• This lens harkens back to the time before Nikon decided to have uneven numbers of aperture blades on all their lenses.
• Nikon did not offer Ai-kits for the early 50/1.4’s (until serial# 532xxx). Hence, these early 50/1.4’s are either in their original Pre-Ai state or have been DIY-AI’d.
• On early Nikkor lenses, the letter following “Nikkor-” denotes the number of lens elements. In this case the S stands for ‘Septa’ (seven)
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. Pre-Ai lenses can further be subdivided into
• F-type (1959–early 1970s: metal focus ring and single-coated),
• C-type (early 1970s–mid 1970s: metal focus ring and multicoated), and
• K-type (mid 1970s to 1977: rubber focus ring and multicoated).
A significant share of remaining Pre-Ai lenses have since been converted to Ai-spec (Ai’d)
• 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.
Nikon has offered a fast fifty since the 1959 launch of the Nikon F system. While the fundamental design of these lenses has remained stable until recently, also a lot of changes have been implemented:
• 1959–1962 5,8 cm f/1.4 (7 elements in 6 groups, 6 blades, 0,6 m MFD) (F-type)
• 1962–1966 50 mm f/1.4 (7 elements in 5 groups, 6 blades, 0,6 m MFD) (F-type)
• 1966–1973 50 mm f/1.4 (7 elements in 5 groups, 7 blades, 0,6 m MFD) (F-type)
• 1973–1974 50 mm f/1.4 (7 elements in 5 groups, 7 blades, 0,6 m MFD) (C-type)
• 1974–1976 50 mm f/1.4 (7 elements in 5 groups, 7 blades, 0,45 m MFD) (K-type)
• 1976–1977 50 mm f/1.4 (7 elements in 6 groups, 7 blades, 0,45 m MFD) (K-type)
• 1977–1981 50 mm f/1.4 (7 elements in 6 groups, 7 blades, 0,45 m MFD) (Ai) [data sheet]
• 1981–2020 50 mm f/1.4 (7 elements in 6 groups, 7 blades, 0,45 m MFD) (Ai-s)
• 1986–1991 50 mm f/1.4 (7 elements in 6 groups, 7 blades, 0,45 m MFD) (AF)
• 1991–1995 50 mm f/1.4 (7 elements in 6 groups, 7 blades, 0,45 m MFD) (AF new)
• 1995–now 50 mm f/1.4 (7 elements in 6 groups, 7 blades, 0,45 m MFD) (AF-D)
• 2008–now 50 mm f/1.4 (8 elements in 7 groups, 9 rounded blades, 0,45 m MFD) (AF-S G)
• 2013–now 58 mm f/1.4 (9 elements in 6 groups, 9 rounded blades, 0,58 m MFD) (AF-S G)
There are good chances this lens can still be used natively:
• If the lens has been properly AI’d, this lens can be used natively on all current high-end Nikon dSLRs and several earlier medium-to-high-end older Nikon dSLRs7 as well as all post-1977 Nikon Film cameras.
• If it is in its original Pre-Ai form, it can be used natively on the Nikon Df and on all Nikon F-mount film cameras produced before 1977.
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.
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 may not allow for 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 Aperture priority and manual metered modes on Nikkor Ai lenses: D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, D200, D300, D300s, D500, D600, D610, D700, D750, D780, D800, D800E, D810, D850, D7000, D7100, D7200