Nikkor 50mm f1.8 lens on a Nikon D200

50mmf1.8I recently found myself searching eBay for a 50mm prime lens and wandered across a seller with several lots of the Nikkor 50mm f1.8 lens. Having read reasonably positive reviews of this particular piece of glass I decided it was worth a chance, and arranged to meet the seller in Colchester.

This is the stuff of dodgy deals… meet up outside a well known PC shop and hand over cash for a boxed Nikkor lens? One of several available? Well, for £70 it was worth a punt!

The lens itself is very small and light, the aperture ring needs locking at f22 and there is no ‘VR’ or other similar refinements. It looks very much like an old style SLR lens, which I suppose it is. The thing is that this lens takes astonishingly clear images on my D200. So clear, in fact, that I am already wondering why I want to take this off.

When I get a chance I’ll post some pics online, but suffice to say for low light situations you are going to have to go a very long way to better this optic, and whilst there is a more pricey f1.4 available, I’d steer clear – go for the cheaper f1.8. In my opinion it is better (sharper) and with a £200 saving, who could want more?

That said, I did find myself shooting a wedding recently which required me to use a wider lens, so I reverted to my Sigma 17-55 f2.8 which is also a pretty good piece of glass. However, if I had been using two bodies (which would be a Very Good Idea at such events) then I am certain one would be with the 50mm prime all the time.

10 thoughts on “Nikkor 50mm f1.8 lens on a Nikon D200

  • 28 February, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Hey Hal – I also found Canon’s 50mm lens to be extraordinarily sharp. That said, I recently bought a Sigma 30mm 1.4 prime lens (also available for Nikon) which actually is more like the traditional 50mm (because my DSLR has a cropped sensor), and I’m finding this lens to more usable…the focal length I find is just that bit wider…

    Ah, it’s all good fun – but lenses are addictive 🙂

  • 29 February, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Hi Stephen – thanks for that… there’s always considerable debate about the merits of Nikon vs Canon, but it’s interesting to know the Canon offering is also good. I quite like Sigma for some of their lenses, too (not all, mind you) and my 18-50 f2.8 HSM is rather nice to use… but has it’s moments!

    The thing I have noticed more frequently with Sigma is that I get a vignette in the corners of the image. Do you see those too, or is it just me? I expect them when I rack up the number of filters on the front of the glass – a polarizer and a UV filter, for example, but there’s been a noticeable drop in light on different sigmas I have owned. It’s not major, but I see it and it irritates!

    I am hankering after the Nikon 17-55 f2.8 now. Bit too pricey, though!

  • 7 May, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Hi Hal,

    Yep, you have discovered that 50mm lenses are generally very good. There are three main reasons. On a DX camera you only use the very central part of the lens, the sweet spot, which is also partly why the Sigma shows vignetting.
    Secondly the design may be old but is extremely well proven. Finally there are fewer pieces of glass to interfere with quality/contrast that you would find in a modern zoom.

    Now where can I could find a 35mm f2 Nikkor for £2.50?????


  • 7 May, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    Thanks for the input Len – very useful. I am really liking this 50mm lens more and more. Such a sweet performer and at lower light levels it is a joy.

    As to your 35mm f2, I think you may have the decimal point a shade too far to the left! Best I’ve seen however is around £180. ( Have you seen it less elsewhere? What is your opinion of the lens compared to the sigma 30mm f1.4?

  • 20 May, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    I have never tried the Sigma 30mm, but believe it to be a DX sensor lens. Therefore if I am right a standard 30mm lens to cover a 24x36mm film gate (28mm?) would probably be sharper.

    But would love to hear from anyone who has actually done a comparison.

    Dedcimal points in the wrong place? Story of my life, plus the fact that I alway choose the wrong lottery numbers!


  • 27 January, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    I have a d60 and looking at all these reviews I am looking at buying a nikon 50mm f1.8 AF. As this is manual what does the AF stands for. I am told the AF 50mm f1.8 nikon lense has to be used like a manul in D60. I can not afford for 1.4 AFS lense. Please suggest. Also I Nikon1.8 AF is not available readily in most of the shops like even jessops.

  • 28 January, 2009 at 12:04 am

    Hi Venks – I am not sure about the D60, or how it handles this kind of lens. All I can say is that the AF (Auto Focus) works as you imagine it should… press the shutter button halfway and the lens finds the focus, then complete the press for the shutter to release.

    This is an incredibly simple piece of glass, very nice images from something so small. I have tried the 1.4 but still prefer the 1.8 – there’s a sharpness to it I like. It does look a bit out of place on the front of the D200, but when the images are ‘in’ it is worth it!

  • 18 March, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    as you may have figured out by now…the d40 and d60 models do not have built in autofocus motors on the cameras themselves…they require lenses with internal motors to function. which is a drawback if you want to try using older lenses on them. all of the other nikon dslr models work fine with all nikon mount AF lenses.

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