Lenses differences between Nikon f/1.2 50mm and 55mm version ?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Castor Nageur, Apr 13, 2011.

  1. Hi all,

    Several years ago, I got the Nikkor 55mm f/1.2 on eBay for about $200.
    Later, I read on the web (I can't retrieve the link) an article
    explaining that this lens could become misaligned because of a huge
    lens misconception. The resulting picture would be blurred.

    As far as I am concerned, I am very satisfied with my lens but if I
    can get an even better result, I would eventually buy the Nikkor 50mm
    f/1.2 version for about $500 (I am not interested in the far more
    expensive Noct version).

    * Is the 50mm version really much better than the 55mm ?

    Thanks in advance for giving some advices.
    Castor Nageur, Apr 13, 2011
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  2. Castor Nageur

    Noons Guest

    I've heard mixed opinions on this. I do have the 50/1.2 and it is
    quite good although I reserve it exclusively for low light situations
    or when I'm trying to achieve diferential focus as the main objective.

    It is nowhere anear as sharp as the Zeiss50/1.4 for example or even
    the Ais-Nikkor50/1.4, both of which I use regularly.
    But it has a very nice and mellow rendering of colours which I like
    for subtle photos or portraits and nothing else blurs the background
    as well as it does, wide open or nearly there.

    From another forum I've learned that the 55/1.2 is cherished by folks
    who use it for its softer quality exclusively, something I do as well
    with my 50/1.2.

    From all that I'd guess you might notice a difference but don't expect
    a fundamental one: they are specialised lenses - there is a difference
    between them and other lenses but not as much between them.
    Noons, Apr 14, 2011
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  3. Hi and thanks for your reply.
    I thought because the f/1.2 lenses were created to let a lot of light
    coming inside, the resulting picture would be better at any aperture.

    And you wrote that the 50mm f/1.4 AIS version give better results so I am
    I own the 50mm f/1.4 NAI version => does it give as good results as the AIS
    version you are talking about ?
    Castor Nageur, Apr 14, 2011
  4. Castor Nageur

    Noons Guest

    Not necessarily. They are optimised to work best at wide apertures.
    If you try to get them for great depth of field, they are the wrong
    lens for the purpose. They are great for bokeh work.
    I don't know as I have never used the 50/1.4NAI version. The Ais is
    one of the sharpest lenses I've ever used. Zeiss lenses are sharper
    and more contrasty but not by a country mile. Only thing I know that
    will be noticeably sharper are macro lenses, which are traditionally
    the sharpest you can get at smaller apertures.

    But the thing to keep in mind here is: wide aperture lenses are
    optimized to work best up to about f5.6, after that they drop off
    significantly. Less wide lenses will happilly work fine all the way
    up to f11 and much more in the macro case.

    Horses for courses. There is no such thing as a lens that will
    perform optimally at all apertures. At least not within the average
    person's affordable price range.

    And there are other aspects to this, not just the aperture. In
    general more modern lenses will have better/more efficient anti-glare
    coatings. If you use a NAI lens against strong light sources, it'll
    likely glare or veil badly. Which is not necessarily a bad thing,
    depends on the effect you want! An Ais or later lens will likely show
    less of a worry in that department as the coatings are more
    The fix is of course to use the lenses within their limits: they all
    then perform well, no matter what age. ;)
    Noons, Apr 15, 2011
  5. In facts, I did not use my f/1.4 50mm NAI so much. I wanted a very wide
    aperture lens so when I found the Nikon f/1.2 on eBay for an affordable
    price (~ $200), I bought it. I always supposed the f/1.2 lens would be
    better because it was better designed (to let a lot of light coming
    To me, the sharpest Nikon lens I have is the 85mm f/1.4 but of course, we
    are talking about 50mm lenses.
    Ok so if I understand correctly, in general, both f/1.2 and f/1.4 lens will
    work perfectly at f/5.6 ?
    Consequently, if I want to benchmark the sharpness of my lens, I have to
    set the aperture to f/5.6. I will try this.
    Yes, you are right.
    Moreover, with the help of computers and simulators, lenses become better
    and better.
    I am going to look for the f/1.4 50mm AIS

    Thanks for all your advices.
    Castor Nageur, Apr 17, 2011
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