Nikon 50mm Review – Stuck in Customs

Nikon 50mm Review

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The Nikon 50mm 1.4 is one of my two favorite people-shot lenses! It’s tied with the 85mm — see my Nikon 85mm Review.

I do NOT own the Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens, but it is a cheaper version of the 1.4 above. The only difference is that it has a slightly more forgiving depth-of-field.

Why the 50mm Lens Rocks

This 50mm is a fantastic lens! I use this and the 85mm for people shots – see the Nikon 85mm Review here on the site as well.

The greatest thing about this lens is that f/1.4. That super-low number means two things that are important in a practical way:

1) You have a very shallow Depth of Field (DOF), which means that your subject will be in sharp focus and everything else will be deliciously out of focus.
2) You can shoot in very low light conditions without a flash, giving your photos a very natural look.

See those two reasons? That’s just about all you need to know.

Beyond that, there is one thing to watch out for. The DOF on the 1.4 is SO tight that sometimes you will get your brother’s nose in focus, but his eyes will be slightly out of focus! So you better make sure to focus on the eye area when shooting people. The back of the ears and perhaps the tip of the nose will be a little out of focus, but that can make quite an amazing shot. It’s also a great lens for shooting anything else to achieve this affect. Naturally, you can adjust the F-stop on your camera up to the 2 or 4 area if you want to increase that area of sharpness a little, but that is rarely why people get a lens like this.

Note that if you get the 1.8 version of the 50mm lens, you will not have this issue.  However like I said, having just one feature of the face in focus can be a very nice effect.

It’s a very very tiny lens and can easily fit in your jeans pocket. People say this like it is convenient.. but really, when being practical about it, when you swap to put on that lens, where are you gonna put the other big honker you just took off? So, one of my fundamental Truths of Lenses remains, don’t worry about how big or little the lens itself is… just keep a little bag-o-lenses nearby in case the need comes to swap.

I use this lens a lot for family, parties, friends, and the like. In my opinion, it’s the best “people” lens in the world… but you just have to be ready to be within 2-6 feet of whoever you are shooting. Beyond that range, it is better to get the 24-70mm lens (see my Nikon 24-70 Review on this site).

Below are just a few of the shots I’ve taken with this lens. Most of my shots are unpublished, because they are family and personal shots, but this gives you a good indication of what this really fun lens will do!

You might notice that I have a special post-processing technique. If you would like to find out more about that, you are welcome to visit my HDR Tutorial.

Sample Photos with the 50mm 1.4 Lens

Below are a few sample shots so you can see what this sweet lens can do.


The f1.4 means that you can shoot in very low light (almost totally dark in this case), and get clean, beautiful shots with sharp focus


Even though it can go as low as 1.4, I shot this photo of this Icelandic Horse at F/2.8.

Bucket-Head (by Stuck in Customs)

Notice how the f1.4 has a very thin plane of focus.  You should try to focus on the inside of the eye, and the focus will naturally fall of towards the ear.

Photoshop brilliance before

The Little Things in Life (by Stuck in Customs)

Those blurry Christmas lights in the background are a good example of the natural “bokeh” that comes from this lens.

Natalia in Argentina

Any questions about the nature of these reviews? Visit my Ethics Statement. It’s all quite simple!