Trey Hill Photographs

picked up the new Nikkor 50mm 1.4g

Posted in gear, personal, photography, random, tests by Trey on December 30, 2008

and, let me start by saying it is an absolutely stunning lens.


i spent about 20 or 30 minutes this evening shooting a few frames. i didn’t really put Nikkor’s newest wide aperture prime lens through it’s paces. and seeing how this is a space for images and not techno babble, even when i have, don’t hold your breath waiting for me to write about it.

as an aside, i am a big believer that the image is more important than the gear. sure, better gear helps, but i’ve spent the better part of the last several years making images i’m proud of with antiquated tools. does that mean i’m not super pumped about my new D300 or this new lens? no.

it simply means i’ll spare you all the geekery. i do have a few thoughts, though, and if you’re into that, follow the jump.

there aren’t any reviews to speak of out there, so if this is a lens that you’re interested in, let me offer these few observations:

i really feel the DX magnification with this lens. the 50mm is really a 75mm on my D300… and at times, i wish i was seeing a bit more of the scene. i can’t help but wonder how much more i would love this lens on a full frame body like the D3 or the D700.

at 1.4, my best attempts at a sharp image fell short, which lends a slightly dreamy effect to the images – an effect that i quite like.

the depth of field at 1.4 is incredibly narrow – nothing shocking there – but i was surprised at just how narrow it was.

side note – altering lens to subject distance changes DOF. in macro-esque situations (when the lens is close to the subject, like in the third image above), focus starts and ends in the space of a few millimeters. for example, in the third image above, critical focus falls between two veins in the leaf. where as in telefoto-esque situations, a la the first image, the DOF was much more forgiving. this idea comes in handy in portrait situations. walking toward or away from your subject will really change the way your focal length effects the subject, which brings me to this:

i can’t wait to shoot a portrait with it – i think that dreamy quality will be really, really fun to explore.

as for the experience, it looks and feels very, very sturdy; the focus is very smooth (you almost can’t feel it); it’s quiet and fast. it looks good on the camera and with the lens hood on, it appears proportionate to the D300’s body, even with the battery grip on.

i’m sure i’ll stumble on sharp focus around f\8 or so, but it will take some time to dial in the sweet spot because i really don’t want to stop down.


14 Responses

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  1. Mom said, on December 30, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Love the images. Glad you like your present!

  2. Struan said, on December 30, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Trey – I agree, the dream factor is pretty nicely done – I don’t feel like I need to get rid of my trusty 1.8 just because I have this new one – they do things differently!

    It does look mighty nice on both the D300 and F100 – feels great in the hand, and is quiet as you want. Plus, grab the ring for instant manual focus, I love it!

  3. Trey said, on December 30, 2008 at 11:21 am

    …um, freaking love it.

    and, s, only slightly jealous of your F100. when i shoot film, i’m relegated to the Bessa I or an old (very, very old) Argus. speaking of film, i’ve been meaning to email you about processing my own.

  4. John said, on December 30, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    what a bunch o’ gear heads!

    great images, Trey. roll on, 1.4…..

  5. kamisamma said, on January 3, 2009 at 11:50 am


    Those photos were amazing!

    Wish I could shoot some photos like them one day…

    Still using the digital lense camera…

    Great photos! Love them!


  6. kamisamma said, on January 3, 2009 at 11:54 am


    Say your comments on setting up iPhone 3G for wordpress…
    Yours worked out but mine is like hell…

    Any thoughts?

    I would really appreciate it if you caould possibly tell me waht I might have done wrong…

    Suffering the new iPhone 3G but can’t blog J.

  7. Trey said, on January 3, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    I think the simplicity of their interface can get you… what specific issue are you having?

  8. kamisamma said, on January 3, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I wrote all that on my blog @@
    Can’t remember al of them now…it’s like almost 4AM here @@

    All I remember was…
    “Bad user/pass combination”
    “We could not find the XML-RPC service for your blog”

    Please save me! Please!


  9. kamisamma said, on January 3, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    BTW I check every single letter as I entered them…against my blog setting…
    …still… >/////<

  10. Samantha said, on January 12, 2009 at 11:09 am

    I have the 50mm 1.4 w/ my D3 and Its one of my favorite set ups! I sometimes have to stop myself from wanting to shoot a whole session wide open!

  11. Brad Koehn said, on January 13, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Looks very nice. I just got the D90. I made the switch from canon. I never thought I would…

    • Trey said, on January 14, 2009 at 2:21 am

      The Nikon controls make a lot more sense to me than the Canon controls… but you can’t argue with Canon’s very loyal (and vocal) following.

  12. mattlach said, on February 5, 2009 at 12:00 am

    I picked up the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 D lens recently. Same comments as above. Amazing lens.

    If you have a Nikon body with a focus motor in it (D50, D70, D80, D90, D200, D300, etc. etc.) and you want to save a little money this lens goes for <$300 new and produces very similar image quality as above.

    I can’t stop playing with this lens. it is amazing.

  13. Trey said, on February 5, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Hey Matt, when you say this lens is < $300 new, are you talking about the new NIkkor fifty one four? i’ve been seeing it closer to $500 than $300.

    leads me to believe you mean a different lens…

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