Nikkor 50mm f1.8

February 11, 2007

My friend the photographer gave me good advice for shooting in the Bradley Center. As well he should! He’s done it himself a zillion times. But I have to admit, I chickened out on his advice a little. He told me to go 1/500th of a second at ISO 800 using the f 2.8 lens. When I was standing in the tunnel waiting to run out I did two things: set my white balance on a sheet of paper (go me for even thinking of this!), and I bumped my shutter speed down to 1/400th of a second. Why? I was afraid there might not be enough light.

But of course there was. I could easily have gotten away with 1/500. And the slight blur around people’s fast moving hands and feet would have been nailed down sharper had I trusted. Oh, well. Live and learn.

But the whole thing got me thinking about the value of a fast lens. And by “fast” I mean the f-stop number. The f number relates to the aperture, or the size of the hole that lets light into the camera. The bigger the hole is, the more light gets in. If you have a really large aperture (confusingly representing by a smaller f-number), you don’t have to leave the shutter open as long to get enough light for a good exposure. And a fast shutter speed is what freezes the fast action.

Thus, the faster my lens, the freezier the action. Even in questionable indoor lighting conditions.

And so I thought about that. And I thought about the f1.8 lens that’s been on my Amazon wish list for several months. I thought about how it would be the fastest lens I owned by far. I thought about how having a fixed focal length may make me a more thoughtful photographer. I thought about the amazing bokeh I could get with a really large aperture like that.

And I thought about the $100 price tag. Not so much! So I bought it.

So now I have added something new to my existing gear: say hello to the 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor. (Photo courtesy of IvanoMak.)

I’ll post some test shots when it arrives.

No comments yet

  1. yay!

    I love my 50/1.8. I’m now able to take indoor pictures sans flash. And I love the short DOF.

    The lack of focus takes getting used to, but only sucks in tight situations when you’re trying to capture a larger scene.

  2. I predict the 50 will be come a near-permanent attachment to the D50. (:

    You can get good landscapes out of it, it just takes getting used to and a bit of shuffling backward (mind the cliffs, please).

  3. Going back 20-25 years, to the days of film SLRs, most sold with a 50MM or 55MM f1.4 or f1.8 normal lens. Pay a little extra and you could get an f1.2. With all the f2.8 and f3.5 zoom lenses, I think users forgot the value of a fast lens. I find a fixed 50mm a little restricting in composing and framing a shot without having to adjust my distance from the subject or scene. Many times this is not possible. F2.8 zooms cost way too much unless you’re a pro making money with photography and f1.8 or lower long zoom lenses do not exist (except maybe for NASA or the military). The Holy Grail of lenses; an 18-300mm zoom with 1:1 macro and f1.4 that doesn’t weigh or cost more than the camera.

  4. Yeah, sign me up for one of those! I’d settle for a f/2.8 50-200mm zoom that didn’t require a 30 year loan!

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