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Best 50mm lens for Nikon DSLR

From the feather weight Nikon 50mm to the Zeiss Otus

For everyday use, the best 50mm lens for Nikon DSLRs such as the Nikon D750, D780, and D850 is the Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G. Despite being one of the cheapest Nikon lenses, it’s razor-sharp, compact, and well built.

However, if you don’t mind the extra weight and cost, the optically stabilized Tamron SP 45mm F1.8 is an incredibly versatile lens for everyday use. And if you need the best image quality, nothing gets sharper photos more often than the autofocusing Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art. So, let’s find out which fifty is for you! Jump to Conclusion


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Best 50mm lens for Nikon DSLR

The 7 best 50mm lenses for Nikon DSLRs are,

  1. Nikon Nikkor AF-D 50mm F1.8
  2. Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G
  3. Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.4G
  4. Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD
  5. Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art
  6. ZEISS Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZF.2
  7. ZEISS Otus 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2

Nikon Nikkor AF-D 50mm F1.8

The Nikon AF-D 50mm F1.8 is Nikon’s cheapest full-frame lens. Not only is it great value, but it’s optically sound, weighs next to nothing, and fits into a jacket pocket.

Sadly, the older Nikon has problems with stray light and is prone to lens flare and ghosting. And when set its maximum F1.8 aperture, the AF-D’s image is a little soft compared to the newer AF-S 50mm lens. Read about Aperture.

However, the AF-D’s biggest drawback is its lack of an in-built focus motor. As a result, the AF-D 50mm lens will not autofocus on cheaper Nikon DSLRs nor Nikon’s Z mirrorless cameras via the FtZ adapter.

Overall, the Nikon AF-D is a genuine bargain. Yet, for a little more, you can buy the superior Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G.


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Nikon Nikkor AF-S 50mm F1.8G

Overall, the Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G is the best 50mm lens for Nikon.

Optically, the AF-S is superior to the older Nikon AF-D 50mm in every way. For example, it is sharper at its maximum aperture and resistant to lens flare. And thanks to its inbuilt motor, the AF-S 50mm F1.8’s autofocus will work with any modern Nikon camera.

But what makes the Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8 the best Nikon 50mm lens is that it does so much so well for so little money.

And best of all, it manages to squeeze its talents into a compact and lightweight build. Therefore, the AF-S is not only a great lens but one you’re willing to carry with you. Awesome.


Shop for a Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G



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Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.4G

The Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.4G came before the AF-S 50mm F1.8G and is, in many ways, a similar lens. Of course, the main difference is its larger F1.4 aperture.

As a result, the AF-S 50mm is two-thirds of a stop brighter than the AF-S 50mm F1.4 and a little better at blurring backgrounds. Read about Stops in photography

Furthermore, the Nikon AF-S 50mm also features a 9-blade diaphragm for smoother bokeh. Combined with its larger, brighter, F1.4 aperture, the AF-S 50mm F1.4 is a good option for portraits.

However, the Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.4G is heavier than the F1.8 and twice as expensive. Plus, it’s less sharp, and its autofocus feels a little slower than the cheaper lens. Therefore, the F1.4 should be considered an incremental improvement for twice the price.


Shop for a Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.4G


Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Although the Tarmon SP 45mm F1.8 falls a few millimeters short of being a fifty, it’s too good not to be on this list. In fact, the Tamron SP 45mm is the best premium 50mm lens for Nikon full-frame.

With its slightly wider angle of view, premium optics, and moisture-resistant build, the Tamron 45mm looks to be a solid lens. However, the Tamron is the only ‘fifty’ to feature optical stabilization.

So whilst its maximum F1.8 suffers a 2/3rds of a stop disadvantage against its F1.4 rivals, its image stabilization is good for up to three stops. Therefore, you can use slower shutter speeds and pull light for longer. Read about Shutter Speed.

Furthermore, the Tamron has an impressive minimum focus distance of 29cms for class-leading magnification of smaller subjects.

Of course, excellence is neither cheap nor, apparently, light. The Tamron costs almost three times more than its F1.8 rivals and weighs a fraction less than 500 grams.

But if you can tolerate its weight, the weather-resistant, optically stabilized Tamron SP 45mm is an ideal walkaround lens.


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Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art

The Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art delivers Zeiss-like image quality for a fraction of a price. And unlike many Zeiss lenses, the Art will autofocus. As a result, the Sigma is the best 50mm lens for Nikon for image quality.

With its large, bright F1.4 aperture, 9-blade diaphragm, and epic image quality, the Sigma 50mm is a fine choice for portraiture. But thanks to its friendly 47° angle-of-view, you can direct its sublime talents towards everyday photography.

But only if you’re willing to carry it since, at 815g, it weighs nearly five-times as much as the AF-S 50mm F1.8G. As a result, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art falls a little short of the fifty’s brief of being an everyday lens.

On the other hand, despite its hefty price tag, the Art is an epic bargain considering it delivers Zeiss-like image quality AND autofocus.

Hence, if you’re looking to inject world-class image quality into your everyday photography, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 ART is awaiting your credit card.


Shop for a Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art


ZEISS Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZF.2

Although the Zeiss Milvus 50mm F1.4 is optically superb, it features no image stabilization or autofocus. Therefore, this is a lens you buy for your heart, not your head.

Like the Sigma Art, the Zeiss Milvus features a large F1.4 aperture and 9 blade diaphragm for razor-sharp subjects and beautifully blurred backgrounds.

Of course, sharpness depends on focus, and focus depends on you since the Milvus is manual-focus only. As a result, the Milvus is best pointed at static, or at least, cooperative subjects.

As you might expect, the Milvus is both heavy and expensive. But if you enjoy the process of manual focus, and find delight in sublime build quality – the Milvus might just be your ticket.


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ZEISS Otus 55mm f/1.4 ZF.2

It turns out too many people found the Milvus to be a little cheap and nasty. Therefore, Zeiss made the optically perfect Otus.

No one has ever bought a Rolex to tell the time. Nor has anyone ever bought an Otus just to take photos. Just like the Milvus, the manually focused Otus is heavy to hold and sublime to use.

And for the cost of a single Otus, you could buy every lens on this list and still have money left over. Yep, the Otus is that dear.

Obviously, this is a lens you don’t need. However, it might be a lens you want. Of course, only you can answer that. But if the answer is yes, please follow the link below.


Shop for a Zeiss Otus 55MM F1.4



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Conclusion

For most people, the best 50mm lens for Nikon full-frame DSLRs is the Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G. Not because it’s the best, but because it’s light, compact, and affordable whilst still taking great photos. Therefore, the AF-S 50mm F1.8G marks our beginning for diminishing returns.

That being said, the Tamron SP 45mm F1.8 is a hugely special lens. Although its F1.8 aperture is a little small for its price, it’s the only lens in its class to feature optical image stabilization.

As a result, the Tamron 45mm is the best 50mm lens for shooting static scenes in low light. With its image stabilization, friendly 51-degree angle of view, and moisture-resistant body, the Tamron is the best 50mm lens for everyday photography. So long as you’re willing to haul its expensive, 500g body.

The Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art is the best 50mm lens for image quality. Although the Zeiss Otus’s image quality is better still, Sigma’s inclusion of autofocus means it will get sharper images, more often, and in a more diverse range of shooting environments.

As for the Zeiss lenses, you don’t need either. However, ‘need’ has nothing to do with it. If you want a lens that happens to be a beautiful piece of engineering and an amazing image-maker, you’ll appreciate what Zeiss has to offer. Back to Top.


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