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Home » Nikon Z 50mm F1.8? | Will Nikon ever make another Nifty Fifty?

Nikon Z 50mm F1.8? | Will Nikon ever make another Nifty Fifty?

  • Lenses

Despite being a self-proclaimed Nikon fan-boy, it’s hard to understand some of Nikon’s decisions. For example, burdening its otherwise impressive first generation Z cameras with CoolPix-style tracking. Or abandoning the dual card slot design it marketed as an essential feature of its DSLRs just a few years earlier. But today, we’re talking lenses and Nikon’s Nifty Fifty or lack of.


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The Wait

The lack of a cheap Nikon 50mm prime for Nikon’s Z-mount has been on my mind for a while. But my frustration peaked when Canon released yet another affordable prime lens in the Canon RF 24mm F1.8. Read Canon RF 24mm F1.8 overview.

If you are a Canon owner, you can now buy compact, fast 16mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses at affordable prices. For example, buying Canon’s F1.8 Trinity (35mm, 50mm, and 85mm) will cost you $1200. In comparison, Nikon’s F1.8 Trinity will set you back $2260.

Of that $1200 total, Canon’s Nifty Fifty, the Canon RF 50mm F1.8, presently costs just US$200. And despite its bargain-basement price, it is equipped with a metal lens mount and a customizable control ring. So, when will we see its Nikon equivalent?

What about the Nikon Z 50mm F1.8 S

At least Nikon has not forgotten about my favorite focal length. Quite the contrary. A few years ago, much of the pre-launch buzz around Nikon’s new Z mount was created by a new 50mm lens with a large F0.95 aperture. Naturally, such a lens tickled GAS (Gear acquisition syndrome)-infected photographers in all the right places while underlining the superiority of the ‘bigger than yours’ Z-mount itself.

However, the hype train came off the tracks in a big way when this new super-lens was revealed to be the colossal, supremely expensive, and manual focus-only Nikon Z 58mm F0.95 NOCT.

Having satisfied its hype-building objective – the Noct stepped aside, revealing a more sensible alternative, the Nikon Z 50mm F1.8 S-Line. The lens was a disappointment on paper as it was much larger and three times more expensive than the Nikon DSLR-era Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G it seemingly replaced.

Yet, it soon became apparent that the Nikon Z 50mm F1.8 S is, in terms of image quality, a match for the even more expensive Sigma 50mm F1.4. So in that context, at least, the Nikon Z 50mm F1.8 S is critically acclaimed, and rightly so.

Nevertheless, many, including myself, will happily sacrifice a little image quality for a smaller, cheaper lens. And Nikon had us covered all along. Sort of.

Finally, a small, lightweight 50mm

The Nikon Z 50mm F2.8 MC is an interesting lens in that it combines the 100% maximum magnification ratio Macro photographers crave with the short focal length many don’t.

At the same time, the Nikon Z 50mm F2.8 MC finally gave Nifty Fify fans the compact 50mm they’ve been waiting for, albeit one which is a whole stop slower and three times the price. Read What are Stops in Photography.

But Nikon knew the Nikon Z 50mm F2.8 MC wasn’t for everyone, thus releasing the Nikon Z 50mm F1.2 S – a lens for everyone looking to combine NOCT-like bulk with a smaller aperture. (I jest – it’s much lighter and has autofocus).

Almost

Nikon came close to producing a genuine Nifty Fifty with the Nikon Z 40mm F2 – a fine lens with a practical angle of view. Read Nikon Z 40mm F2 compared.

However, the proposition is soured somewhat with a slower aperture and a plastic lens mount, seemingly designed to remind you that only $300 Canon lenses have metal mounts. Nevertheless, the Nikon Z 40mm F2 is a good lens, but it will never be 50mm. Read 35mm vs 50mm lenses.

The future

Sadly, Nikon’s latest Z lens road map does not include any new 50mm lenses – Nifty or otherwise. As I wrote this self-indulging, thinly-veiled rant of a post, I wondered whether Nikon believed the Nifty Fifty to be a dated concept for an audience long-lost to smartphones.

Perhaps Nikon believes the only people left buying interchangeable-lens cameras are those looking to spend big bucks on optical perfection.

But even if this was true, is it really possible to sell a $2000 Nikon Z 50mm F1.2 S to someone who didn’t first fall in love with a Nifty Fifty? In this context, you might consider the Nifty Fifty a gateway lens and the foundation upon which a lens system sits.

I respect insanely priced lenses and optical perfection, but I adore affordable primes. In my opinion, Nifty Fifty’s are photography’s most friendly lenses in that they offer so much for so little and sit at the apex of value before diminishing returns sets in.

So Nikon, how about it?

What about you? What lens would you like to see for your favorite camera? Comment


Browse Nikon Z Lenses


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