For a detailed comparison of all of Nikon’s Series-E lenses, click here!
“Fast 50’s” are a category of lens all by their own that needs little explanation. They are lenses meant to appeal to all markets of photographers, from casual to pro; choices from one manufacturer are numerous enough (Nikon alone has at least seven manual focus 50’s, and at least 5 autofocus 50’s). When all the other camera companies and third-party manufacturers’ fast 50’s are taken into account, the sheer amount of choice is daunting. For a lens to separate itself from the crowd, it has to have something special. For instance, the new SLR-Magic 50mm T0.95 Cine lens, reviewed back in February by Steve Huff, is one of the fastest 50mm lenses getting ready to be produced–faster than even the $11,000 Leica Noctilux (T-stops are faster than F-stops, that’s a concept to write about in and of itself…). That lens in particular is getting a lot of attention not only for its speed, but for its cost and performance compared to the Noctilux (will be priced around $5000 now).
So…where does the 50mm f/1.8 E come in then? It’s not the fastest production lens, even from Nikon standards (that would be the 50mm f/1.2 AI-s), it isn’t built like an AI-s Nikkor, and it isn’t a benchmark for other 50mm’s to stand up against (supposedly that lens is the Leica 50mm Summicron). Surely the above picture gives it away, this thing is TINY. So much so, it is weightless when mounted on the NEX-7 (really, any camera at all). The 50mm f/1.8 E is the smallest and lightest 50mm lens ever made by Nikon, and would be the smallest and lightest Nikon lens period were it not for the dinky and slower 45mm f/2.8P which nowadays is more of a collectors lens than a great Nikon optic. This compact size and lightweight (a characteristic shared by all of the Series-E lenses) is really the sole selling point for this lens. The “shootability” is through the roof, as it adds little length and virtually no weight to any camera. For me, it is a lens I will be keeping even if I get a “better” 50mm due to this shootability. For others, if image quality is the only thing that matters, the 50mm f/1.8 E might disappoint in a few categories.
Full Title: Nikon 50mm 1:1.8 Series-E (lacks the Nikkor designation)
Dimensions: 1.3 inches/33mm long, 2.5 inches/62.5mm in diameter, with a feather-weight of 5.5 ounces/155 grams. Compared to the already weightless NEX-7 (12.3 ounces/350 grams) it mounts to in this review, it feels like nothing is there!
Close Focus: Marked at two feet/.6 meters, and you can’t get any closer than that.
Miscellaneous: 7 straight-bladed aperture stopping down to f/22, 52mm filter thread, metal mount. On an APS-C camera, the field of view in 35mm terms is 75mm, or a short portrait/telphoto length. On a m4/3 camera, the effective 35mm field of view is 100mm, or a medium portrait/telephoto length.
I’m not going to spend too much time on this section as I usually do. The 50mm f/1.8 E is a simple but great lens in use.
- Is it built well? Yes, most all parts are high-quality plastic, with a metal mount. However the contstruction isn’t as good as the AI-s’ due simply to the materials used.
- Does it shoot well? Indeed, mechanically the lens is sound, with a solid-clicking aperture ring, and smooth-as-silk focusing throughout the range.
- Just how light is it? Imagine shooting your camera without a lens on it. That’s exactly what it feels like. DSLR, NEX/NX, or m4/3, it’ll feel like varying degrees of nothing.
- Are they cheap? You bet, I got mine in mint condition for about $50/€40.
As mentioned above, I love the 50mm f/1.8 E. It was one of the first lenses I ever got for my camera, and is my go-to choice whenever I need a compact and lightweight kit. Functionally, I couldn’t ask for more. Optically, there are some things to be desired (better flare control, equal aperture of peaked sharpness and contrast), but even then, I still love using it. It’s one of those lenses that helps you just “go out and shoot”. Now, the “my kit is too cumbersome to take out” idea can no longer apply. Following this new thought process, more opportunities for photography will open up as the camera will be with you more often. That’s a stellar reason by itself to own this lens. Regardless, let’s now look into each technical aspect in detail.
Though sharpness is supposed to be only a small component in a lens’ performance, many feel it is the deciding factor between a good or bad optic. I personally fall somewhere in the middle. I love seeing pixel-level sharpness (especially with a 24MP sensor), but it isn’t terribly important that all my shots are sharp when viewing at 100% on screen. With that in mind, I have tested the 50mm f/1.8 E to peak in contrast and sharpness in very different places. Even still, at the optimum sharpness aperture, I still don’t feel like the lens is getting razor-sharp, which typically is one of the staples of good fast 50’s. The following chart, available as a free download, was used to assess sharpness and contrast:
Let’s look at some 100% (meaning clicking on them will not make these any bigger) center crops by aperture:
Getting starting wide-open, there isn’t too much detail as I would hope to see, and contrast is low due to veiling haze. I wouldn’t want to shoot wide open unless I needed the absolute most light (night photography handheld) or the shallowest depth of field possible. By f/2, contrast has marginally improved. Strangely enough, at f/2.8, contrast has already peaked on the 50mm f/1.8 E (I found this out by comparing the amount of blacks that were “clipped” via Lightroom 4’s highlight/shadow clipping indicators) and sharpness is a bit better. At f/4, contrast has started to decrease, while sharpness increases. The same trend happens at f/5.6. By f/8 it sharpens up a bit more (contrast is still decreasing), reaching peak sharpness. From f/11 on diffraction sets in, further degrading both sharpness and contrast further. At f/22, sharpness and contrast is just about the same as wide open.
This is the first lens I have reviewed that suffers from focus shift in the centers. Before, my method was to get critical focus wide-open, and simply take the shot after each f/stop. As it turned out both times I ran the tests, the centers at f/4-5.6 noticeably decreased in sharpness. Thanks to a helpful criticism from a reader, I redid the test refocusing at each aperture. I managed a much different result. Though the contrast still peaks at f/2.8, sharpness showed incremental steps in improvement, as well as a faster peak in sharpness (f/8 versus the previous f/11). From now on, focus shift will be assessed by running the sharpness tests once through focusing only wide open, then another carefully refocusing at each aperture.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move to corner 100% crops:
For these comparisons, f/2 was not used as the corners look exactly the same. Full-frame designed lenses have a “sweet-spot” advantage when used on a camera with a smaller sized sensor, as the sensor is really using more of the sharp central portion of the lens, rather than the corners. This typically results in less corner smearing and improved corner resolution and contrast. The 50mm f/1.8 E is no exception here, even wide open (though detail is really lacking), there is no corner smearing, but the corners are dark due to vignetting. At f/2.8, detail and contrast improve to a “fair” degree. By f/4, contrast has peaked, and sharpness is still creeping up. At f/5.6, contrast is the same, while sharpness has increased a bit. The optimum aperture for sharpness is again reached at f/8, while diffraction effects start to take hold from f/11 on. Detail and contrast at f/22 is still acceptable, all things considered. Due to the smaller crop size, the corners when used on a m4/3 camera will be much better, as those corners are using even more of the sharper center of the lens than the larger APS-C sensor uses.
Unfortunately, there is no “optimum-range” of sharpness and contrast with this lens, as center contrast peaks well before sharpness (something I’m not used to seeing) in both cases, and there is only one aperture (f/8) where critical sharpness is achieved. Even at that, the corner resolution doesn’t quite stack up to the center at f/8. On the side, there is also some field curvature with the 50mm E (where not all objects in a perpendicular plane to the lens are in focus), but is only noticeable at the larger apertures. Even then, the effect is mild.
All this said, I don’t particularly care that center sharpness peaks at a “slow” f/8, I don’t feel sharpness makes a good photograph.
Sharpness at Infinity
To assess infinity-focused sharpness, this boring electrical box was shot against the sky:
Though critical sharpness at normal focus ranges is f/8, at infinity, optimum is at f/11 (though f/8 is just about the same). The difference noted between the corners and center even at optimum carries over to infinity. Even in these 100% crops, the center is visibly sharper than the corners (but not by much).
Sharpness at Macro
As mentioned, the close-focus of the 50mm f/1.8 E is not close-enough to be considered for a serious macro lens (nor is it particularly sharp enough for critical macro work, either). That said, sometimes you can only carry one lens with you, and when it is this one, close-focus performance should be noted.
However, even wide open at f/1.8, results at close-focus look just fine in this “real-world” shot:
“Bokeh” is an artistic term of Japanese origin for the character of anything in the image that is not in focus. Typically, smooth bokeh, where out of focus objects and highlights seem to “melt” into the background, is favorable. In regards to the 50mm f/1.8 E, bokeh in general is pretty good. The quality of the blur is very smooth at most apertures, and the handling of out of focus highlights are okay as well.
So let’s look at some NON-100% crops to see how bokeh in the back/foreground appears:
There’s not too much to discuss here as far as bokeh smoothness. I’m pleasantly surprised at how smooth everything is. Backgrounds blur out in a nice gaussian fashion at all apertures, while foreground bokeh is smooth at all apertures save for f/5.6-8 where some doubling seems to be present. Color me impressed!
Now, onto the out-of-focus highlights. To assess this characteristic, a sparkled decoration was defocused to get as many point sources of light as possible. By aperture:
Just as in basic bokeh quality, where bokeh will really matter in normal-distance photographs will range from wide-open to f/4. This is great, as at these apertures, out-of-focus highlights range from okay to great! Wide-open and at f/2, bokeh highlights have distinct but thin rings, and the color of the highlight ranges slightly depending on where you look. At f/2.8, bokeh highlights look their best, with soft edges, solid-colors, and no artifacts. Good news since contrast also peaks here (noted in the sharpness section), f/2.8 may be the aperture to shoot for general photography. At f/4 the highlights are still pretty solid in color with no artifacts, but the edges start to appear again. By f/5.6-8, highlights have more defined edges and contain nasty-looking artifacts (though they are at least solid in color). It is worth noting if just a few out-of-focus highlights are in an image (such as streetlights), editing them in Photoshop is possible, but when there are very many, such as in high-contrast scenes with many bright objects, it just isn’t worth the time. Also, these crops are at 100% (after clicking on them, anyway), so actually seeing these at normal printing sizes simply won’t happen (I would still prefer to shoot at f/2.8, though!).
In this “real-world” shot, bokeh smoothness and highlight handling is observed:
A form of chromatic abberation (a type of distortion where certain colors do not hit the image sensor at the same convergence point), purple fringing is typically seen in fast lenses at their wider apertures when shooting scenes of contrast, such as branches against sky. Though purple fringing can be cleaned up very well in post processing nowadays (see my detailed post on that here), it is still an important point to take in consideration if one either doesn’t have the time to post process, or has purple objects in the frame that does not want to be desaturated. To assess purple fringing, I used this scene of high contrast:
And now for some crops taken from the center. Pay attention in these sets to the branch to the right (the focus point):
Even at f/1.8, the purple fringing isn’t all that bad, here’s a 15-second fix in Lightroom 4:
As I have said before, the fringing sliders in LR 4 are life-savers for purple-fringing prone lenses. I love the feature. Also, remember that this test was the absolute worst-case scenario. Seeing this much purple fringing in general photography, even wide open, would be very rare.
Longitudinal Chromatic Aberration
Longitudinal Chromatic Aberration (also known as “bokeh fringing”) is another form of aberration that is mainly prevalent on large aperture lenses in areas that are out-of-focus (hence the bokeh designation). A lens that suffers from LoCA has objects in the background tinged with green, while objects in the foreground are tinged with purple. Stopping down a lens only marginally helps in reducing LoCA’s, all stopping down really does in most instances is bring more objects into focus (anything out of focus will still have the aberration). Usually the purple hue on foreground objects is of a different hue than purple fringing, so foreground LoCA can be very difficult to remove in post-processing. Fortunately, Lightroom 4 also has a dedicated aberration slider for the green hue, so at least foreground LoCA’s can be removed easily. If you take a look again at the “fixed” image for purple fringing in the last point, you can see very easily that the branch in the center has purple LoCA, while the branches to the left have heavy green LoCA. I must point out that purple fringing is technically a form of LoCA, but is often treated and thought of as a separate fault in lenses (hence my adherence with the norm). Anyways, here is a minute’s worth attempt at fixing these other aberrations:
One of the cost-cutting measures for the Series-E lenses was to only single-coat the lenses. Lenses that are single-coated tend to not have very good flare control due to many internal lens reflections. Nikon eventually started to give multi-coating to some of the later Series-E’s, but many only got the single treatment. I can say without a doubt that the 50mm f/1.8 E is only single coated. Flare performance is awful. Internal reflections become visible when the sun (or other very bright sources of light) is within 180 degrees of the lens. This means that if you are trying to take a picture of something and the sun is to your immediate left or right, it will most likely affect your images. Instead of a series of pictures, I shot a short video showing all the reflections.
…Seen it? Saw how many reflections there were? I know! Flare performance is the one truly awful area this lens performs in. A hood may help, but attaching one of those negates the unique compactness of the lens. Oh well. If possible, just make sure to keep the sun or other bright sources of light behind you for your photography.
Vignetting, to put it simply, are darkened corners as a result of shooting near the wide open aperture. Another result of the “sweet-spot” advantage, most full-frame lenses tend to have little to no vignetting problems when used on an APS-C or smaller sensor. The 50mm f/1.8 E doesn’t have any real-world problems with vignetting, but there is some that is noticeable if shooting a solid color wall wide-open:
One of the many advantages to using a prime lens over a zoom, distortion is usually well-corrected (save for wide-angles). Distortion with the 50mm f/1.8 E is absent. Completely. There is absolutely no barrel or pincushion distortion to correct. Don’t even worry about it, you’ll never find any. I mistakenly noted in my review on the 105mm f/1.8 AI-s that this lens had more distortion. This was a mistake, the appearance of distortion was due to a false interpretation of shadows from an off-camera source light (to keep shutter speeds high). Apologies. 🙂 That review has since been edited.
Now let’s hit the old recap:
Pros and Cons
- “Shootability” is extremely high, the lens feels like nothing when mounted on any camera, and is extremely small by itself
- Good build quality despite the use of a lot of plastic, everything feels machined tightly
- Operation in all aspects is smooth, from focusing to aperture control to mounting
- Sharpness at optimum aperture is good. It is sharper than the 135mm f/2.8 E is at its optimum, but less sharp than the 35mm f/2.5 E at its optimum
- The corners never smear, but have relatively low resolution at the larger apertures
- Center contrast peaks at the large f/2.8 aperture (f/4 in corners)
- Performance at close-focus and infinity are equally good
- Bokeh is exceptionally smooth with the exception of busy foregrounds at f/5.6-8
- Out-of-focus highlights are rendered great from f/2.8-4
- Even in worst-case scenarios, purple fringing isn’t an issue from f/2.8 on
- Other longitudinal chromatic aberrations are easy to deal with
- Vignetting is unnoticeable in actual shooting, unlike the 35mm f/2.5 E
- Absolutely no distortion. Zip. Nada. Shoot buildings all day long.
- Coming in at only $50/€40, it’s generally a nice performing lens that won’t cost a fortune
- It’s not made of metal, but then again, it wouldn’t be so light if it was.
- Center sharpness peaks at f/8, more than 4 stops down from wide open. Many zooms peak at f/8, for comparison.
- Corner sharpness peaks at f/8 (but never get truly sharp), but isn’t as sharp as the center
- Since contrast degrades from f/2.8 on, perceived sharpness can be affected at all stopped-down apertures
- Focus shift a problem at f/4-5.6. Not noticeable at other apertures.
- A little bit of field curvature
- Close-focus distance is disappointingly long
- Out-of-focus highlights at f/1.8-2 and f/5.6-8 are distracting
- Terrible purple fringing wide open, still a big problem at f/2
- Flare control is awful, adding a hood may help but would defeat the point of having such a compact kit
The Bottom Line
I can’t recommend the 50mm f/1.8 E high enough to anyone needing a lens for general photography. The versatility of the large aperture, the compactness and lightweight, the good performance (and great in some, like bokeh), and the cheap cost combine to make it a winning lens that should be in any photographers bag that still uses manual focus lenses for a short telephoto (APS-C) or medium portrait lens (m4/3). However, those that demand pixel-level sharpness in a wider aperture range, tend to avoid using the preview button (applies only to SLR shooters), and often shoot with sources of light in the frame, should look elsewhere–the 50mm f/1.8 E was never designed to be a critical 50mm benchmark.
Now for some samples:
That’s all for this review, hope you found it interesting and informative. Getting ready to start shooting with the 100mm f/2.8 E, that should be a fun little lens as well, I can’t wait to compare it against the 105mm f/1.8 AI-s. Who knows? They may be comparable! Anyways, thanks for dropping by. Comments are welcome, and as always, have a great one!
I also have the little 50-1.8 E lens it’s wonderful thanks for your test PAV
Thanks Paul, glad you liked it, and good for you having it in your kit. 🙂
Matthew, great site and great reviews. I recently switched from a Canon DSLR to a NEX-7 and am still getting used to it. I use the Sigma 30mm 2.8 as my walkabout lens and I have the LA-EA2 PDAF adapter and Sony 35mm 1.8 that I use for taking indoor “action” shots of my toddler. I found he is too quick for the contrast AF of the NEX-7. I would like to start using some of these older Nikon MF lenses and based on your review think I will start with the 50mm 1.8 E. Can you reccomend a reputable place to purchase these lenses online?
Hey there Michael, glad you found my site and are finding it helpful. Always good to hear from another DSLR “convert”, as well as your smart moves with the Sigma and Sony 35mm f/1.8 (both are stellar lenses). Keep in mind that the Sigma is SUPER sharp, lensrentals.com actually confirmed that it is the sharpest lens available in e-mount at the moment. This means that pixel-level results with pretty much any other lens (unless they are crazy expensive ED Nikkors), results may not be what you are expecting.
This would be the case with the 50mm f/1.8, hopefully though you may be interested in this lens just for its feel and shootability, as I describe in the review. For that, it is a lens I’m keeping.
As far as a reputable place online, you can be safe on eBay. I know, I know. It can be unnerving to give your money to someone (even via PayPal) you don’t know, nor will ever see. However, eBay’s buyer protection is excellent, and has you covered. However, to assure that you don’t run into a scammer, try to only buy from sellers that have a high feedback percentage (99.8% or above), ship from your country (watch out for out of country sellers and the import fees), and don’t throw around too many loaded words in their descriptions (don’t buy from someone who types in all caps, uses mint condition too much, etc etc.).
You should be set after that. Keep checking back here for more lenses you may want to get into! The 100mm f/2.8 I’m working on right now is promising.
Thanks, that’s good info on what to expect in terms of IQ with the older lenses. I am fine with using eBay, but wasn’t sure if there were some better alternatives. I sold all of my Canon gear on eBay so I should drink my own medicine.
When I was researching e-mount lenses to use, I did go with the 30mm due to the good reviews. Of course it was really just the 30mm or expensive 24mm to choose from in that were prime and in that focal length range. lol. I have to say that my initial reaction to the image quality of the NEX-7 with the 30mm 2.8 was not as good as I expected. I was used to being able to place a focus point on my son’s eye using my Canon t1i w/50mm 1.4 lens and get tack sharp focus. Using the flexible spot focus on the NEX-7 got me close, but not as consistent until I purchased the adapter. I also noticed that at ISO 1600 which is a common ISO I shoot at on my t1i, the images coming out of the NEX-7 looked much noisier than I was used to. I had scoured the various NEX forums before making my purchase so I knew that there could be a perceived ISO problem when looking at the NEX-7 images at 1:1 scale given the much higher pixel count. I haven’t taken enough low ISO photos with the 30mm to really get a feel for what the IQ should be and what the camera is capable of. In general I think a lot of my “issues” are related to the learning curve of doing things a little differently than on a traditional DSLR. I am impressed by the great action shots you’ve gotten using MF. I never used MF before, but now I see that using FP and MF Assist on the NEX could be very helpful tools to accomplish what I want.
Regarding using the Nikon MF lenses I see you are using the Fotodiox PRO NF-Sony adapter. There is another Fotodiox adapter that is compatible with the Nikon lens that is much less expensive at $19.99. I am trying to figure out what the difference is. Here is the link to it on Amazon. Do you know?
whew, okay, I’ll respond in order:
1. Yep, eBay to your heart’s content, just remember to keep an eye out for shady buyers (you’ll be able to pick up on who those are after a few rounds of searching).
2. Your experience with the Sigma so far makes sense, it sounds like you are using auto ISO, which the NEX-7 is limited (unfortunately) at 1600. Here’s what I recommend: following the 1/35mm focal length rule, the Sigma 30mm has a 45mm field of view on an APS-C (NEX) camera. That means in order to get sharp results consistently, you need to have a shutter speed of at least 1/50th (1/45th isn’t a value) when shooting handheld (with good technique). Good news is memory is cheap. Take advantage of this by always shooting in one of the two burst modes (4 fps or 10 fps) and in aperture priority. Set the aperture to whatever you like, and adjust the iso manually until you get around 1/50th. You’ll pick up pretty quickly on what situations will call for what ISOs. In other words, try to keep your ISO as low as possible.
Reason I mention shooting in burst is you can get away with slower shutter speeds. You see, when you depress the shutter, that is a movement that causes camera shake. When you hold down the shutter, there is no movement (relatively), and if you do a 3-5 shot burst handheld at 1/25 (or slower), I’ll be willing to bet at least one of those shots will be tack sharp.
Let’s take a situation, say you are trying to take a picture of a static subject and are in low light. You already have the aperture set to f/2.8, so it can’t be opened up anymore. Even wide open, the camera is selecting 1/50 when you go down to ISO 400. Pixel-level noise becomes visible at this ISO, so let’s see if we can cheat. If you turn down the ISO to 200, the shutter speed will be 1/25. However, let’s cheat a little more. Brace yourself against a wall (or take a breath), and shoot at 1/13 at ISO 100. Do a 10 shot burst with the speed priority burst mode, and in post-processing, look at that, you got a tack-sharp picture at ISO 100!
I may write an article on this sometime, but on the NEX-7 it is critical to try to stay in the ISO 100-400 range as much as possible. Any more than that, and pixel-level (though not image-level) detail starts to go away. If you nail focus (discussed in point 3) at these ISOs, you’ll be blown away at the sharpness.
3. If you don’t have manual focus assist turned on, where it automatically zooms in to 100% when you touch the focus ring, turn it on. What you do is focus with the autofocus first, then immediately after “lock” turn the focus ring a bit to zoom in and confirm that you have nailed focus. Once found, DO NOT RELEASE THE SHUTTER. Go ahead and take the picture. If you release the shutter for any reason and depress it again, it’ll refocus, thus ruining your efforts. Btw, thanks for looking through my previous stuff, those sports shots were a blast to capture. Parents of the players loved them too.
4. The main difference is the regular adapter is cheaper-made, is more prone to “play” (lens/adapter wiggles when mounted), and doesn’t look as good. Funny enough, the non-pro version actually has more functionality, as you can use “G” lenses that do not have an aperture ring thanks to the in-adapter aperture control. In fairness, though, the manual focusing of the G lenses sucks compared to the silky smooth focusing of AI-s’. Keep a lookout on Amazon for the pro to drop in price. I got mine when it went on sale for $50, when it was $60 (like it is now).
I really appreciate the detailed response. I actually never use AUTO ISO. Over the years I’ve learned what ISOs work best for the environment that I am shooting in. Most of the time I use aperture priority or manual but I will sometimes use shutter priority so I can set the shutter speed to make sure it doesn’t go below the focal length based on the rule. That way I don’t have to think about it if my shooting conditions change.
I like your tip of shooting in continuous mode to get past the camera shake of pressing the shutter button. I will try that at the lower ISOs and see what happens. I am also continuing to experiment with using FP and manual assist. I think my problem was that I was releasing the shutter after FP instead of taking the photo.
I will purchase the PRO version of the adapter and keep an eye out for good lens bargains. Keep up the great work. I would love to see some reviews on wider angle lenses such as the Nikon 28mm 2.8 AI-s.
Good to know you’re out of auto then, and yes that continuous tip does wonders for all cameras, DSLR or mirrorless. It works even better for the heavier cameras since they have more mass to distribute any shake.
Will do on the reviews, and I just ordered the 28mm f/2.8 Series-E. Not the AI-s, yet, but it’ll do for now.
I’ve been familiarizing myself with the different Nikon lens designations and was reading about E and AI-s. You mentioned that you are getting the 28mm Series-E, not the AI-s. However, on Ken Rockwell’s site he says “All Series E lenses are AI-s, and likewise fit every Nikon SLR camera, manual and auto focus.” He also says “The operation and compatibility of the Series E lenses is identical to the other manual focus AI-s lenses, which makes sense because they are AI-s.” Now I’m confused. http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/nikortek.htm#e
Ah, yes. I remember reading that paragraph and being confused as well.
There are different kinds of AI-s lenses (technically, AI-s isn’t a name, it’s a designation. the AI stands for Auto-Indexing. Forgot what the S stands for, as there are many just “AI” lenses). You have your AI-s Nikkors, which are all metal, and you have your AI-s Series-E’s, which have some to a lot of plastic. You also have any other AI-s lens made by any other manufacturer.
Clears it up any? For instance, the OPERATION of the 28mm f/2.8 E may be the same as the Nikkor version, but the optical quality, build, and price will vary.
Makes sense. Thanks.
Nikon 50 mm F/1.8 Series E was suppose to work om d3000 but thr screen says no len attached. Do you know what could be the problem?
Unfortunately on the lesser Nikon DSLRs, such as the d40/d90/d3000/d5000, AI-s lenses (which the Series-E’s are of AI-s mount-spec) will not meter with the camera. You should still be able to take photographs, but will be limited to guessing your own exposure. Sorry, the same thing happened to me when I first went out with this on an old d40. 😦
Sence I buy my lens used, what series can I use ,of corse I know it will be m-f Thanks
Though I usually hate linking to this guy, this chart he put together is extremely helpful for your situation: DSLR Lens Compatibility Chart
With manual lenses – put your Nikon on manual mode (M). Then you can shoot with any lens you can put on. It is also a very good training to learn how to control shutter speed, iso and all the other things. Hope it helped. Your camera should be able to take any nikkon or nikkor lens back to the ’60 or something
Yes, many of the upper-end DSLRs will actually automatically meter with these lenses, such as the d300. My NEX-7 works great in this regard as well with live exposure preview. 🙂
Good review. f4 seems a good way to use it generally.
Thanks Matt, f/4 is a great aperture for it, and overall it’s still a good lens for compact usage just about anywhere.
I love my 50 e
will this lense work with a Nikon D5100?
Yes, though in addition to manually focusing you will have to manually meter.
Because of the sharpness problems, which really didn’t seem too bad at 100%, would I be able to use this for landscape photography? I’m not worried about zooming. I just enjoy a fixed focal length for scenery.
Feel free to use this for landscapes, but to get the most detail possible, try to stay within the f/4-f/8 range. Enjoy!
Do you think that this would be a good lens for video?
Hey Gideon. If you use it at f/2.8 and above, I would imagine it would work great for video (even without de-clicking the aperture. on my copy, the aperture clicks are smooth and silent). Just make sure you have some sort of stabilizer or tripod, as handholding 50mm without camera shake is extremely difficult.
Great review thank you so much. Acutually I’m going buy this lens tomorrow so I was looking for someones review and I have a found your review.
Again, Thank you
Great to hear the review helped, thanks!
Thanks for the lovely and detailed review. I just got this lens with a Nikon FM2N today. While I’m sure it’ll be fine for the FM2N, I was curious to see if it was worth getting an adapter for it and my Nikkor 35mm f2.8 AIS on my Sony a6000. Sounds like fun!
Glad the review helped, Chun! Happy shooting!
How would this lens be with street photography? I use the nikon d40 if it matters.
Hey Anthony, as I replied in the email you sent, the lens works okay for street shots, but can be a little tight and is somewhat difficult to zone focus.
Matthew, I just purchased this lens (the black one) from Keh. Is there much difference between this version and the NIkkor version ? The Nikkor version seems a bit difficult to find although although after I made my purchase, I located one on Ebay in Japan for 140.00. I paid 115 for my Keh purchase with both caps.
Thank you for the review by the way.
Hey there Ken. The Series-E version is built a little less hardy, and likely has a tad lower image quality. However, the differences are likely nil, as the Series-E is much smaller and lighter than the AI-s counterpart. Makes for a much better take-with-you-lens.
I just bought one of these on ebay due to your very positive review – I’m not sure it’s quite right. The aperture blades do not form a regular shape at any aperture: what I imagine should be a perfectly regular heptagon is flattened on one edge at smaller apertures, and at larger apertures, a small nick appears between two of the blades like the point of a star. Presumably this is a duff lens?
That sounds wrong, but unless you cannot notice anything affecting your photographs (perhaps only the bokeh highlights), then you should be fine.
OK thanks – the OOF highlights are pretty awful so it’s being returned – I’ll try another one. Cheers
I’m shooting with an a6000 and I just got this lens. Which adapter did you use or recommend me using?
Hey there David, hope the lens treats you well on that body. It’s been so long since I purchased my original Fotodiox adapter, but given all the other stuff I have purchased from them, I would still recommend the Fotodiox PRO adapter. The new version they have seems to allow aperture control of Nikon G lenses if you ever get any down the line (my “original” pro is only for AI-s style lenses). The new version lacks a tripod mount on the adapter, if that’s something that’s important to you. Metabones has an adapter that is more expensive, though it has a tripod adapter and ‘may’ be a bit better built. I don’t know since I’ve had the same adapter through thick and thin on my NEX.
Good luck either way you go.
Thanks for the quick reply man!
I really appreciate it and I’ll definitely try out the fotodiox PRO adapter.
Let me know how it works out for you, I may be getting another adapter soon as mine is finally starting to show a bit of wear (hundreds upon hundreds of mounts/dismounts in bad conditions…).
Fantastic post! Thank you so much for taking time to write a detailed review!
Glad you could drop by, thanks!
Hi great review! I would like to buy one, and found out there are two models of this pancake lens… is that right? And do you have any experience with this lens on the nikon fm2?
Hello! Sorry for such a late reply, I just got internet at my new place. I believe there is only one Series-E version of the lens, optically speaking. There may, however be different “versions” with slightly different coatings. I have never used these lenses on film cameras, though I imagine they will do much better than on digital.