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Nikon Z 50mm F/1.8S Lens Review

The Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8S lens for the Z series mirrorless camera range has been put to the test by John Riley.

| Nikon Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S in Interchangeable Lenses
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Nikkor Z 50mm F1,8S Front Oblique View | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 115.0 mm | ISO 100

Nikon now offers a mature range of lenses for the Z series mirrorless cameras, so it is a perfect time to introduce alternative versions of some focal lengths. We have had a 50mm f/1.2 and even a 50mm f/0.95, so it now makes good sense to offer a lower cost 50mm f/1.8, with the added benefit that the potential is there for the optical quality to be even higher. This can be the case for lenses with slower maximum apertures unless, of course, they are economy versions. The Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8S is presented as a top-quality optic, so let's see how it performs and handles using the 45.7MP Nikon Z 7 II mirrorless body.



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Nikon Z 50mm F/1.8S Handling and Features

Nikkor Z 50mm F1,8S On Z7II | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 60.0 mm | ISO 100

In terms of controls, this is a straightforward lens, not exactly compact for a 50mm, measuring 76mm in diameter and 86.5mm in length. This is in proportion to the Z7 II body and the package balances well. It weighs in at a modest 415g. There is a provided petal lens hood that bayonets securely into place, without the need for a locking catch to keep it secure. Within the bayonet fit is a conventional 62mm filter thread,

The lens is clearly well-made and is sealed from dust and water droplets. Focus breathing is virtually eliminated, this being of value particularly to videographers, along with the smooth and silent electromagnetic aperture control.

The only control ring on the lens barrel is the generously wide manual focus ring, which is active in AF as well as MF. The control is smooth, as we would expect any electronic control to be. AF is provided by a fast and accurate stepping motor that is virtually silent in operation. Focusing is down to 0.4m, or 1.32 feet, slightly closer than a traditional 50mm lens.

Optical construction is 12 elements in 9 groups, including 2 ED (Extra Low Dispersion) and 2 Aspherical. Floating elements in the design help to maintain sharpness at closer distances. Nano crystal coatings are there to reduce any chance of flare. The diaphragm comprises 9 blades and the resulting aperture is rounded to improve the bokeh of the image.

Nikkor Z 50mm F1,8S Front Element View | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 53.0 mm | ISO 100

The only control on the lens apart from the focusing ring is the A/M switch, which is self-explanatory. However, the AF system is so good, in even the dimmest light, that no real need for MF was found during the review process.

As is often the case, using just the one lens to shoot location images is a very liberating experience and it is easy to see why some photojournalists or street photographers might prefer to keep things simple in this way. We can then concentrate just on the composition and the moment, using our legs to move about rather than relying on a zoom. The other reason for using just a simple prime lens is quality, and if the promise of even higher standards is realised then the sheer pleasure of producing a fine, sharp image full of detail can be a goal in itself, if that is what the subject matter demands. Let's have a look at the performance to see if this quality is realised in practice.


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14 Nov 2022 8:50AM
We use both this lens and the Nikkor Z 50mm f1.2 on our Z9 and Z7II for professional work. I can safely say that when you don't need f1.2 (and very few actually do), you're just as well off with this lens as with the f1.2. Image quality is fantastic and considering the price it's almost unbelievably good. By the way, this goes just as well for the Z 85mm f1.8, although there's not a comparable f1.2 version yet.

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