50mm 1.4D on D600


I’ve used many 50mm lenses in my life. In school I got by with my Minolta film camera combo with a 50mm f/1.7. That lens and film combo has produced some of my personal favorite photos. On a 35mm camera or a FF digital sensor 50mm is in my opinion the best lens that we have to compliment our vision. If I were limited to just one lens, I would have no problem shooting with just that for the rest of my life. Imagine that, being attached to something that long, unheard of these days. If one were to get technical, 42mm would be the mathematically perfect lens for the 36×24 35mm format. Maybe I should look into the new 40mm STM from Canon. Oddly enough, 28mm on a DX crop sensor camera has an angle of view of 42mm, so perhaps I should shoot more of that for a future post.

I’ve had the autofocus Nikon 50mm f/1.4D and the 50mm f/1.8D in the past. Both sold long ago to pay bills, but I don’t think I missed much, as the manual focus 50mm I use all the time just produces pictures that I like. At the end of the day you really have to shoot pictures for yourself.

I’ll always be curious as to the thousands of lens and camera combinations out there. For gearhead guys at least, I think that’s one of the fascinating things about photography in general. So here are some results and thoughts on the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D, revisited on the D600.

One thing that I forgot about was the aperture blades creating 7 sided heptagonal bokeh. Multiple exposure, one wide open, the other stopped down to show the difference.

In bright sun without an ND filter, and shooting at 1.4, the D600 will make you think 1/4000 is not enough, but here’s an example.

For video users, the 7 sided out of focus points might be distracting.

Here are some examples on a real gig.  I’ve noticed the lens really wants to live at f/1.4, which of course is not good for group portraits, and back lit situations, like the wedding photos shown here (photographed at Ambient Plus Studios).  The purple fringing is a bother, but it can somewhat be fixed in post.  At 100%, the 50mm f/1.4 is pretty soft, but autofocus and the large aperture for $300 isn’t bad.  With the auto distortion control and vignette control enabled it should be on par with the rendering of the 50mm 1.8D.

Following photos unedited, straight from camera with the low contrast portrait profile.


Here are some sample video clips.  The focus gearing of the more modern 50mm 1.4D is loose, so hand focus pulling is an exercise in frustration.  Since this is an older D lens with the aperture ring, it does have an advantage over the newer lenses.  If you primarily shoot video with the D600, having manual control over the iris with the ring just makes life easier since Nikon hasn’t given this camera the power aperture feature.  Instead of having to leave movie live view to change your aperture, a twist of the ring  is much more intuitive.

One can definitely see the twinkling of the heptagonal bokeh in this sample.  I could see it being used for certain effects though.

D600 and 50mm 1.4D on our DIY Slider

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