Nikon D4, Ai Nikkor 50mm f/1.4S, 1/1600, F4, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

Nikon Ai Nikkor 50mm f/1.4S

[Zoom] Wide-zoom | Standard-zoom | Tele-zoom | High-zoom
[Fixed-focal] Wide angle | Standard | Telephoto | Macro

This lens was released in 1981 and people who remember the debut of the Nikon F3 must wear a smile when they hear the name. This over-30-year-old lens is an old lens that you can still buy brand new. I appreciate Nikon's kindness to continue producing MF lenses from 20mm to 105mm even after the majority of their lenses were replaced with the AF-S lenses that incorporating a built-in AF motor. In this digital age, "high performance" means minimized aberration and clearness wide open. But, the Ai Nikkor 50mm f/1.4S was designed with a different kind of technologies. Actually, it's fun to shoot utilizing the aberration of this spherical lens and it makes an ideal second or third standard lens for the enjoyment of its unique taste.

( Photography & Text : Naz )

Nikon D4, Ai Nikkor 50mm f/1.4S, 1/3200, F2, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

Modern cameras focus automatically and instantly with a touch of finger. So, I found it refreshing to focus by rotating the focus ring and pinpoint the focusing with a MF lens. Manual focusing takes time and effort, but it forced me to rethink what to focus on, what I can do before aiming the subject, as well as other steps toward creating photography.

Nikon D4, Ai Nikkor 50mm f/1.4S, 1/1000, F2, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

The number of diaphragm is seven and the shape of bokeh becomes heptagon. But, I like it because it's more picturesque. The focal plane has a ore, but it dissolves smoothly... and I think it's an elegantly wet rendition. Depending on the distance, the back bokeh tends to be double-lined just like other Double-Gauss type lenses.

Nikon D4, Ai Nikkor 50mm f/1.4S, 1/8000, F1.4, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

I exposed it to the intense light source to check the effect of the coating which was already very advanced at that time. And, as expected, I realized that I can use this lens under adverse condition without hesitation. It may be hard to tell from this reduced image size, but the reflection on the water surface looks very realistic. Just take care when shooting using the oblique light. But, in other words, this is also the "sweet spot" of this lens.

Nikon D4, Ai Nikkor 50mm f/1.4S, 1/3200, F2, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

Nikon D4, Ai Nikkor 50mm f/1.4S, 1/1000, F1.4, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

Showing its softness wide open. Again, the focal point has a core, but it's also so delicate and even looks transient. If you just want sharpness wide open, get the F1.8 lenses. But, they also lack of this classical taste. The color reproduction is plainer than modern lenses. The slight flare caused by the intense light source is another taste of this lens. Of course, we can deny these characters as "low" optical performance. But, there's another world that we can see by accepting them.

Nikon D4, Ai Nikkor 50mm f/1.4S, 1/3200, F1.4, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

It was about 10m to the stairs in the center. But, this high-speed 50mm lens can isolate the subjects from both the foreground and the background. The front bokeh still showing the contours works to enhance the 3D quality as well.

Nikon D4, Ai Nikkor 50mm f/1.4S, 1/800, F5.6, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

Usually, we don't expect the sharp depiction of a distant view like this one. But, this is a brand new lens that you expect it. It's as sharp as the latest lenses if you stop down around F4 and F5.6. Now, who says it's not interesting if it captures "properly"? : )

Nikon D4, Ai Nikkor 50mm f/1.4S, 1/640, F2.8, ISO 400, Photo by Naz

Great texture depiction of the wet leaves. I can almost feel their hardness when I touch them.

Nikon D4, Ai Nikkor 50mm f/1.4S, 1/2000, F1.4, ISO 800, Photo by Naz

Nikon D4, Ai Nikkor 50mm f/1.4S, 1/640, F1.4, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

While modern lenses show their high performance regardless of conditions, this lens has a different character, even though it's still in the current lineup. As a modern lens, it doesn't fail easily. Meanwhile, as a 30-year-old lens, it has a classical taste produced by different aperture settings. And, if you stop down, it's as sharp as the modern lenses. But, the true value of this lens liens in the depiction wide open. I tested on the D4 this time and it was fun to focus on the screen showing the focus peak clearly. So, I recommend you to use this lens on a camera with a good viewfinder screen.

You can also find this lens used, but remember you can still get this almost classic lens brand new without aging. Addition of this lens will change you photography as image quality isn't just about "high" optical performance.

( 27.04.2015 )