Nikon 50mm f/1.8D Prime Lens – Review

The Nikon AF Nikkor 50 mm F/1.8D lens was introduced into the Nikon lens line up in 2002 to replace it’s non D predecessor and is considered to be one of the best 50mm lenses on the market.  The lens is often confused with the later Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens with built in focus motor.

50mm lens are usually the first prime lens a photographer will purchase.  The main reason being the attractive price tag accompanied with excellent quality.  I recently purchased a second hand copy of the f/1.8D lens at a bargain price and am extremely happy with the images produced.

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First Impressions

The Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens is shipped in the well known and familiar gold box and includes the usual warranty card and instructions along with the prime lens.

The lens is smaller and lighter than I expected measuring 39mm long and weighing 155g.  I was a little surprised to find a well built lens with metal mount for such a low price.


The Nikon 50mm f/1.8D is a Full Frame (FX) lens fully compatible with Crop (APS-C) DSLR’s.  The lens contains 6 elements, in 5 groups with 7 diaphragm blades.  The maximum aperture of the lens is f/1.8 which can be stopped down to a minimum aperture of f/22.  The lens also features a manual aperture ring which has since been removed on the G type lens. Focus can be both fully automatic or manual with the minimum focus distance of 0.45m.  The lens also accepts a 52mm threaded filter.

Shooting with the 50mm f/1.8D Prime lens

The 50mm f/1.8D lens does not have a built in focus motor meaning that it will not autofocus on entry level cameras which do not have an internal screw motor built into the camera.

The following camera models are missing the internal motor and therefore loose autofocus functionality.  The lens can still be used in manual focus modes.

  • Nikon D80, D70, D60, D40
  • Nikon D3300 and previous models (Nikon D3200, D3100, D3000, etc)
  • Nikon D5500 and previous models (Nikon D5300, D5100, D5000, etc)

If you have one of the cameras listed above the 50mm f/1.8G lens is a preferred option as the lens is equipped with a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) meaning it is compatible with all recent Nikon DSLR’s.

The lens autofocus is fast however very noisy due to the mechanics of using the cameras built in motor.  The noise is not really an issue for me however I can see it being a problem for people who shoot in a quiet environments e.g. church weddings.  The noise can also be a problem for video as the noise of the lens is often picked up by the cameras built in microphone.

I have found the lens to be very sharp throughout the majority of the aperture range (f/2.8-f/22) images captured at f/1.8 are a touch on the soft side however are still usable.  The lens is a perfect option for low light photography and it’s shallow depth of field can isolate the subject from the background perfectly rendering out of focus highlights known as bokeh.  Slight vignetting is noticeable in the corners however this is not extreme and is easily removed in post processing.

Should I buy the 50mm f/1.8D Lens

The Nikon AF Nikkor 50 mm F/1.8D
lens is excellent value for money and an affordable option for most photographers.  The image quality produced by this is excellent considering the cost and I am sure you will not be disappointed.   I would only recommend spending the extra money on the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens if you camera is listed above as not being autofocus compatible.

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