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My Favourite Lens Is Also My Cheapest Lens – Nikon 50mm f/1.4G

By Leo Hoang on June 19th 2012

Everyone has a different shooting style, and everyone has their own preference, but it’s quite known in the photography world that the 50mm is a ‘must have’ lens, regardless of what you shoot with.

I personally am a Nikon shooter, and my very first lens was the Nikon 50mm F/1.4G. The 50mm has the same perspective as our human eye, and with the fast aperture of f/1.4, it’s amazing in low-light and can create some amazing Bokeh.

This was the first lens I had ever bought, and to this day, even though I own the likes of the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, the 50mm is still very much one of my “go to” lenses.

I initially purchased it with my Nikon D7000, and although the field of view was very restricted, because it maintained a good perspective and with no distortion on the images, I still very much loved shooting with it.

As previously I had only been shooting with an iPhone or point and shoot, and then onto the Nikon D7000 + 50mm f/1.4, I was just immensely impressed with the images I could produce.

Even today, a year later, with all the other lenses I now own, the 50mm f/1.4 I use the most. It’s incredibly light, it holds perspective, creates great Bokeh, and best of all, it’s cheap.

I was hesitant to use the word ‘cheap’ as £329.95 is not exactly ‘cheap’, but when you compare it to other lens offerings, it is very cheap.

Nikon and Canon also have a cheaper offering to their 50mm range, at f/1.8. Depending how serious you are about photography would depend on how much you want to invest, but both Nikon and Canon have 50mm prime lenses available from a low price-point of around £100 (you would have to double check AF compatibility), going up to around £300 for the newer lenses at f/1.4. As before, the 50mm is a great walk around lens if you’re shooting Full-Frame, it can be quite challenging on a Crop-Sensor body, but not impossible to use.

I highly recommend the 50mm regardless of what you shoot with, and if you’re concerned with the restricted field of view with using a 50mm on a Crop Sensor, the 35mm f/1.8G is available from Nikon and has an equivalent field of view as the 50mm on a Full-Frame body, slight loss in terms of perspective, but still great at f/1.8.

Either way, I personally feel that eventually, all photographers from amateurs to pro’s, crop or full frame, should all eventually have a Nifty-Fifty in their camera bag.


Leo Hoang is a professional photographer based in London who shoots Weddings, Events and Real-Estate.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ed Rhodes

    love the example shots

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  2. Lönja Selter

    I also love my 50/1.4, but for me its the most expensive bit of glass i have, and thats for one that has an incompatible AF to my d60…

    works great with extension tubes :D
    love it

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  3. Paul

    I still am using my Nikon D70 and 50mm f/1.4D combination (yes D70, not D700 or D7000 … I tend to keep things for a while).  I originally got the D70 with the better of the two offered kit lenses back in 2004 but added the 50mm a few years later.  Since then, I have not taken it off of the D70.  It is time to replace the D70.  A friend will wind up with it and the kit lens.  My photography skills (OK, maybe just aspirations) have progressed to a point to where the D70 is sometimes a serious limiting factor.

    I am looking at a D600 or D800 and the 50mm lens will be used on whichever of these two camera bodies I get.  This will happen when I am conviced that there is no more left focus issue with the D800 or no oil/dust problem with the D600 sensor.  In other words, when Nikon gets their quality control act together.  I would like to get a wider angle, perhaps a quality zoom or prime lense with image stabizaton so I could hand-hold the camera at slower shutter speeds.

    Thanks for the encouraging and interesting article!


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  4. Stan Rogers

    A lot depends on how you tend to see the world around you, and I’ve found that shooting with something that more-or-less matches what you’re seeing anyway makes getting vision to print/screen a lot easier.

    Back in the silver halide days, my walking-around lens was a 90mm/2.5 macro (Tamron’s 90 has always been a superb lens, and the old, shorter 1:2-native Adaptall 2 version was still quite compact), and it suited my vision; a fifty always felt like “going wide” to me. Similarly, the “nifty fifty” on an APS-C camera fits me very well (although going to 60 would be better from a FoV perspective, losing out on two stops or so of shallow DoF isn’t worth the trade-off for me).

    On a full-frame Nikon these days, I’d be likely to use the almost-invisible 85mm/1.8. Not only is it a good lens sitting around my personal sweet spot, it’s smaller and less intimidating/invasive-seeming than even the 18-55 kit lens (especially in the “D” version). That, too, is part of the charm of the fifty on a crop sensor: when you’re shooting people, you can get considerably more intimate before your subjects feel it.

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