40 Years of Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 Lenses
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Different Eras Two Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lenses, separated by 40 years and a lot of character -- Akron, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/200 sec, f/2.5, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos
Different Eras
Two Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lenses, separated by 40 years and a lot of character

The lens on the left is a new AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens, and on the right is a circa-1969 Nikkor-S Auto 50mm f/1.4.

The modern version has autofocus and a built-in CPU that communicates details about settings to the camera body, but is also made of plastic rather than the steel of the original, and comes completely devoid of character. Foremost a lens is a tool, but I wish it would at least aspire to look good.

Modern Nikon lenses may well be optically wonderful, but looks-wise, they look to me now the same way that 80s hairstyles look to me now. Ugh.


All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

Well, try the Zeiss Planar ZF 50mm f/1.4, it was my primary lens back when I still had a D3.

— comment by Fazal Majid on August 25th, 2010 at 4:33pm JST (7 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Amen. And part of why I’ve now drifted into Leitax-converted Leica R lenses….

— comment by Ed on August 28th, 2010 at 10:49am JST (7 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

I know that modern lens designs come up with brilliant photographs without optical suprises. But sometimes that’s not what I want, being a child of the 70s brought up on National Geographic — gimme Kodachrome colors filtered through late-60s/early 70s Nikkor designs: it’s hard to shake that perception of the world.

Looks wise, you want a lens that’s dead sexy — dig up a Nikkor-O 2.1cm f/4 sometime. Alternatively, the Nikkor QD.C 15mm f/5.6 definitely has a “not your father’s lightsaber” feel about it too. The old (sometimes exotic, sometimes just fast — like the Nikkor-H 85/1.8 and Nikkor-N 35/1.4) glass definitely has a characterful look to the pictures they draw.

— comment by Mike on August 31st, 2010 at 7:12am JST (7 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink
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