The Beauty Of Slower Lenses | Nikon Z 50mm f1.8 S

Nikon is slowly winning me over at becoming my favorite full frame camera system.

I still like the EOS R, I think it’s a more capable camera in terms of versatility, mainly because of the 30MP sensor and the flippy screen that is so nice for landscape work, but I actually enjoy using the Nikon Z6 more.

It feels more advanced, well technically it is, but it feels very capable and I can see Nikon opening up some really cool features via firmware where as the EOS R is what it is, single core processor, slow memory card performance, 4k video with a crop and still some annoying autofocus limitations.

After shooting with Sony full frame mirrorless for five years, I’ve come to the conclusion they are just boring tech machines. Very good tech machines, but still boring.



The main thing that’s really got me excited about the Nikon system is the (somewhat) affordable high quality f1.8 AF glass, which is what you’re seeing with all the samples in this post. It’s all shot with the Z6 and the Nikon Z 50mm f1.8 S.

In the past, Nikon and Canon have always made the f1.8 lenses their budget lenses and their high quality stuff was the f1.2 or f1.4 glass. You even see this when looking at Sony lenses with their 50mm f1.8, an optically decent lens with great micro-contrast but feels a little Toys“R”Us – plastic and noisy, same is true with my Nikon 50mm f1.8.

Sony at least has Zeiss working with them so they’ve made some really cool lenses like the 55mm f1.8 ZA Sonnar and those Batis Lenses that are legendary. But I could never get into those because of the insane price tags. Paying $1,200 for a massive f2 lens never seemed practical.

I have kids now, I need lighter and smaller for obvious reasons.



The Beauty Of Slower Lenses

By making high quality f1.8 lenses, you get a small package and great bokeh at those sometimes necessary slower aperture.

The thing is, I don’t always like or even want f1.2 or f1.4 lenses especially on a full frame camera. It’s often too shallow, especially for video.

When you buy an f1.2 lens and stop down to f1.8, you always get inferior bokeh because the aperture blades when stopped down are not rounded, or as rounded. By having an f1.8 lens that you shoot at f1.8, you get better bokeh. You’ll even get better bokeh at f2 or f2.8 because you’ll still be getting less geometry in the out of focus highlights. You’ll notice this when comparing the Fujinon 56mm f1.2 to the Fujinon 60mm f2.4. At f2.4 the bokeh of the 60mm is so much nicer.

So that’s the bad thing about buying faster, sometimes more expensive lenses. If you’re not always using it wide open or close to it, you might actually be hurting your image quality, not enhancing it.



I hope Nikon keeps pumping out high quality glass at various apertures. I actually would love to even see good quality f2.4 or f2.8 lenses as well. This way you can pick the lens based on the max aperture you need, rather than stopping down a faster lens for inferior bokeh. Because you really don’t need or want f1.2 or f1.4 when shooting street, shooting video, or especially when shooting kids that never hold still.

Who knows, maybe the Zeiss Batis lenses would come to Nikon. Wouldn’t that be cool?



Nikon Z 50mm f1.8 Overview

What makes the Nikkor Z 50mm f1.8 S so great? 

It has a lot of the same magic that makes the Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 great. In terms of depth of field they are both very similar, but because the Z is full frame, you get nicer bokeh when shooting subjects that are further from the camera where the optical output holds together just a little bit better. That’s the key and main difference between APS-C, full frame and medium format when it comes to optics.

The Nikkor 50mm f1.8 has the right amount of field curvature that gives the center of the image that extra illusion of depth which you can see in the first image of this post, there is a bit of swirling going on though. This lens is also very sharp with really good contrast. In terms of micro-contrast, “pop”, it’s also good, but only average compared to other high element prime, so everything looks and most importantly feels detailed, especially those black & white shots.

Compared to a lot of cheaper fast lenses, like the Meike 50mm f1.7 or even the Canon 35mm f1.8, the Nikon 50mm f1.8 S holds together really well at f1.8. This is what I’ve always love about Fujinon glass. All Fujinon lenses perform really well at their fastest apertures and usually this is what you’re paying for with premium lenses aside from the build quality.



Site Updates

I’m working on my full review of the Nikon 50mm f1.8 and the Nikon z6, and I even have a Meike 50mm f2 in the Nikon Z mount. I’ll also be getting some of those Kipon Elegant lenses too. So, lot’s of cool reviews coming up.

But before I get too deep into those reviews, I have about three new Meike and 7Artisans lenses I’ll review and compare for the Fujifilm system which I know a lot of people are waiting for based on comments and emails.

I’m back in Japan, back working on this site after a long break working on some trailers in Los Angeles.

I’m considering doing more of these smaller posts that show a few more photos, like my family stuff that I never usually share, but we’ll see how it works out with Googles algorithms, Google likes long detailed posts, but so far everything is going well with this site so it’s time to try something new.

Expect to see an updated theme for this site at some point as well, so things might get a little crazy. The current theme is no longer supported and for security reasons I need a new one, also, I’ve never been able to fix that stupid bug where when you click out of a gallery the page returns to the top. It’s pretty much an unfixable WordPress bug and I’m hoping a different theme helps.


Nikon Z6 + Nikon Z 50mm f1.8 S Sample Images

These are all shot with the Nikon Z6, processed with Lightroom.

Like with Fujifilm and Sony, I’ll be keeping an updated list of Nikon Z lenses.