Photo packs have come a long way in the past decade, especially those that are targeted toward outdoor and adventure photographers. Alaska-based adventure photographer Dan Bailey takes a closer look...
Basic tools are a necessity in any field of work. Construction
workers have circular saws. Painters have primer coats. Mechanics have
socket sets. And good photographers have fast, sharp and ideally
inexpensive lenses. These are tools good tradesmen require. Nikon
photographers should always have a 50/1.4 on hand.
The 50mm normal lens is the most versatile lens for all-around use
with a film camera or full-frame digital body (sadly Nikon doesn't
make any of these). You can buy the Nikon 50/1.4 right now from
With a Nikon digital body, this lens gives the equivalent perspective
of a 75mm lens on a film camera, making it a good length for portraits
in the field, such as senior pictures, weddings, etc. The quality of
this lens makes it a superb choice for a variety of situations and
settings. From the elegant bokeh to the sharpness of facial features,
it is terrific for all types of portrait work.
Low-light images can be achieved with clarity and quality due to its
fast aperture, especially for photojournalists working where flashes
are not allowed. This lens is great for travel photography, given its
small size and fast response. Overall, it is a great lens for all
situations, and renders distortion-free images with excellent
resolution, contrast, and color. Minimum focus distance is 18 inches,
yielding a maximum magnification of 1:6.8.
This lens is sharpest between f/4 and f/8, but still amazingly sharp wide open at f/1.4.
Aside from its unbelievable sharpness, the 50/1.4 has the nicest bokeh
among all the Nikkor lens. An image will show a very smooth and
subtle background to surround a well-placed subject.
Flare is minimal due to the simple optical formula: 7 elements in 6 groups.
This lens is very lightweight and compact, at nine ounces, and the
size of a fist. The body is built from a plastic shell, but is sturdy
for a lens this size.
Using a lens hood with any lens will increase contrast by reducing the
scattering of non-image-forming light within the lens. The Nikon
50/1.4 has only 7 elements in 6 groups, so the potential for flare and
light scattering is less than with a zoom lens, but using a hood will
still improve image quality and it helps protect the front of the
lens. The Nikon HR-2 and HS-9 hoods fit this lens.
Like many of other Nikkor primes, the 50/1.4 accepts 52mm filters.
The Nikon 50/1.4 is a high quality, sharp and inexpensive lens with a
fast aperture. It is a basic lens and an essential tool for any Nikon
film photographer. It is a great portrait lens for a Nikon
small-sensor digital SLR photographer.