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50mm f1.8 AIS


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Mark Jordan , Feb 21, 2003; 01:37 a.m.

The only Nikkor lens I've ever heard referred to as a "pancake" is the 45mm that came out with the FM3A...it came with very good reviews and is incredibly thin. I've owned the 50mm f1.8 AIS for years and have absolutely no complaints...it's already a very compact lens, I'm not sure it would be worthwhile to spend a lot more money for something a tad thinner, that's a choice left up to the user.

Brian Caldwell , Feb 21, 2003; 09:23 a.m.

The 50/1.8 N AIS suffers from a flare spot at small apertures (f/8 or slower) due to reflections off of the back element. This spot occurs even when no bright light sources are near the image frame. The older 50/1.8 which focuses down to 0.45m doesn't have this problem and is therefore far more desirable IMO. Here's a comparison shot of a blank painted wall: http://caldwellphotographic.com/50oldnew.jpg

The "N" or pancake version does have a little less geometrical distortion than the older version, which in turn has less distortion than the 50/1.4.

Attachment: 50oldnew.jpg

WP Cheng , Feb 22, 2003; 12:12 p.m.

Thanks everyone for the advice. I have settled on the AIS one, which seems to be less flare prone. I hope I can use it without a hood, because of its recessed front element. Once again, thanks very much.

Frederick Lau , Mar 17, 2003; 12:51 a.m.

I have contributed the following to a similar thread in this forum. Hope you find it useful :

This site, http://home.aut.ac.nz/staff/rvink/nikon3.html, is a photo guide to all Nikon lenses (past & present). You should consult this when you are not sure of the year of production and version of any Nikon lens. Nikon's 50mm f1.8 caused a lot of confusion. It listed 9 versions of this lens. Another AF-D version of this lens has been added recently - it is the same as the previous AF-N version except with the Distance-chip (D-chip). Again it is made in China.

Not all Nikon/Nikkor 50mm f1.8 are the same - they do differ.

For example Dr. Hiura (web-master of Nikomat-Club) in his webpage, http://www.ne.jp/asahi/shinsaku/hiura/nikomat/lens/5018/index.html, demonstrated that the coatings and flare performance among 3 different version of the 50 f1.8 are different !! Sorry, the site is in Japanese. However Dr. Hiura (he is a post-PhD researcher in computer vision in Osaka University) can communicate in English. He is recognized to have broad & deep knowledge in Nikon gear.

I have used or seen at least 7 versions of this lens myself. Even the coatings of my AF version differs from Dr. Hiura's test version. (You can easily see the difference by looking at the coloured reflections of the lens.)

For those of you who wants to know more about Nikon lens, go to the English version of Japan's Nikon web-site at http://www.nikon.co.jp/main/eng/society/nikkor/index.htm. This series ("Nikkor -- The Thousand and One Nights"), written by a reitred member of the Nikon lens design team, detailed the insider stories of some milestone Nikkors.

Tale 2 discussed about MF Nikkor 50mmf2 and 50mm f1.8. The author mentioned that the best 50mm f1.8 of all is the Japanese version of the "pancake" AIS 50mm f1.8 -- known as AIS 50mm f1.8S. This pancake version looks almost identiacl to others except one feature : only this "pancake" version can focus down to 0.45m, while all other "pancake" 50mm f1.8 (AIS & Series E) focus down to 0.6m.

Dr. Hiura's web-page showed that this version has the best flare tolerance and hence highest contrast. The test AF sample is the worst of the 3 versions.

This Japanese version (see also http://home.aut.ac.nz/staff/rvink/nikon3.html) was for sale in Japan for a limited time only and is highly sought after in the used market in Japan.

Kelly Flanigan , Mar 17, 2003; 09:24 a.m.

I have never heard of a 50mm F1.8 or F2 lens called a "Pancake" lens; they are normal sized lenses.
The 45mm F2.8 GN Auto Nikkor was called a "Pancake lens" in a Nikon School about 32 years ago that I attended. These lenses came out in 1968; and ARE very short in length; and are a tessar type design; 4 elements in 3 groups. They were brought out for auto flash when using flashbulbs; or a non auto electronic flash. The diaphram mechanism, can be set so it adjusts when focusing; for a constant guide number.

Norman Morman , Mar 17, 2003; 10:11 a.m.

I have seen a 50mm Nikon lens that's a lot smaller than my 50mm 1.8 AF. The camera dealer called a pancake.

WP Cheng , Mar 19, 2003; 09:54 a.m.

Frederick, thanks very much for your information. At the time when I asked the question, I was deciding between the 50mm f1.8 and the 50mm f1.8S as mentioned in Tale 2. Sorry to other group members for my confusing description of the 50mm f1.8S as a pancake lens. Thanks everyone.

Jim MacKenzie , Mar 19, 2003; 01:06 p.m.

A "pancake lens" is a really thin lens. The new 45/2.8 P is definitely one. The 50/1.8 E (both versions) is too. So is the 50/1.8 N AI-S. It's not a technical term, just a relative term.

Frederick Lau , Mar 24, 2003; 01:46 a.m.

Cheng, Tell me how much you pay for the 50mm f1.8S. It is very hard to find one, not to mention one in near mint condition.

WP Cheng , Mar 25, 2003; 09:55 a.m.

Frederick, I've bought the AIS one (not the AIS-S) for HK$700. I know that David Chan Hung has the AIS-S one in very good condition, he quoted $800.

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