Black and White Photography · Color Film · Lens Review · lomography · Nikon Camera · Vintage Camera

the Nikon Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 Auto

This will be my first lens review. It’s fitting that it would be a review for the Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 because it is one of the first lenses I purchased when I started shooting again.

Why is a Good Lens Important?

When I first got back into shooting film I was really a noob when it came to the ins and outs of photography. As I made more friends in the community, I was often asked what glass I owned. I’ll admit at the time I had no idea what that meant. Now I know that your lens, or glass, is one of the most important parts of your camera kit.

Nikkor-s 50mm f/1.4
Nikkor-s 50mm f/1.4

Why is glass so important? Lens choice determines different factors of a composition. From the focal length to the optical effects it brings, a lens directly affects the quality of a photograph.

The Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4

Introduced in March of 1962, the 50mm f/1.4 was an update from the original 50mm f/2 lens that was made for the Nikon F. Nikon wanted to create a superior 50mm lens that improved upon the issues their previous normal lenses were having. The Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 achieved just that. It is considered one of the standard (or normal) lenses of the Nikon F system because the angle of view of this lens is similar to the human eye.

Nikkor-s 50mm f/1.4

It is a single coated lens. The S in Nikkor-S is from the greek alphabet and symbolizes the amount of elements in the lens. In this case, it has 7 elements. The word Auto indicates that the lens has an automatic diaphragm when coupled with the camera’s body. It has a maximum aperture of f/1.4 and a minimum of f/16. The minimum focusing distance is 2ft. The lens weighs 11.5 oz. It was a popular lens and was produced for 14 years until it was improved to include multi-coating in 1976.

My Experience with the Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4

The Nikkor-S 50mm lens is probably my favorite lens that I own for my Nikon F cameras. I find myself using it more than any of the others I have, and 50mm isn’t even my favorite focal length. I tend to use 35mm lenses.

purple sky
Lomography CN 400

This lens just has something to it the others don’t. It has character. My copy is a non-AI lens like all of my Nikkors. I like the older lenses for the metal design. With the scalloped focusing ring and that amber coating, I’m mesmerized. It’s unlike any of the other lenses I own.

The Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 is a great lens for portraits. The background blurs out perfectly without any large objects taking away from the subject.

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There isn’t any noticeable falloff or vignetting around the edges.

I don’t record my photo settings while shooting as I find it distracts me. I also don’t include them in my reviews because I think there are much better reviews out there written by people who know much more on the subject of coma, and aberrations etc. My way of reviewing is more show than tell. If I like my results, then I like the lens and or camera. Simple.

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fiddle fig leaf
Kodak TX 400

Final Thoughts

The Nikkor-S 50mm lens is a bit heavy compared to other 50mm lenses. Especially when compared to Nikon’s later lenses. It has a smooth focus with a pretty long throw. You have to turn it twice to get from one end of the focus to the other. However, the aperture clicks nicely from stop to stop.

In my research I was surprised to read that there has been a lot of criticism for this lens. The reason for that being that there are more “superior” lenses out there. For me, shooting with a vintage camera like the Nikon F is as much an experience as it is a great tool. To get the full experience, I love to pair it with a vintage lens.

The 50mm f/1.4 is a beautifully capable lens. I have always loved my results with this lens and I don’t see myself purchasing a more modern 50 for my F anytime soon, if ever. That may sound a bit strong, but I think that statement by itself speaks for this lens alone.

I hope you have enjoyed this review. If you have, consider hitting one of the yellow buttons below to help me keep going with this website, and my videos. Either way, thank you so much for reading. I hope you will subscribe and stick around for more to come.

Until next time, stay motivated and keep shooting.

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8 thoughts on “the Nikon Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 Auto

  1. I have no idea what to expect on this blog, but an am a pre-AI fan and have several in my position. But your review of the 50mm 1.4 S I simply enjoyed.

  2. Nicely done. A superb lens- as are almost all the 50 f1.4s from that era.The weight, balance and feel are important . A buyer should be as aware of condition as much as imagined designed diferences-50 year old lenses may have been knocked around, have internal haze, etc.that will influence performance.I have half a a dozen 50 f 1.4s and would be happy to use any one of them exclusively for the rest of my life -they are all great.

  3. As an owner of this lens since 1968 I will say it served me well especially in difficult situations. I will just point out the only 2 shortcomings that I encountered. First is that it will produce some noticeable coma if you don’t use a lens hood to protect it from the sun. Second is that if you obtain a non-ai version that has not been updated with a modern aperture ring do not attempt to mount it on any of todays digital cameras as doing so will break the aperture indexing tab on the camera. If you have one enjoy it.

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