Is it stupid to purchase AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D over AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G to save a few bucks?

by Holmes.Sherlock   Last Updated June 16, 2016 08:07 AM

I own a Nikon D5300 body, but wish to upgrade to a Pro FX body in future (not any time soon).

Between AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D and AF-S NIKKOR 50MM F/1.8G, I prefer to buy the former, but at the same time, skeptical about my purchase decision.

The reasons I'd like to choose the former are:

  • The former is a lot cheaper
  • I don't want to spend for what I won't need if I upgrade. I believe all Pro FX bodies have AF motor built inside the body. Hence, SWM in 'AF-S' lens is redundant
  • The former is a bit lighter (~30gms)
  • The former is dimensionally a bit smaller
  • The optical performance, especially the Bokeh are comparable

The reasons I hesitate before making the purchase are:

  • The later is said to have a better build quality (How better is the later compared to the former?)
  • The former has an aperture ring which I am not at all familiar with (Is there any drawback of having an aperture ring apart from making the look of the lens messy?)
  • The focus ring of the former turns when you focus. You can't touch it without disabling autofocus first

Can anybody please clarify my doubts? Apart from the points I have highlighted, is there any other major/minor concern which I have failed to take care of?

Answers 2

"...all Pro FX bodies have AF motor built inside the body. Hence, SWM in 'AF-S' lens is redundant."

Not necessarily. The performance of camera based focus motors and lens based focus motors is far from identical. SWM lenses tend to focus faster and more quietly than their non-SWM counterparts. Add the mechanical interface between the body and lens and the noise gets even louder. Newer SWM lenses when used with newer Nikon bodies also tend to focus more accurately as the lens confirms more positively to the camera the exact amount of focus element movement actually effected via use of a focus position sensor.

Regarding optical performance (hint: there's a difference), please see Do Nikon AF-S lenses perform better than AF lenses?

See also: What's the difference between using a 50mm f/1.8G and a 50mm f/1.8D with a Nikon D80?

Michael Clark
Michael Clark
June 15, 2016 21:31 PM

I think you forgot one really basic thing. Image quality. You may want a side-by-side comparison of the much older D design to the digital-era G design on a full-frame camera, such as this one on, where the two lenses are tested on a D3x. In that comparison, mousing over the test chart crops will switch between the two test setups. If you plan on using the lens wide open at f/1.8, there's kind of no contest.

The biggest thing to understand isn't just the features and reputations. But the fact that the 50/1.8G design came out in 2011. The 50/1.8D design dates from 2002, but its optics are unchanged from the non-D 50/1.8, which came out in 1986. They learned a lot about improving lens designs in the intervening 25 years, and digital shooters are far more critical than film shooters were. Hence the glass update.

June 15, 2016 21:34 PM

Related Questions

What is that labeled scale on Nikon 50mm f/1.2?

Updated June 18, 2016 08:07 AM

Please review the image and comment

Updated January 29, 2017 14:07 PM