Nikon Prime Lenses Review -- 50mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.8 Philippines

My Prime Lenses

My first ever real camera is a Nikon FE film SLR that comes with a 50mm 1.4 lens. For those who are not familiar with what aperture is, it is how big the opening of the lens is that will allow light to come in to your film or digital camera sensor. Having a numerically lower aperture like 1.8 or 1.4 would usually mean it has a bigger opening and a smaller depth of field. For 1.8 or 1.4 it really becomes so narrow and only a few parts are sharp.

Eventually, after using my film SLR, I switched to a Canon point and shoot digital camera so I can practice a bit more before investing in a digital SLR. While researching on what DSLR to buy I learned that Nikon cameras only have 1 unievrsal mount for all their SLR cameras and realized that I will be able to use my 50mm 1.4. Of course it will be full manual settings but I didn't mind cause I was used to it anyway since my Nikon FE film camera's light meter is broken anyway.

Turns out, when I got my Nikon D40, it came with a prime lens as well: a 50mm 1.8 AF lens. Most will probably think it'll be useless since I already have the 1.4 but not quite. With the 1.8, I still can't have the auto focus (I think this is only available in certain higher end SLR models), but I am able to use functions such as the light meter or the TTL flash system instead of just manually setting up the power of the flash. The colors are also very different, showing how a small change in aperture of lenses may have drastic effects on overall quality of the picture. Of course the 1.4 has an unrivaled output in very low light conditions, but for different uses and situations both the 1.8 and the 1.4 can be useful.

I'll be showing examples of some photos I've taken throughout this article so you can have an idea of what it all means. It may seem all technical but really once you've tried it many times that's when you'll really be able to realize the power of prime lenses.

Here are photos of my prime lenses, my 50mm 1.8 and my 50mm 1.4
Here are photos of my prime lenses, my 50mm 1.8 and my 50mm 1.4

The first real realization I had when I switched to a digital SLR would be the staggering difference between full frame cameras, like my film camera, and one that has a cropped sensor like my D40. I've actually written an article about this as well check it out if you want: Full Frame Digital SLR

It's only until you've experienced how the cropped sensor will limit your shots first hand that you'll know what it really means to have full frame. But nonetheless, I still love using both my 50mm 1.8 and 1.4 in my digital SLR. Plus, I think not having auto focus or light meter trains me more in my ability to just use my eye and have a more natural instinct at assessing what settings to use for different lighting situations.

Here's an example of a shot and what it means to have a shallow depth-of-field. You'll really see how narrow the window for sharpness is.

Photos from using Prime Lenses on my Digital SLR

A shot taken with my Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens
A shot taken with my Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens
This one using the 50 mm 1.8 while hanging out with some friends
This one using the 50 mm 1.8 while hanging out with some friends
This shot is not focused obviously but shows the power of the Nikon 50mm 1.4 in very low light situation.
This shot is not focused obviously but shows the power of the Nikon 50mm 1.4 in very low light situation.

Photos from using my Prime Lenses with my Nikon FE Film SLR

Photos of some sort of grass plant taken using my Nikon FE with the 50mm 1.4
Photos of some sort of grass plant taken using my Nikon FE with the 50mm 1.4
Photos of rocks taken with my Nikon FE Film SLR
Photos of rocks taken with my Nikon FE Film SLR
Taken with the Nikon FE film SLR as well. This photo is very special because it comes from the first ever roll of film I ever used.
Taken with the Nikon FE film SLR as well. This photo is very special because it comes from the first ever roll of film I ever used.

Prime Lenses Review Philippines

Manual lenses from old film SLRs aren't really that expensive. If you're here in the Philippines, you can probably get some really decent prime lenses for really cheap from different stores or even online. So if you have a Nikon SLR and you want to experiment with something like a 1.4 you can buy a manual one because the AF one for the digital SLR cameras is very expensive.

When buying anything, the idea is really to research first and compare different competing brands. I feel really lucky and blessed that I have all these sorts of gadgets and camera stuff that I can trip out on. Photography is really a satisfying activity that should be a part of everyone's lives. Imagine, we get to preserve moments and perhaps show a different perspective of the world. With the emergence of social media, it has become so easy to share photos and other multimedia work to anyone in the world.

I actually love it that more and more people are getting into photography and a lot are really taking it seriously. It is a wonderful use of technology.

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Comments 2 comments

Kit  5 years ago

If you want an even faster normal lens, look for a Nikkor 1.2 50mm lens. I have one and love it. They are quite hard to find, but they're out there.


Harry Santos profile image

Harry Santos 5 years ago from Metro Manila, Philippines Author

Oh wow I'd love to try that out. I bet it's super nice in low light but probably hard to focus? Plus, I'm sure it's so expensive. Thanks for dropping by.

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