Review Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S

The Nikon Z 50 mm F1.8 S is the first new standard lens for Nikon’s mirrorless cameras, the Z7 and the Z6. It is not a cheap, medium starter lens, but a fixed focal lens with high image quality. With this lens, you get the maximum out of the 46-megapixel Z7 and probably also from future cameras with an even higher resolution.

Click on the lens for specifications, prices and test results.

TEST RESULTS Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S:

PROS

CONS

  • Top class build and image quality
  • High contrast and high sharpness
  • Sealed against dust and splash water
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • Not cheap
  • Not very compact

The new Nikon Z 50 mm f/1.8S scores high on build and image quality.

Traditionally, the 50 mm f/1.8 or f/2.0 was a budget version for people who couldn’t afford the brighter f/1.4. That is not the case with the Nikkor Z 50 mm F1.8 S. This lens is not a cheap starter lens, but an optically high-quality lens that should also put on a maximum performance on the 46-megapixel Z7. It is not without reason that it has an S designation. Nikon has announced that cheaper and lighter lenses will also be released, but what they are and when they will be released is unknown. They are not yet on the Nikon Roadmap, and we will have to make do with the Nikkor Z 50mm F1.8 S. That’s not a hardship. Compared to the newest generation f/1.4 50mm lenses, this Nikon is still a whole lot smaller and lighter, and you still get the maximum quality from a demanding camera like the NIkon Z7 with this lens. And with a 50 mm, you have very little depth of field at f/1.8.  DSC 0193

The Nikkor Z 50 mm F1.8 S has, just like the 35 mm f/1.8 S released at the same time, a number of unique features. The lens is just as suitable for photography as for video. The stepper motor works almost silently, so that the autofocus is inaudible during video recordings. Nikon also tried to limit focus breathing as much as possible when designing this lens. With this phenomenon, the field of view of the lens becomes larger or smaller if you change the focus. This makes it seem as if you are zooming while only changing the focus. You don’t see that in photos, but you do when filming. With the Nikkor Z 50 mm F1.8 S, the focus breathing is therefore minimal. Another nice option is the ability to program the focus ring for something else when you use the autofocus. With automatic focusing, you no longer need that ring for focusing, and you can use it, for example, to change the ISO value or the exposure compensation.

BUILD AND autofocus

The Nikkor Z 50 mm F1.8 S is well sealed against moisture and dirt. Extensive gaskets around all moving parts must ensure that nothing can penetrate into the lens and that you can use the lens under all conditions. This lens is not really compact or light when compared to older 50mm f/1.8 designs for SLR cameras. These lenses are therefore never designed for digital cameras with 40 megapixels or more. The diameter of the Nikon Z 50 mm f/1.8 S is 76 mm, and the length is even 86.5 mm. The weight is a considerable 415 grams, and the filter size is 62 mm. All of these numbers indicate that the Nikon was not concerned with small and light but with high quality. The lens design, with 12 elements in 9 groups, is therefore very complex for a 50 mm, and the 2 ED elements and 2 aspherical elements make it especially unique. The lens also has a diaphragm with 9 blades for a nice background blur. The lens elements have Nikon’s Nano Crystal coating, and a fluorine coating on the front element ensures that dirt and moisture slide off the glass. The shortest setting distance is 40cm. The broad focus ring is completely free of play, and there is a switch for switching between autofocus and manual focus. The autofocus is pretty quiet, fast and accurate.

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VIGNETTING, FLARE AND DISTORTION

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When you look through the viewfinder, the Z 50 mm f/1.8 S has virtually no distortion. The lens is therefore ideal for critical applications such as architecture. In RAW, there appears to be around 0.8% barrel distortion. That is also not much, and we do not take weigh it too heavily. Those who work in RAW will rework their images, and almost every modern RAW converter also calculates away that distortion for you. Modern lenses are precisely designed to be corrected in this way. Balancing the theoretical loss that you can get as a result of such a correction is a better optical design, so that the end result with software correction is simply better than you get with older designs.

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At full aperture, the Nikon Z 50 mm f/1.8 S is not completely free from vignetting, even after correction. Vignetting of about one and a half stops at f/1.8 creates a visible vignette in the photo. If you don’t want that, then you have to make extra corrections in the post-processing or stop down to f/2.8. Then it is only 4/10th stop, and that is hardly visible in practice. In RAW, the values are naturally a bit higher, but not too much either.

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The Z 50 mm f/1.8 S has Nano Crystal Coating, and it works great. If you shoot directly against the sun, then you actually don’t lose any contrast, and you also have little trouble with flare or light spots. If you shoot against the sun at something like f/16, you get beautiful sun stars with the Z 50 mm f/1.8 S.

IMAGE QUALITY

If we look at the RAW files, the Nikon Z 50 mm f/1.8 S immediately scores very well in the center when it comes to sharpness. The corners lag just a little behind. Stopping down one or two stops then results in a small increase in quality, whereby both the center and the corners are equally improved. If we look at the jpeg files that benefit from the in-camera corrections, you will see an almost equal, high score over the entire image and across almost all apertures. Only at f/11 do you see a very small deterioration. This is a characteristic of many well-designed, modern lenses. You actually stop down with these lenses only to control the light and to get a certain depth of field. In fact, the only thing that we can criticize about the performance is a trace of longitudinal chromatic aberration. This shows in small edges color cast along blurry parts of the photo and actually only occurs when you work at something like f/1.8 or f/2.

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Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S SAMPLE IMAGES

Curious about the performance of the Nikon Z 50 mm f/1.8 S in practice? Click on the button below and visit our renewed web gallery with sample images. The images can be downloaded in full resolution to be viewed at 100%.

Nikon Z 50mm 1p8 Viewfoto3840

ConclusiON: REVIEW Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S oN A Nikon Z7

The Nikon Z 50 mm f/1.8 S is not the cheapest standard lens on the market, but it offers a particularly good image quality.

The Nikon Z 50 mm f/1.8 S is a very beautiful 50 mm. It is not the cheapest standard lens that you can get, but it does offer a particularly good image quality. The lens is sharp from corner to corner at every aperture, distortion free when using the built-in corrections, and the contrast and colors are beautiful. The price reflects that. This lens can compete with the much more expensive and bigger f/1.4 50mm uber lenses on the market. The little bit of brightness that you give up in comparison to those lenses you gain in portability. Because compared to those lenses, this Nikon Z 50 mm f/1.8 S is compact and light. 

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