9 out of 10 points and recommendedCost: Image Quality/SpeedNone
At $100, there is no conceivable reason why any Nikon shooter would not own one of these lenses (unless opting for the faster 50mm 1.4 for more$$).reviewed November 15th, 2006 (purchased for $100)
The lens has a metal lens mount, and although plastic, has a very good build quality. It is extremely compact and lightweight.
Despite it's small size and low price, this is one of the sharpest lenses Nikon makes, and I've had very good results using it with my D70. It seems to have a fairly large "sweet spot", meaning there is not a significant falloff in sharpness when it is used at the extreme ends of the aperture range.
On a APS sensor-sized DSLR, the 50 has an equivalent focal length of 75mm, which makes this very suitable as a portrait lens, although I personally prefer a focal length above 100mm for portraits.
A "fast" lens means that by virtue of the large maximum aperture available of 1.8, one can shoot at higher shutter speeds or lower ISO settings than would be possible with other lenses.
Another benefit of being able to use a very large aperture is the tremendous depth of field control one has. Depth of Field (DOF) refers to the part of the image in front of, and behind the subject focused on that is sharp. At small apertures, a deep DOF conveys sharpness to areas near and distant. At the wide end of the aperture range (shallow DOF/small f #'s), the subject will be sharp, but those parts of the image beyond and in front of the focus point will be blurred.
A shallow DOF is very useful in blurring a distracting background behind the subject or as an artistic effect to portraits and still lifes.
The other quality of measure for wide aperture/shallow DOF is bokeh. Poor bokeh is where the out of focus parts of the image appear globby. Good bokeh is when the out of focus objects have nice soft transitions...good blur. I think the 50 has better bokeh than most zooms, and very good when compared to most primes.
When combined with a reverse ring or extension tubes, this lens can be used as an excellent macro lens.
Because it has a fixed focal length, this lens is more of a specialty lens, best used for special occasions, but it is a great compliment to any shooters camera gear
7 out of 10 points and recommendedA good balance of quality and priceDistortion at wide angle, poor as a macro
I bought this lens as part of a kit with a D70 two years ago, and it has been a real good walk-around lens. It is on the camera 90% of the time.reviewed November 15th, 2006
Construction, image quality, and focus performance are all much better than average compared to other consumer level zooms that I've used.
Images are reasonably sharp and contrasty at mid-range apertures, and a little soft wide open.
I often find myself wanting more range at the long end of the lens (70mm/ 105mm equivalent).
If one can afford it (and find it!), the 18-200 VR lens is a much better choice, and if the new 18-135 afs tests out well, the extra reach at the telephoto end would be a wise upgrade, possibly saving one from the possibility of exposing the camera to dust during lens changes.