Best standard prime lenses for Nikons: 8 tested

Best prime lenses for Nikons: 8 tested

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S - £290/$460

This is a well-engineered lens with a sturdy finish and reassuring weight. Indeed, despite being almost the same size as the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G, it's about 50 per cent heavier at 280g. Luxuries include ring-type ultrasonic autofocus with full-time manual override, and a weather-proofing rubber ring in the mounting plate.

This isn't technically an internal-focusing lens, as the deeply recessed front element extends towards the front of the barrel at close focus distances. However, the overall length of the lens remains unchanged and the front element doesn't rotate during focusing. It's still well shaded, and a hood and carrying pouch are supplied as standard extras.

Sharpness isn't fabulous at the top aperture of f/1.4, but the lens gives a lovely, dreamy look to portraits at this aperture. At smaller apertures it's pin-sharp - the sharpest on test at f/11 to f/16, kept up across the entire frame. The rounded nine-blade diaphragm helps avoid unwanted geometric shapes in defocused highlights. These areas look smooth and are the best from any lens in the group.


Best prime lenses for Nikons: 8 tested

Not that sharp at the largest apertures but decent in mid-range settings and supreme at f/16 and across the frame.

Lab test
Sharpness at f/2.8: 1269
Sharpness at f/8: 1802
Sharpness at f/16: 1853


Best prime lenses for Nikons: 8 tested

Colour fringing is basically a non-issue with this lens. It turns in the best lab scores out of the whole test group.

Lab test
Fringing at f/2.8: 0.1
Fringing at f/8: 0.13
Fringing at f/16: 0.07


Best prime lenses for Nikons: 8 tested

There's a little barrel distortion, but it's not noticeable in the vast majority of images taken with this lens.

Distortion: -0.19

Image test verdict

Best prime lenses for Nikons: 8 tested

All-round image quality from this Nikon lens is the best of any lens in the group, with particularly beautiful bokeh effects on offer.