© Mark LaMonica. All Rights Reserved.
Text and Photography by Mark LaMonica
Going back to the film days, the 50mm lens was the standard lens of 35mm
cameras. If you bought a "kit" camera/lens package, the 50mm was the lens
you got.  Over the years lens technology has made it possible for zoom
lenses to match the quality of prime lenses and now most "kit" systems in
35mm come with a medium range zoom usually around 28mm to 70mm. This
is a big plus since the medium range lens will cover most photographic
situations for the casual user. The down side of it is, those users will probably
never invest in a "fast" 50mm lens since that focal length is covered by their

This is unfortunate, because the 50mm lens comes in several flavors. You
can get manual focus or auto focus and the Nikkors are either f1.8 or f1.4
providing low light capabilities without having to dial up the ISO and giving you
the creative freedom for shallow depth combined with faster shutter speeds.

The version pictured to the left is the AF-D which currently sells for $134.95
and is not compatible with cameras that do not have the built in focusing
motor in the camera body. You can tell if your camera will work by either
"reading" the manual or looking at the lower left of the lens mount to see if the
'flat" metal prong is extending out that drives the focusing of the lens. It works
just fine, but after using AFS lenses for so long, I'm spoiled by the smooth
quiet operation of the Nikkor Silent Wave Motor.
Here's the technical specifications, Lens construction - 6 elements in 5 groups, Picture angle 46° FX format 31° DX format, Number of diaphragm blades 7, Maximum f/stop 1.8, Minimum f/stop 22,
Closest focusing distance 1.5' 0.45m, Maximum reproduction ratio 1/6.6, Macro focusing N/A, Focus-limit switch: N/A, M/A mode N/A, Focus lock button N/A, Weight 5.5 ounces 155g, Size 2.5x1.5in.
(Diameter x Length) 63.5x39mm (Diameter x Length) Average street price $134.95
This City picture was taken
with the older manual focus
version on a film body.

If was planning on heading
into New York city, I would use
my all manual Nikon FM2N
with the 50mm. If I was
thinking color and Black and
White, then I would add a
second body to my gear bag.
This Approaching the runway picture
was taken with the lens featured in this
article. I mounted it on a D80 body
giving me an effective focal length of
75mm. I also had the 18-55mm
f/3.5-5.6G ED II and decided to kick up
the ISO to 200 because the 18-55 is 3
I photographed this at ISO 200, 1/1000
sec, f5.6 and -1 exposure compensation.
Here's a great reason to get
a 50mm lens. This is the
Bowen Slide Duplicator. If
you don't have a dedicated
you should check this out. I
use mine as a high speed
film digitizer. I've made
prints from slides converted
with my digital camera. This
does Black N Whites too !
Part 1 - The Nikon 50mm f/1.8D Nikkor lens, the old standard is still in demand