Nikon 50mm 1.8D Prime Lens

I picked up a copy of the ubiquitous Nikon 50mm F/1.8 prime lens over the weekend and tried my hand at forced manual focusing on the D40 body. For the first hour or so, I had a hell of a time, trying to gauge the focus through the viewfinder without any additional help. Seeing as focus was extremely inconsistent, I did some sleuthing to see if there were any tricks to the trade.

Nikon 50mm 1.8D prime lens

Apparently there is. On the bottom-left corner of the viewfinder is a small green dot that appears when the subject is in focus. It does seem to appear for a bit wide of a range, but I found trying to nail it in the center of its ‘light-up’ range did the trick. Through this tidbit of knowledge, I also found that my dioptre had been set incorrectly.

Now I’m getting consistently in-focus shots. For such a cheap lens, the 50mm prime is quite good optically and the relatively large maximum aperture is a joy to work with, giving far better out-of-focus effects than the kit 18-55mm lens. The manual focus ring is also far, far better than the super thin, very short throw and looseness of the kit lens focus ring. I’m going to have some serious fun experimenting with this new lens.

3 thoughts on “Nikon 50mm 1.8D Prime Lens”

  1. My advice? Just stick with autofocus. It’ll always be faster and usually more accurate since you’re focusing on a smaller viewfinder. Unless it’s really dark and the focus hunts, I’ve never really found a use for manual focus.

    That 50mm is the one with the built-in motor, right? And the D40 is the one that doesn’t have a built-in motor?

  2. That’s the thing – the 50mm only autofocuses on bodies with a built-in screw-drive motor, which the D40 doesn’t have. So manual focus is the only option here.

    I don’t mind the manual focusing practice and I have all the intention in the world to upgrade to a higher-end body with a screw drive motor, so this lens will serve me for a while to come.

  3. Oh I didn’t realize they didn’t release an update for the 50mm with a built-in motor. That’s so retarded how they removed that in-body motor. That was one of the selling factors of Nikon – that you could use much older lenses than Canon. Now they’re in some gray area between Pentax (who supports everything) and Canon (who only supports EF and not FD).

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