How Good Is Nikon’s New 50mm f/1.2 Lens and How Does It Compare To the 50mm f/1.8?

After a long wait, Nikon’s fast primes for its Z mount are starting to appear and fans now have a choice between the 50mm f/1.8 S and the brand new 50mm f/1.2 S. How good is this meaty f/1.2 beast, and which of these lenses is the right choice for you?

Nikon’s NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S is far from being the cheapest nifty fifty on the market, though it’s currently discounted from its original price of $596.95 down to $496.95. However, it has been garnering some excellent reviews and seems to offer very impressive corner-to-corner sharpness even when it’s wide open. Combined with its weather sealing and lack of focus breathing, some are dubbing it the best 50mm f/1.8 ever made.

As a result, the pressure was on for the NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S, especially after such a long wait, and it seems that Nikon fans will not be disappointed, assuming that they are willing to stretch to $2,096.95 when this lens is finally in stock. 

Will you be investing in the 50mm f/1.2 or are you going to save your money, opt for the f/1.8, and wait to invest heavily when Nikon’s slated 85mm f/1.2 appears next year? Let us know in the comments below.

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8 Comments
A Blasdell's picture

Nikon do make great lenses but with Sigma starting to roll out Z mount lenses I'd bet their version will be F1.4, a third of the Nikon price and every bit as good. Oh and also available when they say it will be.

Byron Godfrey's picture

That 1.2 is too rich for my blood.

David Stephen Kalonick's picture

Nikon fans: Canon's RF glass is stupid huge. Nikon: Hold my beer.

Joshua Meadows's picture

One of my favorite lenses is the Sigma Bokehmaster. That thing is chonky, but it works great on f-mount and with the ftz adapter.

ROBERT LYNCH's picture

Dunno... it feels to me like what used to make Photography not just an Art, but also a delightful Science has been overload by WAY overpriced gadgetry.

For instance, not all that long ago (cough, cough, ahem, errr...) I had a Konica, which I bought precisely because Consumer Reports said it was nearly the best for an awesome price, AND you could order it with the 50 mm / F/1.2 lens. My brother and I, at the tender age of 12 and 16 respectively, saved up our beans, and plopped down the $350 or so to buy it. 1975...

It had no auto anything. The only thing really nifty about the camera was that it had a built in light-meter (thru lens), which at least told you if you were in the right ball-park exposure wise. We bought veritable giant-pancake cans of medium-grain, medium sensitivity 35 mm cinema negative, black-and-white, of course ... to practice with. Lil' refillable cans for the film, and a nice double layered silk-and-canvas bag to load the film with, on the kitchen table, any time of day.

We had only the one lens. Leaned about bokeh. Learned about intentional under-exposure and the artistic benefits of 'push' developing. And 'push' enlarger exposure. And dodging. And burning. And ... and ... Endless amusement. One camera, 2 boys. A wealthy uncle bequeathed on us a fabulously old, creaky and absurdly finicky enlarger and about 1 football stadium worth of print paper. And hundreds of pounds of dry chemicals. Motherlode!

THIS IS NOT THE POINT of the comment tho', just a backdrop. The point is, our camera didn't auto-expose a thing. It didn't focus for us. It didn't adjust aperture. It didn't now a thing about ISO in an auto-read-from-lil-cans point of view. Everything was manual. YET... it never disappointed. And it rarely misfired, or was mis-exposed, once we got the hang of it. Fast, light weight, compact, and jaw-droppingly crisp. For 1970's Japanese glass.

I'm not really pining for the days of old, in the completely manual sense. But when I look at the 50 millimeter half-kilogram monster, I think the point of adding endlessly 'better' lens groups and aspheric elements, along with faster than an eye-blink printed-spec-friendly focussing, along with everything else ... for TWO GRAND, is just a bit dramatic. This lens literally costs more than a perfectly decent full-frame FX DSLR, lightly used and not abused. The D750 I just received from an EBay seller ... for $525, including a bunch of stuff and a lens, is WAY cheaper. No, I don't have a bokeh monster, but still ... TWO grand?

Just Saying,
-= GoatGuy =-

Joshua Meadows's picture

Yeah, it's a solid chunk of money. I look at cars the same way. I just need something to get me from a to b. I can drive just as fine without heated seats, heated steering wheel, all wheel drive, etc. Those things add to the bottom line. However, I am getting quite spoiled with it and even though I'd happily buy a vehicle without those features I am enjoying them at the higher cost. What's the point? I dunno. Just I think that packing in quality for a higher price is becoming the standard.

David Beecher's picture

I’d be fine shooting at f1.8.primes at that price point. Would like to acquire the 35, 50 & 85