Nikon 50mm 1.4 AFS on Nikon D40 - Should I upgrade lens or camera?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. I have been using a Nikon D40 for some time with the kit lens, but
    recently started using a 50mm 1.8 lens which is manual focus only on
    the D40. I mostly take pictures indoors in relatively low lighting,
    which makes the 1.8 lens very nice for what I take pictures of. I
    actually love the clarity of the 50mm 1.8 when I can have someone stay
    still enough for me to manual focus. I feel like I am missing a lot
    of good shots because it takes me so long to manual focus, especially
    on children who do not stay very still most of the time.

    I was wondering if I should upgrade to a 50mm 1.4 AFS lens which would
    have autofocus? What would be the benefits of the 1.4 vs the 1.8
    (except for the autofocus on the D40)? Would it really change much
    about the pictures I take (mostly of family...nothing professional,
    but like to post the pictures I take)? Would upgrading camera bodies
    be just as well, say to the Nikon D90 in which I can use the 1.8 in
    autofocus mode?

    I appreciate any suggestions!
, Jan 7, 2009
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    TheRealSteve Guest

    If you like the D40 and want the autofocus, keep the body, sell the
    50mm 1.8 and get the 50mm AFS 1.4. Yes, the D90 is a much better body
    and can use your 50mm 1.8 and has a higher useable ISO range so you
    can even stop the lens down a little and get better results than usnig
    it wide open. But it's also twice the price and bigger/heavier.

    As for the 50mm 1.4 vs. 1.8, that's hashed out in several places. But
    in general under f/2.8, the 1.4 does better in terms of sharpness,
    color, clarity. Over f/4, you won't notice much difference between
    them in those respects (and f/5.6 and above, no difference) but the
    1.8 does better in terms of lower distortion and less chromatic
    aberration. While the 1.4 doesn't have bad distortion or CA, the 1.8
    has practically none.

    Of course, if you want to use it below f/1.8, you don't have a choice.
    But down there, the DOF is paper thin and you might end up having to
    manual focus anyway.

    It's a tough decision but if it were me, I'd rather have a D90+50mm
    f/1.8 vs. a D40+50mm f/1.4. But it's a very close call and if you
    like your D40 for other reasons (like the smaller size) then go that
    way. Of course, a D90+50mm f/1.4 would be nice also.;)

    TheRealSteve, Jan 7, 2009
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    TheRealSteve Guest

    I know you didn't write it, and I didn't attribute it to you. If you
    look at the attribution line that is on the same level as the quote I
    responded to, it says:

    The only reason your attribution line is in there at all is because I
    I didn't see the original post sinceit came from gmail and I have
    anything from gmail filtered due to spam. So I replied to the OP via
    your post.

    TheRealSteve, Jan 7, 2009

    ASAAR Guest

    The cheapest camera body upgrade would be to a used D50. It's
    quite similar to the D40, an entry level model with the same 6mp
    resolution, but it has a focusing motor that the D40 lacks. Other
    than that, my preference would be for the D90. Navas' reply is
    mistaken where he says :
    in that the aperture is much less than 1 stop larger, and the D90's
    much greater high ISO performance swamps the benefit of the only
    slightly larger aperture. With your current lens, the D90 would
    allow you to take pictures in lower light, and they would have less
    "noise" even though the D90 has a 12mp sensor. Because of the way
    the optical system is designed, including the AF sensors, the larger
    aperture won't make any difference in focusing unless you're talking
    about lenses with fairly small maximum apertures. The design of
    the lens is a factor, as is the design of the camera body, where
    generally, the larger, more expensive the body, the quicker and more
    accurate the focusing. Also, due to the way DSLRs are designed,
    while you'd expect that the greater the maximum aperture, the
    brighter the image would be in the viewfinder, this is only true up
    to about f/2.8. Apertures greater than this don't produce brighter
    viewfinder images, but I suspect that the D90's viewfinder produces
    a larger, brighter image than the D40, whatever lens is used.

    The last point Navas made is correct. The f/1.4 lens will have a
    shallower depth of field at f/1.4, but at all other apertures that
    the two 50mm lenses share, the DOF will be the same. You'd probably
    be better off using either lens at f/2.0 or f/2.8 with the D90 than
    f/1.4 with a D40, since the smaller DOF means that more of the image
    will be noticeably out of focus. And if it's really dark and you
    need to use f/1.4 or f/1.8, the D90 will produce better images than
    the D40. It will also allow you to use any wider f/1.4 lens, and
    most people find that the 30mm f/1.4 lenses are better for use
    indoors, as the 50mm focal length is often too long.

    Nikon's new 50mm f/1.4 AF-S lens is quite a bit more expensive
    than the older lenses, making the more expensive D90 an easier
    choice. It also has many additional features that may or may not be
    important. Live View can be very useful, especially for macro
    photography, and it was also the first DSLR to offer video, although
    I suspect that that's not often used. According to Nikon, the D90's
    battery life is much better than the D40, 470 shots vs 850 shots per
    charge when tested with the CIPA standard, and 2,200 vs 4,200 shots
    per charge when tested with Nikon's own standard. The manuals
    describe the test conditions if you're interested.

    Some additional differences: The D90 has a sensor cleaner and
    it's LCD monitor is much improved, 3" vs 2.5", with 920k dots vs the
    D40's 230k dot LCD display, and for shooting in the dark, the D90's
    LCD display is off while shooting, whereas the D40 likes to make its
    presence known, whether you want it to or not. IIRC, the D40 only
    has a single combined (monochrome) histogram, while the D90 also
    shows histograms for each of the Red, Green and Blue channels. The
    D90 also has a terminal that connects with an optional GPS device,
    storing latitude, longitude, altitude and Coordinated Universal Time
    (UTC) in the photo's EXIF data. (I assume that's where it's stored
    .. . .)

    The last two I'll mention (there are probably others you can find
    if you have both PDF manuals to search) are that the D40 has a
    maximum continuous frame rate of 2.5 f/sec. vs 4.5 f/sec. for the
    D90, and the D90's internal flash has a "free" Commander mode,
    allowing it to remotely control Nikon's CLS speedlights. The only
    way that the D40 can control external speedlights is to buy an
    additional SB-800, SB-900 or SU-800 which is a considerable extra
    ASAAR, Jan 7, 2009

    John Kecskes Guest

    Hi, this is only my view

    Children hardly ever stay still long enough to be able to take photos,
    I would go for 50mm 1.4 AFS and keep your camera.
    Unless auto focus catches the children eyes or face, they can and do
    focus almost anywhere and will not look good enough.
    If you like to use manual focus, you be better for it, most of the
    time you will get a better picture in the long run specially close
    ups, like waist up in children, or flowers, in low lights.
    John Kecskes, Jan 7, 2009

    trouble Guest

    If you do not have a real need for the f1.4 and want autofocus the f1.8
    remains the best bang for the buck lens in the Nikon catalog.
    You may be able to find a good used one and save even more.
    trouble, Jan 7, 2009

    TheRealSteve Guest

    Actually, I do the exact opposite. I would never buy a used "high
    tech" lens, i.e., one with AF-S or USM, VR or IS. But I definitely
    would and have bought used bodies. That's because the markdown on
    those used lenses is practically nothing. I still see the 18-200 VR
    selling used for as much as I bought a new one for over a year ago.
    And other lenses are only 10-20% off new prices. It definitely does
    not pay to go used with these high-tech lenses that more than likely
    will need warranty repair within the 5 year warranty period. And
    you're SOL if you bought used. One repair more than makes up for
    whatever you saved by buying used.

    Bodies, on the other hand, lose value extremely fast. Look at what
    D200's are going for these days. You can buy excellent condition, low
    shutter count D200's for $600-$800. And if it needs repair in the
    future, you can get it repaired 4 or 5 times for the $1000 savings vs.
    what a new D200 cost. The odds are with you.

    I'm surprised no one suggested this to the OP so far.. that is, keep
    your 50mm f/1.8. Keep your D40 if you like it, but get a used D200
    that can autofocus with that screw-drive lens. A D200 that's the same
    price as a D90 is a toss up. But a D200 that's several $100's cheaper
    is a no brainer. And a D200 totally outclasses a D40 in every respect
    except for size/weight.

    As for used "low-tech" lenses, I buy them all the time. My 50mm f/1.8
    was used, as was my 80-200mm f/2.8, as was my Sigma 70-300mm. There's
    much less to go wrong in those lenses without the ultrasonic motors
    and VR *and* they can be bought for significantly more markdown under
    new prices vs. the high-tech lenses. The only high-tech lens I bought
    used was the 12-24mm f/4 DX AF-S. And the only reason was because I
    found an incredible deal. But that's rare.

    TheRealSteve, Jan 8, 2009

    TheRealSteve Guest

    It is for people who understand how to follow a thread. We already
    know you don't though, so it's not surprising you were confused.

    TheRealSteve, Jan 8, 2009

    Paul Furman Guest

    Two good arguments. See what makes sense for your needs. I'd go for the
    old lenses mostly and new bodies because the technology advances so
    rapidly it's hard to miss out on that but the new lenses are good too. I
    have not heard of one case of VR HSM/AF-S lenses breaking down but it
    makes sense that they would with more tech inside. I do envy the latest
    lens improvements though, and it seems they are significant.

    You (the OP) mention AF lacking on the old body but the new lens will
    probably eventually end up broke and only manual focus on your new-ish
    worthless body... but the high tech designed optics & coatings will
    still be usable. And those have improved significantly over the decades.
    Some of the old classic lenses are admirable (for their time and today's
    price) and still useful but the new ones are indeed better, and the lens
    is ultimately the deciding factor. But damned if the new cameras aren't
    astonishing too... but they will be worth very little in a few years,
    and you can get great deals on used bodies if you can stand missing the
    latest cool stuff (which is genuinely cool). <grin>

    Photography is always about trade-offs, you will have to decide.

    Paul Furman

    all google groups messages filtered due to spam
    Paul Furman, Jan 15, 2009
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