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Nikkor 50mm f1.8 AIS


The 50mm F/1.8 Longnose was the brainchild of Mr. Souichi Nakamura, Nikon’s most celebrated lens designer and the creator of many Nikon optical designs still in use today. And it’s a lens that was created to disrupt the market. 

The legacy of the 50mm F/1.8 stems from the 50mm f2 way back in 1959. This legendary lens which stayed in production for over two decades. Utilizing a double Gauss structure, this lens was long believed to be the best Nikkor glass, of which the most important factor was its value proposition. The last variant of the 50mm f2 came in the form of an Ai update which saw the light of the day in the month of March in 1977. 

But this was a period in which amateur photographers and pros alike were demanding greater performance for their money. Competitors were packing their consumer camera kits with faster F/1.8, the next standard for compact inexpensive primes. Enter our candidate from 1978, the long nose 50mm F/1.8. For almost a year both lenses were sold alongside each other. Utilizing most of the F/2’s characteristics, the F/1.8 lens was able to improve upon a few key areas. 

The recessed element proved to be quite a discerning factor for this lens giving its name. The depth also allowed the lens to be more durable whilst protecting its optics from sun, a sort of built-in lens hood. The F/1.8 also improved upon other optical factors such as spherical aberration, improving contrast when wide open. An improved optical formula reduced flare and coma while incorporating the faster aperture.

Nakamura’s 50mm design would continue to be produced for decades. As the industry shifted to autofocus lenses, this impressive lens design remained. Even today, his design can be found in Nikon’s modern AF Nikkor 50mm F/1.8D.