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I have D5000 DX body and planning to buy a fast lens. I'm stuck on choosing between "AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4D" and "AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G".

I was quite leaning towards 50mm f/1.4D, as I had plans to upgrade to FX camera body next year. But now I've lost interest in upgrading to FX body and am willing to wait for good mirrorless camera with a bigger-than-CX sensor to come from Nikon, which I think might be around two years more wait.

So my confusion now is: to get good image quality and sharpness (for portraits and closeups) with my DX body, which lens shall I choose from above two? As the picture angle is 31° 30′ at 50mm for DX body, and 44° at 35mm — but the lens construction is better in 35mm.

Also, will the aperture ring present in the 50mm be useful for macro-photography? I do have a cheap extension tubes, which I read somewhere that I would not be able to use if I buy the 35mm.

my main concern is image quality and sharpness than utilizing the extension tubes..(AUTO FOCUS AF-S is not a concern for me i guess, although some say manual focus is hard in 50mm lens) .... any Help appreciated. Thank you.

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If one of these lenses were better in the absolute sense, probably Nikon would stop making and selling the other, or else decrease the price of one until the equation basically balanced (assuming that the market isn't total suckers). Therefore, it'll be more helpful if you can focus your question a bit more on better for what. –  mattdm Jan 30 '12 at 15:47
    
What's wrong with the AF-S 35mm F/1.4G? Seems like you're trying to avoid the good one ;) While I have not seen it, I have heard only great things about the Sigma 35mm F/1.4 too. –  Itai Dec 23 '13 at 0:22

3 Answers 3

It really depends on what you want to do with the lens. As you camera is a 3/4 frame camera then the 50mm will act more like a 70mm while the 35mm will act more like a 50mm would regularly. So if your intent is to shoot portraiture or gigs then the 35mm would serve you better. I find all too often that my 50mm is just too close for decent portraiture (since I am also using a 3/4 frame camera, d90)

The trick is to not let your lenses overlap too much. eg if you have a standard 18-55 lens that came with your body then the 35mm would overlap too much and what you would be buying would just be the speed. On the other hand if you have a 70-200 tele lens then perhaps the 50 would be too close to be worth purchasing. That all depends on your available free cash of course. Generally I get to buy 1 lens a year so I try to make it count.

I'd also recommend considering the 50mm f1.8 rather than the f1.4. That extra 1.4 helps but it also doubles the price of the lens.

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I agree with the theme of the first part of your post (although 50mm gives a nice working distance in many portrait situations) but disagree strongly with the second. See If I have a 18-55mm lens, is there a point in buying a 35mm prime lens? – mattdm 10 mins ago –  mattdm Jan 30 '12 at 12:19
    
I have bought the 35mm mentioned here, but still kept my 18-55mm kit lens. I use them in different situation and there is no problem with overlapping. However when I leave home, I rarely do take both of them with. Thus I agree with @mattdm about the second. –  Johan Karlsson Jan 30 '12 at 12:42
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@mattdm I disagree personally. It is more worth your money to be able to capture a variety of shots rather than getting a faster lens in a range you can already cover with other lenses. Neither of those answers consider the financial impact, which is irresponsible considering how expensive lenses are. –  Michael Allen Jan 30 '12 at 13:20
2  
That's okay. We can disagree. :) –  mattdm Jan 30 '12 at 13:33

With any extension tubes, you could use the best optics and still get bad IQ, making your entire question pointless. And that'd be if it weren't already pointless because both those lenses are excellent.
They're also different enough that there's really no way to say you'll use them in identical fashion, as the 50mm will behave like a very fast short tele on your camera while the 35mm will be a wideangle lens.
My advise: forget about those 2 lenses and go for something like a 60mm f/2.8 AF-D Micro-Nikkor or Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX Macro instead. Both are dedicated macro lenses that also serve remarkably well for portrait work. And they're probably cheaper than the lenses you are looking at also.

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Although now it has been replaced with the newer Nikon AF 50 mm f/1.4 G AF-S but one must know that this lens held its top position for over a decade and is still a more desired and cheaper alternative to the newer model which is just marginally ahead in terms of performance. If the price for even the second hand version of this lens feels like a budget spoiler to you then i would recommend the cheapest yet one of the sharpest and well performing Nikon 50mm f/1.8 D for you. And trust me it not more than a feet behind in the race for image quality.

Making good photographs is the job of the person behind the camera-lens system and not the responsibility of the equipment, which are merely the means to the cause.But having a good equipment at your disposal is a blessing .

more more info do check out http://pixelarge.com/nikon-af-nikkor-50mm-f1-4d/

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This is interesting but only half answers the actual question, comparing the two lenses.... –  mattdm Dec 22 '13 at 19:37

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