Nikon 50mm f/1.2 doesn't have AF-S, it's manual focus. Given that I will mainly using it for taking portrait where I presume to have enough time to focus properly on the subject, can there be any other use case when the absence of AF be a big issue? If I shoot in low-light with aperture wide open to leverage the efficacy of a fast lens, I guess the performance of AF is not impressive in general. Hence, I personally think that manual focus is acceptable. But, want to cross check with other users who might have faced some problem that I am failing to sense apriori. Moreover, this post from some f/1.4G user puts me in great dilemma.

I keep WANTING an f1.2....every decade or so, I find myself buying one of the 50/55mm f1.2 Nikkors, use if for a few months, then sell it again. F1.4, heck even the f1.8 do more than fine for focus juxtaposition and low light work; and finding the right focus on the 1.2 handheld is always a gamble.... alas, they are lovely lenses.

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    Put your hunch and your concerns to the test: rent the f/1.2 and one of the others for a weekend, and put them through their paces. As an example, I just checked at lensrentals.com; you can get all 3 lenses for $95 for 6 days, total. Nothing can tell you how they'll work for you better than your own impressions and experience.
    – scottbb
    Jun 17, 2016 at 3:57
  • @scottbb I am at India where having access to rented lenses quite difficult, I believe.
    – sherlock
    Jun 17, 2016 at 4:44
  • Indeed. I don't know anything about India; is renting from a shop in Bangalore or Pune reasonable for you? toehold.in/rentals/bangalore (this isn't a recommendation; I know nothing about them)
    – scottbb
    Jun 17, 2016 at 5:08
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    Just speaking from experience, shooting a film-era f/1.2 manual focus lens wide open on a dSLR with a close subject means nailing focus is really hard. Because a) dSLR crop pentamirror viewfinders are a lot darker/cramped than film SLR viewfinders, b) matte focus screens don't render the DoF accurately and you don't have a split circle manual focus aid, and c) your DoF might be only millimeters thick. It's a little harder than you're envisioning. I had to swap the focus screen in my 5DMkII, but I don't think most Nikon bodies give you that option.
    – inkista
    Jun 17, 2016 at 8:52
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    @JamesSnell, sounds better than on entry-level Canons, where the spring bracket is very delicate, extraordinarily easy to break/bend, and scratching the focus screen is almost inevitable. And split circle actually turned out to be less effective than precision matte for me, given the f/5.6 blackout issue. But yeah, Katzeye doesn't make 'em any more. LCD overlays are now the thing.
    – inkista
    Jun 17, 2016 at 21:53

3 Answers 3


I haven't used this f/1.2 lens, but I've used the Canon one, and I'd say that if you're using it at f/1.2, auto-focus shouldn't be a big concern because in most cases the depth of field will be narrower than the precision of the autofocus system, even if you micro-adjust obsessively. You also can't judge it perfectly in the viewfinder — you'll need zoomed-in live view and manual adjustment to really nail it.

You mention that you're taking portraits and won't have time to carefully focus. In that case, you'll either have to accept that the price of f/1.2 is not always getting the closest eye or the cheekbones (or whatever the current fashion) in sharp focus — or else ask your model to stay very still.

If you're using the lens stopped down, this boils down to whether you're comfortable with manually focusing in general, and there's nothing specific to this lens to discuss.


For stationary subjects-landscapes, portraits, etc-you have time to manually focus, so a MF F/1.2 lens will do well, and give great Bokeh....even at F/2. For action shots....moving objects, you should have an AF lens. I just bought both....a Nikon AIS 50mm MF F/1.2 lens for portrait / landscape work, and a Nikon AFS 50mm AF F/1.8G lens for action photos. I haven't received either, yet, let alone used them yet. Once I do, I can tell you more about them. I expect to enjoy using them both. Everything I have read, and seen in videos, leads me to believe that I made good choices here.


To make manual focusing with the F/1.2 easier, get the lens further away from the subject....so you are getting head to toe shots rather than head & shoulders shots. The extra distance will increase the DOF. That will keep more things sharp. Shoot from 30 feet, or so, away rather than 8 feet away, and then enlarge, and crop, while printing. Put the camera on a tripod, rather than hand holding it.

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