I am a beginner in DSLR, and would like to purchase another lens other than my kit lenses came with my D3400. After so much googling, and reading blogs, I have decided to purchase one 50mm lens. I have found 2 options, either Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G or Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G. 1.4 is expensive than 1.8. I did a googling for 1.4 vs 1.8. All of the blogs were technical (coz I don't understand that "tech language") and I am looking for some "simple to understand" definitions, like the image look sharp, background will look blurrier, perfect for night photography etc. I would like to know the difference b/w D and G also.

Thank you.


4 Answers 4


The 50mm f/1.4 lets in 65% more light than the 1.8, so it is better for night photography. If you use it for portraits, it can blur the background more. It does come with a price though, at f/1.4 the depth of field becomes very small. If you take a head shot, and focus on the eyes, you will notice that the tip of the nose is out of focus. Because of this you will often have to go to f/1.8 of f/2 anyway. It is also extremely difficult to shoot moving things, like children at f/1.4, it is worth it though, no other lens lets you shoot without flash in such low light(unless you spend 10.000 dollar on a 35mm f/1.4, which performs about the same).

Apart from this the lenses are identical and give the same (extremely good) quality of photo's. The 50 mm is the favorite lens of many professionals. Besides night, party and portrait, it is also a great lens for traveling because it is small and light.

If the small difference between the two lenses is worth the difference in price is something that everyone needs to decide for themselves. I am very happy I went for the 1.4 almost 10 years ago. A good lens should last at least 10 to 20 years, and I use it a lot. I expected to use it about 5% of the time, but I still shoot about 95% of my photo's with it, even though I have 3 more nice lenses.

Forget about the D lenses, they don't have an autofocus motor, and use the one in the camera body. Since your body does not have one, that won't work very well.

  • The f/1.4 is actually 2/3 of an f-stop brighter than the f/1.8. An f/1 (difficult to find) is actually twice as bright. Dec 24, 2017 at 17:32
  • Alan Marcus: You are right, it is 65% more. I'm getting an aperture of 1.2727 if you want twice as much light as 1.8. (1.8/1.2727)^2=2.
    – Orbit
    Dec 24, 2017 at 21:04
  • @rickboender , So u r telling that, if I take a head shot using f/1.4, the tip of nose become blur, and with f/1.8, it will be fine. Correct?
    – Alfred
    Dec 24, 2017 at 21:09
  • @ rick boender -- You are spot on. An easy way to make 2X incremental changes in f/stops --- multiply by 1.4 or its reciprocal 0.707. The basis -- Applying these factors to the diameter of a circle, constructs a revised circle with twice or half the original surface area. Thus for a circular lens, we double or half its ability to capture light. Thus 1.8 X 0.707 = 1.27 (by custom we round to f/1.3). Dec 25, 2017 at 1:15
  • blasteralfred: No, it gets better. Usually it is not a problem when the nose is a bit out of focus, because we are used to look at eyes first. It does get very difficult when the subject is moving though, then it can be the eyes that are out of focus. My experience is that somewhere between f/1.8 and f/2.2 i can get pretty much the whole face sharp on a D7000.
    – Orbit
    Dec 25, 2017 at 14:11

The 1.4 or 1.8 reffers to aparture size. A smaller value means a bigger opening letting more light throuh. So considering only that the 50mm/1.4 is better for taking photos in low light.

This is not the whole story thou, to really know what the differences are I would recomend reading rewiews of the different lenses, prefferably by the same person so the judgement will be consistent. In reviewes things like sharpness of the lens and any problems the lens might have is often discussed.


I've owned both the f1.4D and f1.4G Nikkor lenses, and as well as the points above about the motor drive and the metering changes that are in the f1.4G is also a newer lens with different optics.

Both are very, very good lenses but the significantly updated optics in the "G" variant deliver improved chromatic aberration, sharpness and distortion. This is especially noticeable at wider apertures, becoming increasingly visible below about f2.4.


Both the f1.4 and the f1.8 have a minimum aperture of f16, so you're looking at range as well as maximum aperture. Thinking purely of the maximum aperture, the f1.4 will let you use faster shutter speeds in low light, and will have a shorter depth of field at this setting. Put briefly, the f1.4 will do what the f1.8 does and a bit more, hence the higher price.

With the "D" lenses, the first factor you'll spot is that on some bodies (for example the D3400), you won't have autofocus - the lens does not have its own motor, and if the body doesn't have the mechanical drive, you'll be limited to manual focus (assuming this is a limiting factor - it might be what you want). Otherwise the f1.8D has f22 as a minimum aperture, so the same range as the f1.4D and more range than the "G" variant, but probably not at the end you want for a fast lens.

[I've also just found this https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4156844, which suggests metering as well as focus will be manual on the D3400 with "D" variant lenses. If you're not sure what all this means, go for a "G" until you have more experience.]

In very simple terms, the larger aperture will allow faster shutter speeds for any given lighting and will make the point at which you focus sharp, but things closer or further away will be more blurred. This can be a useful feature if you want the subject to appear separate from (or more important than) any foreground or background.

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