A few shots with the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 AI-S

Panos Voudouris
4 min readDec 15, 2022

I was writing this story about the Nikon F3 and realised that pretty much all the photos I used were shot with the 50/1.2 AIS. So…here’s a mini review of this little gem.

Looking good

The specs

This is the fastest F-mount lens Nikon made, along with the 58/1.2. It is also one of the fastest 50s you can buy for a very modest amount of money used (got mine for under £300). The lens is very compact for such a fast lens and is really really well made. The focus is super smooth. The finish great. It focuses down to 0.5m, which is great for tight portraits. Nikon’s specs page is here. I’ve used the lens on the FM2, F3, F100 and F5 and it balances really nicely.

The opinion

I’ve shot tons of photos with this lens and the overall experience can be split into two modes.

Wide open, there is a bit of glow, a softness across the frame but there is still a lot of detail. The look is great for portraits, especially at night where you’ll have a bit of grain from faster film, a lot of contrast from the lighting and even a little camera shake/subject movement due to the lower shutter speeds.

Wide open with Delta 100 and Portra 400

Stop it down to f/2 and it is a super sharp lens. In my opinion, bokeh is nice and if you focus it right the sharpness is great. Stop down further to f/4 and you just get a very sharp 50, though you don’t get the super high contrast like some Zeiss lenses or current high end Nikon lenses will give you.

Kent, f/2 and Portra 400

The only little criticism I have is that the aperture ring is the usual stiff and notchy one that all Nikon lenses have. I love how I can change aperture smoothly on something like a Zeiss ZF lens with one finger whereas the Nikon rings always feel too stiff. I guess there’s no chance of bumping them off to another aperture but considering they are at the back of the lens there’s zero chance of that.