Saturday, February 12, 2022

Old vs New ~ Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AiS vs Sony 50mm f/1.8 SEL OSS (APS-C)

Continuing in the style of recent posts and asking a question about how old lenses compare with current day computer designed optics, I take a quick look this time at a Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AiS "pancake" lens and compare it against an APS-C format Sony 50mm f/1.8 SEL OSS.


  • Sony A7 - ISO50, 2 second timer, in-camera levels used to square the whole plot up
  • Manfrotto tripod - it's capable of securing an 8x10inch view camera, so it's sturdy enough for this
  • Lenses -
    • Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AiS - shot from f/1.8 through f/8
    • Sony 50mm f/1.8 SEL OSS (APS-C) - shot from f/1.8 through f/8 shot Full Frame which shows the edge of the frame clipped due to the lack of FF coverage
  • Rawtherapee RAW to jpg conversion - Auto-Match function
    • "Capture Sharpen" used on the f/1.8 images to see how they compare with other apertures without "CS"


Here is the scene setup.  It's just a pair of closed gaze scrims in our apartment.  The details are interestingly small, so therefore useful for this kind of "wee look-see." 


Nikon Nikkor-O 35mm f2 Scene


[As always, click on the image and look at it to 100percent file size to see whatever there is to be seen.]


Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AiS, Sony OSS SEL 50mm f/1.8



At f/1.8 the Nikkor 50mm is slightly softer than the Sony.  I figured this might be the case based on a webpage that has long disappeared that compared the Sony against Leica's latest 50mm and won.  Though I see nothing wrong with the Nikkor, this Sony optic is very special.

From f/2.8 on down through f/8 I have a difficult time telling the difference between the Nikkor 50mm lens and the Sony 50mm.

This comparison includes "Capture Sharpen"'d f/1.8 images.  It's interesting to see how much "crisper" these images become with a simple push of a button.

As I've suggested in the past, I suspect "Capture Sharpen" removes the character of a lens when shot wide open.  It's at the widest apertures where I've seen the designed-in effects of spherical and chromatic aberrations of old Nikkor manual focus lenses.

After seeing a large show of Steve McCurry's glorious images at the Musee Maillol where I studied his images with an eye toward such things, I may have more to say about "Capture Sharpen" and optical effects in the future.

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