Review: Nikon Series E 50mm F1.8 Lens

As a relatively new photographer, I might not have the expansive lens knowledge of a professional photographer, nor do I have the finely attuned eye that might notice subtle differences in picture quality.

However, as this is a blog that’s aimed just as much at advising beginners as it is at conversing with more seasoned photographers, I felt that sharing my views on this might help others looking to move away from kit lenses, and the like, to something a little more refined.

So here we go. My review of the Nikon 50mm Series Elens.

Price and Availability

You can pick up one of these Series E lenses for between £70-£150, depending on age and condition etc. I got mine for around £75 and was pretty lucky with the condition.

They tend to be quite widely available as their build quality ensured they stood the test of time. As with many Nikon products, they didn’t cut any corners here.

Ease of Use

The Series E 50mm is a small lens. It’s not quite pancake but smaller that many 50mm lenses I’ve seen or used previously. This makes it a great lens to stick on when you’re doing a spot of street photography, as you don’t have to lug a lens twice the weight of your camera around with you.

The focus ring is right at the front (where it would be in my opinion, as it encourages you to use of the ends of your fingers, which find the focusing sweet-spot more accurately). The aperture ring has a reassuring click to each stop and is easy to find thanks to raised bumps around its circumference.

There is little to go wrong here, it’s basic but properly considered with no design hang-ups that I’ve come across so far.

Build Quality

My other lenses that I use for film are Slightly older Japanese lenses that have extremely high build quality and are fully metal. The Series E, at first, seemed like it might be a cheaper construction compared with these contenders. However, I soon realised that the plastic construction was for weight saving purposes. The inner mechanism of the E-Series is fully metal, with only the outer shell and interactive moving pieces in plastic.This gives the lens a robust and tactile feel to it. The solidarity of the body underneath seems to upgrade the plastic outer shell into something much more trustworthy and reliable.

Image Quality

This was my first time shooting with such a low aperture. The lowest aperture lens I own after the Series E bottoms out at F3.5, so shooting at F1.8 really changed how I took pictures and what I could do with low light conditions and bokeh.

As you can see in many of these images, the softer backgrounds and light bokeh are really enhanced by this lens. I also found that the actual quality of the images was slightly sharper (if a little more grainy) than some of the other lenses I’ve used.

Shooting at a wide open f1.8 also allows you to take pictures in low light conditions and not have them turn out like complete shit, as your shutter speeds get faster and your camera shake lessens.

Verdict

For someone wanting to get a prime lens they can whack on their camera and rely on, the Series E really is a solid little performer. It’s a taste of professional lens capabilities in an affordable package.

I probably wouldn’t recommend spending any less than £70 on one of these as, although they are built like tanks, cheaper ones on eBay etc tend to suffer from internal dust and lens fungus.

If you’re sick of blurry images and want to dabble in a bit of bokeh business or some arty stuff, this is the lens for you. I use it mostly for street photography as it’s lightweight and reliable and doesn’t draw attention like huge 200mm stalker lenses on busy streets.

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