VERDICT

As we all now need to work a bit longer for our pensions, should we be expecting the same from our gear? TIM GARTSIDE takes a 35 - year - old lens and asks if an old dog can learn new tricks, or be better than the fitter young guns stop  infinity point can be a blessing as it allows precise infinity focus without even looking. The newer G lens has a much more rounded, almost circular, seven - bladed diaphragm, this results in a softer bokeh around the point light sources, compared to the older seven - bladed lenses which gives a much better star filter  effect, which has always been a firm favourite when shooting at night. Using each lens on a tripod with flash, it does seem that the new G lens is fractionally sharper than the E or D lens at all apertures, but only when pixel peeping - you would have to be doing quite large prints to notice a difference. By f/4 there is little difference. The AF - S is quieter as it uses Silent Wave Autofocus Motor technology, but is not noticeably faster than the D version> The E and D lenses are both sharp, even at f/1.8, so are great value.However, the single - coated E lens gives a tad less contrast at night, but interestingly this produces better shadow detail. Equally interesting is that the oldest and newest lenses outperform my 50mm f/1.4. AF at all apertures. The f/1.4 is very soft by comparison and looks sharp only by about f/4, so ironically it is not worth paying more for the faster lens to gain the extra aperture stop, as it is not usable. It is better to buy an f/1.8 AF for optical quality and increase the ISO by a stop. VERDICT Nikon has made a point of allowing all of its lenses to be used on every Nikon SLR/DSLR camera ever made, which seems to work rather well. Obviously AF is essential for some areas, but there are many times when AF is less important, e.g; landscapes, architecture, macro, interiors, commercial and even some studio or location portraiture. The latest G version is fractionally sharper, but only just beats the D. Even the old-timer E variant gives a stellar performance for a 35 - year - old lens. So if you need a lens where AF is not essential and you have never considered a 50mm prime, then maybe the second-hand market is a great place to look for a prime E lens. If you cannot afford the latest version or would prefer an aperture ring, then the D is a fantastic alternative. For night shots though, the old D lens gives fantastic diffraction stars, so this one will definitely go on my wish list.

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