If you see the difference between the 50mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.4 lenses, you should just buy the f/1.4 version. This is my advice for people looking for a 50mm lens. This comes from my experience with Nikon’s 50mm lenses.
I bought the 50mm f/1.8D a few months after I bought my D40, Cammy. However, having seen the differences between the kind of image I can shoot with the lenses, I knew that I wanted the f/1.4 for the creamy bokeh.
After much research and consideration, I finally purchased the AF-S Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens.
My 50mm f/1.8D was bought on impulse. It did not see much use as I soon found the angle too tight for my shots.
I used it on my D90 and the effective focal length is 75mm on the 1.5x crop sensor. That makes it a good portrait lens but I often found myself too close to the subject and not have the space to move backwards to frame the shot I want to.
The 50mm f/1.8D was soon left in the dry cabinet and the 35mm f/2D became the lens that is on my camera most of the time. The 35mm lens gave an effective focal length of about 52mm. I loved the field of view at this particular focal length.
When I upgraded to a D700, the 35mm focal length on the full frame sensor became too wide. While the field of view with a 35mm lens allowed me to tell stories by including environmental elements in my shots, distortion posed a problem when I want to the faces of my subjects to fill the frame. I was also drawn by the faster maximum aperture of f/1.4.
I have tried the AF-D 50mm f/1.4D and the AF-S 50mm f/1.4G. Both are great fast normal lenses. I will not be doing a review or comparison of the two as there are many such as this.
While many people gripe about the faster focussing speed of the D lens compared to the newer G lens, I find it hardly an issue in real life shooting. The tests compare the speeds of the lens focussing from close to infinity and back. This does not happen when you shoot. I have only encountered focus hunting in very dim lighting. Ironically, the G lens focuses better in low light compared to the D lens.
It was very tempting to get the D lens simply because it had an aperture ring and I would be able to use it on my dad’s F3. However, I decided to go for the G lens for the better flare control and the smoother bokeh quality.
I have had it for three days and I’m loving it! This lens is an absolute gem on a D700.