Nikon 50mm 1.8 E vs. S.

2020, Favourite, Inspiration, Nikon 50mm f/1.8 series E AIS, Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S, Q&A, Teaching point

Like the title says, I’m comparing the 40 year old Nikon 50/1.8 Series E AIS lens with the new Nikon 50mm 1.8S lens.

Wide open, there’s no contest: the 50/1.8S trounces the E (you’ll have to take my word for it).

At f/2.8, however, the differences are less obvious.

WARNINGThis is not a scientific comparison.  This is me sharing something with you for free that might be worth absolutely nothing to you.  Or it may change your life.  We can only say with certainty in retrospect.

Below you will find two similar but uninteresting images taken under horrible lighting.


  • f/2.8
  • 1/125
  • ISO 1250
  • Camera used: Nikon Z7

Nikon 50mm 1.8E:


Nikon 50mm 1.8S:

And now the crops (click on each image to enlarge)…


Left Edge:

Upper Left:

Right Edge:

The 50/1.8S is technically the better lens, for 10x the price.  The 50/1.8E is easier to carry around.

Thanks for looking.


5 thoughts on “Nikon 50mm 1.8 E vs. S.

  1. They really aren’t that different. The only place where the Z lens won was on the right edge, which implies that the E lens might have a slight misalignment. Or something like that. I wonder if the E lens would do better on film as far as corners go.

    I personally would be stopping down the lens to f/2.8 or narrower almost all the time. The f/1.8 would simply be there to help see in darker environments. In that case, I’d be tempted to choose the E lens. Although AF is good these days – even CD AF is amazing for photos (not so much for video).

    If I had to choose between PD and CD, and I wasn’t doing video, I’d choose CD every time. I’d prefer both together but that’s a different thing. My current camera (E-M5 II) has CD only.

    1. I’m glad you noticed that the right edge of the 1.8E frame looks worse than the left edge… some misalignment for sure. I don’t know how evident it is on film, and I don’t intend to do any detailed testing to find out. It’s tedious enough to do that sort of thing on digital, let alone film. Besides, film is meant to be less perfect anyway.

  2. Since just got the 50mm f1.8 S lens i might do some comparisons too. Have the 50mm 1.8E for my FM3a. Will play with the 50mm f1.8s first to get a good feel for it.

    Question Peter regarding your 1.8S use. What is your aperture of choice to make the lens sing? (for my 50mm 1.4 afd it was 2.2/2.5)

    1. I shoot it wide open @ f/1.8, unless I want more depth of field. Sharpness doesn’t factor into my decision at all, since the lens is exceedingly sharp throughout the entire aperture range.

      1. Thank you Peter. The super sharpness would be one of the reasons to shoot it wide open for me then. Don’t like to much sharpness when photographing people.

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