What is the difference between a Nikon 50mm f1.8D and 50mm f1.8G lens? And which one should you buy?

It’s a common question among beginners – Which one should I buy?

The 50mm F1.8G lens

Or the 50mm f1.8D lens


Well if you’re reading this in 2018, then the most likely answer is  – 50mm f1.8G.

But let’s see why.

A lot of websites out there compare the image sharpness, bokeh quality, etc when it comes to this discussion. But we at Creative Pad Photography always like to keep things simple. So we’ll tell you the only major difference you really need to know.

The difference is that a D lens doesn’t have an auto-focus motor in the lens. A G lens has a built-in focus motor.

So why is this difference crucial?

It’s crucial because if you’re using the 50mm f1.8D lens and you have a camera that doesn’t have a auto-focus motor system inside the body of the camera, then you will not be able to use the auto-focus capability with this lens.

Most of the entry level crop sensor cameras by Nikon don’t have a focus motor in the body. So unless you have a high end crop frame camera or a full frame camera, you will not be able to auto-focus using the D lens. So when you half press the shutter button, nothing will happen.. You will still be able to use the lens but you will have to use the manual focus ring to focus on your subject.

The 50mm f1.8G lens has a built-in focus system so even if your camera body doesn’t have a focus motor, you can still use auto-focus.

So which are the cameras that have and don’t have a built-in focus motor in the body?

Cameras that have a built-in focus motor:

  • Nikon D7XXX series
  • Nikon DXX series (except D40 and D60)
  • All full-frame pro cameras by Nikon

Cameras that don’t have a built-in focus motor:

  • Nikon D3XXX series
  • Nikon D5XXX series

That’s really about it.

There are other differences like being able to manually open and close the aperture ring on a D lens but again those are not too important when it comes to this purchasing decision.

So if you’ve got a Nikon DSLR that has a built-in focus motor, you can definitely end up saving some money by going for the 50mm f1.8D lens. But the 50mm F1.8G is definitely the recommended one.

About the Author

portrait photographer for portfolio shoot in pune

Hi there, I'm Kush Sharma, the founder of Creative Pad Media, an organization dedicated to simplifying photography and videography education.

We have over 40 online courses that cover various genres in photography & videography, catering to both beginners as well as professionals. These courses are available via Udemy.com. Our courses have been downloaded in over 170 countries.

I hope to see you inside a course very soon!

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