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How good is the bokeh on Nikkor Series E pancake lenses
Old 05-08-2019   #1
Steve M.
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How good is the bokeh on Nikkor Series E pancake lenses

I bought a little Nikon FG SLR and need a lens for it. My usual route w/ the FG and EM's is to go w/ the early non AI H 50 2 lenses (which need to be ai'd for the later cameras), but the 50 1.8 pancake lenses are so much more compact.

Has anyone here used the 50 pancake lens? Normal Nikon bokeh can be a little nervous/edgy, while the H 50 lenses give buttery smooth backgrounds.
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Old 05-08-2019   #2
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The 50/1.8 E has more of that edgy Nikon look.

It’s more or less the same as the 50/1.8 AI.

The 50/2.0 H is the buttery best of the slow 50’s

I have all three. I prefer the H. The size of the E is great.

Get a 50/1.8 E MKII with the rubber focus ring if you decide to try it.
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Old 05-08-2019   #3
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A long way back a friend of mine had an EM with the full line of of lens, E series, 28, 35, 50 and 100, all were very sharp and the 100 2.8 was especially fine, the E series glass is very fine indeed
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Old 05-08-2019   #4
BillBingham2
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People like me P00-pooed the series E glass when it came out. It was plastic, never last, questionable optics.

Can't speak for the others, but I was wrong.

Don't forget the 70-150/3.5, just a touch slower than the 100/2.8 and only slightly bigger.

Boy was I wrong.

B2 (;->
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Old 05-08-2019   #5
Steve M.
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Thank for the feedback. As convenient as the small size of the pancake lens would be, I don't think I can live w/ "normal" bokeh, as I like to take the occasional B&W flower pic. There's no scanner here anymore and no way to print digitized images anyway, so it's wet prints or nothing. I'll get another H 50 2.
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Old 05-08-2019   #6
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I didn't find anything wrong with 50 E bokeh. But it was kind of not something I liked on prints. Kiev SLR f mount 50/2 lens was superior to it and to many RF 50mm lenses I owned.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #7
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50E version II (silver ring)


Pictures from all my Nikon 50mm lenses.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #8
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Nobody cares about "bokeh" except wonks. This is especially true of focal lengths 50mm and shorter. "Bokeh" is simply used to draw attention to the subject. Only amateur photographers concern themselves with bokeh in this range. Normal -- wide focal lengths aren't about that. If you want to blow out the background into a painterly abstract mess of colors, close focus at 85mm+ and don't worry about how fast the lens is. Nearly any aperture will suffice and any lens in that range will do. Get a cheap off-brand 135/2.8. Sears, JC Penny, "Imado", Spiraton, Vivitar, Tokina -- whatever, off the auction site. Nobody bids on them. Bokeh city, all.
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Nikon Series E
Old 5 Days Ago   #9
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Nikon Series E

When they were introduced, the "E" lenses got a bad rap, primarily because Nikon went out of its way to label them as economy lenses not worthy of the Nikkor name. The all plastic build in an age where men were men and Nikkors were brass didn't improve their image any. They are not mulricoated, so contrast may take a hit. Some are good (the 50mm and 35mm), a few are great 100mm 70-150 zoom), and some should have been delivered from the factory to the dump (28mm, truly the worst). Looking at some of the dross Nikon as since sold, Most of them look pretty good now.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickTrop View Post
Nobody cares about "bokeh" except wonks. This is especially true of focal lengths 50mm and shorter. "Bokeh" is simply used to draw attention to the subject. Only amateur photographers concern themselves with bokeh in this range. Normal -- wide focal lengths aren't about that. If you want to blow out the background into a painterly abstract mess of colors, close focus at 85mm+ and don't worry about how fast the lens is. Nearly any aperture will suffice and any lens in that range will do. Get a cheap off-brand 135/2.8. Sears, JC Penny, "Imado", Spiraton, Vivitar, Tokina -- whatever, off the auction site. Nobody bids on them. Bokeh city, all.

Well, the background in the picture above your post, by Petronius, looks odd to me. But that may be mostly due to the stripes and/or an unluck distance. I think that most lenses can deliver good-looking oof backgrounds and worse ones, depending on distance, background, lighting, aperture etc. and in the big picture it doesn't matter much, it hardly makes or breaks an image.
However if one has the choice between similar lenses, all sharp and affordable, it's a criterion as good as any.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
Well, the background in the picture above your post, by Petronius, looks odd to me. But that may be mostly due to the stripes and/or an unluck distance. I think that most lenses can deliver good-looking oof backgrounds and worse ones, depending on distance, background, lighting, aperture etc. and in the big picture it doesn't matter much, it hardly makes or breaks an image.
However if one has the choice between similar lenses, all sharp and affordable, it's a criterion as good as any.
Partially agree, partially disagree. "Bokeh" is an overblown "photographic internet" thing hyped up by the numerous photo sites, blogs etc. Nobody cared about this years ago -- maybe portrait photographers. If shooting hand-held candids and grab shots having nice "bokeh" has more to do with what's being thrown out of focus as the lens. Traditional primes have similar optical formulas. The bokeh will be the same.

And again, "creamy bokeh" has more to do with focal lengths (longer) and subject distance (closer).

To the OP -- if you want the 50 E, just get it. It will have the same bokeh as any other 50. If you like it, keep it. If you don't like it, sell it for probably around the same price you bought it. No loss save a little hassle if you resell. I never owned this particular lens but it has its little following. All 50's have their little following. Hardly ever heard of a bad one and they're all effectively the same lens.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #12
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Bokeh is a bourgeois concept.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickTrop View Post
And again, "creamy bokeh" has more to do with focal lengths (longer) and subject distance (closer).

That would be the degree of blurring or defocusing or something like that, it's been a long time since I've read anyone on this well-educated forum refer to that as "bokeh". Bokeh is the quality of the defocused areas or, some people say, the quality of the the transition.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LCSmith View Post
Bokeh is a bourgeois concept.

What qualities does the proletariat care about these days in lenses and photographs?
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Old 5 Days Ago   #15
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They never did. That’s the point.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #16
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I have had the E-Series lenses 50 and 100 mm and I have had the AI 50 mm and the 105 2.5... In comparing them the E lenses are very slightly muddier colors and not quite as clear or bright as the Nikkors... it's just as cheap to go with the Nikkors and it really is the better path. My opinion

Bokeh is about the same amongst them all... The 105 being the best. Well known for it too
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Old 5 Days Ago   #17
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I had the 50/1.8 E. Couldn't tell the image difference with the 50/1.8 AF.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LCSmith View Post
Bokeh is a bourgeois concept.
It is. It literally is. Bokeh -- it's the new "sharpness".
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Old 5 Days Ago   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
That would be the degree of blurring or defocusing or something like that, it's been a long time since I've read anyone on this well-educated forum refer to that as "bokeh". Bokeh is the quality of the defocused areas or, some people say, the quality of the the transition.
I have never read any professionaly written photography book, professionally produced photographic website, or other media that makes the distinction you describe. They all call it bokeh.

Example:
https://photographylife.com/how-to-obtain-maximum-bokeh
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Old 5 Days Ago   #20
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So that makes Vaseline or nose grease the "new" unsharp mask? 😉
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Old 5 Days Ago   #21
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3 years ago I found in my dads old telescope boxes a new unused 50mm 1.8 E lens still in its box. took it out, hooked it up and it had oil on the shutter blades, and wouldn't open/close without me pushing the app lever on the lens. i was wondering if it was worth it to get it fixed, as I can almost buy a new 50mm 1.8 d lens for the cost to have it fixed.


I do have 2 50mm lenses already, a 1.4 ai-s and a long nose 1.8 ai-s, so not sure what I gain by fixing it.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J enea View Post
3 years ago I found in my dads old telescope boxes a new unused 50mm 1.8 E lens still in its box. took it out, hooked it up and it had oil on the shutter blades, and wouldn't open/close without me pushing the app lever on the lens. i was wondering if it was worth it to get it fixed, as I can almost buy a new 50mm 1.8 d lens for the cost to have it fixed.


I do have 2 50mm lenses already, a 1.4 ai-s and a long nose 1.8 ai-s, so not sure what I gain by fixing it.
Oil on SLR aperture blades on lenses with auto stop down is a regular feature for Kiev SLRS, 35mm or 120 cameras. So it helps to learn to clean the aperture blades yourself, as these Kiev lenses are not worth much and certainly ain't worth the price of a professional camera tech working on them, same for that Nikon series E lens these days.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
That would be the degree of blurring or defocusing or something like that, it's been a long time since I've read anyone on this well-educated forum refer to that as "bokeh". Bokeh is the quality of the defocused areas or, some people say, the quality of the the transition.
I'm with him
The quality of the shapes in the out of focus area. Soft = more appealing to the eye than sharp/edgy.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #24
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Bokeh, bokeh, bokeh! There, I just wanted to get that out. I have NEVER heard anyone on this forum refer to bokeh as defocused anything because it isn't defocused at all, or blurry.

Gee, I never thought of myself as a wonk, a bourgeois or overblown ( and let's not forget film twit which never got mentioned, and I like very much, but then I'm a film twit, so I would). You kind folk have saved me a fortune on bills for a therapist!

Bokeh is part of the photograph unless you're shooting something stopped down intentionally, like a landscape or something. Like anything, it can be overdone, but I much prefer overdone bokeh to busy "bokeh" (which does not deserve to be called bokeh, it's just nervous noise). A smooth and pleasant background is what you want for portraits and for a lot of other stuff photographically. That's why they sell all those fake smoothish backgrounds to studio portrait photographers. But w/ a good lens you can have your own private studio wherever you and your camera go. For someone like me that only works w/ darkroom prints, bokeh is a big deal. Especially w/ Nikon lenses, which are sharp but often exhibit an ugly, edgy background, the H 50 2 lenses being the rare exception.

Film choice, developer choice, wet printing paper and toning, these are all fundamental parts of photography that influence image characteristics. Bokeh is as important as sharpness. I would argue that it's much more important because a lot of people seem to be able to make inexpensive sharp lenses, but a lens w/ good bokeh is always priced at a premium.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pvdhaar View Post
I had the 50/1.8 E. Couldn't tell the image difference with the 50/1.8 AF.
I have read that the optics are identical on those two lenses. Halfway down the page on Ken Rockwell's site:
https://kenrockwell.com/nikon/cheapskate-lenses.htm
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Old 4 Days Ago   #26
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I am with Steve on this one. I think the term caused a stir because camera nuts in the West were obsessed with sharpness, resolution, lines-per- mm etc. Those measurable criteria were the subject of all the lens reviews, such as they were. And here it turned out that Japanese photographers were looking at the whole picture, not just the subject, and had come up with a vocabulary to describe what they cared about in a photo.

I think the photographer is responsible for everything in the frame, and so encountering the term was, for me, a revelation. I was one of those camera nuts who thought that subject sharpness was the end-all.

I understand the dismissiveness in Nick's post above - I did the same thing in a post here about bicycling with a camera yesterday. It comes, in my case at least, with impatience with convention. But I think the OP's question is a fair one -- after all not all 50's are created equal on this score, and why wouldn't a photographer want the input of other actual users of a particular lens before purchasing one? I believe it is not just the elements of lens design, but also the aperture shape that matters here.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
I bought a little Nikon FG SLR and need a lens for it. My usual route w/ the FG and EM's is to go w/ the early non AI H 50 2 lenses (which need to be ai'd for the later cameras), but the 50 1.8 pancake lenses are so much more compact.

Has anyone here used the 50 pancake lens? Normal Nikon bokeh can be a little nervous/edgy, while the H 50 lenses give buttery smooth backgrounds.
Steve: Here are some pix taken this morning so you can make your own judgment about things. I put three Nikon lenses on a D3/tripod and aimed them at a railing post devoid of artistic merit. The lenses were the 50/1.8 E lens (I assume this is the pancake lens you are talking about), a 1990's 50/1.4 AF lens and a 40/2.8 GN (which is actually a pancake lens).

Here's the 50/1.8 E lens wide open and then at f:5.6:



f:5.6:



Here's the 1990's 50/1.4 AF at f:1.8 and then f:5.6:



f:5.6:



and here's the 40 at those same apertures. I had to move the tripod back a bit as the 40 doesn't focus as close as the 50's.



f:5.6:



As I said: devoid of any artistic merit. You can even see a shadow of yrs. truly hunching over the tripod.

Hope this gives you a sense of what that lens does with OOF areas when pointed at a busy background. Seems a little busy to me, but not too bad.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #28
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Bokeh, bokeh, bokeh!
Bokeh is the umami of photography.

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Old 4 Days Ago   #29
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Quote:
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Bokeh is the umami of photography.

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Old 4 Days Ago   #30
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Salty, meaty and delicious?

No, everyone's product needs it but talking about it is either done fanatically or dismissed in various ways, little middle ground.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #31
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Originally Posted by retinax View Post
What qualities does the proletariat care about these days in lenses and photographs?
The in focus parts...
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Old 4 Days Ago   #32
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Originally Posted by NickTrop View Post
I have never read any professionaly written photography book, professionally produced photographic website, or other media that makes the distinction you describe. They all call it bokeh.

Example:
https://photographylife.com/how-to-obtain-maximum-bokeh

That article simply isn't consistent in its use, from the first sentence: "the term bokeh represents the quality of the magical out-of-focus blur". Sure, the usage like in the headline and general gist of the article exists, what doesn't on the internet. These articles are written for beginners and if the terminology is a little mangled, maybe it doesn't matter that much. The discussion here on RFF usually takes this knowledge for granted. OP knows how to get blurry backgrounds. Do you really think the OP wants to know which of various 50s of nearly the same max aperture gives blurrier out of focus backgrounds?
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