Ahh… the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens. An optical masterpiece that no Nikon DSLR owner should be without; especially since it is Nikon’s cheapest lens that is still manufactured today. Every online Nikon lens review loves this lens and can find no fault in it. Well, I found one. A big one! Big enough that it has ruined a few photos and I am considering selling this lens.
When I was searching for the perfect travel camera I wanted pro DSLR quality and performance in a small package and at an affordable price. It seemed impossible at the time, until I coupled the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens with the body of the new Nikon D7000. Perfection! Modern DSLR lenses are big and heavy and a pain in the neck (literally) to carry around attached to your already big and heavy DSLR camera body. Even the newer prime lenses are big. But Nikon’s older, yet still manufactured, D lenses lack the built-in focus motors which reduce the weight and size. But, you can still autofocus using the motor from Nikon’s higher end camera bodies, including the D7000. The focus may not be as fast as having a built-in lens motor, but fast enough for most situations. It was this combination that convinced me that a Nikon D7000 with a small prime lens would be my perfect travel camera.
I found the 50mm lens to take incredibly sharp photos and was ideal for low light situations where I could take advantage of the wide aperture. The only fault I could find was that it was somewhat of a telephoto lens. Back in the dark ages, the days of 35mm film, a 50mm lens was a “normal” lens. It saw the world the same as a person would see it. Not wide and not zoomed in. But the D7000 has a DX format sensor, which means it has a 1.5x crop, making the 50mm lens equivalent to a 75mm lens for 35mm film or full frame (FX) sensors. I would see a great shot, put the camera to my eye, and then would start walking backwards in order to fit everything into the frame. This has often had me backing out into traffic or running into parked cars or other objects. I really need to be a bit more careful! The other thing I love and hate about this lens in the bokeh, the not in-focus part of a photo. At f/1.8 the depth of field (DOF) is very shallow, which can be great for portraits of a single person or object where you want a nice creamy blurred out background. But with a group of people, the depth of field increases, which has caused me to miss a few shots because I misjudged the result of my settings. I now carry around depth of field charts in my camera bag. Remember those?
Now for what most of you have wanted to hear; what the REAL issue is with the Nikon 50mm 1.8D lens. A few weeks ago we were at the Oregon coast where I shot a few longer exposures mounted to a tripod using the 50mm lens, somthing I had not previously done before with this lens. Since I do not have any neutral density filters, yet, I stopped the lens down for the longer exposure time. The photos looked good on the screen, but when I got home I was shocked at what I saw on the computer screen. There was a big purple, blue, violet (or whatever color it may be) spot right in the center of EVERY photo that I shot at f/11 to f/22. I checked the lens and the sensor convinced that I had some foreign object or smudge that was ruining my photos, but found nothing. I tried another lens and had no problems. Turning to Google I found that I am not the only one that has had this problem. The theory goes that the light bounces off the sensor in certain conditions causing the purple spot and many people have had this happen from f/11 – f/22. What good is a lens if you can’t stop it down below f/8?
I contacted Nikon about this issue and sent them some sample images. They told me to send them the lens, so I did. A couple of weeks later I got a reply from Nikon saying that the lens needs a cleaning and they want to charge me $45 to do this and ship it back to me. I argue this case and send them about 10 links to other people having this same issue with this lens. I know for a fact that my lens was spotless. They escalate the problem and then send a response saying there is nothing wrong with the lens, and it might be my camera sensor. Yeah right! I have yet to receive my lens back, but once I do, I plan to try it on a couple of other Nikon cameras to see if I can reproduce the purple spot. If I do reproduce it on a different camera, it will be interesting to see what Nikon has to say about that.
Here are the photos with the dreaded purple spot. The only processing these photos have had was converting them from RAW to JPG format and re-sizing:
UPDATE December 15, 2011: I got my lens back from Nikon and just tried it again on my Nikon D7000 and then tried it on a Nikon D90. Shooting it indoors under florescent lighting showed no spot, but going outside to the overcast sky yielded a purple/blue spot on both cameras. Sorry Nikon, but it’s not the sensor, its the lens. This is a great lens for shooting wide open, but it sucks for f/11 and higher where you risk a large spot in the middle of your photo. If you need a pro quality lens for cheap up to f/8, this is your lens. If you need something that can stop down below f/8, I would not buy the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens.
Rossana Ferreira says
I thought it was only me. I noticed the same problem after 8 months of taking photos with it. 80% of the time I shoot at f1.8. On my first long exposure at f16 I got the same reaction you described. The spot drove me crazy. Almost wanting to throw the lens away.
Thank you for posting. Feeling better now. Knowing the problem I can avoid it.
patrick mc cullough says
i found this problem on the 50mm too and i have found it too on a 11 16mm 2.8 tokina too , i have shot with a nikon d 80 and a nikon d300 i think its the nikon sensor now not the lens at all
I have the same problem with Nikon 50mm 1.8D as well. The problem seems to be causing by the reflection of lights from the aperture blade when stopped down to f11 or below! To be honest, this lens is suitable for portrait and other situations where you don’t need to go beyond f8! With this lens if you want a landscape photo with a fair amount of details, you can use 5.6 to 7.1 and you can get quite sharp photos! In case you want to photograph a falls ‘the milky way!!!’ use a powerful ND filter along with this. 😉
I too have found this problem with my Nikon 50mm 1.8D. I was of half a mind to ship it out via eBay as it spoilt several potentially good shots. But it is so sharp and useful wider open that I have decided to keep it for f/8.0 and above use only. I also tried it on two cameras, a D7000 and D60 with identical results. Not good enough Nikon, we expect and usually get far better!
I also have this problem! This really sucks, just bought the lens…bummer.
It is a really great lens for the money, as long as you stay in the f/1.8 to f/8 range. Since the new 50mm G version came out, I wonder if the problem has gone away. Might be an option…
sharp lens ok but this purple spot is doing my head in nikon why not say this is a problem with this lens the 50mm f1.8d nikon
I ended up selling mine. It’s sharp, but too limiting.
Maybe it nneeds a lenshood…
Eric E Photo says
Yup, I have the same problem with this nice lens. It’s great at low f stops but I shoot primarily f/8 or higher! Thrown away a lot of images because of this and may be getting rid of this lens soon. I actually have bought 2 of these since my first one fell in the ocean;) EE
I was googling about the purple spot on Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lensl I was shooting and when I was watching the video on my laptop noticed the purple tiny spots on different part of the video… I was like may it was dust but when i cleaned my lens and shot another video it had the same spot.. I am do disappointed! Now is my money wasted investing in this camera?
Aarrgh!! I just got this lens this week… And have got this purple spot in all my photos 🙁
I am using a Nikon 12-24 lens and have started having the purple spot issue. It is particularly obvious if shooting more towards the sun, though does show up in other situations. Was considering upgrading my camera, but maybe I should look at changing to Canon if this is a common issue with Nikon.
I shoot a lot of long exposure images and have seen the purple spot appear in all lens. The purple spot is caused by light entering the eyepiece. Simply cover the eyepiece with the little plastic cover included with the D7000 (and most other cameras) or a microfiber cloth. it happens more on a tripod because your head is not blocking the light as in short exposures. Higher end cameras even have a built in eyepiece shutter just for this reason.
Alfanur Rizal says
cover the eyepiece? i will try it 😀
No he isnt. Its why cameras come with an eye piece cover.
Gert Thomasen says
During actual exposure the mirror is up, thus no light from the viewfinder reaches the imaging system. Eyepeace shutters exist to prevent light from the viewfinder from fooling the exposure meter.
Mike Rose says
I have the Nikon 50mm f1.4D and I have the same (BIG) problem. I found out by mistake as I was hoping to use it for panoramas on my trip to USA. I have the FX D610. I set it to f11 for good dof. Low & behold I had a series of blue spots across the whole pano! I have done more tests & in fact the spot starts slightly as soon as the lens is stopped down but it doesn’t start to become noticeable until f5.6. From f8 up it is appalling. I had to use my zoom for the panos.
It is nothing to do with the eyepiece (tried that) or filters or dirt or anything external. My travel 28-300mm and 18-35mm zooms had no such problems. Come on Nikon – you can’t keep ignoring the internet! They tried that with the D600 shutter and had to concede defeat in the end.
It’s a problem with all D-Version Lenses on Digital Sensors. Film plane was not as reflective as the sensor plane inside your digital camera. Hence the reason they are updating all their lenses with new curved rear glass. 🙂 I have the same problem… love the lens, but hate the spot… not sure of a good replacement yet… wish they made a 50 with ED glass, that would have solved the problem… and yes I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a 50 with ED glass. I just use a different lens if I am doing serious stuff, but for walk around… 🙂 still my go to and have printed many beautiful photos with it.
Just got the dreaded shot today after doing some test shots in direct sunlight to test out exposure delay and autofocus lock. Yesterday, late afternoon, same exposure time and ISO also at f22 – no spot!
yep – same issues with the purple spot as well on the nifty fifty. solved it by processing the images as B+W – no more purple spot 😉
Same problem here… Bought the lens around 2012, but didnt start shooting with high f numbers till now, I was mainly using it for portaits.. Fuck it sucks. Thanks for the article I was freaking out it had something to do with my just cleaned sensor
Yep. I’ve has the same problem; blue/violet spot appearing when using a 17-55 on both D2X and my D3 >f8. Most noticeable on black/ dark subject matter. Always thought it was just that particular lens (ie my lens not 17-55’s in general), then came across that bloody spot again today. This time on an old 28mm 2.8 ais on a brand new DF at f2.8.
Thinking of changing my company name to ‘blue dot photography’ and telling clients it’s my unique signature mark, or ‘what blue mark – no sir, that mark must be on your monitor’. Easier than retouching…
Hi Rob, I also have the Nikon 28mm f/2.8 AIS lens and have used it extensively and never had a problem with a blue or any other color spot on the photos. It is one of my favorite lenses, even though it is manual focus. How are you liking the new DF?
M ROSE says
I had the 50mm 1.4D and I had the same nightmare. As said it is to do with refection off the sensor. I bought an 1.8G because of this, hoping the new lens was redesigned but I have not yet tried it for blue spot test. Must do this.
Please let us know how you get on, I have the same problem with the 50 1.4D and was wondering if either of the 50 G lenses are any better. I’m shooting fashion still life overhead, with the clothes lying on a white background at f8 to f11 and the central flat blue circle shows up really clearly on all dark subjects. Surrounding the subject with black cloth reduces it. I take it out in post, I had lots of practice doing this years ago with a red circle on my Kodak 14n before I had the shiny red sensor upgraded to the much more mat SLRn version, so sensor coatings do have an effect as well as the rear lens coating.
David Kond says
It’s water…. Probably… (I mean, humidity)…
Just my guess…!
Rattus Yu says
Same with my Tamron Adaptall 90mm f/2.5 Macro.
I read it wont show on film but only on digital because of the flat and reflective rear glass.
It reflects light back and forth from sensor to rear glass.
Lowering my ISO at f/11 or lower does help. This issue is also eliminated when I attach it to a teleconverter.
I’v had the problem with other lens to. Telepho lens too at high f-stops. I’ve tried everything to get rid of it. Nothing helped. I have a Sony camera with lenses from different companies with the same purple spot.
I get this at all apertures on the 50 1.8D when shooting against a full white background for product shots. I’m hoping the 1.8G or 1.4G versions will work better with their modern coatings.
Jonathan G Christ says
hello all, i’ve been having the exact same problem, but on a different lens than the 50mm. I’m using a 1970 105mm f2.5
I shot for months with it on a Nikon F film camera and never saw any blue spots. I had it AI’d and screwed it onto my new body, a Nikon D750. Now i can’t shoot with that lens without getting the blue spot. it looks exactly like the pictures above.
I did some research to learn what apertures exacerbate it the worst. It begins at F8 but doesn’t get bad until f11. At f22 there is a dark blue orb in the middle of my shot. Has anyone had any luck with this problem since the original post started in 2012?
I still shoot with it on film but so far have only seen it in one single picture. The problem is without a doubt worse on a DSLR sensor.
Dennis Grint says
I just noticed the same problem on a Nikon Coolpix A1000 compact camera, when shooting under bright kitchen lights. Doesn’t happen in other rooms in different lighting except when shooting in a room with bright window light which then gives a purple cast in some part of the image. So I guess it is caused by a bright light source (for example see the bright waterfall shot in one of the above comments), and I don’t see how it can be got rid of. The viewfinder has an eye sensor, and cannot be covered, and there is no way in the menu to remedy this. I like the camera, and do not want to return it for this issue, so I will just remove the spot in post, using the inpainting tool in Serif Affinity.
I had the same issue with my Nikon 50mm. Cleaned the lens thoroughly and tried a photo indoors with no blue dot. Did some long exposure at a f11 and had the blue dot again. It’s gotta be the long exposure. At least I know my lens is not broken but I can’t use it for much since I mainly do landscapes.