A couple of years ago, I picked up my beloved Niko 50mm f/1.8 E and found the focus ring unusably stiff. Within seconds, I was on the ‘bay to acquire another, but found prices outrageous. For about $20 more than the average price of a good, tested, guaranteed E-Series, I scored a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 ai-s pancake, the all metal version of the E-Series that focuses closer and feels like a jewel. Score!

Sadly, the first few rolls left me flat: the Nikkor renders beautifully, and no question, but I want the sort of softness and color from the E-Series, and the Nikkor is simply a jewel. Some months ago, I shot a roll just to try to convince myself to be happy with the objectively better lens…

Sadly, most of the roll looked as I expected: sharp, accurate color, jewel-like crisp-ness… and then I came to the last group, shot one morning just to finish off the roll.

And I think the Ai-S more or less redeemed itself.

I may still pick up an E-Series one day… and I should talk about my experience trying to have my old one repaired, though for that, I’d need to put a roll through it, and I’m not too interested in anything like that.

The all metal, Japanese-made 50mm ai-s is a great little lens. If you have one, you know. And if you don’t, well, really, it’s not hugely better than the E-Series or later Nikkor-D models, though it does focus somewhat closer.

And, anyway, this isn’t a review of the 50mm pancake. It’s just a reason to share some pretty pictures. I hope you enjoyed!

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