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Nikon 28mm f/2
NIKKOR F, AI and AI-s (1970-2005)
© 2005-2012 KenRockwell.com

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

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Nikon 28mm f/2 AI-s (FX, DX and 35mm coverage, 52mm filters, 13 oz./355g, 0.8'/0.25m close focus, about $400 used). enlarge. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) and at Adorama, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

July 2012   More Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses   All Reviews

See also Nikon 28mm f/1.8G if you need autofocus. This manual-focus lens works on digital and autofocus cameras, too.

 

Introduction         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

I use these stores and ScanCafe. I can't vouch for ads below.

This manual-focus lens has been around for decades, and has always been excellent. I prefer it to the 35mm f/1.4, but prefer the 28mm f/1.4 AF to any of them.

This is one of my favorite manual-focus Nikon lenses of all time. It's sharp, fast and compact. It feels great in-hand.

It has enough depth of field at f/2.0 to be useful wide open.

I had an older 1970s AI version, which has the same optics as the AI-s version shown above. THe same optics have been sold since about 1970, even as an original F mount (pre-AI). THe e earliest versions were single-coated, even some of the F-mount, while all the AI and AI-s are multi-coated.

 

Compatibility       intro     top

The manual-focus Nikon 28mm f/2 AI-s works great with most Nikon cameras, 35mm and digital.

It works flawlessly with every manual focus Nikon ever made, from the original Nikon F of 1959 through the FM3a and today's FM-10.

On the D4, D800, D800E, D3X, D3s, D3, D7000, D700, D300, D200, D2 and F6, use the "Non-CPU Lens Data" menu option to set 28mm and f/2 to get full color matrix metering, EXIF data and finder read-out of set aperture. It works great in aperture-preferred as well as manual modes on these cameras.

It works perfectly on every professional 35mm camera (F, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6), and adds Matrix metering on the FA, F4 and F6.

The meters of cheaper digital (D90, D5100 and below) and cheaper film cameras (N80 and below) will not couple (or work at all) with this lens, so you'll be on your own guessing exposure using the rear LCD or an external meter, or get a tiny Gossen Digisix meter and hotshoe adapter, or the free Pocket Light Meter app to meter manually.

See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details on your camera. Read down the "AI, AI-s" column for this lens.

 

Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

It has 9 elements in 8 groups with close range correction (CRC).

It takes 52mm filters and the common HN-1 metal screw-in hood.

It has a straight seven-bladed diaphragm that stops down to f/22.

It weighs 13 oz (355g).

It's 2.5" (64.5mm) around by 2.7" (68.5mm) long.

Nikon Product Number: 1419.

 

Performance         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

It has the typical barrel distortion of most Nikon wide angle lenses.

The 28 f/2.0 AI is as sturdily built as any lens.

It has the usual performance: sharp in the center at all apertures, and coma makes the corners relatively soft and fuzzy at f/2.

The corners get better as you stop down; they are great at f/5.6 and above, even on the 36 MP FX D800E.

Even though f/2 is slightly softer in the corners, this Nikkor is far better than the Kiron 28mm f/2 at f/2 in the corners. The Kiron loses resolution, while at f/2 the Nikon merely loses contrast, but not resolution, in the corners of the full FX frame.

The 28mm f/2 produces great results until compared to the much slower 28mm f/2.8 AI-s, which has no distortion and is just as sharp or sharper from f/2.8 and smaller. The spectacularly expensive 28mm f/1.4D AF is better in every way except six times as expensive.

These f/2 lenses sold for about $250 used in 2005, and about $450 used in 2008 with the introduction of the D3 FX camera. They are well worth it. New, they sold for $700 in 2000, $610 in 1996, $430 in 1992, $310 in 1987 and $260 in 1986.

In 2012, AI versions sell for about $200 used, and AI-s sell for about $400 used.

When I was traveling in Germany in 1992, I used this lens for 80% of all my photos on an FA in program mode. It's fast, sharp, and does everything well.

 

Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

These were fairly inexpensive used around 2005, but climbing in value with FX digital cameras as of 2008. They will continue to appreciate until Nikon introduces an AF-S version of a fast 28mm fixed lens, which is the Nikon 28mm f/1.8G of 2012.

The 1970's AI version is the same optically as today's AI-s, and sells for even less.

If you need fast and are short of cash you may want to consider a 35mm f/2.0D AF (watch for the common oily diaphragms), or if cost is no object bet the farm and buy the superior 28mm f/1.4D AF for low-light photography.

Otherwise, this is a solid and classic lens. It's better to buy used for about half of the price of a new one. If price is no obstacle go for the 28/1.4D AF.

If you've found all the time, effort and expense I put into researching and sharing all this, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

 

Help me help you         top

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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

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