Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G Wide-Angle Lens Review Roundup2012-10-29 09:44
10/28/2012: Add review by PhotographyLife.
6/26/2012: Add review by PhotoZone.
On April 19 2012, Nikon announced the AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G wide-angle lens for Nikon full-frame DSLRs. The fast aperture wide-angle prime lens has a new optical design with two aspherical lens elements, large f/1.8 maximum aperture for smooth bokeh, a weather-sealed mount and weighs just 330g. It comes with Nano Crystal Coat which prevents ghosting and flare. The lens is designed to be a compact and durable lens maximized for versatility.
The 28mm lens is an ideal companion for the 36.3 Megapixels Nikon D800 HDSLR. It offeres complete lens control with two focus modes, (M) manual and (M/A) autofocus with manual override. It is also equipped with a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) allowing for smooth, silent and precise autofocus operation. Here's the lens technical specifications:
- Focal length 28mm
- Maximum aperture f/1.8
- Minimum aperture f/16
- Lens construction 11 elements in 9 groups (including 2 aspherical lens elements and lens elements with Nano Crystal Coat)
- Angle of view 75° (53° with Nikon DX format)
- Minimum focus distance 0.25 m/0.82 ft (from focal plane)
- Maximum reproduction ratio 0.22x
- No. of diaphragm blades 7 (rounded)
- Filter-attachment size 67mm
- Diameter x length (distance from camera lens mount flange) Approximately 73 x 80.5 mm/2.9 x 3.2 in.
- Weight Approximately 330 g/11.6 oz
- Supplied accessories 67 mm snap-on Front Lens Cap LC-67, Rear Lens Cap LF-4, Bayonet Hood HB-64, Flexible Lens Pouch CL-0915
The AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G lens is listed for $699.95 and is currently selling for $699, via Amazon.com. Here's the lens review roundup:
PhotographyLife: "At just $699, the Nikon 28mm f/1.8G costs three times less than the excellent, but extremely expensive Nikon 24mm f/1.4G and offers overall relatively good performance. It handles distortion, longitudinal and lateral aberration, ghosting and flare extremely well and in some ways even better than its big brother, the 24mm f/1.4G. It produces beautiful images with excellent colors and despite its 7 blade diaphragm, it actually renders bokeh a little better than the 24mm f/1.4G at largest apertures. During the extensive lab testing process, I discovered that the Nikon 28mm f/1.8G suffers from several optical problems. It has pronounced focus shift, as noted earlier in this review (clearly visible at f/4 and f/5.6 apertures). While there are some ways to get around the focus shift problem (by fine-tuning the lens to a specific aperture or by using live view for focusing), all those workarounds can be painful to deal with in the field. Focus shift is not a new optical problem - it has been there on many Nikkor lenses (in fact, I will be updating all lens reviews on our site with focus shift tests). However, what worsens the focus shift problem on the Nikon 28mm f/1.8G is pronounced, dougnut-shaped field curvature that is clearly visible when photographing a flat surface. I tested three samples of the Nikon 28mm f/1.8G and all three showed these optical problems. So at this point, I strongly believe it is an optical design issue with the 28mm f/1.8G, not a sample variance.
If your intent is to print large at maximum resolution and have good center to corner performance at large apertures, then the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G will clearly be a better, but expensive choice. For landscape photography (where you will be shooting primarily between f/5.6 and f/11) or if you will often be down-sampling your images to 10-12 MP, the 28mm f/1.8G could be a great addition to your bag. I shot most landscape photos you see in this review at f/8 and they turned out to be very sharp, center to corner (obviously, good technique and understanding of DoF is always important). I applied a little bit of sharpening in Lightroom and the images look superb. In addition, Lola and I used this lens in a couple of events and as you can see from some of the image samples in this review, the lens performed quite well in those environments as well. For DX cameras, with an equivalent focal length of 42mm, the Nikon 28mm f/1.8G could be used as a great general-purpose lens, offering a wider field of view than the popular Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX lens. Would I recommend this lens? Absolutely. Despite its optical flaws (which many other lenses have as well), the Nikon 28mm f/1.8G is a great addition to the f/1.8 family. Once you understand its limitations and learn how to work around them, the Nikon 28mm f/1.8G could produce beautiful images."... [Source]
PhotoZone [FX], gave an optical quality rating of 4/5: "The lens shows a moderate amount of barrel distortion with a minor amount of mustache subtype towards the extreme corners. This can be visible in critical shots especially with straight lines near the image borders. However, the distortion is almost uniform and easy to correct in post processing. It's typical for fast primes to show a pronounced amount of light fall-off towards the corners, nonetheless the Nikkor suprises with a higher than expected amount in this regard. Wide open, the corners darken a lot. As usual stopping down reduces the issue, but even at rather small apertures there is still half a stop of vignetting left. The lens delivers very good resolution across the frame wide open already. Stopping down lifts the center resolution to excellent until diffraction takes its toll at f/11 and beyond. The borders and corners show mostly very good resolution thoughout the tested aperture range, with (just) excellent figures stopped down to f/5.6 and f/8. For most of the aperture range, the extreme corners show slightly better performance than the image borders. Chromatic aberrations (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) range from 1.3 to almost 1.6 pixels at the image borders throughout the tested aperture range. This might be visible in very large prints (or crops). However, CAs can easily be corrected in software or by the camera itself (most modern Nikon DSLRs remove CAs themselves if you shoot JPGs).
The Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8 G convinces with very good performance in almost any regard. Sharpness is very good across the frame wide open already and improves to excellent resolution in the image center by stopping down. Distortion and CAs are moderate, the bokeh is quite smooth for a wide-angle lens. The lens' only weak point is the rather high amount of vignetting, even when stopped down. The build quality is on a high level for a consumer grade lens. Thanks to AF-S the autofocus is virtually silent and reasonably fast. A feature not mentioned so far is the lens' ability to focus rather close. Combined with the wide field of view this allows some interesting perspectives and compositions. One final note: there have been reports of pronounced focus shifts with this lens. We had no such issues with our review unit. The chosen focus remained unchanged regardless of the aperture chosen (in the tested range down to f/11), both in the lab and in the field."... [Source]
PhotoZone [DX], gave an optical quality rating of 3/5 to 3.5/5: "The Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8 G convinces with very solid performance on our DX test camera. Sharpness is very good in the image center wide open already and improves to excellent resolution by stopping down. The borders and corners are weak at large apertures, but improve significantly by stopping down. Distortion and CAs are moderate, the bokeh is quite smooth for a lens of this focal length. Typical for FX lenses on DX cameras, vignetting is not an issue except for the largest aperture setting. The build quality is on a high level for a consumer grade lens. Thanks to AF-S the autofocus is virtually silent and reasonably fast. So, in summary it's a nice lens that performs well as a normal prime on DX cameras. However, there are dedicated DX lenses like the Nikkor AF-S 35/1.8 or Sigma's EX 30/1.4 DC that offer similar specifications for a lot less money. One final note: there have been reports of pronounced focus shifts with this lens. We had no such issues with our review unit. The chosen focus remained unchanged regardless of the aperture chosen (in the tested range down to f/11), both in the lab and in the field."... [Source]
PhotoZone [CX], gave an optical quality rating of 2.5/5: "The Nikon AF-S 28/1.8 struggles a bit on the high density CX sensor of the V1 test camera. The resolution in the image center is only good wide open, but improves to excellent figures by stopping down. The borders and corners are a different story, though. Very soft wide open, they improve only to good resolution when stopped down.
As can be expected from a lens designed for a much larger sensor, distortion and vignetting are no issues at all. CAs are a bit on the high side, but can easily be cured in post processing. The build quality of the lens is very good for a consumer grade lens. Thanks to AF-S the lens focuses virtually silent and is fully compatible with the FT1-adapter (within the limits of the adapter itself, that is). Even though the lens itself can be considered fast in absolute terms, the small CX sensor offers only limited depth of field potential even with such a large aperture lens. Of course that doesn't mean you can not separate your subject from the background in the field. But it takes a short camera to subject distance and/or large subject to background distance to achieve significant background blur. In summary, the lens does ok on the V1, especially since there are (currently) no native Nikon 1 lenses with similar specifications. However, given the rather high price of the Nikkor AF-S 28 (compared to 1 Nikon lens and camera prices) it may only be attractive to those who also own a Nikon DSLR and plan to use the lens on both cameras."... [Source]
CameraLabs: "Focus accuracy and repeatability is especially critical for large aperture prime lenses with their shallow depth of field. Repeatability (the accuracy of focus on the same subject after repeated focus-acquisition) is excellent with no outliers over a series of 20 shots although there is a slight focus-difference when the lens comes from infinity vs minimum focus distance. The lens focuses reasonably fast: around 0.7 sec from infinity to 0.25m. The focus ring of the 1.8G turns approximately 95 degrees from infinity to MFD. This throw should be good enough for manual focusing (in live-view), but unfortunately there is almost 2 mm of hysteresis/slack/play between the focus-ring and the focus-action, which makes accurate focus under critical conditions pretty hard. The movement of the focus-ring is not very smooth but AF-operation is quiet. In general the impression of build quality of this lens is cheaper than its price tag suggests: A plastic construction combined with a weather sealed metal lens-mount, and seven rounded aperture blades. In comparison to the Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.4G it feels flimsy. But overall the latest Nikon Nikkor AF-S 28mm f/1.8G delivers a pretty good performance.
The Nikon 28/1.8G is a good lens but it's not cheap. Indeed the price is perhaps the biggest disappointment for potential buyers of this lens. The performance is pretty good but you need to stop down to f4.0 or even f5.6 for the sharpest results across the frame, and if your sample is like mine you'll also need to correct for a focus-shift as the aperture is closed to get flawless performance. Overall it is a worthy addition to the current offering of short primes, but its flaws prevent our top award; I can however still award it a Recommended rating."... [Source]
User review by K.Chua, gave a rating of 5/5: "About me: Been an avid photographer for over 20 years... I've used Leica, Nikon, Canon SLR's... currently using Nikon D800, and have recently updated my collection of lens and in particular FX lenses. I have many Nikkor D lenses and few G lenses, but recently I bought this 28mm f/1.8G and the 28-300mm VR lens. Both of these are FX lenses (for full-frame cameras like D4 and D800/D800E), and they have superb sharpness. I use the 28-300mm for my travels, and it's my all-purpose lens, and I got this 28mm prime in large part to (1) large aperture of f/1.8, and (2) the fast focusing. With regard to the large aperture, there are two key benefits I was looking forward to have and it did not disappoint. First, it gives a beautiful background blur (bokeh) and was able to isolate subjects with sharp focus while producing a creamy background. However, you cannot expect this lens to produce the same bokeh as that from the 70-200mm f2.8G VRII (which I also own). Again, these lenses have different purposes. I use the 70-200mm for sports and portraits (with subjects far away). This 28mm allows me to stay very close to my subject (e.g. lifestyle shots of kids) to get full body portraits while throwing the backdrop off focus. Compared to the 28-300mm at 28mm, the bokeh of this 28mm prime is much nicer as it have a wider aperture than the zoom. The second key advantage of its f/1.8 is the fact that it really allows to shoot at virtually anywhere in the day (indoor or outdoor), and I still get great shots in evening or dimly lit places with my D800.
With regard to focusing speed, my experience has been predominantly with the D800 - which on its own has improved and very capable focusing. Getting the subject focused is not only fast, but also much more consistent in giving great results (sharp eyes in human subjects). In comparison to my other prime D-type lenses, and the G-type zoom lenses (e.g. 70-200mm, and 28-300mm), the 28mm f/1.8G beats them all. With regard to image quality and contrast, there has already been many reviews on the edge sharpness of this lens and the quality of it at various apertures. You can refer to those provided by DPReview and ByThom (Thom Hogan) for details, but I would attest that the quality of image produced by this lens is exceptional! However, please note that as with all great lenses, it's important to have good glass in front of them if you intend to put a protective filter in front. I'll be writing more and perhaps uploading some shots on the bokeh (background blur) if people are interested. If this review is of some help to you, just let me know by clicking the "This is helpful" button, and if there's any areas not covered, feel free to include the comments, and I'll update the review. Thanks for reading."... [Source]
Sample Photos from Flickr:
NIKON'S NEW AF-S NIKKOR 28MM F/1.8G LENS MAKES WIDE-ANGLE AND FAST APERTURE AN ATTAINABLE REALITY
New NIKKOR Lens is the Latest Addition to Popular Series of FX-format f/1.8 Prime Lenses
MELVILLE, N.Y. (April 19, 2012) - Today, Nikon Inc. announced the wide-angle AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G, a fixed focal length lens with a large maximum aperture to carry on the legacy of superior NIKKOR imaging technology for enthusiasts and professionals. With a large maximum aperture of f/1.8 and Nikon's exclusive Nano Crystal Coat to reduce ghost and flare, the 28mm FX-format lens offers stunning sharpness and versatility for both photos and HD video.
"This NIKKOR lens is the latest addition to the popular family of f/1.8 primes designed to give HD-SLR shooters the performance and versatility needed to capture images and HD video with outstanding image quality," said Bo Kajiwara, director of marketing, Nikon Inc. "The new AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G is a great way for photographers to discover a high-quality, wide-angle prime lens that provides amazingly crisp focus and natural background blur."
Professional and enthusiast HD-SLR photographers will appreciate the 28mm f/1.8G's wide-angle versatility and enjoy the sharp focus and lightweight yet durable construction befitting a NIKKOR lens. The lens' Nano Crystal Coat prevents ghosting and flare and helps produce spectacular high-resolution photos and HD video in even the most challenging lighting conditions. This 28mm lens also features a large f/1.8 maximum aperture, giving the photographer the ability to effortlessly highlight natural background image blur.
The 28mm f/1.8G's construction and optical formula is deep-rooted with NIKKOR core technology to ensure the highest level performance and versatility for the most demanding imaging applications. Featuring eleven optical elements in nine groups with two aspherical elements, the 28mm f/1.8G is designed to be a compact and durable lens maximized for versatility. Additionally, the new 28mm lens is able to resolve high resolution images with amazing sharpness and clarity, making it an ideal companion for the new 36.3-megapixel Nikon D800 HD-SLR. Professionals and enthusiasts are offered complete lens control with two focus modes, (M) manual and (M/A) autofocus with manual override that allow the photographer to tailor their focus for any shooting scenario. The 28mm f/1.8G lens is also equipped with a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) allowing for smooth, silent and precise autofocus operation essential for capturing pristine HD video.
Price and Availability
The AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G lens will be available at the end of May 2012 for the suggested retail price (SRP) of $699.95*. For more information please visit www.nikonusa.com.