28mm f2.8 AIS on a D810

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by tim_carroll, May 14, 2015.

  1. Has anyone shot the classic Nikon 28mm f2.8 A.I.S. lens on the Nikon D810 and would like to share their experience?
    I'll be starting a project in a few weeks that I originally wanted to shoot on Medium Format film, but there just isn't the budget. I have heard so many great things about the D810 and how it's Medium Format in a 35mm package, but I'm concerned about a few of my older Nikon optics when paired with it.
    So if anyone has shot this combination, I'd love to hear your thoughts and maybe see some results. Just want to make sure the higher resolution sensor doesn't make the optics look like hell.
  2. Your pictures will be exactly the same as on any other camera. Lens flaws may show up when pixel-peeping, but will not affect prints made at the same size.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    It sounds like the objective is to get results similar to medium-format film, and given the high resolution from the D810, it is possible. But then you need to pair the D810 with a top-of-the-line lens and use that lens at an optimal aperture to achieve such results. E.g. using any lens wide open is probably not ideal for this purpose.
    Your pictures will be exactly the same as on any other camera. Lens flaws may show up when pixel-peeping, but will not affect prints made at the same size.​
    In that case, doesn't it totally defeat the purpose for using a D810 to begin with (in order to achieve medium-format-film-like results), if the results from the D810 will be like those from, for example, a D700?
  4. Actually, I failed to ask the OP some important questions about the nature of the project. As long as he will not be shooting wide open because bokeh, I doubt if there will be any problem. Most lenses, except (of course) Crappy Kit Lenses®, are indistinguishable once you are two or three stops down from maximum aperture. I am also curious whether the OP owns a D800, which it seems he does not. If not, you can buy a lot of film and processing for the cost of a D800.
  5. If you do not yet have a D810, and you would buy it only for this project, I'd revisit the idea of doing it with medium format - you can get the gear second hand, plenty of film and still spent less than a D810. And once the project is over, you can sell the MF gear for basically the same price, while the D810 will have lost a significant bit of value. The tricky bit is if you'd want to scan the negatives yourself, a decent scanner can cost a bit. But still doable within the same price range.
  6. Thanks for all the responses. I will be needing to make prints of minimum 16" x 20" size, some bigger, which is why I originally considered Medium Format. I have a D4 and D700 that I use for work, but the images from them start to get strained when you go 16 x 20 and bigger.
    I looked at a number of used Medium Format kits, but as the project is a combination of landscape, architecture, portraiture, and photojournalism, it would need to be a rather complex Medium Format package. Also, Medium Format equipment in good shape is getting tougher to come by, I guess folks are hanging on to what they have because the market is so depressed.
    I have all the Nikkor glass already, just would need the D810 body. So I am looking into that option.
  7. The comments that your pictures will be the same with that lens on any camera are incorrect if they are referring to film versus digital. The differences are more pronounced the shorter the focal length of the lens and are most noticeable towards the edges of the images where the light is coming at a significant angle to the surface of the film or sensor. Film has a very thin emulsion so the light simply strikes the surface of the film and makes the exposure. Digital camera sensors have glass over the surface of the sensor which is normally around 2mm thick in the case of Nikon. When the light strikes the glass at an angle it is refracted as it passes through the glass and strikes a different point on the sensor than it would in the case of film. The amount of refraction is affected by the color of the light like with a prism.
    A 28mm lens is short enough to start showing this distortion. I have not tried that lens on a D810 so I can't say how noticeable it will be. I just wanted you to be aware of this potential effect with shorter lenses.
  8. 16x20 is not particularly large. Wedding and portraits photographers sell them every day, often from DX cameras. A D4 or D700 is more than adequate for that size. If your images are looking "strained" at 16x20 you need to look at your technique, not your camera. Make sure you're on a tripod, make sure you're hitting the sweet spot of aperture where you're stopped down for optimal sharpness but not so far as to get diffraction. Make sure your shutter speed is high enough to stop any motion blur or camera shake (remember, use a tripod). Make sure focus is dead-on. Use the lowest ISO setting you can. Don't underexpose, which increases digital noise.
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Tim, not sure what your budget is, but if you don't want to spend a lot of money, a used/refurbished D800/D800E is always an option. While the D810 has a lot of little improvements, IMO the overall difference is not that major from the D800. However, I would put a better, more modern lens in front of it. In particular, a lot of older wide angles will show chromatic aberration on modern DSLRs.
    BTW, I assume Tim is aware of where the D810 is made.
  10. I've not used a 28/2.8, but I have been very happy using my 28/2.0 AIS on the three occasions I've rented a D800/D810. My eyes aren't the greatest anymore, so I found manual focusing a bit of annoyance--it's nowhere near as fast or as fun as on my F4, which is great even with my crappy eyes--but the image quality is quite good, at least stopped down to F4 or a bit smaller.
    I think people obsessing about ultimate sharpness on the 36MP digital bodies should relax a bit. You'll probably get at least as good a result as you would have shooting fine-grained film back in the day, and really, likely even better. It's not going (for better or worse) to have the same kind of character that medium format would have, but prints that size from a D810 will probably look amazing even from your old manual focus lens. (Edit--you may indeed, as noted above, see a bit of CA near the edges owing to the nature of digital; this can probably be corrected easily in post processing. And from 36 megapixels, you could afford to crop just a bit.)
  11. BTW, I assume Tim is aware of where the D810 is made.​
    You're just never gonna let that go, are ya??
  12. Hey Shun, I see NikonUSA has refurbished D800's for $2100 and D800E's for $2500 (both made in Japan, Hah!!!). You've used both of those in the past, right? Which one do you think would give me the best dynamic range?
  13. 16x20 is not particularly large. Wedding and portraits photographers sell them every day, often from DX cameras.​
    Wedding and portraits are not particular demanding because people don't view them up close as they would landscape photography.
    There is something satisfying about a very detailed masterfully printed image that has lots and lots of detail. But to get a great print you need to do a lot more than just push a button.
    BTW, large format inkjet gives the very best quality, much better than what you get from a photolab. If you want to make beautiful prints you really need to have your own printer. A good 24" printer is around $2200 or so. With a 24" printer you can print up to 36x24" (3:2 aspect ratio) but then you don't have any borders. Monitors and printers needs to be profiled as well to get the right colors.
  14. My 28/2 AI can resolve down the pixel level (strands of hair, etc) on my D800. But there is some perceived roll-off in the upper frequencies, which actually gives the lens some of its sought-after cinematic character. The 28/2.8 can also be excellent, but be aware that there are significant sample variations that run the range, so it's very important to have a good specimen. The 28/1.8G is sharp, but a bit clinical. It is relatively affordable though.
  15. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have a D800E since almost three years ago. IMO the D800 and D800E are 99% the same camera, and Nikon wisely makes no such distinction any more in the D810 cycle:
    In these days, you can probably get a used D800 or around $1500. If I were you, I would save some money on the body and get a modern wide angle lens. The technologies to make wide angles have chanced quite a bit since 20, 30 years ago.
  16. Thanks Pete and Luke.
    Shun, nice article about the differences between the D800 and D800E. What is your recommendation for a modern 28mm lens that would play nicely with the D800?
  17. Throwing in my recommendation for the 28/2, stopped down a little when used on a D800/810. At least as good at the same stop as the 28/2.8AIS I had, and generally a better value. I like the older metal focusing ring AI converted ones best, all are supposed to be multicoated.
    I am also enjoying the older 35/2 O.C. on my D810. I don't think the 35/2's get the respect they deserve.
  18. 16 x 20 really isn't that big at all, easily achieved with fx, dx, m3/4 for that matter. I think Ais lenses can be awesome and quite capable of prints bigger than that.
  19. My 28mm Ais is much sharper at close ranges than landscape distances. I get just as good or better shots with my 18-70 and 18-105 at the same focal length as the 28.
  20. Tim,
    If you're looking for a 28mm to pair with D800 I'd suggest the AF-S28/1.8G which is a super sharp lens. I've the exact combo and am very pleased with it.
  21. The 28/2.8 Ais is known to have sample variation. If you've got a good one, the next step is to rent a D810(or D800/E) and run your own tests. That's the only way you can know if the camera and lens will deliver what you need.
    I have a 28/2.8 Ais(and D800/E) currently, also a Zeiss ZF 28/2. I'd pick my Zeiss for higher resolution any day over my copy of the Nikon 28, except maybe in the extreme close up range where the Nikon is pretty good..
  22. I print ~13"x18" at home (A3+ size) with a good printer and good quality media. A good processed file from my D700 holds up easily, also when viewed from close distances (and I usually use AiS lenses too). I doubt whether you really need to jump to a D810 to get good quality 16*20 prints. That said, $1500 for a D800 is a really nice price...
  23. I've posted this before, but it's a good indication of the range of sample variation in the 28/2.8 AI. When it's good, it's very very good. Etc.
  24. If you really want medium format quality, I agree with what Wouter said early on after just shooting medium format rather than debating which DSLR. I was shooting landscapes with a Mamiya C330 and making 16x20 and larger 30 years ago. You can pick up a 330 and probably three lenses for $1,000 or less now. You can do the same with Mamiya or Bronica SLR systems, at least in 645 if not a Bronica SQ series. And for the $3,000 you would spend on the body alone for a D810 you can buy a used Hasselblad and a lens or two.
  25. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The problem with shooting film in 2015 is not camera and lens cost; they are dirt cheap now. Even thought I could tolerate
    the quality, a roll of 35mm slide film is over $30 after processing. If you need to deal with any volume, shooting medium
    format film is not going to be cheap, and any scanning will be extra pain.

    The most cost effective approach is to get used higher end DSLRs from 2-4 years ago; someone else takes the huge initial price decline while the quality is still fairly recent.
  26. I have more than 10 lenses AIS top of the line, but not the 28 mm. I made many pictures with those lenses with the D800 especially al sunrise and night shots. Absolutely no problems to make prints up to 24" x 50" or even more. Quality is maximum. See my photos, some of them were blown up at home to the size mentioned.
  27. I've used the 28mm f/2.8 Ai-s
    lens on my D800 and it's
    perfectly adequate stopped
    down a little. Yes, wide open
    the corners are a bit soft,
    but no worse than many top
    line modern zooms. 20" by 14"
    prints would be no sweat for
    this lens and a 36 Mp DSLR.

    Even when I "only" had a D700
    I was getting prints equal in
    quality to those from 645
    format film.
  28. My understanding and experience is that the 28mm f/2.8 AIS lens is really tops at close range but only ordinary at distance. That makes it great for 16x20 for some shots, but not for landscapes.
    See Björn Rorslett's commentary on this lens.
    I have the same question as others: What's a really good wide angle lens for Nikon FX? 25-50mm f/4 zoom? 24mm f/2.8 AIS?
  29. The 24 f 2.0 ais paired with my D610 has given me great results at f8 as a casual spot to shoot from.
  30. I agree with KK Hui. It is a terrific lens with sharpness corner to corner and is a reasonable weight to cary around. I use it on a d810 and truly do love it.
  31. Can definitely recommend the 28mm f1.8g lens on a D800, pretty hard to beat really. I have tried some of the older Nikon AIS lenses and
    some early AF lenses on a D90 and my D800 with mixed results, the 28mm f2.8 AF which is presumably the same optically as the AIS
    was poor to say the least as was the AF 35mm f2, 20mm AIS again very poor but in that case I blame a local company who were meant
    to clean the lens up but took two attempts which left it dirtier than before with internal cleaning marks! Don't use the Nikon authorised
    repairers in Glasgow,they scratched a Nikon 24mm lens too which to this day I never got back as on principle I refused to pay them for
    such shoddy workmanship, expensive lesson, always go direct to Nikon.
  32. Well! Opinions on the 28mm
    f/2.8 lens appear to have
    gone from "hero" to "zero" in
    no time flat. Only a few
    months ago it seemed to have
    assumed mythological status
    and any criticism of it was
    met with strong rebuttal. So
    what's happened to all the
    staunch supporters of this

    IMHO the 28mm f/2.8 never deserved the over-the-top rave reviews it got, but OTOH it really isn't bad. And would perform perfectly well on a high pixel count DSLR.
  33. Only a few months ago it seemed to have assumed mythological status and any criticism of it was met with strong rebuttal. So what's happened to all the staunch supporters of this lens?​
    It's called upgrading.
  34. Upgrading? How does that
    affect the performance of an
    existing lens, which not long
    ago was rated as very good to
    excellent by many users? That
    was on the D800 and D800E.
    The D810 is no more demanding
    of lenses. So how does
    "upgrading" explain anything?
    Pixel peeping might explain a
    lot though.

    Let's remind ourselves of Tim's original question, which was basically - "is my Ai-s 28mm f/2.8 Nikkor good enough to use on a D810?" and not "are there any lenses that outperform the 28mm Nikkor?".

    IMO the advice to hire or borrow a D810 and find out was very good advice.
  35. Note, the 28/2.8 AF is not the same as the AIS. The original five element AF version was based on the awful Series E one, and the revised, post-1993 six element version is a new design. The post-1981 AIS design is an eight element design that's very highly corrected for close focus.
  36. I can't speak for anyone else, but something I've heard many times, here and elsewhere, is that the 28mm f2.8 AIS lens is "not sharp in the corners" unless it is stopped down pretty far (f8-ish). Was testing it last night on both the D4 and D700 and focusing at near infinity. Yes, the corners were soft until about f8, but in my case, it's not because there is an issue with the lens, it's that the corners on a wide angle image of a distant object are WAY OUT of the depth of field range. The corners of the image were the grass a few feet in front of me, a building ten feet away on one side, etc. The lens was focused at almost infinity. I would expect object that are out of the depth of field range to be soft. I wonder how much of "not sharp in the corners" comes from objects in the corners of a wide angle image not being within the depth of field range that the lens is set at.
    Just an observation.
  37. I'm late in on this thread, we have a lot of contact with a lot of fine art photographers making large high quality prints for exhibitions, many are quite content with the results they get from D800s but almost all use the most respected pro printing companies to print their exhibition work, not cheap but they've got the best gear and really know how to use it.
    But that said, most would agree that nothing beats Large Format perfectly processed and printed on top quality photographic stock by experts, whilst some of these artists are using Hassies and Mamiya 7s, the majority go for Linhof Technicas and the like.
    I'm not tempted to back to film - I find I've got far more flexibility with my D800 Lightroom etc, and think the real answer to your question lies in getting expert printers to print your project.
  38. Would it help if I took a few photos using the D810 and 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S at close range and distance and shared the full res files here?
  39. I tried it out and to summarise it behaves very well. Optimum is f5.6 to f11 as expected and close up it really is very sharp. Concerning the softness at distance I noted two things, a little curvature of field and a slight overshoot past infinity. When focused correctly it looks very good. Here are two examples. These are full JPEG files straight from the camera.
    This one is at between f5.6 and 8 and is focused at just over 1 meter.
    This one is at infinity at f8
    Hope these helped.
  40. Actually this is a discussion i wish to take part in. I have read a comment somewhere on this forum that stated the old MF lenses have a specific 'signature' one has to live with when using on Dslr.
    This is the only true aspect in this thread, you either adore the lens on a certain body or you don't!
    This comment also means any review of a MF lens is a fluke in terms of quality. I must say i have a beater 28/2.8 Ais that has been used as much because it is THAT good!
    Ive also read a comment here somewhere clearly stating ART is a subject that has to be seen and not measured......
    Kindest regards, Henk
  41. ART is a subject that has to be seen and not measured....best information contributed in this thread.
  42. Sad though Bruce it doesn't happen, it's what you'd call an aspirational statement, indeed art should be seen but sadly there's an industry measuring it..... and has been ever since there was art.

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