New Nikon 28mm/f1.8 AF-S Lens

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by shuncheung, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Has anybody tried the new 28mm/f1.8 AF-S yet?
    Two weeks ago, I saw one at my local camera store and then I received a test sample from Nikon USA a few days ago. It is a fairly light lens, and it is human nature that we associate quality with heavier weight. Therefore, fair or not, my initial reaction was that it is not as well built as the 24mm/f1.4 and 35mm/f1.4 lens. In reality, it has a plastic barrel similar to the 50mm/f1.8 AF-S and 85mm/f1.8 AF-S. One thing I don't like about this 28mm is that the manual focus ring is very loose, much looser than the focus ring on the 50mm/f1.8 and 85mm/f1.8 AF-S, and that was the case on both samples I have tried. Since I mainly use AF, it is not much of an issue; however, if you use manual focus a lot, it can be annoying.
    I only have very limited experience with this lens. Optical quality seems good. Even on the D800E, it is quite sharp. I have yet to verify corner performance in a landscape setting. I have some initial images but need to double check. I have also read on other forums that this lens has the "focus shift" issue; i.e. the in focus point moves as you change the aperture.
    I see the new 28mm/f1.8 AF-S is already in stock at the usual major mail-order places, unlike the 85mm/f1.8 AF-S that had some initial shortage for 2, 3 months. Personally, I need a 85mm/f1.4 or 1.8 a lot more because those are portrait lenses. I may want a 35mm/f1.4 for indoor, available light photography, but for a 28mm, I am not sure I really need f1.8 as I can probably get away with an f2.8 zoom.
  2. Many thanks Shun. I was just about to order that lens but I will give it a bit more thought. I may go with the 85 1.8 and rely
    on the 17-55 2.8 when I need a wide angle.

    -Cheers my friend
  3. I do look at each lens release as they come, and consider what they will do for me that I don't already have. So far, there's no compelling reason for me to buy this lens since I already have the excellent Sigma 30mm f1.4. The build quality is much better, and it's f1.4. I continue to wait for either a 300mm f4 VR or 80-400mm VR AFS.
    Kent in SD
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    since I already have the excellent Sigma 30mm f1.4. The build quality is much better, and it's f1.4​
    Kent, I understand that you only use DX-format Nikon DSLRs; therefore, this is not an issue in your case, but people need to keep in mind that the Sigma 30mm/f1.4 is a DX-type lens and cannot cover the entire FX frame.
    This new Nikon 28mm/f1.8 AF-S is for both FX and DX cameras. Its image circle covers the full FX frame.
  5. Shun, the 28/1.8 looks quite big actually. How do you feel it is size wise compared to the 35 f/1.4?
  6. Shun, any idea how the IQ compares to the old MF Ai-S 28mm f/2 Nikkor? Especially the corner definition.
  7. i was thinking a small fast prime could be useful for FX setups when the 24-70 is too much lens. i would rather have a 24/1.8, however, but nikon probably doesnt want to cut into the sales of the 24/1.4 G. 28mm is a little bit of an odd focal length--kind of a tweener--but still encouraging to see affordable FX primes. if we see a d600 soon as rumored this suddenly makes a lot more sense.
    shun,how's the bokeh at open apertures and low-light performance?
  8. Camera Labs found a strong focus shift when stopping down - but that could have been just the sample they had for testing.
    As a slightly wider alternative to the 35/1.8 on DX bodies, the lens appears to be a bit pricey - especially given the Sigma 30/1.4 alternative mentioned above.
    On FX, it has always been my impression that 28mm is "in-between" - most will either prefer the 35mm or the 24mm focal length. Given the price, the 28/1.8 might be an alternative for those who want a fast prime "just in case" and don't care too much about the actual focal length. Given the current alternatives, and if I were an FX shooter, this would likely be the only WA prime I would own. Unfortunately, corner sharpness on FX doesn't seem to be too good - at least according to Camera Labs.
    I keep reading as an argument against Nikon introducing a certain lens "that, e.g. a 24/1.8 would impinge on the sales of the 24/1.4" - and I fail to see the validity of such arguments. Not only has there been a time when Nikon had two or even three prime lenses of a given focal length but with different maximum aperture - apparently they weren't too concerned on one limiting sales of the other - but rather providing the user with options for different size wallets. Furthermore, are we really at a point were a $700 lens is considered an alternative to one that costs twice as much? I rather think that if a reasonable cost alternative is not available, that one would rather abstain than buy the expensive one (or look for a third party alternative).
    If I recall correctly, then Camera Labs attest the 28/1.8 a very pleasant bokeh - even above the one from the 35/1.4
  9. I just received this past Friday my copy of 28/1.8 AF-S and I am very excited about it. You have to take my impressions with a grain of salt since 28mm is one of my favorite focal lengths so I am a person that enthusiastically awaited this lens to be produced. In comparison with my beloved 28/2 AI-S at f2 this new lens is definitely much better. Even wide open it provides very pleasant results, especially when shooting in low light. The bokeh is also very pleasant - not sure if better than 35/1.4 since I don't own it but on par IMHO with 24/1.4 at similar apertures. I had no time to check the corners in landscape usage at f/8 +/- 1fstop but at the first sight seems to be a very good performer. An interesting note, I had to adjust with +10 the focus, in order to get the best results on D800 - the same happen with 85/1.8. Very interesting that other old AF-D lenses that on D700 needed fine focus adjustments does not need it on my D800.
    Regarding size and weight... in comparison with 24/1.4 and Sigma 24/1.8 this lens is smaller and lighter... In Shun's image seems to be quite big comparing it with 85/1.8 but if you add the hoods you'll change immediately the perspective. Definitely is not a big and heavy lens and for me the combo 28/1.8 + 85/1.8 (eventually + 180/2.8) is whatever I need for travel / street / vacation, etc... These lenses with D800 are providing a great IQ, definitely overcoming my photographic skills :)
    Yes, the focus ring is lose on my copy as well but I can live with this "feature". What I do not understand... is this considered to be a prograde lens? Is the only from the group that has a golden ring, golden ring that marks the box as well. Its not a cheap lens as in Romania it costs almost like 105/2.8 VR but the build quality is not on par. I think that this golden ring means that Nikon will never rework 28/1.4... probably having 24 and 35 at f1.4 is not economically to produce such as lens. In this situation this 28/1.8 is the best option at 28mm FL.
    Of course if Nikon will do a rework of 20/2.8 this will be a tempting lens but for now I feel that my basic needs are perfectly covered... well... I still dream for a small factor FX camera but this is a different topic :)
  10. If I`m not wrong, the 28/1.8 is the only one in the new batch of non-f1.4 primes that enjoy Nanocoating. It could be the reason of the gold ring... otherwise, I have never know the real basis of that "privilege" (the 60AFS micro is use Nanocoatings and is not "gold ringed", while the 105VR does).
    The manual focus issue is highly awkward, but to be sincere, I almost never use it... until the arrival of Live View.
  11. You are right Jose about nanocoating... Anyhow from my experience I hope nanocoating is not something "marketing coating"... :) For me in the field is very hard to make a difference... if is any.
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Earlier today, I tried to capture a bunch of sample images. I am quite happy with center sharpness, but I need to carefully test some landscape situations to see how good the corners are.
    I tried to check the "focus shift" issue in two different settings. So far I don't see any problem on my test sample, but I need to check things further.
    The only AI-S I have ever bought is a 35mm/f1.4 AI-S, so I have no experience with the 28mm/f2 AI-S. Concerning other optical performances, I need to report back later on when I have more experience with this lens. I am glad that Mihai also has one, and he can provide a different perspective.
    Compared to other older wide angels, the 28mm/f1.8 is rather big. However, the 24mm and 35mm/f1.4 AF-S are even bigger.
  13. I'm also wondering, as RJ, whether to adopt the 28/1.8g in place of my 28/2 AI. I love the 28/2 at f/5.6, where it is sharp in the corners. It has a rounded cinematic look with good sharpness, but less microcontrast than the newer nanocoat wides. To an earlier poster: yes, I think nanocoating as well as the super-integrated coating on the longer lenses gives non-marketing benefits.
    Shun, I'm interested to know your ultimate findings on using this lens for manual focus. I've decided to give up on autofocus for all but the shots where nothing else will work. So I need a lens that works acceptably for manual focus. [It exerts far too much influence on my choices of composition and its too distracting. My work is much better without it.] Maybe I should just get a Zeiss.
  14. The nano crystal coat does make a significant difference in some lenses where it is applied. For example the 70-200 II behaves in a completely different way with regards to flare and ghosting than its predecessor. Also the 85/1.4 AF-S has much higher contrast when shooting into the light than the 85/1.4 AF D which I used to have that produces a lower contrast image with some flare in such situations. I have seen a side by side comparison between the VR 200/2 and the VR 200/2 II (which has the nano coat) and at f/2, the details were displayed with noticeably higher contrast. However, sometimes I like a lower contrast rendition ;-)
  15. I`m sorry I think it`s my post that induces to a wrong direction... my excuses. No doubt Nano coating technology is an improvement.
    What I was trying to mean is about Nikon`s reason to "award" a lens with the gold ring. I know it has been on topic many times, but I still wonder about it.
  16. Nikon 28/1.8 AF-S G Series on Flickr

    Hey guys, I've had the 28G for about 2 weeks now and love it. I even had the opportunity to shoot it as a second photographer in a wedding last weekend side by side with the 35G. The link above will take you to a bunch of general examples from the 28G paired with my D700.

    Here are a couple thoughts comparing the 28 and 35 in my opinion (in a wedding environment)

    -The size/weight delta between the two makes them almost incomparable... I generally find a heavy lens to feel good on large bodies like the D700 but after 6+ hours I MUCH preferred the 28 to the 35 just for sheer handling.
    -Personal preference... I love the 35mm focal length, I find it to be very useful in cocktail hour shots where I'm getting a small group and showing interaction between people. This event was the first I've ever used the 28mm focal length and I really started to like it towards the middle of the day. I have to get closer than I am used to getting but I like how much of the environment it pulls in. This is less of a 28G vs 35G thing than a general focal length musing.
    -Focus speed on the 28 seemed faster than the 35 though that is hardly a scientific test
    -On the 28G I have to consciously keep my hand off the MF collar to avoid resetting or overriding the AF, this will come with time but it is annoying that you can't turn MF off completely
    -1.4 on the 35G is magical looking, gorgeous bokeh, love the warmth and tone of the files...the 28G at 1.8 is pretty darned good and whether it is the focal length or the extra bit of aperture it just isn't as immediately 3D and magic looking to me
    -28G is SO SHARP, especially at f/2.5 and above, probably at 1.8 its just the limitations of my own skill and narrow DOF. I didn't shoot the 35G at smaller apertures so it is tough to compare here. But it is safe for me to say that the 28G's sharpness completely satisfies me.

    That is about it for now. I'm really happy with the 28G purchase.
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    There are a lot of jacaranda trees in the neighborhood, and their purple flowers are blooming with plenty of their petals on the ground.
    Here is a test image with the 28mm/f1.8 AF-S on a D800E. I used live view to manually focus to the corner as shown by the little red square, and I will post a 700x700, 100%, pixel-level crop as indicated by the yellow square.
    I have captured this same image at f1.8, f2.8, f5.6, and f8. At f1.8, depth of field is shallow from such a short distance; I can't even get everything in the yellow square in focus. Please keep in mind that this is on a very demanding D800E. I would say I am quite happy with corner sharpness. However, there is also obvious chromatic aberration, as you can see some green fringing on the purple petals.
    BTW, I checked again and observed no focus shift on my sample. I wonder whether the focus shift some people observe is related to the very loose manual-focus ring.
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I am happy with its corner sharpness, but the green fringing is also obvious on a very demanding D800E. I don't it is to a degree that I would worry about.
  19. I keep reading as an argument against Nikon introducing a certain lens "that, e.g. a 24/1.8 would impinge on the sales of the 24/1.4" - and I fail to see the validity of such arguments.​
    Dieter, it's simple marketing 101:if Nikon came out with a 24/1.8 for $700, a LOT of photographers would purchase it over the 24/1.4G. i'm sure i'm not the only person who shoots FX, has the 24-70, and wants something lighter but also wide, with less distortion than the 24-70 @24mm.
    are we really at a point were a $700 lens is considered an alternative to one that costs twice as much?​
    if you're nikon, yes. is that really so hard to understand? also, the 24/1.4G is around $1900 USD, which is closer to 3x as much as the 28G.
    by introducing a less-desirable focal length at that price, Nikon protects its high-end sales while also appealing to FX bargain hunters. the 28 might also appeal to folks who shoot both FX and DX and dont already have a fast wide prime.
    As an owner of both the 28/1.8 and the 24/1.4, i suspect that Mihai is in the minority of photographers (although some collectors and Bjorn Rorslett will surely try to acquire every nikon lens ever made.)
    the intriguing thing about the 28/1.8, though, is the nanocoating and gold ring status, which makes you wonder about the internal build quality. to answer Jose's question, the 105VR was made before nanocoating was introduced.
  20. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    the 105VR was made before nanocoating was introduced​
    Nano coating has been around for quite a while, but Nikon did not start promoting that technology strongly until 2007 when the D3 and D300 were introduced.
  21. As an owner of both the 28/1.8 and the 24/1.4, i suspect that Mihai is in the minority of photographers (although some collectors and Bjorn Rorslett will surely try to acquire every nikon lens ever made.)​
    This is because of my style & needs... I shoot mostly primes and I am in the 24mm - 85mm range about 70%. That's why I find convenient to have covered as many focal lengths in this area. Another main reason is that 24/1.4 is a must in my bag for events and serious work... but for street & travel 28/1.8 works as a charm in a lightweight package and without risking so much.
  22. Well Eric, if A LOT of photographers buy the cheaper lens then Nikon makes a sizable profit from those sales. And I am merely stating that it is my belief that of those LOT not many would buy the 3x more expensive lens but rather buy nothing at all or look for third party alternatives. That's where you and my view differ. And as I said, there has been a time when Nikon had two, three or even more lenses for a given focal length but different maximum aperture.
    I might consider the purchase of a hypothetical $900 24/1.4 lens - but I wouldn't consider a $1900 24/1.4 as an alternative as to me the cost-benefit calculation doesn't compute. Thus by not providing me with a reasonably priced option - Nikon gets no money from me at all. And I am sure that I am not the only one thinking that way. I am equally sure that a lot of people will (over-)spend on the expensive glass, even though they don't really need or even want the fast aperture. Again, Nikon's fear that a 70-200/4 VR will take away sales from the f/2.8 version and Nikon's hope that I will buy the more expensive f/2.8 instead if they don't provide the f/4 version doesn't work with me - but apparently does for others.
    I'd buy a f/1.4 lens only if I would use it fully open most of the time - and be willing to live with the reduced optical quality wide open. As I don't feel the need for f/1.4 at all, an f/1.8 or f/2 lens will do just fine - and quite often performs as well as the f/1.4 stopped down 1 stop - at 1/2 or even 1/3 the cost to me.
    Marketing 101 doesn't work on me - I do my own cost-benefit analysis and have looked through and past marketing to determine for myself what I need and don't need; works quite well actually.
  23. by introducing a less-desirable focal length at that price, Nikon protects its high-end sales while also appealing to FX bargain hunters.
    The 28/1.8 makes perfect sense because if one wants an affordable fast prime setup for FX, it would naturally start with a 50/1.8, which has a really good price-performanceratio. 35mm is too close to 50mm IMO, and 24mm too far. The 28+50+85 makes a very nice setup with equal focal length ratios (1.7x) and costs much less than a 24+35+85 setup. Also, since fast wide angles are expensive, someone looking to build an affordable setup would probably want just one of them, one that is well suited to people photography and is generally wide enough to serve in indoor photography. Zooms would then cover the remainder of needs (many people now use them as their primary lenses). A 24/1.4 is in my opinion a highly specialized lens, much like a 200/2 in the other end of the spectrum; only a few thousand photographers will get those. A 28/1.8 is much better value and a good choice if you just want one fast wide angle prime. If I had only the 35/1.4 as my only fast wide, I would yearn for wider. A 28mm on the other hand would serve well as my widest fast lens. 24mm gets into the special-effecty territory when it comes to people photography (on FX).
    Expensive FX wide angles make very little sense to use on DX cameras. Too big, too expensive, not wide enough, and not that great optically. You can of course use the 24/1.4 on DX; it works ok, but it doesn't give a good price-performance ratio. It's 13 years now since the introduction of the D1, Nikon's first DX camera. Zero dedicated fast wide angle primes for DX are available. I think what is happening is that rather than make a DX wide angle prime, Nikon will introduce more affordable FX lenses (the three f/1.8 primes, 24-85 VR etc.) and less expensive FX camera bodies and solve the problem in that way, if that can be considered a solution. Personally I would be much happier if I could recommend a wide angle prime for some of my friends who would like a wider than 35mm lens for DX indoor photos of people and who are used to the quality level of the 35 DX and don't like to use their kit zooms and for whatever reason are not happy to use flash and a small aperture. It is a legitimate need. If it were not a need, why would all the mirrorless camera manufacturers introduce wide angle primes as one of the very first lenses in the whole lineup (Micro Four thirds has several of them in different sizes, apertures and price classes).
  24. "... the very loose manual-focus ring."
    I understand the loose manual-focus ring feel is just the low resistance to be turned, not that tiny absence of engagement when we turn the ring to fine focus, from one side to the other.
    How is this lens in this respect, compared to others? Is there a noticeable "image shift" at the screen?
  25. @mihai: fair enough. although if i had the 24/1.4, i'd use it for street and everything else too.
    @dieter: you say, "not many would buy the 3x more expensive lens but rather buy nothing at all or look for third party alternatives."
    that's a good point. however there aren't many third party alternatives: the sigma 24 and 28/1.8s which are older designs, dont have reps for high performance at open apertures, and cost about the same new as the 28/1.8G; the MF zeiss 28/2 (which is $1300) and the zeiss 25/2.8 (a relative bargain at $1000); the 30/1.4 (for DX); and AFAIK nothing else currently in production. so just on that point alone,you can say nikon is filling a niche.
    my original point, though, was that i'd much rather have a 24/1.8 at $600 than a 28/1.8 for the same price.
    which brings me to ilkka's point: "The 28+50+85 makes a very nice setup with equal focal length ratios (1.7x) and costs much less than a 24+35+85 setup."
    yes, but i'd personally rather have a 24/50/85 set-up if i was going with three primes on FX. i have the 50 and 85 already, and the FX body, so i guess i'm in the target audience nikon's aiming for. but my druthers would be a bit wider, since i find myself using 24mm a lot on the 24-70.
    essentially nikon is not giving you (me) a choice: you either pony up the cash for the 24/1.4 or settle for a medium-wide wide angle fast prime. i may end up getting this lens anyway since the 24-70 is huge and cumbersome, but i reserve the right to gripe about it if i do, unless its really really awesome IQ-wise. the moral of the story is probably that with lenses, you just cant have it all. some compromise is involved, somewhere, always.
  26. The rumored specs on the D600 are very tempting. D7000 sized? Full frame? yay. But, yeah, the selection of F-mount wide primes is pretty disappointing. Looks like Cosina is coming out with an F and EOS mount 28/2.8 for their Voigtlander brand. That could be pretty interesting, especially if it comes in at a decent price.
    In fact, the dearth of wide F-mount primes is one of the reasons I decided to rent an X-Pro1 and a few lenses to see how I like it. APS-C sensor? I'll live. 18/2 lens? Check. Adapter for F-mount lenses? Check. No "nifty fifty" with garish bokeh in sight.
    There are compromises needed, sure. But I suspect Nikon's offerings are more a ham-fisted, short-sighted attempt at protecting the profits of their more expensive lenses. Look at the Fuji lenses slated for next year: 14/2.8, 23/1.4, 27/2.8, 56/1.4, 18-55/2.8-4. All things I'd love to see on the Nikon end (DX or FX).
  27. Nikon has a great line up for a popularly priced FX body now. 28, 50, and 85/1.8, and the 24-85VR and 70-300VR. All good stuff.
    [speculation mode] There will be a D600 soon, and DX is DEAD as a doornail. [/speculation mode]
  28. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    There will be a D600 soon, and DX is DEAD as a doornail.​
    I'll say it again: there could potentially be some "D600," but those who keep treating rumors as facts will likely be disappointed, especially those who think new FX DSLRs will be very affordable. As starters, the leaked D600 images indicate sizes and controls very similar to the D7000, and you can go back and read the complaints on this very forum about those controls and sizes. I happen to be quite happy with the D7000, but it is not for everybody, particularly for those who want a higher-end camera.
    In terms of numbers, DX cameras will continue to be over 90% of the DSLR market and you will continue to see stacks of them at Costco, Best Buy, etc. That is how "dead" DX will be.
  29. I'm not so sure that this lens is "much better" wide open than the F2 AIS. It didn't look it to me. By the way, the F2 AIS is "killer" on film. Of this I have no doubt.

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