Z 28 f/2.8 SE is in, jury is out but I will probably keep.

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by robert_bouknight|1, Jan 22, 2022.

  1. I was (am still) looking for a small and light lens for my Z bodies that reduces the camera footprint to a minimum so that I am more likely to take one vs just using my phone. I have been using a Voigtlander 40/1.4 for this purpose, but wanted something wider but still smaller than the 14-30/4S I have and like. The newly available 28 seems like a good but still compromised choice for this purpose. Using a Z7 and a sharp semi-wide, I can crop to longer lens length without too much compromise.

    Pros: It is light, and among the shortest flange to front viable lens for the Z. I am sure that there are some M & LTM mount wides that are a little smaller when combined with an adaptor, but most of the older wides don't perform all that well on digital in my experience.

    Testing on a Z7 vs my 14-30 and 28/2AI, the Z28/2.8 is OK. Sharpness seems similar at f/4 to the 14-30. One test series had me thinking that the 28/2AI was a little better at 2.8 and 4, but another series reversed that opinion. The Z28/2.8 seems to have a good bit of vignetting at 2.8, and tends to render images that are slightly cool and underexposed compared to the other lenses in aperture priority auto.. I guess I should have locked auto WB, I did lock exposure to manual for another series which evened up the exposure variations. The 28/2AI did seem to put a bit more light on the sensor at the same settings, and I came away thinking that I have a slight preference for the images from the old 28. Warmer in AWB mode, and less clinical, somehow.

    Cons: Value. When compared to a 50/1.8g or DX35/1.8g (that can be used on FX), I lose over a stop of speed, the metal mount, and spend more money. Welcome to 2022, I guess. I would have paid a bit more $ to have something faster like f/2.5, but in reality f/2.5 would not make much difference. Probably Nikon did not want to hurt sales of more expensive options when configuring the Z28/2.8. Another con would be that the Z28/2.8 does not seem to deliver a full 2.8's worth of light, especially away from image center. Sharpness is OK at 2.8 for me, though.

    In summary, the Z 28 f/2.8 SE meets but definitely does not exceed my expectations. I think the opportunity for Nikon or a 3rd party to create a better option is still out there. Sony offers the 28/2 FE that I enjoyed using when I had an A7 camera. I was tempted to get another one of those with an AF adaptor, but I realized that there would not be any in cameras corrections that "improve" the 28/2FE on a Nikon body.

    PS, just for fun, I included an early 60's 28/3.5 F mount lens in some of the tests. No surprise, the newer lenses are better. But the old timer still generates a viable image on a 45MP sensor.

    Last edited: Jan 22, 2022
    warren_williams likes this.
  2. I should add that there seemed to be less image pincushion vs the 14-30, but this was an impression vs clinical test. I admit that I did not analyze raw files in extreme detail, just wanted to form an opinion about keeping and using the lens. I plan to keep it on the body as first option, with other lenses in a bag ready to go for photo excursions. I will probably add a faster Z mount wide prime to my kit someday, not sure which it will be, probably the 20mm.

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