Review of NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G

Testing a new lens is always exciting. Reviewing it is probably a little challenging especially when I am not accustomed to writing lens reviews and there are already thousands others on You Tube and the World Wide Web. I recently switched to Nikon and made the unusual decision to invest in a DLRS system rather than purchasing a mirrorless full frame camera. Whilst camera manufactures may not be making any new DLSR, the current chip and raw materials shortage means the used market and residual values of DLSR cameras and lenses are holding on nicely so much I would make a profit should I sell my Nikon set-up (camera and lenses) today.

Two months ago I bought a Nikkor AF-S 28mm as an addition to my 50mm and 70-200mm lenses. I usually do fashion and travel photography and feel those lenses cover most of what is required (in time I will invest in an ultra-wide zoom lens).

So, how’s the 28mm like?

Overall, it’s a great lens despite being 10 years old (Nikon first released it on 19 April 2012!). For your own information, if you are looking into a technical review please refer to You Tube as here I will share my impressions from a user standpoint, as well as a couple of samples (see gallery at the end).

Model name: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G – compatible with FX (full frame) camera mounts e.g. Nikon D850.

Let’s start with the very few minor negatives:

  1. Autofocus speed is fast but not ultra fast as the 50mm f/1.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8. Prior to switching to Nikon, I owned Fujifilm cropped sensor cameras and their wide angle lenses (18mm is Fujifilm’s equivalent of a 28mm full frame lens) were virtually instantaneous. In any case, it is not bad for a lens turning 10 years old next month!
  2. Barrel distortion is visible and can be corrected in post production e.g. in Photoshop, either manually or automatically. In fairness, it is not prominent. It is a known issue featuring any wide angle lens from any manufacturer and you would not take notice of it unless you are photographing buildings or straight lines.

Let’s turn to the good stuff. Here’re the positives:

  1. It is an extremely sharp lens. Some people say it is one of Nikon’s sharpest. Images 1 & 3 (see gallery below) speak for themselves.
  2. A very versatile focal length. I use it for travel and photo journalism assignments. You can crop the image as you see fit. Particularly true when the 28mm is paired with a high resolution camera such as the Nikon D850 (feat. 46 megapixels). I also use it for fashion photography (Image 4) when playing around with composition.
  3. Very pleasant colour rendering requiring very little – if any – post production adjustment. No visible chromatic aberration (again, if any, it takes one click in Photoshop and Lightroom to reduce/eliminate).
  4. Very light (330 grams) yet robust construction. The lens is part-metal part-plastic. The 28mm is relatively compact; perfectly sized to fit the hand.

Should I buy one?

  1. YES because prime lenses are generally better than zooms in terms of sharpness and image rendering.
  2. YES because it is pretty compact and ideal for travelling. The 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom is obviously a lot more versatile but it is both significantly more expensive and heavy (1.4kg).
  3. YES because of the wider aperture (f/1.8).
  4. NO if you already have zooms or other prime lenses of similar focal length e.g. 35mm.

The Nikon Sessions

My idea of “recovery” doesn’t necessarily involve “resting” per se. Guess what I did the moment I was allowed some movement on the arm I fractured nearly five weeks ago…. I borrowed my mate’s Nikon camera and took a portrait of him. The location was my local Starbucks.

A few points of note.

I must admit full frame has still the edge on mirrorless in terms of image output. That said, I would not trade my existing camera for a full frame as “size does matter”. My Fujifilm X-T3 is the ideal travel companion thanks to its compact size and and light weight (the Nikon D810 weights 980g vs the X-T3’s 539g). Should I ever decide to upgrade (and I will once I save up £6,500), my next camera is likely to be a Fujifilm medium format (GFX 50 S II) that is actually smaller and lighter than the Nikon D810 DLSR full frame camera I used on this occasion.

Nikon D810 & Nikkor 50mm 1.4
Nikon D810 & Nikkor 50mm 1.4
Nikon D810 & Nikkor 85mm 1.4 – photo by Jutiar Photography