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Nikkor 20mm F/2.8 AF-D

Nikkor 20mm F/2.8 AF-D
Weight: 9.1oz
Filter Size: 62mm

   This lens has been a true workhorse for me. On the DX format the 20mm becomes about 28mm, my personal favorite focal length for general shooting and kayaking. I think this is the lens that made 28mm my preferred focal length. I bought it to go on my D200, wanting the small size and extra 2/3 stop of light over the 18-55 or 18-200. For shooting sports the D200, with a base ISO of 100, really needs every bit of light it can get. Nikon has several F/2.8 zooms that cover this range, but they are all massive, heavy, and expensive. They are anywhere from 22oz to 35oz too! The zooms sit comfortably in the $1,500 range, and unfortunately the 20mm 2.8 isn't all that cheap either, retailing around $550 new and $300-$400 used.
   Due to a fairly large diameter the lens appears larger than it is. In real life its short length makes it small and compact, especially when mounted on camera. Not renown for it's performance on digital bodies, the 20mm isn't disappointing either. All round it's sharper with better color and contrast than a 18xx kit zoom, especially in low light. The AF is fast enough to keep up with action shots too.

Nikon D200, Nikkor 20mm 2.8 AF-D @ 1/1000 F3.5 ISO 100

100% crop of the above image.

Not bad wide open either, this has been run as a cover.

Nikon D200, Nikkor 20mm 2.8 @ 1/800 F2.8 ISO 400

When making the change to FX I expected to like this lens even more. That was not the case for me. While the lens held up in the center optically, I found I didn't really like the 20mm field of view. Corners and edges really don't hold up on FX. 

For my taste, it's just too wide on FX  for whitewater except in special, rare circumstances where it's possible to get within a few feet of the kayaker.

Nikon D700, Nikkor 20mm 2.8 AF-D @ 1/800 F6.3 ISO 450

Looking through it at 2.8

Size compared to the 70-300VR

   I like the small size and light weight of this lens, and the field of view on DX works for me. It's a bit expensive, considering you could get the optically similar of not superior Tamron 17-50 F/2.8 for the same price. Then again, you double your weight be doing so. A big downside of either of these is that they don't focus on the cheaper Nikon bodies that came after the D50. Quite a shame they removed the screw drive motor on those. The 20mm 2.8 also vignettes heavily with all but the thinnest filters. There are no light, 20mm DX only primes, this is the closest thing to it. If you're willing to give up some speed and AF, the 20mm F4 AIS is even smaller.

  Build: 7/10                   - Nice plastic, but still plastic. Somewhere between an AIS and a kit lens. (about on par with the 70-300VR)
  Handling: 6/10             - Not much to handle, the AF ring is nowhere near MF lens quality, but better than many of the newest lenses.
  Performance: 7/10       - Good center performance at all apertures, soft in the corners wide open and distortion on FX.
  Value: 6/10                  - Still rather expensive at $550 when compared to dedicated DX zooms. Less likely to break than said zooms, and will hold it's value better than third party lenses.

  Overall: 7/10                - Not completely outstanding, but the best of the available options for a small, light 20mm prime with good optical qualities.

Practicality for kayaking: 6/10 

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