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Nikkor 28mm f/2 AI-S

Nikkor 28mm F/2 AI-S
Weight: 13oz
Filter Size: 52mm
28mm is my favorite focal length for general use shooting, so it's no surprise that I love this lens.

Although smaller than the 20mm f/2.8 AF-D, and similar in size to the 24mm f/2.8 AI-S the 28mm f/2 AI-S is a bit heavier than both. Just like the 24mm f/2.8 AI-S the 28mm f/2 AI-S is a masterpiece of construction. Stopped down to F4 or beyond, the 28mm f/2 AI-S is sharper than the 20mm 2.8 or the 24mm 2.8. Wide open it loses more contrast but is a full stop faster. At f/2.8 it's just slightly ahead of it's wider brethren. My copy has been around the block and then some. The glass is still great, but paint is wearing off the outside and the mount is worn down so much that most Nikon rear caps won't get snug. I doubt any new AF-S lens will last though as much abuse as this lens has seen!

Comparing the three in size.

Strangely enough, Nikon neither makes this nor the expensive 28mm f/1.4 AF-D anymore. The 28mm f/2.8 AF-D is their sole offering.  With a used market value around $400 used, this lens is considerably more than the $260 28mm f/2.8. It's also double in weight due to metal construction and one extra stop of speed. It will probably last twice as long to. The cost can quickly be made up if you already own 52mm filters, as the 28mm f/2.8 AF-D jumps all the way up to a 72mm filter.

Is that extra stop worth it? Well that's up to the user. This lens is certainly usable at f/2 although it is very soft in the corners due to spherical abberation. Outside of kayaking it opens up creative opportunities over a slower lens.

Nikon D700, Nikkor 28mm f/2 @ 1/5000 F2 ISO 100

Now how about for kayaking?

Nikon D700, Nikkor 28mm f/2 @ 1/1250 F8 ISO 200

Of course we need a 100% crop of the above to see what's really going on.

Nikon D700, Nikkor 28mm f/2 @ 1/1250 F8 ISO 200

Here is a shot you're just never going to get with a variable aperture zoom.

Nikon D700, Nikkor 28mm f/2 @ 1/1000 F2 ISO 400

So how is it wide open? In the center, really quite fantastic all things considered, 100% crop no sharpening.

Wide open it's actually looking like a fast lens!

Compared to the 70-300VR.

There's a large size difference in diameter.

  Build: 10/10                   - Absolutely beautiful, traditional Nikkor AI-S quality.
  Handling: 10/10             - Not much to handle with no zoom, but the focus ring is buttery smooth and easy to turn with two fingers.
  Performance: 8/10         - Great center performance at all apertures, soft in the corners wide open.
  Value: 8/10                    - It's tough to pay more for this used than a new 28mm f/2.8, but in the long run it's worth it.
  Overall: 8/10                 - The build quality, performance and relatively large aperture make this lens a true classic.  

Practcality for kayaking: 8/10

The 28mm f/2 has great performance, is small in size and has great ruggedness of construction. Plus it uses a classic 52mm filter. If you combine this with a 50mm and the 75-150 Series E you have a nice light kit that all uses the same filter size.  This lens makes it in my bag on a daily basis. Even if I owned the 28mm f/1.4 I doubt I'd want to lug the heavy beast around every day. This lens has a similar beautiful look and feel to it's images like the Nikon 75-150 Series E, there is something pleasant about it's rendition that just can't  be captured by charts. Too bad it has tons of coma for night sky images.

2015: In use it just doesn't hold up as well on the modern 24mp sensors. For some 100% crops here it is side by side with the legendary 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S.

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