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Nikon's classic 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S goes head to head with the Sony FE 28mm f/2

In this particular test the copy of the Nikon Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S was a beat to hell copy with major scratches on the front and rear element and a dry focusing ring, purchased for $43.70. Both lenses on a tripod, manually focused at f/2.8 and no adjustment made for focus shift or field curvature. White balance set to daylight.

Without an adapter the Nikon is quite a bit smaller, with one, a bit longer.

Despite having a larger filter size, the two are incredibly similar in diameter, and yes the Nikon is in terrible shape.

Both lenses at 1/4000 and f/2.8, vignetting of the elder Nikkor not too surprising as it's wide open.

Off center crop at the focus point, yes the tractor is moving, and yes the 34 year old lens is looking better.

Corner crop of both at f/2.8. As one would hope the newer and more expensive Sony FE 28mm f/2 looks much better.

Let us move on to f/4, exposure and color balance are identical.

Off Center Crops at f/4

Extreme corner crops at f/4, this version of the Nikon is considerably worse than the earlier tested one, showing just how large of a role sample variation can play.

At f/5.6 we'll skip the overall view as exposure and vignetting is identical. Straight to the off center crop.

On into the extreme corners.

Again at f/8 we'll skip the overall view as exposure and vignetting is identical. Straight to the off center crop. How is it that a scratched to hell ancient Nikon beats the Sony for contrast?

Suddenly in all but the utmost extreme corners the venerable Nikkor pulls head.

Skipping overall again, off center crop and at f/11 I'd expect diffraction to even things out.

Extreme corners and the Nikon shows why even as a bad copy it can be a legend, in all but the last 100 pixels it out resolves the new Sony.

How much of a difference in the close focus ability? Quite a bit, here is the Nikon at minimum focusing distance.

Here is the Sony at minimum focusing distance.

Radical bokeh difference? In most situations less so than one would expect.

Well the Sony FE 28mm f/2 is nothing if not very Sony. Sharper wide open but not improving all that much while stopping down. The Nikon is very classic Nikon, soft in the corners wide open, sharpens considerably while stopped down. For landscape photography I find little to reccomend the $450 Sony FE 28mm f/2 between the minimum focusing distance and infinity focus performance, the Nikkor is superior, especially with a good copy. Perhaps my version of the Sony FE 28mm f/2 is just poor, which wouldn't be too surprising with their reputation for bad quality control. Everr wonder why their quality control is so bad? This must be a day in the life at the factory.

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