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Brian Tobey
Nikon 28mm f/1.8 G AF-S

NIKON 28mm f/1.8 G AF-S

FAST WIDE PRIME | LOW LIGHT | PRICE $699

SHARPNESS:
 
9.4
BOKEH:
 
8.6
BUILD:
 
8.8
VALUE:
 
9.3
OVERALL:
 
9.3

PROSCONS
LOW LIGHT
SHARP
AFFORDABLE

Last Updated: June 5, 2012 | By Brian Tobey Email Google+

SUMMARY


INTRODUCTION

Nikon 28mm f/1.8 G AF-S

Nikon announced the 28mm f/1.8G on April 19th 2012. As a prime lens, it has a large f/1.8 aperture that can capture a lot of light. This not only provides great low light capability but also expands the control of depth of field or the ability to blur backgrounds. This is unique as most wide angle lenses inherently have large depth of field due to their wide focal length.

This is not the only large aperture, wide angle lens in Nikonís arsenal. Nikon released the 24mm f/1.4G in 2010 and the 35mm f/1.4G months after. These lenses are expensive, pro-grade and environmentally sealed. This 28mm f/1.8G is not built to the same requirements. In fact itís made in China while the others are made in Japan. Regardless, this should not impede your decision to purchase this lens as it is built solid and optically brilliant.


FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Right out of the box I was impressed with the feel and weight. It is half the weight of the 24mm f/1.4G and costs three times less! At this price point, I was surprised Nikon included a Nano crystal coat, which is used to minimize flare and ghosting. The focus ring was smooth but not quite the same feel or resistance as the 24mm f/1.4. The front element has a slight reddish hue, where as the 24mm has a greenish hue. The depth of field scale is even more useless on this 28mm with only markings for f/16 spaced milimeters apart.

The image quality was astounding. Right out the gate images were sharp and snapped subjects from the background. Although it widest aperture is f/1.8, it can achieve a slightly shallower depth of field than the 24mm f/1.4 due to the increased focal length.

OBSERVED DRAWBACKS

Nikon 28mm f 1.8 G Review

Much like the 24mm f/1.4 it has a decent amount of light fall off (vignette) wide open. The out of focus characteristics have a tendency to distort around the edges of the frame where circles become oval in shape. It does exhibit some softness in the corners wide open, which can be desirable depending on the circumstance. Overall there are not many faults. My experience with this lens in the lab and in the field, have shown me how the 28mm f/1.8 is a fantastic lens with many similarities to the 24mm f/1.4.

AVAILIBILITY

Due to its recent release and Nikonís current production pattern, there is currently limited availability. However, based on its price point, I suspect there to be an abundance produced. At this time you can pre-order it through Amazon or Adorama and they will ship them as they receive them from Nikon. This is probably your best bet. I would avoid eBay for now.


PERFORMANCE


- SAMPLES (D4) -

Sample Nikon 28mm f/1.8 G AF-S 1
Sample Nikon 28mm f/1.8 G AF-S 2
Sample Nikon 28mm f/1.8 G AF-S 3

SHARPNESS:

The lens is incredibly sharp, even wide open. It does exhibit some softness at edges of the frame wide open, but clears up quickly by 2.8. We tested it both in the lab and in the field and found its ability to resolve detail more than adequate on both the Nikon D800 and D3200 (high pixel density). We are working on posting the lab results. Check back soon.

Remember that a lens' sharpness is only one aspect of a lens and should not be the primary reason for purchase. Other factors, like aberrations, distortion, and mechanics, should play an equal part in any decision process.

The samples to the right show some examples. The top and bottom images are at aperture f/2.8, and the middle is at f/1.8. These samples were taken on a Nikon D4. Click to expand to 100%.

- NIKON SPECIFICATIONS -
GLASS11 ELEMENTS / 9 GROUPS
DIAPHRAGM7 ROUNDED BLADES
MINIMUM APERTUREf / 16
CLOSE FOCUS0.85 FT (25.9 CM)
DEPTH OF FIELD SCALEYes
WEIGHT330 GRAMS (11.64 OUNCES)
DIMENSIONS83mm Diam x 88.5mm L
FILTERS67MM
MAXIMUM REPRODUCTION RATIO1:4.54


Nikon 28mm 1.8g Samples

TEST RESULTS:

Nikon 28mm 1.8 G Test

We tested this lens in the lab and found it to be sharp throughout the frame by f/4. We are still compiling the results and will post the plots soon. Our lab testing only tests for sharpness and we found it similar to the 24mm f/1.4G.



DISTORTION:

28mm f/1.8g distortion

Distortion is well managed. It has some barrel distortion which requires a +1.5 correction when focused at infinity and +5 for near focused subjects. The distortion is easily correctable in either Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. Although Adobe does not have a lens profile for it yet, you can use the 24mm f/1.4G correction profile as a close approximation. I am sure Adobe will release something soon. Correcting distortion is easy, just enable this feature under under develop. You can read more on distortion in the learning section.


CHROMATIC ABBERATION

Lateral chromatic aberration is minimal. It is easily correctable in Lightroom or Photoshop and Nikon automatically corrects for this in JPEG output.

Longitudinal chromatic aberration is not easily correctable and is present at f/2.8 and below. This is expected with a prime lens wide open. Longitudinal chromatic aberration can be mitigated by stopping down some. By f/5.6 its gone!


FLARE:

Nikon 28mm 1.8g Flare Although flare is mitigated by the Nano crystal coating, it is prominent when the aperture is stopped down some. The image to the left shows the worst case flare I could produce where the aperture was set to f/11. At apertures below f/8, flare was not easy to produce. Although the flare in this example appears excessive, ultimately it is not a concern unless you point it directly at the mid afternoon sun. Overall I found flare and ghosts to be not a concern.


SUNSTARS:

Sunstars aren't half bad with this lens. The diaphragm has 7 blades which are slightly rounded. Typically, fewer and straighter blades will yield better sunstars. Although far from the 24mmm f/2.8, it still had decent sunstar production. Read more about Sunstars.


VIGNETTE | LIGHT FALL OFF

There is noticeable light fall off at f/1.8, -1.5EV in the corners. It is nearly gone by f/2.8. Light fall off is not much of a concern and can compliment portraits at f/1.8. In lightroom 4, a correction profile can adjusts the vignetting automatically.

Nikon 28mm 1.8 G AF-S Light Fall Off Vignette


SAGITTAL COMA FLARE

Sagittal coma flare is an undesirable characteristic of a lens to distort point sources of light. It is common among wide open prime lenses. The 28mm is prone to it at the far edges of the frame. Although it is not bad, it can be corrected by stopping down some. By f/5.6 it's gone.


BOKEH

The bokeh is the quality of blur or out of focus elements. In simple terms, the better the bokeh, the better a lens renders backgrounds softly. Lenses with bad bokeh have out of focus areas with harsh edges that can be distracting from the subject. Although far from perfect, this 28mm exhibits pleasing bokeh, and is surprisingly similar to the more expensive 24mm f/1.4.

The example below is poor at best. It is an attempt at a bokeh comparison between the 24mm f/1.4G and the 28mm f/1.8G. In the example I found the 28mm to have a more pleasing bokeh. However, after using both, I feel that both are great in their own way. In some conditions the 28mm can be a bit harsh, more often in backlight conditions, whereas the 24mm is more consistently pleasing. You can see the 28mm has more controlled corners than the 24mm where the 24 gets a bit distorted.

Nikon 28mm f/1.8G AF-S Bokeh



AUTOFOCUS

Nikon 28mm f/1.8G AF-S Autofocus

The autofocus speed is sufficient. I say this because it is not any slower than the 24mm f/1.4G, which is already slow. Just don't expect the speed you get from the 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom. Overall the autofocus works great and accurate. Remember that the depth of field is large even at f/1.8 compared to the 85mm f/1.8 because of its wide focal length, therefore the autofocus does not have to have the same level of accuracy.

The accuracy of the autofocus was dead on right out of the box. Test on the Nikon D4 and D700.


SIZE COMPARISON

The 28mm f/1.8 G is nearly half the size and weight of the 24mm f/1.4 G. Below shows both lenses next to each other with the 28mm on the left and the 24mm on the right.

Nikon 28mm f 1.8 G SIZE


FRONT COMPARISON

Nikon 28mm f/1.8G SIZE


28MM 1.8 ON D4

Most of my experience with the 28mm 1.8 was used on the Nikon D4. I did pair it up with a Nikon D700 and it behaved similar. Pictured below is it mounted to the D4. It feels a bit unbalanced for the D4. I found it better suited for a D700 / D800 body.

Nikon 28mm f/1.8G Nikon D4


SERIAL NUMBERS

Nikon 28mm f/1.8G AF-S Serial Numbers

USA serial numbers are prefixed with US markings. US serial numbers begin with 600000, while international serial numbers start at 200000. Production began in May 2012.

You can find the serial number identification on the opposite side of the name plate. This is shown in the picture to the right.



FILTERS

I would keep a clear filter on it at all times for protecting the front element. It takes 67mm filters. I prefer Hoya HD. If you use more than two filters be cautious of vignetting.



WHAT'S INCLUDED

Packaged with the lens is a plastic bayonet lens hood (HB-64), a lens pouch, and rear and front lens caps. The lens hood is a simple plastic hood unique to this lens, and its replacement costs seems expensive at $51. The rear cap is not the old LF-1 but instead the newer LF-4 cap. Both work great, but I prefer the LF-1.





CONCLUSION


Nikon 28mm f/1.8G Box

RECOMMENDATIONS:

I highly recommend this lens for those looking for a wide angle low light lens. I am amazed at how Nikon can produce it affordably and have it share many similarities of the more expensive 24mm f/1.4G. And although I do not own the 35mm f/1.4, I have used it on occasion and actually prefer this 28mm more. The 35mm perspective is not appealing to me as the 28 or 24mm because it shares many aspects of the 50mm perspective. Instead I would rather just have a 50mm with me. As I use this lens more I will continue to update this review. Be sure to check back often or follow me on google+.

I bought mine from Amazon, but I would also consider Adorama as well.






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