Nikon 28mm f/2.8 D – review

The Nikon 28mm f2.8 is an often criticized lens. If you look at most internet reviews, they will slate its lack of edge sharpness and chromatic aberration (corner colour fringing). However, having used one professionally this year I have been very impressed with its performance in the real world. It focuses very quickly on my Nikon D700 and retains its fast focusing in low light. It is very sharp in the centre and usably sharp in the corners. Whilst it is sometimes useful to look at charts and tests, in real life you are going to edit your photos, so a lenses’ lack of sharpness is much less of an issue than using correct camera settings – a fast enough shutter speed to freeze your subject for example.

The build quality is very good and whilst I wouldn’t want to drop it, the 28mm doesn’t feel cheap. It has a lovely rubber manual focusing ring and a very smooth operation – useful as it is a manual focus lens on my Nikon D5000. The manual focusing feels as natural and easy as on my old Nikon film SLR lenses, and that is a real compliment. On focusing the front of the lens does move, so it could be knocked. It’s not on a par with Nikon’s top internal focusing lenses, but it doesn’t cost as much. The 28mm renders colours nicely. It does not have the ‘pop’ of top lenses, but I never feel let down by the colour and saturation produced.

Cost is, above all, the best bit about this lens. I picked up mine from Ebay for £150, and it normally retails for around £200. For its sharpness and focusing speed it is an excellent value lens, and one well worth buying if you don’t need anything wider, or want a cheap and compact wide angle.

The only real way to evaluate a lens is to look at the images it produces. So below are three shots. The first two from my last wedding, the third from some recent corporate work. Note the sharpness of the boy’s eyes in the first image, and the clarity of the details in the second. Finally the third image gives you a chance to see the smoothness of the out of focus highlights and how the lens brought out the detail of the scene. (Look out for the severed head on the right hand side of the operating theatre shot!) Yes, I’m sharing edited photos for a lens review, and will probably come in for some criticism. However in the real world we all edit our photos and it is the end product a lens produces that is actually most important.

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About David Charlwood

I am a professional photographer, specialising in weddings, working across the UK, based in the South East. View all posts by David Charlwood

3 responses to “Nikon 28mm f/2.8 D – review

  • Anke Bos

    Thanks for the post on Twitter and the link to your review. As you said it’s always good to see example the lens produces so it gives me a good idea.

    Have a good day.

  • Tonya@ A Family Completed

    Thank you for your review and samples. It’s been hard to find one that had samples that were useful for me.

  • Tope Ojo

    Unfortunately I went along with the hate mob who totally annihilated this lens until a few weeks ago when I decided to actually give it a go and boy was I in for a surprise!

    Upon downloading the images to PC, my jaw almost dropped!!!! Ok, fair enough, you can say it’s not as sharp as say…..the 50mm f1.4 but none the less this lens can really produce some relatively sharp and colourful images. I will be using this len a lot more in the future.

    PS: Yes, I edit my photos too and that only enhances the the images quality produced by the 28mm all the more.

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