Monday, December 16, 2013

Nikkor AIS 28mm f3.5

I've been searching for a cheap wide-angle lens for full frame lately, and among the possible candidates on my list was the Nikkor AI-S 28mm f/3.5. It's generally praised as a cheap but high-quality wide-angle solution. I thought to try one myself because, well, you never know until you try one. Here are my findings.

+ good value; quite cheap but good quality in every way, optically and mechanically
+ small, light, dependable. A great travelling lens
+ for those wanting more info on the optical quality: it's pretty much flawless in every practical way

- manual-focus isn't a deal breaker with wide-angle, but sometimes I did wish for autofocus
- f/3.5 is OK, but of course f/2.8 is better. And f/2 (let alone even wider) are even better - but they're also much, much pricier.
- 28mm is wide, but not ultra-wide. Scope could be limited.

It's not a low-light lens (not hand-held anyway, like in this example). 28mm and f/3.5 will not get you too far

Intended Users
Great for:
  • FX users who need a simple, no-nonsense lens that can give them a wide angle perspective
  • general landscape work.
  • As a travelling lens, it might be all that you need (although, largely depending on what kind of photos you're after)

Not for:
  • low light; unless you can be on a tripod (with non-moving subjects, that is).
  • moving subjects can also be a problem in terms of there not being autofocus
  • those looking for the really distorted perspective. 28mm isn't that wide, really.
In daylight though - and especially stopped-down a stop or two - it can be remarkable

Final Verdict
It's a lens you have to test and test extensively. Not because of quality issues. On the contrary, both optical and mechanical standards are on very high levels. But because of scope considerations. 28mm is wide, but not very wide. The difference between 28mm and 20mm is very significant, and between 28mm and 14mm is worlds apart. That might or might not be an issue for you. The only reason I decided to pass on this one was because when I go wide, I wanna go really wide. But if you simply look for a cheap-but-good "wide enough" lens for general landscape (urbanscape; cloudscape; etc.) work, this one is absolutely fine.

1 comment:

  1. It gets easier to make a lens sharp, the slower you make it (to a limit of coarse)
    Thus a f/3.5 is almost always sharper and has lower vignetting and distortion than its f/2.8 (or lower) counterparts. If you stop further down anyway, the smart people buy a slow lens to start with!
    I think you stress the 'wide enough' issue to far; if people read a 28mm review, a 28mm is what they want! Sometimes a 28mm is to short also you know... ;-)