Thursday, February 23, 2017

Reviewing the Nikon Nikkor AFS 28-70mm f/2.8

An older lens for today. But make no mistake: this has been the workhorse for many Nikon professional photographers up until the AF-S 24-70mm showed up. As newer and newer models keep coming, the value of these bit older lenses drops in the used market. I got one for reviewing purposes for less than $600 (planning to sell it right after, I don't use midrange zooms), which is a steal for a pro-level f/2.8 midrange zoom with a focus motor. But let's take a closer look, to know what you should expect

Fast midrange zooms are awesome for all-around, low-light photography.
Visiting museums is an obvious application

+ superb resolution, almost corner-to-corner, even wide-open
+ tough, reliable, it can take a beating

+ fast and silent autofocus (thanks to the focus motor)

- slightly high distortion at 28mm, easily correctable though.
- I've seen better bokeh
- big and heavy

At the widest setting there's a bit of distortion but as long as you
don't have lines across your frame, you won't notice

Intended Users
Great for:
  • if you're a pro on a budget and you want a capable midrange, this is it
  • great walk-around lens for museums, low-light, dark streets, etc. - but notice its size & weight
  • FX user who wants to own only one lens? Again, this might be it (but see "Final Verdict")

Not for:
  • DX. Pointless
  • Travel? It's very capable, but its size & weight will bother you
  • the very budget-minded should take a look at 3rd-party options (see "Final Verdict")

Final Verdict
An excellent lens, which sold for well over $1000 for most of its life. The arrival of the Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 (as well as the VR version later) has lowered the price of this lens but, at the same time, it has increased its value. For it's a pretty sweet deal to get a pro-caliber, f/2.8 Nikon midrange zoom lens, with a focus motor, for prices such as these.

At the same time, you must realize that there is no point whatsoever investing in a midrange zoom - let alone an expensive one such as this - if you also plan to own and use primes. With the 28-70mm f.2.8 you can all but forget the whole list of the 28mm f/1.8, the 35mm f/1.8, the 50mm f/1.8, and the 85mm f/1.8. With the exception of the AF-S 50mm f/1.8, each of the other lenses costs about as much as the 28-70! On the other hand, if you're shooting mostly in one of those focal lengths (and you could use as much aperture as you could), maybe you should opt for one of those lenses instead.

What about the very budget-minded and other options for a midrange zoom? You'll need to compromise, and I think the best choice would be to opt for an older, AF (screw-type autofocus) kind of lens. My personal favorite is the Tokina 28-70mm f/2.8, which sells used for about $200 - that's a pretty decent deal for a lens that is capable of delivering some pretty great results.

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