Pekka Buttler, 08/2022 (updated 03/2023)
The table below summarizes the lens’ key specifications (measurements based on pictured sample):
|Brand:||Nikon (Nikkor)||Lens name||28 mm 1:2.8|
|Focal length(s)1||28 mm||Angle-of-view2||74°|
|Maximum Aperture||f/2.8||In Production||1981–2020|
|Lens mount||Nikon F||Subfamily (if applicable)||Ai-s|
|Length3||44,7 mm||Diameter4||63,5 mm|
|Filter ring diameter||52 mm||Weight||258|
|Lens element count||8||Lens group count||8|
|Aperture blades (S/R/C)5||7 S||Focus throw||170 °|
|Minimum focusing distance||20 cms||Maximum magnification||1:3,9|
|Has manual aperture ring||YES||Has Manual focus ring||YES|
• While similar-spec Nikkor Ai and Ai-s lenses in most cases are optically near-identical, this is one of the exceptions, as this, later Nikkor Ai-s 28 mm f/2.8 is fundamentally redesigned from the earlier Ai-version.
• Key elements of that redesign are a higher element count, close range correction (CRC) and an exceptionally short minimum focusing distance.
• As this lens is generally considered to be Nikon’s best manual 28 mm prime, its prices are relatively high.
A brief genealogy of Nikon SLR lens types
Nikon is undoubtedly one of the great names in 35 mm SLR photography. The Nikon F mount has been in continuous production since 1959. During that time, the mount has developed/changed in some detail, however without ever fully sacrificing compatibility.
In short (a longer version is here), the development of Nikon’s SLR lenses can be traced as follows:
• 1959–1977: Pre-Ai. Manual focus lenses that use ‘rabbit ears’ to communicate selected aperture with the camera body.
• 1977–1986: Ai and Ai-s. Manual focus lenses that may have ‘rabbit ears’ for backward compatibility, but are designed to communicate selected aperture with the camera body through indentations in base of aperture control ring.
• 1986–today: AF and AF-D. Autofocus lenses that do not have a focusing motor within the lens, but rely on the focus motor within the camera. All AF and AF-D lenses are simultaneously Ai-s lenses (they are Ai-s lenses extended with AF) 6
• 1996–today AF-S and AF-P. Autofocus lenses that have an internal focusing motor and do not rely on the body having a focusing motor.
While Nikon has a long history of producing 28 mm f/3.5 lenses (starting in 1960), and has produced 28 mm f/2 lenses since 1970, the intermediate f/2.8 version was first introduced in 1974 (as a new Nikkor lens). The development of Nikkor’s 28 mm f/2.8 lenses is summarised in the table below:
|years||Series||optical construction||aperture blades||MFD||notes, links|
|1974–1977||K||7 elements in 7 groups||7, straight||0,3 m||Pre-Ai, rubber focus ring|
|1977–1981||Ai||7 elements in 7 groups||7, straight||0,3 m||[data sheet]|
|1979–1981||series E||5 elements in 5 groups||7, straight||0,3 m||all-black design|
|1981–1985||series E||5 elements in 5 groups||7, straight||0,3 m||silver-ring design|
|1981–2020||Ai-s||8 elements in 8 groups||7, straight||0,2 m||CRC|
|1986–1990||AF||5 elements in 5 groups||7, straight||0,3 m||plastic focus ring|
|1990–1994||AF new||5 elements in 5 groups||7, straight||0,3 m||rubber focus ring|
|1994–2020||AF-D||6 elements in 6 groups||7, straight||0,25 m||[data sheet]|
Besides adapting, this lens can be used natively on all current high-end Nikon dSLRs and several earlier medium-to-high-end older Nikon dSLRs7. Likewise, if it still has its rabbit ears, it can be natively used on all Nikon F-mount film cameras ever produced (without the rabbit ears, it is limited to post 1977 bodies). Being an
Thanks to being a fully manual lens (manual aperture, manual focus), the lens can be adapted to all mirrorless cameras using a suitable dumb adapter (and such adapters are easy to find). Moreover, a large range of special adapters (helicoid adapters, tilt/shift adapters, speed boosters) for using Nikon F lenses on most mirrorless systems are available.
Using Nikon F lenses on non-Nikon SLRs and dSLRs is likewise a distinct possibility. Thanks to the relatively generous flange focal distance of the Nikon F mount (46,5 mm), adapter rings for all dSLR mounts are available as well as for a goodly portion of film-era SLR mounts. Such rings may not allow for auto aperture, but even then the lenses can be used in stop-down metering mode.
1 Focal length is (unless stated otherwise) given in absolute terms, and not in Full-frame equivalent. For an understanding of whether the lens is wide/tele, see ‘Angle-of-view’.
2 Picture angle is given in degrees and concerns the diagonal picture angle. Rule of thumb:
> 90 ° ==> Ultra-wide-angle
70–90 ° ==> Wide-angle
50–70 ° ==> Moderate wide-angle
40–50 ° ==> ‘Standard’ or ‘normal’ lens
20–40 ° ==> Short tele lens
10-20 ° ==> Tele lens
5-10 ° ==> Long tele lens
< 5 ° ==> Ultra-tele lens
3 Length is given from the mount flange to the front of lens at infinity.
4 Diameter excludes protrusions such as rabbit ears or stop-down levers.
5 S=straight; R=rounded; C=(almost)circular at all apertures.
6 There is a further sub-class of AF-D lenses called AF-I lenses that are otherwise AF-D lenses (meaning, fully Ai-s compatible), but have an internal focus motor. Only long tele lenses were made in AF-I variants.
7 As of this writing, the following Nikon dSLRs fully support Aperture priority and manual metered modes on Nikkor Ai lenses: D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, D200, D300, D300s, D500, D600, D610, D700, D750, D780, D800, D800E, D810, D850, D7000, D7100, D7200