Data Sheet: Nikkor Ai-s 28 mm f/2.8

Pekka Buttler, 08/2022

Specifications

The table below summarizes the lens’ key specifications:

Brand:Nikon (Nikkor)Lens name28 mm 1:2.8
Focal length(s)128 mmAngle-of-view274°
Maximum Aperturef/2.8In Production1981–202
Lens mountNikon FSubfamily (if applicable)Ai-s
Length344,7 mmDiameter463,5 mm
Filter ring diameter52 mmWeight258
Lens element count8Lens group count8
Aperture blades (S/R/C)57 SFocus throw170 °
Minimum focusing distance20 cmsMaximum magnification1:3,9
Has manual aperture ringYESHas Manual focus ringYES

Further notes:
• 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 (data sheet here).
• 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.

History (when relevant)

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), then re-introduced in 1977 as an Ai lens (with only minor optical changes). This, the Ai-s version was introduced in 1981 and remained in production until 2020.

Adapting

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.

Footnotes

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