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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 24 Apr 2011 (Sunday) 12:47
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Nikkor 28mm AI-S: My Review

 
cptrios
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Apr 24, 2011 12:47 |  #1

So, I've just realized that I now own three manual-focus lenses that happen to be among the most asked-about by dSLR owners looking for value outside of the AF world. Since there aren't any particularly comprehensive reviews for any of them, I thought I'd take a crack at a few myself. This will eventually (read: hopefully by tomorrow) include the Pentacon Pre-set 135mm f/2.8 "Bokeh Monster," the Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AI-S, and the Zeiss Contax Vario-Sonnar 35-70mm f/3.4. WARNING: these reviews are utterly unscientific and, most likely, quite terrible.

The Nikon Nikkor 28mm AI-S (F Mount)

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Introduction

This lens' popularity can be traced directly to Ken "This website helps me feed my family. Please ignore my $30,000 of Leica gear" Rockwell's dubbing it "Nikon's sharpest wide-angle lens." I bought it because one popped up on eBay at half the normal price (the focus ring is quite stiff from MFD to about 2 feet), and I wanted some high-quality primes to supplement my 24-105 in critical situations. So, is Big Kenny right? Is this lens sharp? Is it worth the money? Will Dick Tracy find the Pearl of Osiris before Flat Top gets to it? Read on to find out!

1. Operation and Handling

• The first thing you'll notice is its size. It's tiny. Combined with the 5d2 it makes a very handy super-light kit if you can't take any other lenses with you (always safer to bring a wide-angle in my book, particularly one sharp enough to allow massive cropping).

• Build quality is pretty good...just about average for MF lenses of the time.

• I can't speak too much to the focus ring, as mine is partially imperfect, but from my experience with AI-S lenses and the stretch of focus throw on mine that's in good shape, I'd say that it's decent. Not great, but better than most AF lenses, certainly.

• Its MFD is around 6 inches, which allows for some interesting macro possibilities (sorry for the cruddy pic):

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2. Color Rendition, Flare, Vignetting, etc

• Color rendition - Pretty solid. I'd say it's warmer than the average lens, but not particularly saturated.

• Flare - Average. I don't have a hood, but I've never had big flare problems.

• Vignetting - Noticeable wide open, less so at f/4, gone by f/8. Never even close to bad enough to defy correction.

• CA - Average. Purple fringing is pretty well controlled, and CA is there, but very easily fixable with Aperture/Lightroom.

3. Sharpness

Sharpness is nothing short of fantastic. Even wide open, it's super-sharp everywhere but the far corners. Corners shape up totally at f/8. I'd say center performance is best, by just a hair, at f/5.6, but overall performance is best at f/8. I've cropped a shot from my 5d2 with this lens down to 1/3 of its original size (roughly 70mm equivalent FL) and printed an absolutely perfect 8x10 from the result.

Corners, as you can see, are not great at f/2.8. They're fine stopped down though. It should be noted that I've seen at least one review online that seems to indicate that some copies of this lens perform much better in the corners than mine. Here you go (left to right 2.8, 5.6, 8, top row center crops, bottom row extreme bottom right corner crops):

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(Hey look! My framing isn't totally off!)

4. Bokeh

I know that most people see bokeh as the #1 priority in buying a wide angle lens, but I couldn't care less. I guess I'm strange.

That being said, the bokeh on this guy is surprisingly nice. The actual quality of it is pretty standard for a prime (though much better than, say, the Canon 35/2), but what I like about it in particular is that it's got a nice quick falloff that really lends some "pop" to photos at f/2.8 without going into that good old "let's blur our background to death to make up for the fact that this isn't an interesting picture" territory.

Here's a sample wide open:
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And one at f/8:
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5. Hipster Appeal
This section is for those of you who are on the verge of being kicked out of Williamsburg for using *gasp* a digital camera. It's common knowledge that if you must use a dSLR instead of a Holga or an old Kiev rangefinder, the only way to maintain your credibility is to mount a "vintage" lens on it. So, is this the one for you?

Pros:
• It looks old, and has one of those little metal thingies on the aperture ring, the purpose of which is unknown to me (feel free to enlighten me because I've seriously got no idea).
• It's got a little 52mm filter size, so any step-up ring you put on it will be inherently very wide, and make the lens look "interesting."
• Using a Nikon lens on a Canon body is totally nonconformist.

Cons:
• Doesn't look old enough
• Isn't chrome
• Made by a famous brand (and isn't from its rangefinder era)
• Not hugely dissimilar from several more modern Nikon lenses

Conclusion in next post...

Fuji X100 / Sony NEX-7 / Contax G 45mm f/2 / The ghosts of 3 Canon bodies past / A meagre amount of talent
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cptrios
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Apr 24, 2011 12:48 |  #2

Conclusion

Handling - 3.5/5 Shandlings. "Not too shabby"

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Color Rendition, etc. - 3.5/5 Oversaturated Peter Lik Heads. "Not too shabby"
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Sharpness - 4.5/5 Sharpes. "Excellent"
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Bokeh - 3.5/5 Gin & Tonics. "Not too shabby"
IMAGE: http://img814.imageshack.us/img814/428/bokehnikkor.jpg

Hipster Appeal - 2.5/5 Men's skinny jeans. "Arcade Fire now"
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Overall - Highly recommended for pretty much anyone who wants a wide-angle prime and doesn't need AF. If I were going hiking or walking around a city, only had room for one small lens, and expected to have more use for wide than tele, this is what I'd bring.

Fuji X100 / Sony NEX-7 / Contax G 45mm f/2 / The ghosts of 3 Canon bodies past / A meagre amount of talent
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bindabinjo
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Apr 24, 2011 16:39 |  #3

this lens is phenomenal. I just picked one up, and it's truly a blast to shoot with. imo, a bang-for-buck lens!


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bohdank
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Apr 24, 2011 19:36 |  #4

You mentioned bokeh on a wide angle lens. I have the 24L. Even if I shoot at f1.4 from around a foot away, there is little blur, hence, bokeh even at infinity is insignificant.

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cyberon
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Apr 24, 2011 20:19 |  #5

That metal thingy is for aperture adjustment for older style non AI Nikon body.


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stover98074
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Apr 24, 2011 21:04 |  #6

Very nice write up and illustrations.

I use older Nikkors (pre AI and AI) and a host of M42 lenses, even some Mamiya 645 lenses.

It has allowed me to have a whole range of professional primes (17mm to 300mm) on a very modest budget (well under $500 for about 10 lenses).

For those interested this is a article on EOS comparability with other lenses (lots of options).

http://www.bobatkins.c​om …faq/manual_focu​s_EOS.html (external link)

This is a nice reference for professional Nikkor lenses. My favorites are a Nikkor S 50 f2, Nikkor 105 2.5 and Nikkor 180 2.8.

http://www.naturfotogr​af.com/lens_surv.html (external link)


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cptrios
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Apr 25, 2011 02:50 |  #7

bohdank wrote in post #12285364 (external link)
You mentioned bokeh on a wide angle lens. I have the 24L. Even if I shoot at f1.4 from around a foot away, there is little blur, hence, bokeh even at infinity is insignificant.

QUOTED IMAGE

Totally. Looks like you took that with a cell phone. :lol:


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Virto
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Apr 25, 2011 11:57 |  #8

LOL

I love your rating system. Nice writeup. :)


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Apr 25, 2011 15:51 |  #9

Thanks for sharing.
Anybody knows how this lens compares with the C/Y Zeiss 28/2.8 ?


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cptrios
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Apr 25, 2011 17:46 |  #10

CheshireCat wrote in post #12290672 (external link)
Thanks for sharing.
Anybody knows how this lens compares with the C/Y Zeiss 28/2.8 ?

I'd wager the Zeiss is a bit better overall, but I find it hard to imagine center sharpness being significantly improved. Contrast is where I figure you'd notice a difference. Price too...the C/Y appears to run around 3x more expensive.

Here's a review:
http://slrlensreview.c​om …m-f28-cy-lens-review.html (external link)

Gotta love that site; they're one of the only places doing real reviews of older lenses.


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plasticmotif
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Apr 25, 2011 18:22 |  #11

the /2 versions are all pretty amazing too.

Also, slrgear and lenstip do great reviews....so does 16-9 and lloyd chambers.


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