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Review by Markus Stamm, published June 2012
Nikon continues to expand its line of affordable consumer prime lenses with the Nikkor AF-S 28mm f/1.8 G. Unlike other recently announced f/1.8 prime lenses, namely the AF-S 50/1.8 G and AF-S 85/1.8 G, the new Nikkor is not an upgrade to a long available AF lens, but features specifications that so far did not exist in Nikon's lens portfolio. There were remotely similar lenses in the past, like the Ai-S 28/2 or the mighty AF-D 28/1.4, but the former was never available with an AF drive and the latter hardly qualifies as a consumer lens.
The Nikkor AF-S 28/1.8 features almost all the latest achievements in lens design, including of course a silent wave AF drive and Nano Crystal Coat, which help to reduce ghosting and flare in backlight conditions.
The Nikkor is an FX lens, however in this review we'll have a look at how the lens performs on our current DX test camera, the Nikon D7000. On DX its field of view is equivalent to a 42mm lens, so it leaves its original scope (wide angle) and behaves almost like a normal prime.
The build quality of the lens is very decent thanks to an outer barrel made out of high quality plastics. It's the same material used on most recently released consumer primes.
The rubberized focus ring is nicely damped and operates smoothly. Unfortunately the focus ring shows a behaviour which we have seen in other recent Nikon lenses, too: there's a little play, not in the focus ring itself, but the coupling with the actual focus unit. When changing the focus direction, it takes a few millimeters of movement until the focus unit actually follows the focus ring. This can be annoying when trying to nail focus for difficult subjects, for example in Live View.
Thanks to an IF (inner focus) design the length remains constant regardless of the focus setting and the front element does not rotate. Using a polarizer is therefore no problem.
Thanks to AF-S the lens is compatible with all current Nikon DSLRs, including the motor-free entry-level cameras. In addition, the Silent Wave ultrasonic drive allows for a near-silent autofocus and manual override at all times. The AF speed is ok, roughly on the same level as the AF-S 50/1.8.
The AF-S 28 is a G-type lens and thus does not offer an aperture ring.
|Equiv. focal length||42 mm (full format equivalent)|
|Equiv. aperture||f/2.7 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)|
|Optical construction||11 elements in 9 groups including 2 aspherical elements and Nano Crystal Coat|
|Number of aperture blades||7 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||0.25 m (max. magnification ratio 1:4.5)|
|Dimensions||73 x 80.5 mm|
|Filter size||67 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||Nikon HB-64, petal-shaped, bayonet mount (supplied)|
|Other features||Lens provides distance (D) information to the camera, Silent Wave AF motor|