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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 CX test camera, the Nikon V1 with the FT-1 adapter that allows to mount Nikon F-mount lenses. Due to the very small sensor of the Nikon 1 cameras, the lens completely changes its native wide-angle scope and behaves like a moderate tele lens on the V1 instead.
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 F-mount 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 DSLR 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 magnified 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 the FT-1 adapter and features AF functionality on the Nikon 1 cameras (limited to the center AF field, though, but that's a limitation of the adapter and/or camera, not the lens). 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.
|Equiv. focal length||76 mm (full format equivalent)|
|Equiv. max. f-stops||f/4.9 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field - not speed)|
|Optical construction||11 elements in 9 groups including 2 aspherical elements and Nano Crystal Coat|
|Number of aperture blades||7 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||0.25m (max. magnification ratio 1:4.5)|
|Filter size||67mm (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|