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Review by Markus Stamm, published May 2012
For more than a decade the Nikon AF-D 28mm f/1.4 was the only ultra-fast wide-angle in Nikon's lens portfolio. Announced in 1993, the lens stayed in production for roughly 12 years, but the production volume remained rather low. According to Roland Vink's excellent Nikon lens pages just above 7000 units were produced, a number which was surpassed by both the AF-S 24/1.4 and AF-S 35/1.4 lenses in less than 2 years of production time.
One reason for this was most likely the quite high price of the lens. The box of our review unit still carried its original price tag of 4999 DM (ancient German currency), which equivalents to roughly 2500 EUR (not taking inflation into account).
Being a rather rare and to many unaffordable lens, its value even increased after it was discontinued. With no replacement in sight for quite a while, used units in good or excellent condition sold for prices up to or even beyond 3000 USD/EUR. However, after the announcement of modern successors the used prices have come down to a more reasonable level.
In this review we'll have a look at how the lens performs on our current FX test camera, the Nikon D3x.
The lens was targeted at professional users and consequently the build quality is superb. Most outer parts are made of metal and carry the crinkle finish typical for professional grade Nikkor lenses at that time. The focus ring operates very smoothly and slightly damped. The length of the lens remains constant regardless of the focus setting and the front element does not rotate thanks to an IF (internal focusing) design.
The lens has no dedicated AF motor and relies on a slotted drive screw operated by the camera (which means it doesn't provide autofocus functionality on today's entry-level DX DSLRs which don't feature this screw drive anymore). As a result AF operation will generate a moderate degree of noise. Due to the moderate weight of the optical system the AF speed is quite fast.
The HK-7 lens hood was not included and sold separately. Today it's probably even harder to find than the lens itself.
|Optical construction||11 elements in 8 groups including 1 aspherical element|
|Number of aperture blades||9|
|min. focus distance||0.35 m (max. magnification ratio 1:8.3)|
|Dimensions||75 x 78 mm|
|Filter size||72 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||Nikon HK-7, barrel-shaped (optional), snap-on type with screw fix|
|Other features||Lens provides distance (D) information to the camera|