Nikon Z 28mm F2.8 Review
The Nikon Z 28mm F2.8 is a wide-angle prime lens for Nikon FX full-frame sensor mirrorless cameras with a fast maximum aperture of f/2.8.
It's also a wide normal-length prime lens when used on Nikon DX APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras, where it provides a 42mm equivalent focal length.
The 28mm F2.8 for Nikon was first announced in November 2021 and went on sale in December 2021. This lens is made in Thailand.
The Nikon Z 28mm F2.8 is identical to the Nikon Z 28mm F2.8 SE lens that we reviewed in 2021 - the only difference between them is purely cosmetic, with the non-SE version featuring a modern black finish rather than the more classic look and feel of the Special Edition lens, which resembles AI Nikkor lenses from the era of SLR film photography.
It features 9 elements in 8 groups, including two aspherical elements to help limit spherical aberrations and distortion, while the Super Integrated Coating suppresses flare and ghosting.
The Nikkor Z 28mm boasts a dust- and splash-proof structure and has a minimum focusing distance of 19cm / 0.63 ft with a maximum magnification of 0.2x.
It has a rounded 7-blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to out-of-focus areas of the image and an internal focusing mechanism which means the lens barrel doesn't move.
This lens uses two stepping motors for fast, quiet and precise auto-focusing and full-time manual focus override is also possible.
The Nikon Z 28mm F2.8 lens is available now priced at £259 / $299 in the UK and USA, respectively.
Ease of Use
Weighing in at 155g / 5.7 oz 160g / 5.46 oz, the plastic bodied Nikon Z 28mm F2.8 is very light for a full-frame lens. In fact, it's the lightest Nikkor Z prime lens released to date, beating its Special Edition sibling by 5g / 0.18 oz.
It measures 70mm x 43 mm / 2.8 in. x 1.7 in., making it the smallest lens currently available for Nikon's Z-series mirrorless cameras.
Its overall size and weight make it feel more than a little incongruous when mounted on a large camera like the FX-format Nikon Z9 that we tested it with, as shown in the product photos - it would be much more at home on a smaller camera like the Z5.
Build quality is fine, exceeding what you might expect from such an affordable prime lens, although the all-plastic construction may prove less durable in the long-term.
Th Special Edition (SE) version of this lens has a classic look and feel designed to match the Nikon Z fc camera, from the knurled texture of the control ring and even down to the matching fonts used for the lens name.
By contrast, the "normal" Z 28mm F2.8 lens that we're reviewing today has Nikon's standard modern black finish that is a much better cosmetic match for all the other Z series camera bodies.
It incorporates a plastic mount, rather than metal, and a plastic lens barrel with just a single control, the generously sized focusing ring.
If you’re somebody who rarely uses manual focusing, then you can assign the focusing ring to control a different function, such as aperture, ISO speed or exposure compensation. This is something you can set via the camera’s main menu and can be quite handy in certain circumstances.
Somewhat surprisingly given the modest asking price, this lens boasts a dust- and moisture-sealed design to support shooting in more inclement conditions.
The Nikon Z 28mm F2.8 lens accepts 52mm filters via plastic threads on the front of the lens.
The lens doesn't feature built-in optical image stabilisation, relying instead on the camera body's stabilisation system.
The Nikon Z 28mm F2.8 lens has a wide, ridged motor-assisted focus ring that is quite nicely damped. Manual focusing is possible by selecting it on the camera body or full-time manual focus override is also possible when in AF mode.
As the the focus ring is not mechanically coupled, there are no hard stops at either end of the range, making it a little more difficult to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 52mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.
The Nikon Z 28mm F2.8 lens utilises two stepping AF motors that produce almost silent, smooth and snappy auto-focusing, making it well-suited to shooting both stills and video, with the overall lens length remaining constant during focusing.
When it comes to auto-focusing, it proved to be a very quick performer on the Nikon Z9 camera that we tested it with. We didn't experience very much"hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time.
This lens only ships with front and rear lens caps - there is no lens hood or any kind of case included in the box.
The 28mm focal length provides an angle of view of 75° on a FX-format 35mm full-frame camera and 53° on an DX-format APS-C camera, which is equivalent to a 42mm focal length.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as blue or purple fringes along contrasty edges, were not really apparent in our test shots, only appearing in very high contrast areas.
With the Nikon Z 28mm F2.8 lens set to its maximum aperture of f/2.8, there is obvious light fall-off in the corners, requiring you to stop down by at least 3 f-stops to completely prevent it.
Commendably there's hardly any barrel distortion evident in either the JPEG or RAW files.
Sunstars and Flare
The Nikon Z 28mm F2.8 doesn't produce very nice sunstars even when stopped-down to f/16, as shown below, and it is a little prone to flare too when shooting directly into the sun.
The Nikon Z 28mm F2.8 is not a macro lens, offering a close minimum focusing distance of 0.19m / 0.63ft and a maximum magnification of 0.2x. The following examples demonstrate how close you can get to your subject.
Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc.
In the Z 28mm F2.8 lens, Nikon have employed an iris diaphragm with 7 rounded blades, which has resulted in quite appealing bokeh for what is after all a moderately wide-angle lens.
We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several examples below for your perusal, all shot wide-open at f/2.8.
In order to show you how sharp the Nikon Z 28mm F2.8 lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.