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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED Review

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Introduction

Announced in May 2017, the AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED is Nikon’s latest FX full-frame wide-angle lens to offer a fast maximum aperture of f/1.4, slotting in between the existing 24mm and 35mm f/1.4 lenses. The AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens features a Nano Crystal coating to reduce reflections, a nine-bladed blade rounded diaphragm, dust- and drip-resistant build quality and a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for quiet focusing. Boasting 14 elements in 11 groups with three aspherical elements that virtually eliminate coma, aberration and distortion and two ED glass elements that minimize chromatic aberration, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED ED is available for £2,079.99 / €2,479.00 / $1,999.95 in the UK / Europe / USA.

Ease of Use

For such a short prime, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED is a rather big and heavy lens, weighing in at 645g and measuring 10cm in length. While you can use it on a DX body for a 42mm equivalent angle of view, it won’t balance very well – as demonstrated by the images below, it can even make the professional-grade, full-frame D750 feel rather front heavy.

As you would expect from a lens that costs this much, build quality is very good. The lens feels solid in your hand, even if the outer barrel and the filter thread appear to be plastic. The focusing ring is just as wide as it needs to be, and has a ridged, rubberised grip band. As this is a G series lens, it has no aperture ring – no big deal unless you wanted to use it on a very old film body.

The lens features a distance scale complete with a DOF scale, although the latter is of limited use, having markings for f/11 and f/16 only.

Since the AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED does not have Vibration Reduction, the only control on the lens barrel is a focus mode switch with the usual M/A and M settings.

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED is sealed against dust and moisture, so it’s a great companion for similarly sealed bodies even when they are used in dusty locales or less-than-ideal weather conditions.

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens ships with the dedicated HB-83 hood and a soft drawstring pouch.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens mounted on a Nikon D750

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens mounted on a Nikon D750

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens mounted on a Nikon D750

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens alongside a Nikon D750

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED Side of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED Side of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED Front of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED Rear of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED Side of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED Side of the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens in-hand

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

Auto-focus

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED features a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) that allows near-silent auto-focusing on all Nikon DSLRs. Importantly, this solution allows instant manual override even when the focus mode switch is in the M/A position. Focusing is fully internal, meaning the length of the lens always remains constant.

In use, we found the focusing to be indeed very quiet, and pretty fast – but definitely not instantaneous – with the lens mounted on a Nikon D750 body.

Focal Range

The 28mm focal length gives an angle of view of 75 degrees on a 35mm full frame sensor.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are impressively well controlled with this lens – the examples below show the worst-case scenario.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED

Light Fall-off

With the lens wide open, you can see some very noticeable light fall-off in the corners. Stopping down helps, although to completely get rid of this phenomenon, you will need to use an f-stop of f/5.6 or smaller.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED

Macro

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED is not a macro lens. The close-focus point is at 28cm from the film/sensor plane, and Nikon quotes a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.17x for the lens. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED Close-up performance

Bokeh

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. One of the reason to buy a fast lens is to be able to isolate the subject from the background, which is normally very hard to do with a wide-angle lens. Nikon was apparently very much aware of this requirement, as they employed an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades for a pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus highlights. Based on what we have seen, we can say that they largely succeeded. Below you’ll find some examples, but you are also encouraged to check out our sample images.

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

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