Lens Reviews

Nikon Z Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Lens Review

Here’s my full video review of the the Nikon 28mm f/2.8 lens where I talk about using it with a Nikon Z5 camera at multiple conventions, events, and even nature photography. Overall, it’s a reasonable option if you are on a budget and want a larger aperture range plus internal focus compared to the kit lens.

Check out the Nikon NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 Lens through my affiliate links:

The 28mm on a Nikon Z5 camera body.

This lens is compact and has the build quality of their NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 kit lens so that means a plastic mount. Not ideal, but feels sufficient enough. Don’t expect weather resistance from this lens as there is no back gasket.

What the lens would look like in the two Z sensor formats.

Besides the convenient and compact size, I like that the lens is completely internal focus. Their more recent Z 26mm f/2.8 lens is higher price but smaller and extends its inner barrel when focusing. So now there’s a somewhat difficult decision for Nikon Z owners as to which best fits their needs. For me the more compact nature when not in use doesn’t add much benefit to justify the cost and louder focus motor of the 26mm.

Here are a few screencaps from the video when I compare the 28mm to the Z 24-50mm kit lens. The obvious benefit is a larger aperture range, but when using the same apertures my kit lens is generally better optically through the frame than this prime lens. A disappointing result, but the large maximum aperture makes for this in my case at least.

Comparing the 28mm to the kit lens around the same focal length. The 28mm holds up decently well at its largest maximum aperture, even compared to the kit lens at f/4.5, at least in the center of the frame.
Comparing the 28mm to the kit lens around the same focal length at the edge of the frame. The 28mm doesn’t do as well in regard to aberrations when using the same aperture.
Comparing the 28mm to the kit lens around the same focal length. The 28mm doesn’t do as well in the corners compared to the kit lens even at f/8. No, these tests were not refocused at the edge.

A somewhat disappointing result from an optical standpoint, at least when comparing the two lenses that I have. Of course things like sample variation could be a consideration that I don’t have any way of testing.

A close up look at the 28mm f/2.8’s aperture blades. Through the range the opening isn’t perfectly rounded.

I’ve used this lens for various types of photography, but I think my main use case will be at events like conventions. It’s a nice focal length for snapshots and brings along all of the benefits of a full-frame Nikon Z camera.

Taking cosplay photos at c2e2 with the 28mm and Z5.
Taking photos at a convention called Anime Magic.

Overall, I think the 28mm f/2.8 is a decent option if you want a larger aperture range at this focal length while not sacrificing portability… at a discounted price compared to larger aperture Z lenses like the f/1.8s series. I personally wish they had put more effort and quality optics into this lens instead of splitting the difference between it and the 26mm. When I think Z mount I don’t think about size being an extreme consideration. There’s only so much you can do with such a wide diameter mount. Features like fully internal focus and quiet autofocus motors are good. I didn’t touch on focus breathing here but I also see that as an important lens property. There is a test in the related video.

What one lens would I have liked to see instead of the 28mm and 26mm?

  • Better optics through the frame.
  • Keep the internal focus of the 28mm.
  • Faster maximum aperture than f/2.8 by even 1/3rd of a stop, but a better optical result at f/2.8 is fine too.
  • Metal mount with a weather gasket.

We can assume that would make it more expensive. The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8s Lens is $700 MSRP so there’s a big gap in price. Right now the 26mm fills the gap at $500 MSRP compared to the $300 for this lens.

Check out the Nikon NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 Lens through my affiliate links: