NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) Review

NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) Review

When the Nikon Z FC was born, it needed a lens that matched its style and size. It was the NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE), a compact prime with retro design elements that turns into the equivalent of a 42mm lens on a DX camera.

The NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) is full-frame, although it was released alongside the DX model. Therefore, in my review test, you will find frames from both the “cropped” Nikon Z FC and the full-frame Nikon Z 6.

Design Features

NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) is made as compact and simple as possible. Mainly plastic is used in the decoration, and the bayonet is also made of it. This technical solution provided the lens with a weight of 160 grams. It is easy to carry at 43mm thin, 71.5mm in diameter and fits into almost any bag.

NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) Design
NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) Design

Having realized the compactness of the design, the developers did not forget about dust and moisture protection. That’s here too.

The characteristic corrugation of the focusing ring, a decorative metal rim, and even original fonts refer to the nineteenth generation of Nikon lenses. The control rings have been faithfully recreated from original designs and have textures reminiscent of legendary Nikon DSLRs.

Retro motifs in the finish help the lens blend in with the Nikon Z FC, but it doesn’t look foreign on other modern cameras.

NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) with Camera
NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) with Camera

The NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) does not have an autofocus switch. That probably fell victim to miniaturization. The autofocus itself is high-speed and silent. Internal focusing, that is, external structural elements, do not move during focusing.

The manual focus ring has a non-linear stroke, allowing you to aim with maximum precision. However, the nonlinearity is not so pronounced, so manual focusing in the video can also be comfortable to work with.

The optical design uses nine elements combined into eight groups. Two lenses are aspherical. Let’s see how this affects the nature of the picture? The diaphragm is seven-lobed with a round hole. The minimum focusing distance is 19 cm from the matrix plane, and the shooting scale is 0.2x.

The Lens At Work. Crop and Full-Frame

The NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) is a secret lens. The fact is that 28 and 42 mm are very different focal lengths. The first is more of a landscape. When set to full-frame, the lens becomes a classic travel fixture for general shots.

And the equivalent of 42 mm is about accents in the frame, about highlighting the main object. On the crop, it will behave exactly like this, possessing outstanding versatility and providing the familiar transfer of perspective to the eye.

Image Taken with NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE). Source: Nikon
Image Taken with NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE). Source: Nikon

With a relatively large depth of field, the NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) can effectively blur the background only at close shooting distances. It applies to both the crop and the full-frame.

Close-ups with bokeh are within his power, but the main subject should be literally at arm’s length from you. From a meter and a half distance, only a slight separation of the object from the background is obtained. But there are also pluses: the main subject almost always enters the depth of field, and you don’t have to think about choosing aperture.

Image Taken with NIKKOR Z 28mm f2.8 (SE). Source Nikon
Image Taken with NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE). Source: Nikon

The quality of the bokeh itself does not raise any questions: the blur is soft and pleasant to the eye. Even two aspherical elements in the design do not spoil it, although they are often the reason for the dirty pattern.

Backlit Shooting and Glare Protection

The NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) only looks like a lens from the past. The optical design is modern, as is the anti-reflection coating. The lens is not afraid of the bright backlight.

Even when shooting in almost complete darkness, bright light sources do not provoke artifacts. The contrast is high, and there is no glare.

Image Taken with NIKKOR Z 28mm f2.8 (SE). Source Nikon
Image Taken with NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE). Source: Nikon

Nikon was probably so confident in the glare protection of this model that they did not even provide a hood mount for it.

Chromatic Aberration

This kind of distortion is often found in wide-angle lenses. But the NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) is practically rid of it. You, most likely, will not find annoying purple and green stripes along the border of contrasting objects in your photographs.

Image Taken with NIKKOR Z 28mm f2.8 (SE). Source Nikon
Image Taken with NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE). Source: Nikon

They can appear at high magnification only on the most provocative subjects, for example, when the sun breaks through the thin branches of trees.

Chromatic aberrations do not appear in “normal” frames with medium or even high contrast.

Geometric Distortion

Modern cameras can confidently cope with geometric distortions inherent in almost all lenses. The NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) is no exception. If you open RAW files, for example, in Adobe Camera RAW, then you will not encounter distortions: they have already been corrected by the built-in profile. The same goes for JPEG.

But in fact, there are distortions. They can be seen, for example, in RAW converters that do not support built-in profiles. The lens has a noticeable barrel distortion, which can be programmed to produce some corner clipping. For most scenes, this will not play a prominent role because you already see the corrected image at the time of frame construction. Nevertheless, I demonstrate this feature of the lens to my readers.

Vignetting

The darkening of the corners of the frame is visible at an open aperture if you shoot with a full-frame camera. For some subjects, it can be used as an artistic technique. But if the perfect technical quality is essential to you, then already at f/4, vignetting is very much reduced, and at f/5.6, it completely disappears.

Sharpness

When used wide open with a full-frame camera, the NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) delivers excellent sharpness in the center and moderate sharpness at the edge of the frame. Some softness of the picture is noticeable only in the very corners.

If you shoot with a DX camera, you can completely forget about soft corners at an open aperture. After all, they literally will remain behind the scenes.

Conclusions

The little NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) has a lot of creativity underneath its modest retro look. The lens can work both on crop cameras and full-frame cameras, showing its character in different ways. The first case is the universal equivalent of 42 mm, a lens for all scenes with natural reproduction of perspective. In the second – a lightweight and compact travel fix for landscape photography and general shots, a classic wide-angle.

The lens has an outstanding balance of weight, size, and technical image quality. The photographer can expect high sharpness from open apertures, confident backlighting, and very low chromatic aberration.

From the formal drawbacks, I noticed the barrel distortion inherent in the NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE), which is forcibly corrected even in RAW. Hence, the photographer is unlikely to encounter it. And of the minor inconveniences, attention is drawn to the absence of an autofocus switch on the body and a plastic mount.

Pros of NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE):

  • Compactness and lightweight;
  • High sharpness from an open aperture even on a full-frame;
  • Confident glare protection;
  • The shallow level of chromatic aberration;
  • Soft blur;
  • Silent internal autofocus;
  • Unique retro design;
  • Dust and moisture protection.

Cons:

  • In third-party RAW converters without lens profile support, barrel distortion will be noticeable;
  • No autofocus switch on the body;
  • Plastic bayonet.

Where to Buy?

You can buy it on Amazon – Here is the product link.

NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) Review
NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) Review

NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) Rating

NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) Review
NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) Review
  • Editorial Rating – 8.3
  • Possibilities – 8
  • Convenience – 8
  • Justification of the Price – 9

NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE)

NIKKOR Z 28mm F/2.8 (SE) Review: When the Nikon Z FC was born, it needed a lens that matched its style and size. It was the NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE), a compact prime with retro design elements that turns into the equivalent of a 42mm lens on a DX camera.

Product SKU: NKZ2828

Product Brand: Nikon

Product Currency: USD

Product Price: 299

Price Valid Until: 2023-10-26

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:
8.3