Nikon PreAI 28 f3.5 Performance

Suddenly this morning a glaring omission occurred to me. As I continuously blather about my new love of the 28mm field of view all of you have no idea what I’m seeing in terms of performance when it comes to that free old 28mm Non-AI lens. I’ve mentioned a few characteristics here and there but not much else. I forget that I shoot a ton of stuff that never sees the light of day for varied reasons including my laziness. A ton of what I shoot falls into personal long-term project work that’s just not ready — not coherent — still exploritory. A bunch of other stuff I don’t bother to push out there unless it happens to cross my mind for whatever I randomly discuss here, and an extremely large portion of it is for a few clients that are either private by nature or I choose not to prmote services in general to a wide audience.

Allow me to rectify that situation and provide a level-set for my on-going exploration of various varieties of the aforementioned 28mm gaggle of glass I’ve acquired. For your viewing pleasure (or lack thereof) I present you with some random crap lately that happens to be littering my portable harddrive. Of course they are all 100% crops from my Nikon Df.

The specific shooting conditions are typical for me:

  • handheld
  • relatively high-ish ISO (I think they are all 800 or 1600)
  • lowish shutter speed 1/125s
  • moving subjects to one degree or another

As usual, you are looking at a browser resized image on the page here. For all the pixels 1:1 open in a new window or download.

I’ve mentioned that this particular lens is absolutely superlative in the central region. Aboslutely on par with the best of the best. I’ve also mentioned it’s terrible in the corners/edges wide open. It is but that’s on a scale of absolutes. All of these happen to be shot at f/5.6 (I think) which is about a stop down from it’s slow f/3.5 maximum aperture and a stop above where I consider this lens optimal.

All of the images above are 100% crops near the top horizontal edge of the frame but not completely into the corner of the frame. More around the 2/3rd’s mark. In other words I was shooting landscape horizontal images with her face/head near the top of the frame and a bit off center.

The above image as well as the rest are vertically oriented with the crop coming from near the top of the frame. Typically much worse than the center or top of the horizontal edge. Closer to the edge of the image circle.

Some are closer to the corner than others. None are jammed completely up into the absolute corners.

I’ve included one where there’s something in the background so you can see just how close I shoot and how much depth of field there is not when shooting a 28mm at f/5.6 at my typical distances.

Okay, enough’s enough. I’m sick of cropping stuff. Here’s the take away from my perspective. The number of things that are influencing ultimate resolution hand held at 1/125 second with a subject that’s not flat and not motionless are far bigger factors than how good or bad a lens is in the corners or how flat it’s focus field is. I delare my meager free simple small light Nikkor Pre-AI 28 f/3.5 good enough. As a note the AI 28mm f/2.8 looks almost identical to the 3.5, costs about the same (often less than $50) on eBay and is actually better than this. It’s a completely different lens that either this one or the AIS version I just acquired. If I were on a tight budget, liked manual focus lenses, and could live with performance that’s better than demonstrated here that’s probably what I might buy.

Next up is probably a few thoughts on why auto focus is not always the bee’s knee’s even when you have a subject with some degree of movement as above.

Have a great weekend.

RB

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