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I'm a newcomer to Nikon, but not new to manual focus lenses. On Contax and NEX and Ricoh GXR I've been using a variety of lenses but to date have had very little experience with Nikon optics so I've got something of a learning curve to go through and some fun no doubt. I'm reading through this very long (congrats!) thread with great interest.
On full frame film rangefinder cameras I shoot 25mm, 35mm (mostly), and a fast 50/1.5 and 75/2.5 for portraits. On crop cameras I've been shooting 25mm(mostly - 35mm equivalent) and 50/1.5 (75mm equivalent) but have also...Show more →
Mike, I was speaking to the 35mm in my prior posting, to answer the last question in your list, let's talk now to the 24 and 28mm by quoting respected reviewers whose statements match my experience:
The SUBJECTIVE lens evaluation numbers are:
0 -- unable to form an image
1 -- very poor image quality, a "pop bottle bottom"
2 -- low image quality, possibly usable for snapshots
3 -- fair image quality, perhaps good at one or two stops
4 -- good to excellent image quality at most normally used stops,
a professional-level lens, but with some limitations (this level,
with many fractional gradations, includes most Nikkors)
5 -- excellent image quality at all stops, with only minor limitations
6 -- near perfect lens with hard to detect shortcomings
7 -- absolutely perfect lens in every respect
24mm f2.8 AI 4.2-4.7 (many samples) needs shade, some samples are not quite as crisp at the edges and corners near infinity focus as the slightly wider 20mm f2.8, but the best samples are excellent by f5.6; >>>>>AF optics are the same<<<<<<
28mm f2.8 AIS 4.8 (4 samples) good wide open short of far corners, excellent sharpness at most stops
1= Poor, use as a paperweight unless you have perverse photographic interests to pursue.
2= Mediocre quality, but useful if there isn't an alternate lens around. Get something better.
3= Good, but not overwhelming quality. Will do for non-exacting or amateur use.
4= Very good, quality results can be expected. Such lenses can safely be applied to professional photography.
5= Excellent. Use such lenses as often as possible and let other people wonder about the quality you can achieve with them.
24 mm f/2.8 Nikkor [non-AI, AI,AIS ] 4-4.5 (F2, F4, F5)
4(-) (D2X, D200)
4.5 (FX: D3, D3X)
IR 3-4 (D70, D200 modified)
Nikon released its major achievement, CRC (Close Range Correction) with this lens in 1968 and it got a well-deserved popularity in the years afterwards. There have been a number of versions of this 24 mm lens, the first without multi-coating and f/16 as minimum aperture, the next multi-coated but still f/16, and the later versions (AI, AIS) going to f/22. Nikon has made several changes to the optical formula during the long life-span of this lens, which still is on Nikon's price list. Earlier versions flared less easily, but could produce quite visible ghosting when employed under strongly backlit situations. Newer versions flare more easily, but the resistance to ghosting has improved provided the lens is well stopped down. It gives very sharp images corner-to-corner even at the near limit thanks to CRC, but beware of field curvature if you are shooting perfectly flat subjects at close range. Some light fall-off towards the corners is evident at f/2.8 and gone by f/4-f/5.6. Set the lens to f/5.6-f/11 to get the best picture quality, but do not stop down to f/22 unless absolutely necessary. It provides excellent results when an ultra-thin K1 ring is added, and gives good results with a 4T close-up lens if some corner softness is accepted. The 24/2.8 MF Nikkor is a classic lens in the Nikon line and one that remains a dependable workhorse to this day.
However, on a D2X or D200 and depending on subject, the CA can be quite troublesome and it surely detracts from the overall sharpness of the 24 lens. So I was quite surprised to observe the excellent image quality my 24/2.8 delivered on the FX models, in particular on the D3X.
IR performance: A central hot-spot is commonly seen when the lens is used for IR. NOT recommended for IR unless you use it fairly wide open. Some cameras interact better with this lens, so for example, on my modified D200, hot spots are more rarely a nuisance.
28 mm f/2.8 Nikkor (0.2 m Close-Focus)[AIS]
5 (near: F4)
3.5 (distant: F4)
5 (near: D2X)
5 (FX: D3, near)
IR: 2-3 (DX: D70, D200 modified)
Nikon designed this lens to yield sharp images even used for close-up photography. This was achieved thanks to its advanced 8-element design and a CRC feature acting on the front elements as with the 28/2 Nikkor. Images taken up close really are extremely sharp in the middle part of the picture and sharpness extends quite gracefully into the corners. Optimum near-focus sharpness is obtained at f/5.6 and f/8. For distant scenes, however, corner sharpness isn't that remarkable and ghosting under adverse conditions can be troublesome. There is some corner colour fringing present, too.
The close-focusing 28 copes very well with D2X, and for near subjects, you are assured of high quality images with virtually no CA issues (not yet tested for distant subjects with this camera).
The 28/2.8 behaved very well on the D3, and the vignetting into the corners is hardly an issue with this lens. It was virtually devoid of CA, too.
IR performance: A strong tendency to producing an ugly hot spot makes it a poor candidate for IR work. I've seen this issue with several camera models.
Some other links to check
This is Nikon's sharpest manual-focus wide angle lens.
Nikon let their designers go wild on this one. Instead of a simple 5 element design that every other 28mm f/2.8 lens uses, including the original AF version, this lens has EIGHT elements in EIGHT groups. This allows it a level of correction seen in no other Nikon wide angle.
No other Nikon 28mm lens performs this well: the 28mm f/1.4D AF has some barrel distortion and really is optimized for night photography, and every other 28mm lens just isn't designed as thoroughly.
This AI-s lens (1981-present) is completely different from the older AI lens. Nikon made a big upgrade to the optics when they upgraded it to AI-s, and they really pulled out all the stops.
Not only does this Nikkor uses 8 elements, it also uses floating elements to optimize its performance as it is focused at every distance.
This is also Nikon's closest-focusing lens, with a close-focus distance of 7 inches (0.6 ft), or 20 cm.
There is no sharper manual-focus wide angle lens made by Nikon, and it is the only Nikon wide angle, along with the 15mm f/3.5, that is completely free from barrel distortion at ordinary distances.
Optically this is an almost perfect lens, and one of the most perfect lenses you can get to fit a Nikon camera.
(Rafael's comment: my NC and ais samples of 28mm 2.0 are better at the center fully open, worse at the corners, and better overall from 4.0 up, than my 28mm 2.8 ais. It is a small difference on the D800)
Edited on Dec 29, 2012 at 04:47 PM · View previous versions