With the launch of this lens Nikon completes the update of its AF-S full-frame (FX) line-up of relatively fast and reasonably affordable f/1.8G primes: 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm.
The lens finally fills an obvious gap left in 2006, when both the f/1.4D and f/2 AI-S versions of this wide angle were discontinued.
With the proliferation of DX at the time, this made perfect sense, because this focal length (42 mm equivalent) is all but superfluos on APS-C crop-cameras; 35mm (52.5mm equivalent) is a far more obvious choice for a standard lens.
However, with the rise of FX this f/1.8 incarnation comes at long last, first of all because 28mm is the “de facto” standard wide angle for 135 format and, second, because the currently available f/2.8 versions (AI-S and AF-D) simply don’t cut it: both optically and in lower light situations.
It is fair to expect the new f/1.8 to render far better IQ while it is also one and a third stops faster.
The lens features a 7-bladed diaphragm (just like the AI-S f/2) and 11 optical elements in 9 groups including 2 aspherical elements to better combat chromatic aberrations; one more than the old – and exceptionally good – f/1.4D (discontinued).
The lens counts with nano-crystal coating, manual focus/auto focus button with manual override, internal (back) focusing (IF) and a silent wave motor (SWM) for fast and quiet operation.
The latter also means that the front end of the lens does not extend or rotate, allowing for the use of orientation critical filters, such as polarizers and grads.
Unlike the old f/1.4 and f/2 however, the lens does not include CRC (Close Range Correction).
Still, if it is anywhere close to the optical quality of my AI 28mm f/2 – and provided you own a full-frame camera – the AF-S 28mm f/1.8G is likely to be worth its U$ 700 asking price, even if this makes it by far the priciest of the standard f/1.8 Nikkor primes.
For reference: at the time of writing the 50mm f/1.8G goes for U$ 220 and the 85mm f/1.8G for U$ 500.
In line with the recent updates of the Nikkor standard prime line-up, I would not be surprised to see a come-back of the 28 f/1.4 as well, although for at least twice (if not thrice) the price of its f/1.8 sibling.
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