Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 Lens Review | Small, lightweight, affordable
By Steve Vansak
The full frame compatible Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE Lens is one of the most affordable, small and lightweight autofocus lenses for Nikon Z mount available.
While 28mm is a desired focal length for street photographers, it can be used in many different genres.
Attach it to a Nikon Z fc camera for instance (or any of Nikon’s APS-C bodies such as the Nikon Z 50 or Nikon Z 30), and you now have a 42mm equivalent focal length which is also great for street photography as well as environmental portraits.
Photographers with full-frame cameras, such as the Nikon Z 6II may want to lessen the bulk of their set-up and use this lens for travel or landscape photography as well.
Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE Review Specs
- Small and lightweight.
- Smooth manual focusing ring.
- Beautiful aesthetics.
- Good image quality.
- Distortion and vignetting is minimal.
- Plastic build, including mount.
- Not weather sealed.
- No lens hood included.
- Focal Length – 28mm (Equivalent Focal Length on 35mm bodies: 42mm)
- Maximum Aperture – f/2.8 / Minimum Aperture f/16
- Lens Format Coverage – Full-Frame
- Minimum Focus Distance – 7.6″ / 19.2 cm
- Maximum Magnification – 0.2x
- Optical Design – 9 Elements in 8 Groups
- Diaphragm Blades – 7, Rounded
- Focus Type – Autofocus
- Image Stabilization – No
- Filter Size – 52 mm (Front)
- Dimensions (ø x L) – 2.8 x 1.7″ / 71.5 x 43 mm
- Weight – 5.6 oz / 160 g
Build & Ergonomics
The Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE Lens is affectionately known among Nikon Z camera owners as a muffin lens.
This wide-angle prime lens (shown here in its special edition SE version with silver ring (also available in a modern look for less money) is a full frame lens but really hits its stride on Nikon DX cameras.
The plastic lens mount may be a turn-off for some, but this is why this lens is so small and lightweight. So much so that there is no need for image stabilization within this lens.
The Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 is just fun to use, whether mounted on my full-frame camera or my Nikon Z fc.
There are no electronic control ring or lens function buttons like on the S line of Nikon Nikkor Z lenses, but this simplicity is part of the charm.
I’m not a street photographer by any means, but I do know that quick autofocus is at times needed.
Of all of the Z-mount Nikon lenses that I own, this one may be the slowest, but it is still a fast-focusing lens.
Manual focus is very smooth and focus peaking on mirrorless cameras makes this style easier than ever.
At f/2.8 light gathering, it’s not a fast prime compared to Nikon’s f/1.8 or f/1.2 lines, but it is respectable for low-light photography.
The out-of-focus areas from this lens are pleasing although you do need to be close to the minimum focusing distance for maximum bokeh.
It’s a wide-angle lens, so this is not its main strength anyway.
I find the sharpness to be excellent and the in-camera correction negates the minimal distortion that exists on this new lens.
I did not see any chromatic aberration from images from my full frame bodies like the Nikon Z9 nor the crop sensor Nikon Z fc.
Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE Lens Sample Images
Here are some sample images taken with the Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE Lens, using a Nikon Z fc and Nikon Z 9.
The only direct alternative for the Z lens mount in this focal length would be the Nikon 28mm f/1.4 E lens for f mount.
While that lens is outstanding and perfect for full-frame cameras and professional use, it will be substantially more in cost and weight and have to be mounted with the Nikon FTZ II Mount Adapter.
The Nikkor Z 26mm f/2.8 lens is a pancake lens for Z mount with a somewhat wider focal length.
A few third-party wide-angle lenses with autofocus such as the Viltrox Mirrorless Z 23mm f/1.4 are available if you need a faster aperture.
Value for Money
At around $300, I consider the Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE lens an excellent value.
If the retro-looking silver lens ring is not your vibe, you can save approximately $30 by opting for the non-special edition version of this lens.
The Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 lens is the exact same lens in a more modern design.
The lens is an even better bargain when purchased as the kit lens along with the Nikon Z fc camera.
Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE Lens Review | Conclusion
I think the Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE Lens is a great lens for my casual photography and I will be keeping it around for that reason.
I have found that I really enjoy the 42mm field of view that this lens provides on a crop sensor camera.
If I feel like I want to lighten the load of my full-frame camera body set-up, this lens is there for me. I also love the retro look of this special edition version.
It’s a refreshingly fun way to lighten up your Nikon Z mirrorless camera, especially if you’re accustomed to shooting with something like the Nikon Z 70-200mm like I am!
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