Resolution Tests

Quick Nikon 28mm f/1.8 Imatest Report

Published May 24, 2012

We had 4 copies of the new Nikon 28mm f/1.8 G AF-S (available to rent today) arrive today and I managed to snag a Nikon D800 just long enough to run Imatest numbers on the 4 copies of the lens. Most impressive!!!

As always, the Don’t Lose Perspective disclaimer applies: this is simply MTF50 numbers for the lens at middle distance. Performance could be different at infinity or very close up. It’s not a lens review, so I don’t comment about how the lens handles, what the images look like, how the bokeh is, does the AF work well, etc. etc. I will comment the lens does have a bit of barrel distortion (1.5%) but several recent Nikon wide angles have allowed a bit of distortion as a trade-off to maintain sharpness.

From a resolution standpoint, the 28mm is good wide open, exceptionally good at f/2.8, and by f/4 is seriously kicking the butt of lenses that cost a whole lot more. The numbers below are averages of the 4 copies tested. I’ll note the variance between copies was very small: it’s a small sample size with just 4 but that’s a good sign. If you want to compare the resolution to others on the D800, I’ve added the 28mm to our D800 lens suggestion database.

f/1.8 725 635
f/2.8 980 850
f/4 1170 1000
f/5.6 1130 985

Author: Roger Cicala

I’m Roger and I am the founder of Hailed as one of the optic nerds here, I enjoy shooting collimated light through 30X microscope objectives in my spare time. When I do take real pictures I like using something different: a Medium format, or Pentax K1, or a Sony RX1R.

Posted in Resolution Tests
  • steven palmer

    “but the point of an ƒ/1.8 prime lens is…..ƒ/1.8. Wide-open, this one isn’t all that”

    That’s not the only reason for choosing a prime lens. I prefer to use prime lenses because of the size of the lens compared to a larger zoom, because I like the size/weight of a prime on my camera body compared to a larger zoom and because I have the option of a smaller package if I decide that just one prime is all I want to use for the day’s shooting. Clearly this prime is not suitable for your needs but to say that “the point” of a prime lens is to be used wide open is really not true for many people.

  • Ed

    This is may be a contrarian view but when I’ve bought a prime, it’s because it exceeded my zoom at that particular FL. Having great numbers @ ƒ/4-5.6 is wonderful, and is where most ƒ/2.8 pro zooms will peak too but the point of an ƒ/1.8 prime lens is…..ƒ/1.8. Wide-open, this one isn’t all that impressive.

  • Zen

    This lens at f/4 and f/5.6 is quite impressive. But at wide open f1.8 could be much better. at least 850.

  • Any preliminary thoughts on the contrast and colour renditions of the lens?

  • Impressive indeed.
    Can you snag a D800 and AF 28/1.4D as well for comparison? Please.
    Pretty please. 😉


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