Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 28~50mm 1:3.5 Ai-S Lens (28-50mm f/3.5)

Review of the Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 28~50mm 1:3.5 Ai-S Lens (28-50mm f/3.5).

Overall Rating:

This lens was introduced in 1984 and discontinued in 1985 — a very short run. It has one-touch zoom/focus mechanics. Thanks to the fixed aperture nature of this lens, it is fine to use on Nikon DSLR bodies because, as opposed to variable aperture lenses, it keeps EXIF aperture data relatively accurate.

Nikon
macro to 0.2× magnification (detail)

Diffraction has begun by f/8. Shoot at larger apertures for greatest sharpness.

Vignetting disappears at f/8.

While there is some barrel distortion particularly at f=28mm. From f=35mm and on, it is not really enough to get in the way of architectural photography.

Nikon
distortion, f=28mm/5.6
Nikon
distortion, f=35mm/5.6

There is a softness in the corners particularly on the short end. There is also some slight color fringing with this lens. Here is the corner and center detail at 3-to-1.

Nikon
center at f=28mm/5.6
Nikon
corner at f=28mm/5.6
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center at f=28mm/8
Nikon
corner at f=28mm/8
Nikon
center at f=35mm/5.6
Nikon
corner at f=35mm/5.6
Nikon
center at f=35mm/8
Nikon
corner at f=35mm/8
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center at f=50mm/5.6
Nikon
corner at f=50mm/5.6

At reasonable apertures, flaring is not a huge problem though it does flare more than modern designs. Ghosting is a problem, but usually only the best, newest designs hold up well in this regard.

Nikon
f=50mm/5.6
Nikon
f=28mm/5.6

Infrared is poor due to hot spots.

Nikon
infrared, f=28mm/16
Nikon
infrared, f=50mm/16

Bokeh is neither great nor fair. It is just plain POOR.

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bokeh at f=50mm/3.5
Nikon
bokeh at f=50mm/5.6
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bokeh at f=35mm/3.5
Nikon
bokeh at f=35mm/5.6
Nikon
bokeh at f=28mm/3.5

This lens has a macro function which goes all the way down to a reproduction ratio of 1:5.1! The front element DOES turn when it is focused and this makes for difficult times when using a polarizer. It has a focus scale and stops at infinity (∞). This design does not suffer from zoom creep. The front element is recessed when zoomed to 50mm making for a pseudo-hood. The focus-throw is a paltry 60° not including the macro function which is only available at f=50mm as one would expect.

What makes this lens an interesting prospect is that it is compact with three popular focal lengths (28mm, 35mm and 50mm), has a relatively fast constant maximum aperture, and a macro function. Not surprisingly, the macro function is not as competent as a proper macro lens, but it works in a pinch.

Nikon
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