Nikon NIKKOR 28mm 1:3.5 K Non-Ai Lens (f/3.5)

Review of the Nikon NIKKOR 28mm 1:3.5 K Non-Ai Lens (f/3.5).

Overall Rating:

From the review of the earlier Nikkor-H Auto 28mm f /3.5 lens which has identical optical performance except this lens has multicoating:

In 1959, after the introduction of the Nikon F System, Nikon (Nippon Kogaku) needed a wide-angle lens for the new SLR camera. Understand that the camera market was dominated by the rangefinder, which do not have a mirror box between the lens and the film making it a much easier affair to create a wide angle lens for. Nikon needed a wide-angle lens for its new camera system.

Angenieux of France had earlier pioneered something called a retrofocus lens. This new technology was what was needed to overcome the 46mm distance between the F-mount flang and the focal plane and create a shorter f=28mm lens. Wakimoto at Nikon figured out how to adopt this technology to a wide angle lens and the Nikkor-H 2.8cm f/3.5 F-mount lens was born. Not only do retrofocus lenses overcome the flang distance, they also have less vignetting because the lens is farther from the focal plane.

This NIKKOR 28mm 1:3.5 "K" lens was introduced to the market in February 1975, or sixteen years after the introduction of the Nikon F SLR camera. It has the same optic formula as the earlier model but the cosmetics are updated. It was replaced by the Ai version in 1977, only two years later, which had upgraded optics having a smaller front element and larger rear element and simply more glass throughout thanks to the thicker elements (which help with the peripheral brightness of the image). In another four years, the Ai-S version came out.

Nikon NIKKOR 28mm 1:3.5 K Pre-Ai lens (with Ai-conversion kit) in a fair cosmetic condition

This lens has six elements. It is a pre-Ai/non-Ai lens made in Japan. It was professionally modified by Nikon to be an Ai lens (using Ai kit #28). This means it may be used on modern DSLR cameras. It has distance markers in feet and meters and an infrared focus index. It makes a great infrared lens with no hot spots and good contrast stopping down to f/22 using a seven-bladed diaphragm, which is an upgrade over the earlier five-bladed diaphragm which only stopped down to f/16. It is multi-coated and the front element (52mm) does not turn making it easy to use with a polarizer. There are depth of field and focus scales. This lens focuses down to 0.3 meters / 1 foot which is half the distance that the previous lens can do. The reproduction ratio at this distance is 1:7.6.

On an DX/APS-C sized sensor, the 35mm/full frame equivalent focal length is around 42mm which is means it has an almost exactly normal angle of view.

Color fringing is rather well controlled for such an old design; detail below is at 3-to-1.

center at f/8
corner at f/8

Diffraction has begun by f/11 which means the sweet spot of this lens is at f/8.

Distortion is well controlled given the age of the design. There is slight barrel distortion due to the early retrofocus design.

The infrared images are nice and clear even at f/22.

infrared at f/22

Ghosting is fair. There probably is a decent amount of reflection between the lens elements. Flaring is well controlled with just the tiniest amount.

ghosting, f/3.5
flaring, f/22

The bokeh is nice particularly wide open. When stopping down the bokeh will suffer if there are out-of-focus points of light because the diaphragm is polygonal. This makes for bokeh that is very much not natural looking.

bokeh, f/3.5
bokeh, f/5.6

Using Teleconverters

The teleconverters used with this lens are all Ai/Ai-S teleconverters because, though this lens was originally Pre-Ai, the one being reviewed as been Ai-converted using a Nikon Ai-kit.

Why use a teleconverter with macro? Well, it can be much easier to focus because the image is so much brighter.

With 30mm of extension tube, the TC-300 can barely mount to give a magnifcation of about 3× to 4×, and with only 8mm of extension tube, the TC-14/TC-14A can mount for a magnification ratio if about 1× (1:1 reproduction ratio). Of course, at such extreme reproduction ratios, like 4:1, depth of field can be a problem. For reference, the below frames are full-frame (FX). Note: the TC-14A and TC-201 can mount without an extension tube, but what is the point of a f=49mm/4.9 or f=56mm/7.0 lens?

fly, using two PK-11 extension tubes and one PK-12 extension tube with TC-300 teleconverter (detail)
salt, using two PK-11 extension tubes and one PK-12 extension tube with TC-300 teleconverter (detail)
sunflower, using 16mm of extension tube (two PK-11 tubes) with TC-201 teleconverter (detail)
fly, using 16mm of extension tube (two PK-11 tubes) with TC-14 teleconverter (detail)
fly, using 16mm of extension tube (two PK-11 tubes) with TC-14A teleconverter (detail)

All of the above images are comparable, at least in the center... These are decent results. A purpose-built macro lens is not really necessary! But it may be cheaper than buying extension tubes, lens and teleconverter, however, if already in possession of these items, then why not?

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