Additional Information on
Nikon AF Nikkor 28mm wideangle lens group
Part I - version history and the early AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8s

 
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Background & Version History Nikon's first 28mm rangefinder lens was a simple 6 elements RF Nikkor-W 2.8cm 1:3.5 (it was actually their second wideangle lens after the 3.5cm 1:3.5 W-Nikkor of 1948). The first 28mm wideangle lens designed for the reflex Nikon F was introduced in 1959 as a Nikkor-H Auto 2.8cm 1:3.5. The release of the world's fastest 28mm wideangle during that time that equipped with a bright lens speed of f/2.0 was only being introduced late in 1971 as an Non-Ai Auto Nikkor 1:2 f=28mm.

Manual focus, non metered PC-Nikkor 28mm f/4.0 wideangle lens Manual focus, non metered PC-Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 wideangle lens
Both the non-Ai 28mm f/2.8 and the classic 28mm f/3.5 have been improved cosmetically in their exterior in 1975-1976. During the post Ai-period Nikon has offered three 28mm wideangle lenses in Nikkor 28mm f/2.0, 28mm f/2.8 and 28mm f/3.5. After 1981, the whole series of Ai Nikkor 28mm lens group have went another phase of lens updating program to enable use of multi-program AE control modes and all the three 28mm wideangle lenses were being updated with an Ai-S spec.

Other 28mm wideangle lenses produced by Nikon include a non-meter-coupled PC-Nikkor 28mm f/4.0 (1975), the late PC-Nikkor 28mm f/3.5, the land/underwater UW-Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 as well a budget Nikon Nikon Series E 28mm f/2.8s). Most of these 28mm wideangle lenses were extremely well made and they carried with a long and rich development history behind them. Thus, it is exaggerating to quote Nikon as one of the most knowledgeable lens manufacturer in designing wideangle lenses.

Over the years, I had used many versions of these 28mm wideangle lenses; one of my favorite is the Nikkor 28mm f/2.8s where I can simply rated it as one of the best 28mm around. It delivers superb image quality in a top rated lens structure. It is the only Nikon wideangle lens that can close focus to a minimum focusing distance of 0.2m (0.7 ft) and delivers a Magnification Ratio of 1:3.9. This wideangle lens presents itself as one of the best value optic among all wideangles lenses you can find in the Manual Focus Nikkor lens family.

RF Nikkor -W 28mm f/3.5 Nikon manual focus Nikkor 28mm f3.5non non-Ai wideangle lens Nikon manual focus Nikkor 28mm f/2.0 non non-Ai wideangle lens Nikon manual focus Nikkor 28mm f/2.0 pre-Ai wideangle lens Nikon manual focus Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 non non-Ai wideangle lens Nikon manual focus Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 non non-Ai wideangle lens
Nikon manual focus Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 non Ai wideangle lens Nikon manual focus Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 non Ai wideangle lens Nikon manual focus Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 non Ai wideangle lens Nikon manual focus Nikkor 28mm f/2.0 Ai-S wideangle lens Nikon manual focus Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S wideangle lens Nikon manual focus Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 Ai-S wideangle lens


Potful of colors by  Michael Mathews http://www.pbase.com/mrmikemgm
A figure Head at the Museum

Credit: Image courtesy of Peter Gordon, whose online PORTFOLIO can be accessed at PBase. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Nikon AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8s wideangle lens
Marketed 1986; Discontinued: 1991

Nikon's first autofocus 28mm wideangle lens was released in 1986. It has a different optical composition from the earlier manual focus lens. I am not sure why Nikon didn't retained the MF's 8E/8G optical formula but the AF 28mm uses a simpler 5 elements in 5 groups design. The early version of the AF 28mm wideangle lens has a very different appearance and physical built quality from the manual focus Nikkor 28mm. It has a very compact design but has a very strong feel of plastic for the lens barrel. Due to its nature as an autofocus lens, it has its distance scales concealed inside a window display. At the furthest end of the lens is a very narrow ring reserved for manual focusing.

Early version of AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S wideangle lens Early version of AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S wideangle lens rear view
Credit: Image(s) courtesy of 'Mr. B. Hamilton where I managed to get them from his auction sale at Ebay. All image(s) appeared herein are Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Overall, such a design was literally being used by virtually all the early batch of Nikon autofocus Nikkor lenses. I didn't like any of them and neither I have bought any for personal use. Basically, the overall design and choice of material for the lens construction projects a very cheap and fragile looking optic and that was something that most Nikon photographers cannot get accustom to. Further, the use of the 5E/5G optical design has resulted the lens has a very small image circle and did the front lens element which makes it looks more like the manual focus Nikkor 35mm f/2.8s wideangle lens.

Personally, I felt the lens lacks a sense of quality feel. Gone are the colorful display of the depth of field scales (naturally, meter coupling prong has been eliminated, thus making older Nikon SLR not compatible with this wideangle); and due to some of the exposure control modes such as Shutter Priority and Program AE may require a Nikkor lens stopped down the aperture to its minimum value, Nikon has hence designed the autofocus lens with a minimum aperture lock so as to provide a shield for photographer to avoid accidentally shifted the aperture to other settings. To release the lens for other shooting modes such as aperture priority AE or manual exposure control, it requires to release the knob first for other aperture selection. The minimum aperture lock has a twisted knob design which is different from today's AF Nikkor lens design that uses a slide switch method. Optically, this lens seemingly resembles the Nikon Series E 28mm f/2.8s which also uses a 5E/5G design. But in terms of performance, it does deliver the quality one would expect how a Nikkor lens should behave. But overall, probably combining the elements of poor finishing and its uninviting exterior appearance; overwhelming negative response from Nikon photographers had actually instantly killed the lens - even without actually evaluating its optical performance.

Working it close by DavidRaimist
Working it closer...

Credit: Image courtesy of David Raimist, whose online PORTFOLIO can be accessed at PBase. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Early version of AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S wideangle lens side view Early version of AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S wideangle lens front view

Early version of AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S wideangle lens rear lens mount


Credit: Image(s) courtesy of 'Shutterblade team' (e-mail)who specializes trading of new, used collectable cameras. The Company also operates a popular Ebay Store. All image(s) appeared herein are Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

During the first few years after Nikon began shipping autofocus lenses for their AF Nikon cameras; there were actually only a handful of original autofocus lenses being released. On the contrary, as there were still plenty of manual focus Nikkor lenses available during the mid '80; Nikon countered their slow lens development effort by introducing a very innovative device called autofocus TC-16A AF-Teleconverter to enable many of the manual focus Nikkor lenses to be used on their autofocus Nikon SLRs. One way or another, this has helped to ease off the discomfort of Nikon users who may be complaining on the slow built up of new Nikkor autofocus lenses. By mounting the TC-16 AF between lens and camera, the TC unit will convert a MF Nikkor lens as an autofocus lens but it doubles itself as a tele-extender, multiplies the focal length of the primary lens by a factor of 1.6X. The 28mm has less appeal with this accessory because even it offers autofocus conversion, but who wants their Manual Focus 28mm be transformed as a 45mm standard lens ? So, for photographers who may prefer a working, dedicated autofocus 28mm wideangle lens, they still have to fall back to this original AF Nikkor 28mm lens.

Well, I guess Nikon did aware with the complaints about the early flaws in the overall design of the their early AF Nikkor lenses. But as most seasoned photographers were still adopting a wait and see attitude before jumping onto the AF bandwagon in a hurry which enabled Nikon to do some damage control. During the years that followed, they updated the lens with some cosmetic changes. But AF Nikkor 28mm f/2.8s didn't enjoyed the benefit with a quick change, as Nikon dragged until 1991 before we witnessed some effort by them in bringing the next upgrade. This perhaps explained partly why most of the 28mm AF-Nikkor lenses that kept surfacing in the used equipment market are of this original version that has the narrow manual focusing ring. Please note unlike the MF Nikkor 28mm, this AF Nikkor was not designed with a CRC (Close Range Correction) System.

Nikon AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8s (N) autofocus wideangle lens
Marketed 1991; Discontinued: 1994

Early improved version of AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S wideangle lens

Early improved version of AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S wideangle lens rear mount

Early improved version of AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S wideangle lens side view


Except for a few points, the updated version of this AF Nikkor 28mm f/2.8N has nothing new. Firstly, Nikon did away with the plastic manual focus ring and replaced it with a hard rubberized cover manual focusing ring. It has a broader dimension and offers a better grip during focusing. The twisted knob design for the minimum aperture lock has been altered to a slide-switch design. As shown with the photos above, the filter thread of the lens is also made out of plastic (courtesy of a visitor who mailed these photos a couple of years back because he was offered to buy and asked if it is justified for the cost, I kept the pictures but lost his contact). So what has Nikon did with the improvement didn't altered the basic structure of the lens. Although the improvement done on the manual focusing ring has helped to improve lens handling as well as its appearance but there was nothing exciting with any change in the overall built quality. So, I guess it was intended to fence off criticism rather than putting some real effort on how to made the lens more rigid, right ?

A quiet street  by Flavio Sganzerla, Brazil
A few lone elements on a street @ Brazil ...

Credit: Image courtesy of Flavio Sganzerla from Brazil, whose online PORTFOLIO can be accessed at Flickers. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Optically, the update still shares the same optical formula as with the predecessor Although I had commented earlier that the AF Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 closely resembles with the Series E 28mm f/2.8s optically. Neither both the AF Nikkor wideangle as well as the E-Series 28mm have incorporated with Nikon Close Range Correction (CRC) system built in; the AF Nikkor version has a marked minimum distance of 0.3m). * Credit: Geoff Brown, UK for rectifying a glaring mistake on the lens spec for this AF Nikkor 28mm. I guess one of the most appealing fact of a prime 28mm wideangle lens is with its relatively fast lens speed and compactness. The picture angle of 74° is wider than a 35mm wideangle but it is less demanding to use than a 24mm wideangle lens as distortion is not as obvious if compared with the latter. This makes a 28mm wideangle lens a very useful lens for many photographic usage such as a travel, documentary, functions, scenic, indoor/outdoor portraiture, nature and other general photography. In particular, when dealing with photography involves human factor such as PR events, its field of view is just about right for group photos where figures at the sides are less distorted. The perspective nature of this 28mm wideangle lens also provides a better illustration of the background in a photo. Further, as most flash are designed to cover 28mm, so, it is most suitable for flash photography for even illumination. For those who may be seeking for an all round wideangle, this lens may fit the objective.

Technical Specification for Nikon AF Nikkor 28mm f/2.8S (N):-

Focal length
: 28mm; Lens type: CPU autofocus lens type
Maximum aperture: f/2.8; Picture angle: 74°
Lens construction: 5 elements in 5 groups
Distance scale: Graduated in meters and feet from 0.3m to infinity (
OO)

Early version of AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S wideangle lens Early version of AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S wideangle lens back section
Distance information: Yes. Via distance window display
Aperture scale: f/2.8 to f/22 on both standard and aperture-direct readout scales
Diaphragm: Fully automatic
Exposure measurement: Via full-aperture method, stopped down AE is possible with other Nikon.
Mount: Nikon bayonet mount

Credit: Image(s) courtesy of 'thatlookslikeasalamandertome" which operates an Ebay Store. All image(s) appeared herein are Copyright © 2006.

Early version of AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S wideangle lens set up with accessories
Depth of Filed Scales: yes. f/11, f/16 and f/22.
Infra-index: Yes.

Filter attachment size: 52mm
Dimensions
: Approx. 65mm dia. x 39mm (48.5mm) extension from the camera's lens mounting flange;
Weight: Approx. 195g (l0 oz)
Standard Accessories: 52mm front cap, back cap (LF-1).
Optional Accessories: HN-2 lens hood, CL-30S (case)

Usable Teleconveter(s): TC-201, TC-14A(s); TC-16As (The TC-16A is usable with specific early versions of Nikon SLRs ONLY) (see Nikon Teleconverter section for more info on applicable Nikon tele-extender)

NOTE: Production Serial Numbers believed to have started from 200001 for this AF Nikkor wideangle lense 200001 ~ < 200370 - 281509 >; the second version could have been started with 300001 < 302058 - 350256 > which lasted from 06.1991 to 03.1995. Reference: -Roland Vinks's data sheet -

Early  version of AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S wideangle lens lens element view
| NEXT | 1/3 The next upgrade, Nikon AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8D wideangle lens with distance information relaying chip

AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8s | AF-Nikkor 28mm f/2.8D | AF-Nikkor 28mm f/1.4D

Version History: | RF Nikkor-W 2.8cm 1:3.5 | MF Nikon 2.8 cm f/3.5 Nikkor-H | MF Nikkor 28mm f/2.0 Auto | MF Nikkor 28mm f/2.0 non-Ai | MF Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 non-Ai | MF Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 non-Ai | MF Nikkor 28mm f/2.0 Ai | MF Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai | MF Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 Ai | MF Nikkor 28mm f/2.0 Ai-S | MF Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S | MF Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 Ai-S | MF PC-Nikkor f/3.5 / F/4.0 | UW-Nikkor 28mm f/4.0 | Relative: Canon equivalent of the Autofocus EF 28mm f/1.8 USM & EF 28mm f/2.8 wideangle lens

Credit: Image(s) courtesy of 'Shutterblade team' (e-mail)who specializes trading of new, used collectable cameras. The Company also operates a popular Ebay Store. All image(s) appeared herein are Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number:
http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-153.html by: my friend, Rick Oleson
http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/fmount.htm by: Hansen, Lars Holst
http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/nikonfmount/lens2.htm
http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html

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