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Nikon's AF Zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5N wide-tele zoom lens - Part II

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Nikon's AF Zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5N MACRO (MK II) wideangle-telephoto zoom lens
Year introduced: 1991; Discontinued: 1999

The first AF Zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5s has an upgrade in 1991. The update was part of a general lens updating program Nikon implemented across the AF Nikkor lens group to restore confidence of photographers who have resisted in the weak physical design of the AF Nikkor lenses since it has turned autofocus in 1986. Although some were being introduced as a new lens type or changes internally which involved optical group but most were just confined to the level of general facelift. Most Nikon photographers use a "N" to differentiate these group of lens updates; I prefer to use MK II, MK III etc. as a few have changes within the changes but the optical design remains similar. Anyway, this is not an important issue as it is just a preference of how to do the identification, that is all.

A side and front section view of Nikon AF Zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5N Ai-S (MK II) version zoom lens
Technically, the AF Zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5N (MK II) is the same with the predecessor Except in a few areas which Nikon has improved them for either in lens handling or simply on the cosmetic. Internally, the lens still shares the identical 15 elements in 11 group design which inherited from the manual focus Zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5s. Thus, you can say there is little effort in term of optical innovation in the lens as it has been used since 1984. However, errr ... if you don't like the sentence or the choice of words I used, you can also put it as " .. Nikon probably thought the design of the 1984's zoom was so good that it cannot be improved upon...". I may not be entirely wrong as few notice the MF Zoom Nikkor were still being produced and sold even after the autofocus version was being phased out in 1999 !* Other than the pin-size MF 35/70mm budget Nikkor zoom - Not many MF zoom can enjoy such a long spell of product cycle of more than two decades, it does has its strength and appeal to some photographers in the market place, right ? * NOTE: Officially, the MF Zoom was eventually being discontinued in 2005.

: Image courtesy of shutterblade*com where the Company has a website on its own. Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

The AF Zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5N (MK II) differs from the predecessor with an apparent change in a slightly wider and more easily gripped hard rubberized cover manual focusing ring at the front - a long criticized feature of ALL the early batches AF Nikkor lenses introduced back in the mid '80. The minimum aperture lock was changed to a slide switch from the twist and turn knob for programmed and other AE modes. The MACRO setting index line after the 28mm was colored and the distance scales in feet was also colored in yellow (Older version were all in white). Seemingly, the changes were less significant but it has changed the appearance of the zoom to a more rigid look as well as restoring closer to traditional manual focus Nikkor appearance. Despite all the changes, the zoom weighs the same with the previous model (540g) and marginally shorter at approx. 71mm dia. x 89mm (previously it was 89.5mm).

A kind of strange fruits planted inside the Grand Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
A kind of strange fruits planted inside the Grand Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Interim photo ONLY. Looking for contributing images to subsitute this.

A side and detail illustration view of Nikon AF Zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5N Ai-S second version
Operationally, the new version still retains a dual rings design independently for zooming and focusing. The lens was separated by the filter thread / all plastic manual focusing ring at the front end; a distance information window and a fairly wide zoom ring that follow - it rotates while you zoom. The ring has a MACRO button with a marked "M" in orange at the side to indicate its purpose and when you depress, it permits the lens to reach an extended MACRO setting after the 28mm zoom setting. There are two closest focus distances, it focuses down to 0.8m ( approx. 3 ') at normal operation and has the option to reach a reproduction ratio of 1:3.4 when you extend to MACRO, in this case, the minimum focus distance is 0.23m (approx. 9.1"). The slight drawback is, the macro mode is workable at 28mm and it works only at MANUAL FOCUS. Further, MACRO is not at 85mm where it should provides a more natural perspective at the telephoto range. Next, the lens extends and rotates physically during zooming/focusing and may affect use of the special filters such as the popular polarizer, so, it is advisable to achieve the focus first before turning a filter for effect verification).

I wouldn't conclude the lens has top quality built or finishes but again, probably to maintain a good compromise on corporate profit and reasonably good offer to consumers is what Nikon has decided their lens should looks like for all the AF Nikkor lenses today (one way or another, I guess Nikon photographers who may have migrated from the manual focus days always has the basis to make comparison). But overall, I think it is still acceptable to rate it as an above average in terms of its built quality (The metal lens mount was still retained in this version).

Nikon AF Zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5N Ai-S (MK II) version rear section lens mount Nikon AF Zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5N Ai-S (MK II) version front lens element

Credit: Image displayed herein at far right hand side courtesy of betteroffblu/Jenny® where the EBAY STORE is also one of my favorite spot to look for great images on used photographic equipment. Image at above courtesy of shutterblade*com where the Company has a website on its own. Image(s) copyright © 2006. All rights reserved.

Optically, it is also an above average performer - photos consistently exhibits sharp and high contrast images. Barrel distortion is not as obvious at 28mm as most people have commented. It can be a perfect choice for many applications, whether leisure or serious photography - provided you know its handicap and its strength. The weakness is more confined to its lack of maximum lens speed as its maximum aperture changes as you zoom. At f/3.5 for 28mm and f/4.5 for 85mm (mid zoom range is approx. f/3.8~f/4.0) - it is not designed to be a low available light solution providing lens. You may have to use a moderately fast film type to compensate this. For certain MF Nikon bodies such as Nikon FM series - the K screen may dim, so, use of alternate B or E grids focusing screen is recommended for ease in focusing and picture composing. As for autofocus film/digital Nikon SLRs this is not as bad except you may have to settle for slower speed shooting (or adjust the ASA for D-SLRs). Further, when shoot against backlit, it is always advisable to install the HB-1 lens hood as in most cases, multi elements zoom typically exhibits its less desirable factors in these kind of situations. Its strength is its versatile picture angle from 74° - 28° . Ideally, the 85mm should be longer. The 85mm is good for moderate head and shoulder kind of portraiture and closing in on a particular subject of interest, say in a scenic or nature photography. Generally, the zoom can be used for a wide varieties of usage, from travel, nature, street life candid, even presents itself as an excellent all round zoom lens for indoor studio lens and/or other general photography.

Personally, as the lens has been discontinued in 1999 and prices have beginning to adjust itself as an used product as well as the Nikkor lens group has a few other newer zoom lenses such AF Zoom Nikkor 28-105mm f/3.5~4.5D IF (1999) or AF Zoom Nikkor 24-85mm f/2.8~4D IF (2000) etc. - which seemingly like a justified upgrade to this long serving Nikkor zoom. It makes a perfect entry for those who may think he needs a moderate wideangle with a workable short telephoto range optic for all round personal general photography.

NOTE:even the aperture ringless AF Zoom Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5~4.5G ED-IF zoom lens was also being phased out in 2006.

A wide field of view of its 28mm wideangle can be used to capture an interior, Mid Valley Shopping Mall, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A wide field of view of its 28mm wideangle can be used to capture an interior, Mid Valley Shopping Mall, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Interim photo ONLY. Looking for contributing images to subsitute this.

Technical Specification for Nikon AF Zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5N (MK II) MACRO wide-tele zoom lens:-

Type of lense: Autofocus Nikkor wide-telephoto zoom lens with built-in CPU and a metal rear Nikon bayonet mount
Focal length: 28mm to 85mm; Maximum aperture: f/3.5; (28mm=1:3.5; approx. 50mm=1:4.0; 85mm=1:4.5) Minimum Aperture: f/22/f/28
Lens construction:
15 elements in 11 groups; with close focus Design
Picture angle:
74° - 28° 30'
Focal length scale: 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm
Diaphragm: Fully automatic,
Focus control: Via focusing ring
Zoom control: Via rotating zoom ring

Distance scale: Graduated in meters and feet/inches from 0.8m (2.6') at normal focus to infinity (OO); close focuses at its nearest distance at 0.23m (9.1") at MACRO (MF only) mode
Distance information: Output into camera body with CPU interface system
IS NOT POSSIBLE with this lens; Option for manual focus provided
Aperture scale:
f/3.5/f/4.5, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16 and 22 on both standard and aperture-direct-readout scales
Mount: Nikon bayonet mount with CPU contacts;
Attachment size
: 62mm (P=0.75mm);

Nikon AF Zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5N Ai-S (MK II) with HB-1 lens hood
Meter Coupling Prong: NONE
Depth of Field Scales: NONE
Reproduction ratio: 1:3.4 maximum
Minimum aperture lock: Provided. Via slide switch
- an alternate way to verify this early version
Lens Coating: NIC (Nikon Integrated lens Coating)
Exposure measurement:
Via full-aperture method with Ai cameras or cameras with CPU interface system; via stop-down method for other cameras

* Notes on optional original bayonet hood HB-1. If the hood is not attached properly, vignetting is likely to occur.

Optical contruction for Nikon AF Zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5N Ai-S (MK II) second improved version
Infrared compensation index: Two; for the 28mm and 50mm setting
Standard accessories: 62mm front lens cap; Rear lens cap LF-1; Hard lens case CL-33S
Optional Accessories:
62mm screw-in filters; Bayonet hood HB-1 *; Flexible lens pouch No.62. CP 9 may also be possible
Dimensions: Approx. 71mm dia. x 89.5mm (approx. 3.5'); overall length is approx. 91.5mm
Weight: Approx. 540g (1 Ib 3 oz)

Usable Tele-Converters: - TC-201S; TC-14A (Using aperture smaller than f/11 with high shutter speeds, occasionally uneven exposure may occur). Note: with TC, it operates in MANUAL focus only).

* Other information: A. Be careful not to soil or damage the CPU contacts. Do not attach the following accessories to the lens, as they might damage the lens' CPU contacts: Auto Extension Ring PK-1, Auto Extension Ring PK-11*, K1 Ring, Auto Ring BR-4**. Other accessories may not be suitable for use with certain cameras. This lens cannot be used with AF Finder DX-1 attached to the Nikon F3AF camera. * Use PK-11A instead. **Use BR-6 instead; Serial Number for the Nikon AF Zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5N (MK II) lens may have been began from: AF 28-85/3.5-4.5 New rubber focus, slide aperture lock 4+ 3000001 < 3004245 - 3190162 > Sep90 - 1999 190162 Reference: Roland Vink's lens data sheet.

Slow speed illustration for the Zoom lens
It is not entirely disastrous to think your zoom slow lens speed is a problem. Use it to create artful blur images can project a different kind of presentation. Inside a small temple in during my 2005 visit to Cambodia.

Interim photo ONLY. Looking for contributing images to subsitute this.

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Page One:- Original Version (1986~1991) | Page Two:- Nikon AF zoom Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5s (1992~1999) | Relative: Manual Focus Nikkor Zoom 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5s; MF Zoom Nikkor 28-45mm f/4.5; MF Zoom Nikkor 28-50mm f/3.5s

EXTERNAL LINK: Indicative used equipment prices at EBAY for this AF Nikkor zoom lens; A one page user summary Ken Rowckwell, Australia; Images / sample photos from PBASE; A short write-up @ phototestcenter; CPU ID of this lens by

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