Thursday, 5 April 2018

Mini Review - Nikkor-H 28mm f3.5

The Pumpkin Pile

FE, Nikkor-H 28mm f3.5, Superia 400

My Nikkor-H 28mm f3.5 was picked up to provide an inexpensive mild wide for my film kit. It's AI converted with a factory AI kit.

This was Nikon's go-to wide angle lens during the Nikkormat era, and my example is the early single-coated version from the 60's or very early 70's. It's got the classic knurled metal focus ring and the factory AI kit has the knurled aperture ring to match. This is the second Nikkor 28/3.5 I've owned, although the previous one was an AI version with modern cosmetics and NIC multicoating.

On film I find it competent, with reasonable sharpness, although it's low in saturation and contrast and has a higher tendency to flare than newer versions. Look for a classic 60's rendering, especially if paired with a lower contrast colour film like Portra.

I don't find slower 28mm's useful on DX for the most part, so I've few comments on performance on the D300's.

On the D800 things get complex. My initial take was that the 28 purely sucked on high-MP FX, being soft and low in resolution. More shooting, done simply because this is currently the only FX wide I own, shows that the situation is far more complex.

The reality is that the 28/3.5 is actually quite good on FX aside from outer corner performance, especially if stopped down to f5.6-8. The caveat is that the combination of large DoF and low contrast make focusing difficult via the OVF. The solution is to use hyperfocal markings for handheld shooting and LiveView.

A note for people trying Hyperfocal markings on digital. If you want good results, use the markings for 1 stop wider open. IE if shooting at f8, use the markings for f5.6. The reason is that the Circle of Confusion that the markings were calibrated for is too large for good results on digital cameras. The markings were calibrated for film and 4x6 prints. Going one stop wider open gives approximately the results you'd expect for an 8x12 print, which is pretty close to a standard monitor presentation. Do not expect that hyperfocal will ever look good at 100% view. Live view is the answer there for difficult to focus lenses like the Nikkor-H 28/3.5.

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