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Opinions on older 28mm 2.8 MF lens (such as sigma)?

Anthony Payne , Feb 15, 2004; 04:25 p.m.

I'm just getting back into photography after a lay-off, and am assembling an SLR system on a very tight budget. I've managed to pick up a Nikon F301 (=N2000), with Nikon 50mm, and Tamron SP 70-210/3.5.

I'd like to add a wide angle, such as a 28mm prime, but will struggle to afford something like the legendary Nikon 28/2.8 ais. (One in good condition will sell for $350-400 here in Australia).

Are there other good options? For example, does anyone know if the older Sigma MF 28mm 2.8 lenses were any good? Or should I be patient, and save my pennies for the Nikkor?

Tony Payne


Douglas Green , Feb 15, 2004; 05:04 p.m.

I would look for the older Vivitar or Kiron MF lenses, rather than the Sigma. The better Vivitars were actually made by Kiron. The best bargain is the Vivitar 28mm f2.5 in old Nikon mount (which can easily be AI converted) or the Kiron 28mm f2.0 in AI mount.

The problem with an old F-mount non-AI lens is that they won't work on an F301, I don't believe.

I have bought several of the Vivitars 28mm f2.5 lenses for $20-25 US on ebay, for kits that I assembled for others, and the Kiron 28mm f2 AI cost me around $50 US on ebay.

Roland Vink , Feb 15, 2004; 05:40 p.m.

Have you looked at ebay? You can often find lenses in reasonable - good condition for much less than the priced asked by local dealers.

Third party 28mm lenses are usually not that great. They often have simple 5-element optical designs are not well corrected, giving soft corners at wide apertures and distortion. If you only want standard prints they will give good results provided you stop down a bit. Coatings on these lenses is usually not good either,giving more flare, less contrast and poor colors.

Nikon threw everything they had at the 28/2.8 AIS (AIS only). It has a comprehensive 8 element design, it is very well corrected with no linear distortion and very sharp even wide open. It has close range correction so it remains sharp even up close, and it focuses very close. It also has fully multicoated elements, so flare is hardly a problem and colors are rich.

You might also want to consider the AI or AIS 24mm f2.8 which is similar quality. Good luck.

Dan Brown , Feb 15, 2004; 06:23 p.m.

I just bought a 28/2.8 AIS Nikkor for US$70 on ebay. It's in user condition, but I printed a roll of film shot with it last night (8"x10") prints, and they have sparkling clarity and contrast. Shop around and stick with Nikon glass.

Greg Chappell , Feb 16, 2004; 12:49 a.m.

There is one third party 28mm lens worth finding, and it's the 28mm f2 (yes, f2) made by Kiron. They also produced the lens under the Vivitar name. Either lens is first class, close focusing image maker and I have seen them sell for under $100 on various internet auction websites (hint, hint!). Vivitar also made a Series 1 28mm f1.9 that's worth finding.

Jeff Locke , Feb 16, 2004; 01:11 a.m.

i bought a used 28 2.8 ais in pretty good condition on ebay for 150 us.

i also have the ai version, which i am looking to get rid of now that i have the ais. it's in phenominal condition, feels like it's never been used. prints from it are great too.

David H. Hartman , Feb 16, 2004; 04:22 a.m.

If you can’t afford a 28/2.8 AIS Nikkor in minty fresh condition consider buying a bargain lens with decent optics. The 28/2.8 AIS Nikkor is such a fine lens it would be a shame to compromise on the optical quality.

Pierre Lachaine , Feb 16, 2004; 09:02 a.m.

You can get a Nikkor 28mm/2.8 AIS on ebay if you shop carefully. I bought one not long ago in absolutely mint condition for just over $100US. You can get them even cheaper if it has good glass but some outside cosmetic blemishes.

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