dante stella stories photographs technical guestbook
|And so the reign of the flippered Sea-Dog did continue, and so did he eat the food of the other animals on land, until such time as Sea-Bear came floating down the river on a large chunk of ice.|
|Nikon 28mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor|
There are few optics that can go 15 rounds with the Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH. The Nikkor 28mm f/1.4 is one of them, one of those lenses that can see in the dark and deliver sharp, flare-free pictures. Witness that the photo above is shot into sunlight at f/1.4 (you can see a larger version here).
The body of the lens is metal, as is the 105mm f/2D AF-DC lens. Just as on the latter, the focusing ring is rubber and the aperture ring is plastic (yes, Virginia, it does have one of those - and is thus usable on any Nikon body). The lens weighs about a pound and takes 72mm filters. It is about half the size of the 105/135 DC lenses. The lens extends about 3 inches from the front of the camera. It does not have a built in hood, and the HK-7 hood that fits it is obscure and expensive enough that it's not worth it.
The lens has 11 elements, which is a couple more than the Summilux features. Like all of the high-end Nikon wideangles, it has close-range correction. Minimum focus is 14 inches. The lens uses rear focusing, which speeds things up a lot with Nikon's rear-drive bodies. An AF-s version of this lens would be faster, no doubt, but this lens is no slouch in the focusing speed department, especially on a camera with a brawny motor like an F4. Manual focus is smooth and well-damped. There is an infinity stop at infinity, unlike a lot of other Nikkor rear-focus lenses. AF operation can be disengaged by an A-M switch on the lens barrel (much more convenient than fiddling around with the switch on the camera body).
The blue element is the aspherical one. Of course.
In use, the 28/1.4 is pretty much unstoppable. Using an E screen in an F4, the picture is just as bright as in real life (and equal to or brighter than a rangefinder). This lens is so bright and the illuminination is so even that you can use a plain groundglass (D screen) with it - and focus it successfully.
In my testing with an F4s and Kodak 14n (optimization: auto), it delivered sharp picture after sharp picture, close up, far away, bright light, no light. It does an incredible job preserving highlight separation on color film. It is very flare resistant; I didn't manage to get any ghosting, even shooting into the light.
In blowup tests, everything is go at f/1.4 up to about an 11x14 enlargement (there is a tiny amount of softness at the extreme corners for nitpickers); at f/1.7-f/2.8, the sky is the limit. Lens performs extremely well throughout the rest of its range.
There is a reason this lens is so expensive and why it's pretty tough to find them used. They are one of the Nikon über lenses.