Six Day Prime Lens Challenge – Day 1 – 28mm lens on APSC Nikon

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So I started off with the newest lens in my arsenal. It’s the Sigma 28mm 2.8 mini wide II. A very cute little lens that weighs very little but still feels solid. It’s a manual focus lens which is rather challenging on a DSLR. Especially as my camera yesterday was an old D90 which doesn’t have a very big viewfinder. I have been practicing my manual focusing though and it seems my eyes are still in good condition, touch wood. I was able to get critical focus most of the time even wide open. Of course, wide open is 2.8 not 1.8 and 28mm is wide so depth of field is not so tiny.

The lens performed very well. It seems to be soft in the corners wide open like most lenses and is also sharper in general stopped down to F4. I shot a lot at F8 and F11. It was a bright day. ISO was at 200 all the time. I had no issues. The shutter was down at 1/45th from time to time in shady areas and not lower so as to avoid camera shake.

The field of view was not very satisfying. At times it felt odd. I was often wishing that I had my old Fuji X100 back. That gave 35mm fov on its APSC sensor. A more useful length. Nonetheless at 42mm I did have a fairly adaptable rangefinder-type frame. I notice many old rangefinders have lenses in the 40s. I can see why it has advantages too for those who feel 50 is just a little tight. I got used to it. I felt I wanted more width rather than less. I suppose to be expected.

One major issue, more so than the manual focus demands, was the fact the lens wouldn’t even meter on the body! I had to estimate the shutter speed. Of course I was able to take a few shots and check the LCD to see I was getting it more or less right and I also did a little exposure bracketing. In the end, this slowed me down but didn’t result in many lost pictures. I do need to add though that my style is slow anyway and I rarely shoot moving objects. I had time to get things right. Your camera may not have this problem. My older film camera was fine.

The camera was also unable to read the aperture. I had to set it to manual, read the aperture on the ring (which was not so easy to turn, by the way) and then adjust the shutter which was the only thing I could read on the display. A challenge to be sure!

The biggest plus about the lens apart from size and the very smooth focus wheel, has to be the macro mode. I always love the idea of close focusing on wide angle lenses. I think you get much more interesting shots than macro on 50mm, for example. Of course it’s not true macro but the bokeh when the lens was in macro mode looked fantastic to me. I think bokeh can be a subjective thing though. Not everyone likes the same look.

Flaring was an issue but I don’t have a lens hood for it yet. That would definitely help. Still, it performed a lot worse than my other more recent Nikkor lenses without hoods. It’s a trade off for the vintage look? This lens produces pictures which to my eyes are immediately identifiable as from an old lens and that is something I am quite partial to. Lens flare is also not always a bad thing. If I played around more with it, I am sure I could have used it creatively. The colours were also a little off. I don’t think it was the D90, comparing other lenses. I shoot RAW and don’t care much about that anyway.

So I would definitely recommend this lens. This mighty mouse. It cost me 45 euro. They may be had for even cheaper. You can’t expect miracles but this is a surprisingly good little addition. I have also heard good things about its little brother, the super wide 24mm. I might pick one up. They tend to be a little more expensive.

Here are some of the pictures I took… All the ”macros” were at 2.8 and all the others are F8 – F11. I thought the soft circular bokeh of the river light in the picture of the key lock was very appealing and I was pretty impressed by the sharpness of the blue-ish gates in front of the house too. Put this lens on a D7200 or a D500 and I am sure it would take it to another level.

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