Review Nikon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5D

Mar 20, 2017
Central Ohio
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We are exploring older legacy Nikkor lenses again. In a quest to find an inexpensive yet quality walk around lens for the Nikon Df, we will look at this wide to medium telephoto.

All images taken with the Nikon Df.

A mixture of plastic and metal. To me, it feels very sturdy in hand. The front filter ring is plastic, the mount metal.

The zoom ring feels good. Not quite like the zoom on a higher end lens, but better than some of the bargain kit lenses of today.

The focus ring moves when you AF, so be aware of that. The ring is larger than some in it's class which makes for finding and turning the ring easy to do. However, precise manual focus is a bit of a challenge as the focus throw is rather short. Manual focus is doable, you just need to get used to the short throw.

When compared to other similar lenses, this one is smaller and lighter, thanks in part to the plastics used as well as the variable 3.5-4.5 aperture.

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1/125, f/8. ISO 180 @ 105mm

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1/1000, f/8, ISO 1250 @ 105mm

Image Quality
Looking at this lens, it was put up against the other legacy Nikkor lenses I've used in the past. Those were the 35-135/3.5-4.5 and the 28-85/3.5-4.5. Both of those lenses performed very well on the Nikon Df and the D700. The 28-85 being just a bit sharper than the 35-135 in similar focal lengths and apertures.

The 28-105 appears to be every bit as sharp as the 28-85 was, even out to the 105mm focal length. Yes, the edges are less sharp at wide open, but become more acceptable once stopped down. The center is very sharp at all focal lengths.

I can see this lens being used quite a bit for every day carry when the Nikon Df is being taken that day. It should be a great lens for candids, street photography. It will have a companion lens, the Nikon 80-200/4.5-5.6D for anything that requires more reach.

Since you do not have VR on this lens, be aware of the hand holding rule and make sure that you do not drop below the hand hold-able shutter speeds.

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1/1000, f/8.0, ISO 1250 @ 105mm

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1/250, f/5.6, ISO 1250 @ 75mm

Auto Focus
Not a blazing fast AF-S pro lens speed, but for an older screw driven design, it performs quite well on the speed front. There was little to no hunting on the testing runs we did, even in low light. The lens is a solid AF performer.

Another feature that is a bit quirky, but is there is the built in macro mode. The quirks are that this only works between 50-105mm. In order to get out of macro mode, you need to focus on something that is 0.5m or further away. Instead of messing with that, I just throw the camera into manual mode, turn the focus ring to infinity and then slide the switch back to "normal".

It only does 1:2, but is a nice feature to have as the normal close focusing distance is roughly 2.7ft.

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1/200, f/8, ISO 100 @ 28mm

Bottom Line:

Given the current used prices of this lens, you'd be hard pressed to find a better "bang for your buck" than this. No, it does not have VR, it is not an f/2.8 or constant f/4 aperture lens...but given the great high ISO performance of modern FX DSLRs and the ability to shoot this lens at wide open apertures makes this something that the budget conscious FX shooter should seriously consider. I found this one locally for $120. If that is a bit out of the budget and you want to go cheaper, then look to the Nikkor 28-85. That lens I purchased used a year ago for $62. The only thing you lose function wise, is the longer focal length and maybe a small bit of AF speed.

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