Nikon 28-105mm AFD -
The Swiss Army Knife of Lenses
Range 28-105mm FX (42-158mm DX)
Max Aperture f/3.5-4.5
Close Focus 0.5m (28-50mm)
0.2m (50-105mm macro mode)
Macro reproduction 1:2 (half lifesize)
Filter Thread 62mm
Compact, lightweight, well-built,
Sharp wide-angle at smaller apertures = great for scenes,
Sharp at the long end, even wide open = great for portraits.
)This review is about the real life use of a lens. It is not a technical review. As a photographer I am more interested in how a lens performs in the field than in a lab, so there will be no graphs or charts or any other kind of arbitrary tests .
This review is for people who see a lens as an invaluable tool rather than a valuable toy. As such, I'll mostly be letting the photos speak for themselves.
The coverage of this zoom lends itself to Travel Photography: From wide angle (ideal for landscapes, buildings and environmental portraits), through the all-round usefulness of a standard lens, to full zoom for close portraits and the perspective pulling powers of a mid-range (x2 mag) telephoto.
It approximately covers the range of my usual prime kit (comprising a wide-angle (24 or 28mm), 50mm standard, and an 85mm).
Initially I bought this lens as a back up to take on a long overseas trip, where it came into use after my wide angle prime was badly scratched. Changing lenses was also causing problems with dust on the camera's sensor, so I ended up keeping this lens mounted on my dSLR more than I intended. I'm glad I did.
It turned out to be more than capable of returning excellent results in a broad range of conditions, lighting and settings. Add to that it's macro feature, lightweight and compact design plus good build quality and you have an ideal walkabout/travel lens.
AF Speed: I'm not worried about 'old' technology built-in lens motors being too slow. For most situations there is no need to be concerned. However, if you find yourself frequently using 3D tracking on moving subjects then with this lens you might struggle.
Max Aperture: Personally I don't understand the current f/2.8 fad amongst consumers. With the excellent high ISO capabilities of modern dSLRs the need to spend and carry such heavy weight lenses seems unnecessary. To put it into perspective:
This lens max aperture is 2/3 to 1 stop slower than Nikon's 900g 24-70 f/2.8 (within the equivalent range). That's equivalent to an ISO change from 200 to 320 or 400. Yes, it will make a little difference to image quality but the emphasis really is on the word little. Whereas, for the difference in weight and cost, the emphasis is on the word lot.
Let's be clear, the 28-105 is never going to be as sharp as the primes. Nor will it be as sharp and fast as a modern and extortionately priced Nikon 24-120 f4 or 24-70 f2.8. If you can justify the differences then go for those.
The 28-105 Nikkor has some weaknesses, notably sharpness (especially along the edges) at wide apertures in the 28-60mm range. However, the majority of photography within this range necessitates smaller apertures where these weaknesses diminish.
Unusually for a standard zoom, and converse to Nikon's current standard zoom offerings )ie the 24-120mm VR f4 or 24-85mm 3.5-4.5 VR) the greatest strength of this lens is at the long end, where even wide open it is particularly sharp for a zoom. In fact, it's very remarkable! Just look at the detail in the eyes of the Tibetan girl with the coral beads.
This makes the lens ideal for my kind of travel photography - Ideal as a portrait lens but with a twist of the zoom can take in the wider scene without having to change lenses (and potentially miss a decisive moment). However, as a little caveat, I'd still feel inclined to carry my small prime 28mm or 35mm to accompany this lens where it's at it's weakest.
Though now discontinued, good samples are widely available on the 2nd hand market for around 150 US$/UK£/Euro
I'd highly recommend it as a great travel Companion, especially considering the value for money it represents.
Please scroll down to see some photos illustrating the diversity and quality of this lens.