28mm lens as "normal" lens on DSLR?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Karl Winkler, Feb 16, 2007.

  1. Karl Winkler

    Karl Winkler Guest

    I'm considering purchasing a prime 28mm lens as a "normal" lens for my
    D200, thus yielding a similar angle of view to a 42mm lens on a 35mm
    camera. The most obvious choice is the Nikon 28mm f/2.8 D AF. Anyone
    here doing this? Any comments about such a setup? Any comments on my
    choice of lens?

    Karl Winkler, Feb 16, 2007
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  2. Karl Winkler

    bmoag Guest

    What do you want to use this lens for?
    A 42-44mm equivalent lens is not what many would consider a "normal" lens on
    a 35mm film camera. That would be more of a "semi-wide" lens. Lenses of this
    focal length were used on film P&S cameras but never really caught on for
    35m slr cameras.
    If you want a flat, sharp, wide lens at a bargain price get the Nikon 50
    f1.8 before it is no longer available. The 50mm focal length is long enough
    to be able to use selective focus at wider apertures, something the 28mm
    lens will not allow to any great degree. You may have to take a step or two
    back from your subject but it will be worth it.
    bmoag, Feb 16, 2007
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  3. Not really. The traditional "normal" focal length is equal to the diagonal
    of the negative, or about 43mm for a full-frame 35. So a 28mm lens on a D200
    (equiv. 42mm on a 35) makes a very nice normal.

    No one really knows why Barnack chose 50mm for the Leica's standard lens,
    but for good or ill that became the established standard. Zeiss actually
    made a 42.5mm normal lens for the Contax in the 1930s, but it never became

    But for an entirely different reason. SLRs have a minimum flange-to-film
    distance in order for the mirror to have room to swing. For that reason,
    while slower, physically small four-element lenses like the Zeiss Tessar
    were usually 50mm, the much larger fast lenses like the Zeiss Biotar were
    usually 58mm. They weren't 58mm because that was a desired focal length, but
    because around 1950 or so it was hard to design a fast lens of shorter focal
    length that would still give the mirror room to swing. Later on, they were
    able to design 55mm and then 50mm fast lenses for SLRs. Shorter than that,
    fast lenses become harder to design for an SLR, more complex and therefore
    more expensive.

    Neil Harrington, Feb 16, 2007
  4. Karl Winkler

    Tony Polson Guest

    On the contrary, the 40mm and 45mm focal lengths were the basis of
    something of a cult. Nikon had its 45mm f/2.8 GN, and more recently
    the AI-P, Pentax its 40mm f/2.8 SMC-M and Contax had the 45mm f/2.8
    Tessar. There was also the superb Konica 40mm f/1.8 Hexanon.

    All except the GN Nikkor were optically very good. They may not have
    been mass market lenses but they certainly had a very enthusiastic

    40mm has also been a popular focal length in 35mm rangefinder cameras.
    The Leica 40mm f/2 Summicron is optically one of the best lenses Leica
    has ever made, and it can be purchased very cheaply indeed for a lens
    of such excellence. The Minolta Rokkor versions for the Leitz/Minolta
    CL and Minolta CLE followed the same basic design. The current 40mm
    f/1.4 Nokton is a strong seller and is optically very good indeed.
    Tony Polson, Feb 16, 2007
  5. Karl Winkler

    Scott W Guest

    I am using a 28mm f/2.8 lens on my Canon DSLR, I really like this
    lens. On the Canon with its 1.6 crop factor it comes out to the same
    as a 45mm lens on a FF camera, pretty close to what you would be
    looking at on the Nikon. If I am shooting inside with available light
    this is my lens of choice.

    Scott W, Feb 16, 2007
  6. Karl Winkler

    wiyum Guest

    I do exactly this on a Canon 20D, where 28mm is more similar to 45mm
    and 35mm is more similar to 56mm. The difference seems slight, but I'd
    use a 35mm as a normal if I were using Nikon. The 42mm angle of view
    of the 28 is much further from 50mm than the 52.5mm angle of view of
    the 35. More than that, though, is the 2.0 maximum aperture of the
    35mm. That extra stop will come in handy very often.

    Unless, of course, you already have a fast 50mm prime... I could see
    the want for more of a difference from that lens than a 35mm would
    offer. Really, neither choice is a bad one, so do what feels right.

    wiyum, Feb 16, 2007
  7. Have you considered the 35mm f/2 as a "normal" lens. It's got an extra stop
    and comes at a bargain price. The 28/2.8 would still be a nice lens to
    have, being much lighter and compact than the 17-35/2.8 & 17-55/2.8DX zooms
    which would be the logical alternative should you want a zoom rather than a

    cheers adrian www.boliston.co.uk
    Adrian Boliston, Feb 16, 2007
  8. Karl Winkler

    Matt Clara Guest

    I've been using my 24mm and 28 mm f2.8 AIs lenses quite a bit on my D200.
    The 28mm in particular will close focus down to 9 inches, and with the crop
    factor, makes a nice little closeup lens.
    Matt Clara, Feb 16, 2007
  9. Karl Winkler

    RiceHigh Guest

    I use a FA 28/2.8 on my Pentax APS-C DSLRs as the single standard
    prime and the equivalent 35mm focal is 43mm which is the perfect
    standard lens for the field of view, i.e. the diagonal length of the
    135 film.

    RiceHigh, Feb 17, 2007
  10. Karl Winkler

    Paul Furman Guest

    Oh yeah, you will love it. Consider the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 also; though
    it's not cheap at $430. I've been using a beat up old AIS 28mm f/2
    manual focus and I really love it though it is hard to manually focus.

    While the 28 does end up a bit wider than a normal 50 with crop factor,
    the 50 is a bit long to be actually 'normal' (a quirk of marketing an
    compromises I think). I also have a 45mm f/2.8 and that is way to long
    for a normal lens at an equivalent of 68mm. One place I noticed the
    field of view is a bit wide is with buildings, there is a substantial
    amount of perspective distortion at 28mm. If you think that might bug
    you, go for a 35mm f/2. But 28mm is so comfortable, so close to the
    normal human field of vision, I'm sure you will love it. If I had to
    throw out all my lenses & only keep one, this would be an easy choice, I
    would even dump AF for that. As another poster mentioned, it does
    freaking macros too.

    Regarding f/stop and speed, if you are interested in shallow DOF, the
    f/2.8 looks comparable to an f/4.2 lens on film. The low-light
    nimbleness of f/2.8 remains unaffected though 2.8 is not 1.8. The Sigma
    30mm f/1.4 has a comparable DOF to a 45mm f/2.1 on film.

    If you think you might get a pricey 17-35 f/2.8 then the 28/2.8 will
    actually under-perform that expensive zoom. It is smaller though. It
    would be nice if Nikon released a 30mm f/1.4 DX but don't hold your
    breath; get the Sigma if that's your desire.
    Paul Furman, Feb 17, 2007
  11. Karl Winkler

    Karl Winkler Guest

    Thanks everyone for your input. I generally like a wider "normal" lens
    so that's why I didn't spend too much time thinking about the 35mm. I
    always felt that 50mm was too narrow to be normal, but not narrow
    enough to be useful...

    True about the extra half stop to f2.. that would be nice. But mainly,
    I'm looking for a lens that is as compact as possible, sharp, and just
    slightly wide. Seems like the 28 will do the trick.

    Karl Winkler, Feb 17, 2007
  12. Karl Winkler

    wiyum Guest

    True about the extra half stop to f2.. that would be nice. But mainly,
    Full stop, not half stop...

    If you like a wider normal, the 28mm focal length couldn't be better.

    wiyum, Feb 17, 2007
  13. I loved my 24 2.8 on my D200
    Lightweight , fast, easy to use. Classic photojournalist field of
    I sold it to buy a 12 - 24 f4 which I love, but wish I had have kept
    the 24 prime as well.
    the 12 -24 is bulky, conspicuous, heavy and not fast enough for low
    The 24 was just so easy to get around with and sharp as anything.
    I agree with bmoag (below?) that the other prime you must get is the
    50mm 1.8.
    Such a beautiful result for portraits and low light, lncredibly light
    and so cheap it's almost disposable.

    for the first 2 years on a D70 I used nothing but a 35mm f2 prime and
    it took great pictures. I still have that and use it for still lifes
    and when I just want to go out with a small light lens on the D200. I
    don't think anything focusses closer?
    Hey. there's no harm in having all of them (provided you're not
    downsouthsurfing, Feb 17, 2007
  14. Another factor to consider is that you may have more resolution on the
    sensor than you actually need. If you hvae 8MPix, for example, and
    only need 3 (well, 2.8), through cropping you effectively have double
    the focal length if you need it. So depending on what you're doing,
    you'll be better off with a lens than wider than what you usually need
    instead of narrower than what you usually need. (While it's possible
    to stitch images together, it's pretty hard to get right.)

    Dr. Joel M. Hoffman, Feb 18, 2007
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