A micro review of the Nikon 28mm f/1.4E.

Inspiration, Q&A, Teaching point

The Nikon 28mm f/1.4E is one of my favourite lenses (of any focal length, from any manufacturer).

It renders in both a sharp and smooth way and achieves the perfect balance between the two for environmental portraits (and this is my main use for it).


Nikon 28mm f/1.4E @ f/1.4 | 1/320 | ISO 1100.


Contrast and micro-contrast are excellent.

Colours are saturated and rendered with great clarity, for lack of a better word.

Distortion is limited.

The lens vignettes at f/1.4 in a very pleasing way; I will sometimes correct for it during post-processing but more often will not.

My particular copy required 0 (zero) focus adjustment with my Nikon D850; it worked perfectly right out of the box.

This is one of those lenses that imparts a je ne sais quoi quality to its images.  Most technically proficient lenses tend to render in a very sterile fashion (perfect for photographing brick walls, not so good for photographing people) but the Nikon 28mm f/1.4E is one of the few lenses I’ve encountered that gets both the technicals and intangibles right.

Highly recommended.

I’ve included a few sample images below.




14 thoughts on “A micro review of the Nikon 28mm f/1.4E.

  1. Those photos are winners. I guess your main camera is kind of like a grown-up phone. Fixed, wide-angle lens. That’s what most people use these days, although by default. The 28 is very much a PJ lens. IIRC Winogrand loved the 28mm?

    I can’t remember who said it, but all you need are a 28 and a 50. Apple seems to agree with that.

    1. Thanks Dave! Yes, I realize it’s very high praise but it’s definitely what I believe. As you know, I’ve used a lot of equipment over the years and I buy my own gear so what I say is what I mean.

      Thanks again for the nice comments.

  2. Wow. On all counts. Wow, Nikon. And wow, Peter. These pictures are gorgeous. And the lens that would make images like this… I don’t even know how to process that this is Nikon photography. You know a thought I left out of my 58 1.4 review goes like this. When I was shooting Leica gear I would look back at street shots I’d taken with my old Nikon gear and would kind of cringe, thinking like ‘What a waste of time and money.’ There was just so much of a lack of character to the images. Now my Nikon gear, yours, this stuff has for me completely surpassed the Leica gear for creating this amazing so sought after evocative ‘character’ photography that my jaw is just dropping looking at the images from these Nikon f/1.4 lenses. These people are geniuses! I think we, however, are also benefiting from having come from the Leica stuff so that we’re sort of wired now to make images that reflect that we are seeking out that look. Anyway. You’re an amazing photographer. What an ambassador you are and have been for Leica and now Nikon. I hope they appreciate what you are doing with their equipment. Amazing.


    PS. Wish me luck in somehow acquiring one of these 28mm jobs. I’m going to need it. 😉

    1. Dear Donald, thank you very much!

      I know exactly what you mean about the whole Nikon to Leica and-then-back-to-Nikon route.

      I credit Leica with showing me two things:

      (1) how to “see” when photographing (which was honed by using their rangefinders) and,
      (2) what great lenses can do.

      Now that Nikon has upped their game, so to speak, I see very little reason to ever go back to Leica, unfortunately…at least for digital photography. The sensors in the Nikon cameras are superior, and the lenses are now at least on par (if not better).

      I no longer have a professional relationship with Leica, but if I still did, I would tell them that they have lost their way over the last few years. Their latest venture is watches, for example. You know what time it is? It’s time to buy a Nikon.


  3. Hi Peter,
    I hope you are well! In mid 2018 I borrowed this lens from NPS to try for a couple of weeks. In my short stint with it I was able to shoot some engagement sessions, a couple of weddings and a dear friend’s maternity shoot (as if it were a backyard BBQ, not in the airy style that’s typically seen). I have always preferred the look of 28mm and fell in love with this lens. But at around the same time the rumours started and subsequent announcement of the Z system took place. I have completely switched to Z but I don’t forsee a fast 28 coming out for a while. So I’ve been thinking of acquiring it. Are you still using it 5 years later? I ask only because I know we go through phases and shake things up optically now and again. Cheers!

    1. Hi Mike, alas I ended up selling mine when I made the switch over to the Z system. It’s the one F mount lens I really, really miss. It had that great combination of technical excellence with artistic (read: not sterile) rendering. I don’t quite know how Nikon managed to do that. I would buy it in Z mount if it were available, but I don’t think I’m going to go the FTZ adapter route with the F mount, as good as this lens was.

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