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Nikon AF Nikkor 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5D Test Review
© 2004 KenRockwell.com

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I bought mine used here


This is a very compact midrange zoom. It was introduced to allow people to use a camera's built-in flash at even the 28mm focal length. Previous lenses, like the excellent 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 AF are so big that the lens would cast a shadow into the image when used at 28mm with the a camera's built-in flash.

This 28-70 is probably the fastest and best super-compact midrange zoom made by Nikon. All the others made today in this size are only f/5.6 at the long end.

Fall 2007 update: I just bought one here from a dealer with a warranty and return priveldge for $99. They sell privately for an average of $67.

THe rest of this page is from 1999 with a different sample. I'll be updating this for the sample I just bought with the Nikon D3, with which this Nikon 28-70mm is 100% compatible.


It takes 52mm filters and has an unusually nice nine-bladed diaphragm.

It only has eight elements, in seven groups.

It uses a hybrid aspherical element to give it decent performance with this simple design. A hybrid element is a plastic molded aspherical piece glued to a glass element. This sounds cheezy, but actually lets Nikon improve lens performance greatly at the low price of this lens.

It is 2.7" (69mm) around by 2.8" (71mm) long and weighs 12.5 oz (350g). That's very small.

It focuses continuously to 1.3 feet (0.4m). This is very good, there are no cockamamie macro switches required as the newer lenses need.

HB-6 plastic bayonet hood


This lens has more than usual barrel distortion at 28mm, and almost no distortion at 70mm. Even in the macro range there is no distortion at the tele end.

It has mechanical quality typical for the $300 AF lens it is. It has the usual cheesy plastic filter threads. It is much better than the other toy-store grade lenses Nikon makes in this size, and also costs twice as much as they do. I have not tried any of the $150 Nikon zooms. This 28-70 shares the small size with the super-cheesy $100 lenses, and the quality with the other $300 lenses. This is good.

It is pretty sharp, but is fuzzy in the corners at long focal lengths. For this reason I prefer the 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 AF.

It is an easy lens to use. There are no annoying macro switches to mess with; the macro range is continuous and works at all focal lengths.

It does not have much falloff, which is good. It does have some falloff in the tele end at macro ranges.

AF speed is on the slow side of normal. One full turn of the AF screw focusses the lens from infinity to 8.'

I found this lens to be pretty good when focussed manually on a manual focus camera, except for the softness at the long end.


I found sharpness-robbing focus errors on my F100 at the tele end, so I pass on this lens.

If sharpness and distortion are your prime concerns, then there are better choices like the old 28-85AF zoom. If size and ease of use is your prime concern then this may be your lens. Nikon just discontinued it in 1999.

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