Nikon 28-105mm AF-D Macro - Cheap Lens Review (with image samples!)

 Nikon 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 AF-D Macro

Nikon 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 AF-D Macro

I'm not huge on gear reviews to be completely honest. I believe that there is way too much emphasis on products and not enough on technique and vision when it comes to photography in the 21st century. I'm not a "pixel-peeper" and care more about the feeling of an image and the story it tells than the technical info that accompanies it. This isn't going to be one of those insanely technical reviews with sharpness comparisons and fancy charts and graphs. That stuff bores me to death. I don't see the need to review all the cool stuff I use for photography, but when I come across a piece of equipment that impresses me and allows me to accomplish various things for an affordable price, it's definitely worth sharing. The Nikon 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 AF-D Macro is a versatile lens for an affordable price.

My two most used lenses are the Nikkor 18-35G and Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 VR II. I can get 80-90% of the images I need using those two super sharp lenses. They cover a wide range of focal length and are useful for a wide range of subjects, but what about the middle zone? There was a gap in my kit from 35mm to 70mm (aside from the 50mm 1.8G I own, that is). I was considering more expensive (yet fantastic) options like the Nikon 24-120 F4 VR or the 24-70 f2.8, but didn't see myself actually using either of those enough to justify spending one or two thousand bucks (remember kids - I'd rather buy plane tickets than gear). The cheaper "kit" lenses like Nikon's 24-85 VR were tempting, too, but they didn't turn me on as much. There is a Nikon 35-70mm f2.8D, but I'm not a fan of push-pull zooms. I remembered that my photography instructor back in college (David Hessell) said that one of his favorite lenses back in "the day" was the Nikon 28-105 AF-D. I checked out the specs and his images and concluded that this lens could be the right fit for me. Heading over to eBay, I found several excellent condition options for less than $150! A steal! I forked over a whole $100 to Roberts Camera's eBay store for one and haven't looked back. 

TECH SPECS:

  • Focal Length: 28-105mm

  • Maximum Aperture Range: f3.4-f4.5

  • Minimum Aperture Range: f22-f29

  • Field of View on Full Frame: 74 - 23 Degrees

  • Weight: 1.0031 lbs

  • Dimensions: 84 x 72mm (120 x 72mm zoomed out)

  • Optics: 16 elements in 12 groups (1 aspherical)

  • Aperture Blades: 9

  • Filter Thread: 62mm

  • Minimum Focus Distance: 1.7 feet, 0.7 feet in Macro Mode

  • Mount: Nikon F (metal)

  • Maximum Magnification: 1:2 at 105mm

  • Construction: Metal Innards, Tough Plastic Outside, with Rubber Zoom and Focus Rings

 The Nikon 28-105mm AF-D Macro focuses as close as 1 inch from the front element when macro mode is engaged.

The Nikon 28-105mm AF-D Macro focuses as close as 1 inch from the front element when macro mode is engaged.

PROS:

  • Sharp where it counts

  • Great build-quality (made in Japan)

  • Excellent close-focus / macro capabilities from 50mm-105mm

  • Compact and lightweight (great walk-around travel lens)

  • Cost only $100-150 USD used

  • Good color saturation and contrast

  • Fast auto-focus

  • Covers a hugely versatile focal range from 28mm-105mm

  • Great minimum aperture range from f3.5-f4.5

CONS:

  • Light vignetting at widest and narrowest apertures (almost none at 70mm and 105mm at f8-f11)

  • Slight distortion at 28mm (still better than most wide-zooms)

  • Can get some flare at 28mm without hood

  • Gets physically longer as it zooms

  • No manual focus override (you can't focus manually while in autofocus mode - characteristic of older lenses)

  • No Vibration Reduction (this doesn't bother me, particularly)

  • 62mm filter thread (does not match my 77mm lenses, so new filters are necessary)

 Sunrise and Storm Clouds over Mountains and Marsh, East Iceland (Nikon D600, Nikon 28-105mm AF-D, 28mm, f11, 1/4 sec, ISO 100, tripod)

Sunrise and Storm Clouds over Mountains and Marsh, East Iceland (Nikon D600, Nikon 28-105mm AF-D, 28mm, f11, 1/4 sec, ISO 100, tripod)

This lens is perfect for travel. It's light and it's focal range covers a vast range, allowing me to shoot a variety of subjects without changing lenses. 28mm is wide enough for most situations while that 50mm to 105mm range with macro allows me to get in super-close and tight when I need to. At around $100 USD it's a wonder to me why it's not in everyone's bag. 

The Nikon 28-105 AF-D Macro was released 1999 as sort of a kit lens with the Nikon F100 35mm camera (which I also own and love). In my opinion, it beats the crap out of those all plastic 18-55's that entry level DSLRs come with today. Those can be sharp, but flimsy. Sure it's an older model, with no VR and no M/A switch, but it holds its own when it comes to versatility. If you've used super-fast "G" series lenses, you'll notice that this older "D" lens autofucuses slightly slower, but it's not slow enough to notice unless you're comparing it side by side with a newer lens. For me, it's a great all around travel and nature lens, allowing me to get closer to small subjects than my more expensive zooms. When I don't need the reach of my 70-200mm and don't need to take in a wider landscape with my 18-35mm, this is the lens I use these days. Just pop it on the camera and go!

More Image Samples:

 Spring's First Flowers, Creston, North Carolina. These blooms are about the size of a U.S. dime. (Nikon D7100, Nikon 28-105mm AF-D, macro switched on, 90mm, f5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO 100, tripod)

Spring's First Flowers, Creston, North Carolina. These blooms are about the size of a U.S. dime. (Nikon D7100, Nikon 28-105mm AF-D, macro switched on, 90mm, f5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO 100, tripod)

 Double Daffodil (Nikon D7100, Nikon 28-105mm AF-D, macro switched on, 105mm, f9, 0.4 sec, ISO 100, tripod)

Double Daffodil (Nikon D7100, Nikon 28-105mm AF-D, macro switched on, 105mm, f9, 0.4 sec, ISO 100, tripod)

 Carolina Anole (Nikon D600, Nikon 28-105mm AF-D, macro switch on, 105mm, f6.3, 1/320 sec, ISO 1000, hand held)

Carolina Anole (Nikon D600, Nikon 28-105mm AF-D, macro switch on, 105mm, f6.3, 1/320 sec, ISO 1000, hand held)

Check the Nikon 28-105 AF-D price on Amazon.

For my full photography gear list, click here!