If there is one lens I can't live without, it's the Nikon 28 1.4. While I'm sure most people coming to my website are looking for photos of families and cute babies, I have to take a moment to sing the praises of this lens!
I've been a Nikon shooter since I picked up my first DSLR. I bought it on the recommendation of a friend, and haven't looked back. I love Nikon colors, how well it does with dark and shadowy, and have been happy with the lens selection. When I first started shooting wedding in 2016, I shot mostly on my 85mm and 35mm, but then had to pull out my 16-35mm for receptions and landscapes. It wasn't the world's biggest inconvenience, but I also wasn't completely in love with the results.
Enter the 28mm 1.4E. In 2018, I went to Mystic Seminars in Portland, OR. There was a small trade show happening along with the seminars, and Nikon was represented. I had been considering purchasing the 28mm, but was still on the fence. I will always be a engineer at heart, and am both...budget aware (aka cheap) and reading ALL the reviews (aka obsessive). I went to see if I could borrow one for a bit, and they had all been loaned out. But one of the Nikon reps went WAY above and beyond, and loaned me his personal copy.
The following images are shot using my Nikon D750.
One lunch hour worth of photos in downtown Portland and I was sold.
While trying research the lens, I struggled to find real life reviews. There is absolutely nothing wrong with knowing weight, dimensions, exact distortion specs, etc. But I wanted to know what the colors were like, if it would work for storytelling-type imagery, and if I could use it in multiple situations.
I tend to almost always shoot at 2.2 aperture or below, so it's been really fun to move to a lens with a 1.4 minimum aperture. I know it's not for everyone, but I love having hardly anything in focus - one leaf, one eye. It's also a huge help when I'm in low light situations like clients' homes during early morning.
The colors on this lens are fantastic. It isn't as warm SOOC as my 85mm 1.4G SOOC, but it has a beautiful range and does really well outside. If I get the sun in the right spot, I'm rewarded with rainbows and soft, fuzzy flare.
The biggest selling point for me has been the extra room I have to shoot with though. I love, love, LOVE telling stories with my photos. Close-up, wide, tiny details, big details. While I appreciated the 35mm, I found myself having to back up, or irritated that I couldn't fit the whole scene in. But at 28mm, this lens can capture it all.
These next two photos show its versatility - I can go from tiny details (a beer and a drake) to a wide open view of the Tetons and the Snake River (note: vignetting in that photo was added in post).
And it's worked out great for receptions, too!
I'll admit it was expensive, but the Nikon 28 1.4 lens has been worth every penny I paid for it. It never leaves my camera body, in any situation. If Nikon would only make an E version of the 85mm, my kit would be set!
2022 Update - Using Nikon D780 with Nikon 28mm 1.4E
I still really, really love this lens. Since writing the original post, I've gone through two Nikon D780s, then switched to two Nikon z6ii bodies.
This lens is still on one of my cameras almost every session and wedding. I have moved away from using it during newborn sessions though, because the distortion on the edges can be a bit much in tight spaces. Your subject does need to be pretty close to the middle of the frame for a flattering perspective, at least when photographed up close!
The following images are from the last two years, using a Nikon D780 body:
2023 Update - Using Nikon z6ii with Nikon 28mm 1.4E
I spent all of 2023 using this lens on a Nikon z6ii and I'm still incredibly impressed. It's not as fast at focusing as my Nikon 35mm Z-series lens, but it has so much more life and color and depth. As mentioned above, I have stopped using it for newborn sessions, only because of the distortion on the edges. But it's my go-to wide lens for weddings and family sessions.
I will note: I do need to get it serviced. I don't remember if I bought this lens brand new or used from KEH, but I've been using it frequently since 2018, and I've started to notice a couple minor focusing issues. I haven't had it serviced at all (I know), and it probably just needs the contacts cleaned. It's on my to do list for 2023! I still plan on using this lens for 2023, hopefully in conjunction with a Nikon 85mm 1.2 Z-series lens (come ON, Nikon!!).
The following images are taken with a Nikon 28mm 1.4E and a Nikon z6ii:
All these photos were shot on a Nikon D750, Nikon D780, or Nikon z6ii with a Nikon 28mm 1.4E lens. More questions? Feel free to shoot me an email! Weddings and commercial imagery taken on projects alongside Janelle Rose Photography.
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