bread and butter fixed wide angle lens.
well built, and great performance make this a lens worth carrying.
of view: 94°
close focus: 10" (25cm) filter thread: 62mm hood: HB-4
of my earliest lens review (20-35mm
f/2.8D) know that I like wide angle lenses. For many years, my
three favorites were the Sigma 14mm,
the Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D, and the object of this review, the 20mm
has made eight 20mm lenses:
20mm f/3.5 UD
20mm f/4 AI (one of Galen Rowell's favorite lenses)
20mm f/3.5 AI
20mm f/3.5 AIS
20mm f/2.8 MF
20mm f/2.8 AF
20mm f/2.8D AF
last three of these lenses all share a 12/9-element lens design
and 62mm filter size, though for some reason the non-D autofocus
version didn't focus quite as close as the other two (12" versus
Teton National Park, F5 with 20mm f/2.8D, Fuji Provia
Nikkor has a fixed f/2.8 aperture, with a minimum aperture of
f/22. Focusing can be as close as 10 inches (0.25m). The front
element does not move during focus changes. The D in the name
means that focus distance is used in flash and metering calculations
by the camera.
focus ring is narrow, but easily distinguished by its knurled
rubber pattern. Up front, you'll be screwing in 62mm accessories,
Nikon's midrange standard, shared by a number of other popular
lenses. You'll have to pay extra for the optional bayonet hood
(HB-4) and lens pouch (No. 61).
this lens is physically shorter than the 24mm f/2.8D, and almost
as light, despite a bigger front element. On my F5, the 20mm f/2.8D
barely sticks out past the grip. At 9.5 ounces, there's no reason
not to carry this Nikkor with you--it's now a permanent part of
my hiking kit.
old-time Nikon users bemoan the focus "feel" of autofocus
Nikkors. While I've got my share of loosy-goosy focus rings, the
20mm f/2.8D is not one of them. No, it doesn't have the viscous
coupling of the best manual focus Nikkors, but this lens does have
a smooth, solid focus feel. The only real problem, if it is one,
is the fact that the lens focuses from 10" to infinity in just
a shade over a quarter turn. This makes manually setting the perfect
distance a little difficult. Of course, at 20mm, even at f/2.8 you've
got plenty of depth of field to work with (hyperfocal distance is
19 feet at f/2.8! Too bad there's no way to set that distance, since
the DOF scale has no markings between 5 feet and infinity).
aperture ring has the usual Nikon feel--at slow speeds it clicks
in at each aperture, when working quickly the stops are not as well-defined.
For shutter-priority use or mounting on an F5/F100/F80, the little
minimum f-stop lock gives most Nikon users fits, and I'm no different.
the front and rear elements are highly exposed, so be careful when
handling the lens. The lens hood bayonets onto the front piece,
and is made of plastic. There is no alignment aid for getting the
bayonet lined up.
is a great lens, though not necessarily the sharpest of the 20mm's
Nikon has made (Galen swore by the 20mm f/4, and I've known other
photographers who love the 20mm f/3.5). As you might expect, autofocus
is swift and sure on most modern Nikon bodies. I detect a slight
amount of light falloff at f/2.8, but it is mostly gone by f/4.
Sharpness is good wide open and superb edge to edge on full frame
bodies at mid-range apertures. Contrast is better than the 20-35mm
f/2.8D I used to use.
had as much problem with flare on the 20mm as I did with the zoom
(which you'd expect from the reduced number of elements). With the
hood on, I basically ignore flare, even when shooting directly into
the sun. With the Nikon 62mm polarizer, this lens is nothing short
of awesome: sharp, contrasty, distortion and flare free, with color
that is intense and dramatic.
is only a small amount of barrel distortion, but nevertheless this
isn't the best lens for rendering the straight lines necessary in
interior and architectural photography. [Note: a lot of people go
into a store, mount the lens on a Nikon body, then remark at how
much barrel distortion they see. What they don't know is
that most Nikon viewfinders have a bit of barrel distortion in them.
The only way to tell how much distortion is in the lens is to look
at pictures taken with the lens.] Assuming that you keep the camera
level, straight lines near the edge of the frame bow only slightly.
This isn't a cheap lens. Some consumer-oriented zooms are less
expensive than the 20mm f/2.8D. Nevertheless, I'd argue that
the 20mm f/2.8D is an excellent value. Performance is everything
you'd expect at this price.
depth of field scale. The DOF scale only has markings
for f/5.6 and f/11, and the only marked settings (for feet)
are 0.85, 1, 1.25, 1.5, 2, 3, 5, and infinity. If you're setting
focus based on hyperfocal or other focus charts, you're going
to find that you're mostly guessing.
and light. Even weight-averse backpackers will have no
problems carrying this lens into the backcountry.