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Home » Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8 Compared – Do we really need this lens?

Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8 Compared – Do we really need this lens?

  • Lenses

The Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8 is a compact wide-angle zoom lens for Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless Z-mount system. But unlike most compact wide-angle zoom lenses, the Nikon Z 17-28mm packs a large F2.8 aperture – enabling it to soak up twice as much light as an F4 alternative such as the Nikon Z 14-30mm F4.

Nevertheless, the Nikon Z 17-28mm is somewhat odd since such a lens is most likely used for landscape photography – a genre that often trades large apertures and shallow depth of field for ever-wider focal lengths. So, does the Nikon Z 17-28mm make sense, and is it the lens for you? Jump to Conclusion


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What is the Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8?

Focal Length

The Nikon Z 17-28mm will present your camera’s full-frame sensor at any angle of view between 103 and 75 degrees – making it a solid option for photographing vast landscapes, vlogging, or shooting in tight interior spaces.

Alternatively, screw the Nikon Z 17-28mm onto an APS-C-based Nikon DX camera such as the Nikon Z30 or Zfc, and your angle of view narrows to 79 and 53 degrees, similar to that of a 27-42mm lens on a full-frame camera. In these conditions, the Nikon Z 17-28mm becomes more suitable for street photography and short-range portraiture. Read What is Focal Length in Photography.

Aperture

The Nikon Z 17-28mm features a large F2.8 aperture – enabling it to suck up twice as much light as an F4 alternative such as the Nikon Z 14-30mm F4. Plus, the large aperture will help you better blur that background.

Another benefit of larger apertures is more light for your camera’s autofocus system – usually resulting in better performance, particularly in low-light conditions. Read What is Aperture in Photography

Maximum Magnification

Sadly, the Nikon Z 17-28mm short focal length and 19-centimeter minimum focus distance limits magnification to 0.19x. In other words, the Nikon 17-28mm can project objects onto your camera’s sensor at 19% of their original size. As a result, the Nikon 17-28mm is a poor choice for close-up photography.

Body and Construction

The Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8 is 101mm long and weighs 450 grams. Control-wise, the Nikon 17-28mm features two control rings – one for zoom and a clickless customizable control ring which you can set to adjust settings such as focus, aperture, etc.

Source: Nikon

Unfortunately, the Nikon 17-28 does not feature in-built optical image stabilization. This is hardly a show-stopper since all of Nikon’s full-frame Z cameras have in-built image stabilization (IBIS). However, this is terrible news if you own one of Nikon’s APS-C DX-based cameras as none feature IBIS.

The Nikon Z 17-28mm features a weather-resistant design. Sadly, the lens lacks any formal rating, and its true resistance is ambiguous.

Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8 Specifications

Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8
Price (US$)$1,199
Focal length17-28mm
Angle of view104-75 Degrees
Maximum apertureF2.8
Minimum apertureF22
Diaphragm blades9 Rounded Blades
Lens construction13 Elements in 11 Groups
Optical Image StabilizationNo
Minimum focus distance19-26cm
Maximum reproduction ratio.19x
Filter-attachment size67mm
Dimensions (approx.)75mm x 101 mm
Weight (approx.)450g
Source: Nikon USA

Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8 Image Quality

I’ve yet to use the Nikon Z 17-28mm, but I expect the image quality to be excellent – as it has been with all of Nikon’s Z Zooms. Looking at the Nikon Z 17-28mm MTF Chart – the lens appears very sharp across the frame with some softness in the corners.

Source: Nikon

Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8 Compared

The Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8 sits between two lenses. The top-end Nikon Z 14-24mm f2.8 and its lightweight, more affordable alternative, the Nikon Z 14-30mm F4.

Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8Nikon Z 14-30mm F4
Price (US$)$1,199$2,499$1,349
Focal length17-28mm14-24mm14-30mm
Angle of view104-75 Degrees114-84 Degrees114-72-degrees
Maximum apertureF2.8F2.8F4
Minimum apertureF22F22F22
Diaphragm blades9 Rounded Blades9 Rounded Blades7
Lens construction13 Elements in 11 Groups16 Elements in 11 Groups14 Elements in 12 Groups
Optical Image StabilizationNoNoNo
Minimum focus distance19-26cm28cm28cm
Maximum reproduction ratio.19x.13x.16x
Filter-attachment size67mm112mm82mm
Dimensions (approx)75mm x 101 mm88.5mm x 124.5mm89mm x 85mm
Weight (approx)450g650g485g
Source: Nikon USANIKO

Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8 vs Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8

The Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8 is the Z-mount’s ultimate ultra-wide-angle zoom lens. It offers a wide 104-degree angle-of-view, a fast F2.8 aperture, and premium Nano, Flourine, and ARNEO coatings for flare, coma, ghosting, and dirt resistance.

As a result, the Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8 is the ultimate lens for capturing vast landscapes. And thanks to its coated optics, 14mm focal length, and bright F2.8 aperture, the Nikon 14-24mm is a solid choice for Astrophotography.

But despite being smaller, lighter, and cheaper – the Nikon Z 17-28mm shares the same large F2.8 aperture as its premium counterpart while offering a little more reach at the end of its zoom range.

However, many other landscape photographers and I would trade reach for more width (stop it!). And the Z 17-28mm misses out on Nikon’s wonderful Nano-coated optics – a game changer for sunsets and sunrises.

Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8 vs Nikon Z 14-30mm F4

In some ways, the Nikon Z 14-30mm F4 has more in common with the expensive Nikon Z 14-24mm. At 14mm, both lenses return an ultra-wide 114-degree angle of view, and both have landscape-orientated features such as Nano and Flourine coated optics. Furthermore, the Nikon 14-30mm can stretch to 30mms for a 72-degree angle of view.

However, the Nikon 14-30mm’s F4 aperture can only soak up half as much light as the F2.8 aperture found on the Nikon 17-28mm. As a result, you may need to double your ISO and reduce your image quality.

But in reality, I’m forced to use much smaller apertures to extend my depth of field. So whether I am using an F2.8 or an F4 lens – I’ll probably be shooting at F8. And because I am using smaller, darker apertures – I’ll probably be carrying a tripod.

Therefore, in this context, the Nikon Z 14-30mm F4’s wider angle-of-view and Nano-coated optics will be more useful than the Nikon Z 17-28mm’s larger F2.8 aperture.


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Conclusion – is the Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8 worth it?

In isolation, the Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8 is a good lens with a large aperture and a useful focal length. However, its focal range directly competes with two other excellent lenses, the Nikon 14-24mm F2.8 and the Nikon 14-30mm F4.

If we presume all three of these lenses are for capturing large scenes such as landscapes, the Nikon 17-28mm is at a disadvantage as the other two lenses begin at a much wider 14mm focal length. Furthermore, the Nikon 14-30mm and 14-24mm are stacked with useful landscape-centric features such as Nano and Flourine optics, while the 17-28mm has neither.

And the usefulness of a large F2.8 aperture is debatable on a lens primarily designed for capturing more expansive scenes since smaller apertures need to be used for depth-of-field. Of course, there are times when you need to shoot wide through a large bright aperture. Vlogging or Astrophotography for instance. And in these cases, the Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8 will serve you, to some extent, as a cheaper and lighter alternative to the Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8.

Overall, the Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8 is a good lens searching for an audience that neither the Z 14-30mm F4 nor 14-28mm F2.8 can satisfy. Whether such an audience exists remains to be seen.

Would you buy the Nikon Z 17-28mm F2.8, and what would you use it for?


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