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Home » Nikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 Compared

Nikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 Compared

Nikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 PZ

The Nikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 is a versatile lens. For instance, the Nikon 12-28mm’s compact dimensions and wide-to-normal focal length make for an excellent general-purpose everyday lens for photography. But with features such as Power Zoom and inbuilt optical image stabilization, the Nikon 12-28mm appears equally well suited for video.

Furthermore, the Nikon Z DX 12-28mm costs just US$359. As such, the 12-28mm DX is somewhat of a unique proposition – particularly if you’re just as fond of shooting video as you are taking photos. Jump to conclusion.

Table of Contents

What is the Nikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6

The Nikon Z DX is a compact photo/video-centric lens for APS-C-based Nikon Z cameras such as the Nikon Z30, Z50, and Zfc. However, the lens will function on a Full Frame Z mount camera like the Nikon Z6ii, albeit with a 60% crop.

Nikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6
The Nikon Z 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 is an excellent option for shooting stills and video.

Focal Length.

The Nikon’s 12 to 28mm focal length will serve your APS-C sensor at any angle of view between 99 and 53 degrees – similar to that of a 24-42mm Full Frame lens.

As a result, the Nikon Z DX 12-28mm is well suited to landscape photography, group photos, and vlogging. Thus making the Nikon Z 12-28mm an excellent walkabout lens. Read What is Focal Length in Photography.


The Nikon Z 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 is a variable aperture lens. In other words, the Nikon’s F3.5 aperture shrinks to F5.6 the further you zoom toward 28mm.

As a result, the Nikon Z 12-28mm will struggle somewhat when shooting moving subjects in low light. Furthermore, the Nikon is unlikely to offer much in the way of background blur. While many wide-angle applications don’t require background blur, being able to blur out your background while vlogging can be advantageous. Read What is Aperture in Photography.


The Nikon Z 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 isn’t short of features for a relatively affordable lens. First, the Nikon 12-28mm packs optical image stabilization offering up to 4.5 stabilization – ideal for smoothing out the handheld video and shooting static subjects in low light.

Then there’s the power zoom which can be set to 11 different speeds ranging from 0.55 to 36 seconds – to suit your creative intent. Furthermore, the power zoom can be controlled remotely through your PC or phone via the Snapbridge app. As you’d hope for a video-orientated lens, the Nikon Z 12-28mm’s autofocus is quiet and corrected for breathing.

Body and Build

Weighing just 205 grams, the compact Nikon 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 leans well into its everyday-photography credentials. Regarding weather sealing – Nikon claims the Nikon 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 was “Designed with consideration for dust- and drip-resistant performance*, enabling users to take it anywhere with greater confidence.”

If you’re wondering, the * means, “Thorough dust- and drip-resistance is not guaranteed in all situations or under all conditions.” So much for confidence.

Nikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 Lens construction
The Nikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 optical construction features 12 Elements in 11 Groups.

Aside from fair-weather resistance, the Nikon Z 12-28mm features a mechanical zoom ring and a custom control ring. There is no switch to toggle between manual and autofocus.

Nikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 Specifications

SpecificationsNikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6
Price (US$)$395
Focal length12-28mm
Angle of view99-53 Degrees
Maximum apertureF3.5-5.6
Minimum apertureF16-25
Diaphragm blades7 Rounded
Lens construction12 Elements in 11 Groups
Optical Image StabilizationYe – up to 4.5 stops
Minimum focus distance19cm
Maximum reproduction ratio.21x
Filter-attachment size67mm
Dimensions (approx)72 x 63.5mm
Weight (approx)205g
Source: Nikon Asia

Nikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 Image Quality

The Nikon Z DX 12-28mm is yet to be released – thus, we will have to wait before finding out how well it performs in the real world. However, the MTF charts look positive. The lens seems sharp across the frame at wide-angle, while the center remains strong throughout the zoom range.

Nikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 MTF Chart
The Nikon Z 12-28mm MTF charts.

However, lenses like these tend to have hot and not-spots throughout their focus, aperture, and zoom range. Therefore, a real-world appraisal is required.

Nikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 Compared

Nikon Z DX 12-28mm vs Nikon DX 16-50mm F3.5-6.3

The Nikon Z 12-28mm’s most immediate rival is the Nikon DX 16-50mm F3.5-6.3. Like the newer lens, the Nikon 16-50mm is a lightweight variable-aperture lens with in-built optical stabilization. Also, like the Z 12-28mm, the DX 16-50mm is affordable and designed for smaller APS-C sensors inside the Nikon Z30, Z50, and Zfc.

The Nikon Z DX 16-50mm extended focal range makes it a more versatile lens for photography.

However, the Nikon Z DX 16-50mm’s generous focal range can deliver any angle of view between 83 and 31 degrees – compared to the Nikon Z 12-28mm lens’s 99 to 53 degrees. As a result, the Nikon DX 16-50mm is better suited to taking photos of distant subjects and will serve you reasonably well as a classic portraiture lens.

While the Nikon DX 16-50mm F3.5-6.3 may be superior for photography, the Nikon Z DX 12-28mm is a better choice for video for two reasons. First, its power zoom gives you better, smoother, more consistent control as you zoom toward and away from your subject. Second, the Z 16-50mm lens produces a much wider angle of view – thus giving you the space you need to vlog at arm’s reach.

In terms of image quality, bother lenses are good rather than excellent. And thanks to their smaller variable apertures, neither lens will blur backgrounds particularly well.

Nikon Z 14-30mm F4

Unlike the Nikon Z DX 12-28mm, the Nikon Z 14-30mm F4 is a Full Frame lens and, perhaps, a better choice if you own or plan on owning a Full Frame Nikon camera.

Nikon Z 14-30mm F4
The Nikon Z 14-30mm F4 is an excellent lens – but represents poor value for DX owners.

Furthermore, the 14-30mm’s constant F4 aperture makes it twice as bright as the Nikon Z DX 12-28mm at telephoto, while its advanced Nano and Flourine optical coatings help to keep dust, flare, and ghosting at bay.

Without a doubt, the Nikon Z 14-30mm F4 is a great lens – but it’s also a poor choice for Nikon DX fans. First, it doesn’t shoot as wide as the Nikon 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 – potentially making selfies and handheld vlogging more difficult. Nor does it feature the cheaper lens’ video-centric power zoom feature or optical image stabilization.

But more than that, the Nikon Z 14-30mm F4 is larger, heavier, and considerably more expensive. Unless you have a Full Frame camera and are into ultra-wide photography – get the Nikon Z 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 instead.

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Lenses such as the Nikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 underline the significant advantages of the APS-C format. Specifically, the Nikon 12-28mm is small, light, and relatively cheap.

Yet despite its low price, the Nikon Z DX 12-28mm is feature rich with inbuilt optical image stabilization and video-centric power zoom. And looking at the MTF charts, the image quality seems pretty decent too.

Moreover, the Nikon Z 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 lacks any natural alternative. While the Nikon DX 16-50mm F3.5-6.3 offers a better focal range for photography, the Nikon 12-28mm’s extra-wide angle of view and power zoom makes it a good choice for photography and a superior choice for video.

Overall, the Nikon Z DX 12-28mm F3.5-5.6 deserves your consideration – particularly if you shoot video. However, if you shoot only stills – you may prefer the Nikon DX 16-50mm lens’s more generous focal range.

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