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Summary

The Nikon Z 28-75mm f2.8 offers a good feature set including full weather sealing, fluorine-coating, multi function ring, and most crucially a low weight and very reasonable price. The only really critical point may be that the zoom starts at 28mm which gives a 9 degrees narrower angle of view than lenses starting at 24mm. But all-in-all I think Nikon has put a very interesting proposition in the market. Check back soon for my full review.

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Nikon Z 28-75mm f2.8 preview
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The announcement of Nikon’s Z 28-75mm f2.8 came as quite a surprise: it was neither on Nikon’s lens roadmap nor were there any rumors about it until a few days before it became official. In addition, Nikon already has two standard 24-70mm zooms for its mirrorless lineup: The Z 24-70mm f4 S and the Z 24-70mm f2.8 S. But Nikon managed to squeeze another interesting option between both existing lenses: The Z 28-75mm f2.8 offers a one stop brighter constant focal ratio than the 24-70mm f4 S but puts away with the top-of-the-line features of the professional grade Z 24-70mm f2.8 S. The new lens has no dedicated focus ring, no programmable function button, no OLED display, and no ARNEO coating. And – perhaps most crucially – it starts at only 28mm, which means you lose 9 degrees in angle of view over the lenses starting at 24mm. It’s also not an “S”-lens signaling that its optical performance is probably not quite up there with Nikon’s “S”-lenses. But sacrificing these features makes it possible to position the new lens at half the price of the Z 24-70mm f2.8 S and quite astonishingly shave off an incredible 30% or 241g of weight of its professional sibling. Which makes the Nikon Z 28-75mm f2.8 the lightest standard zoom lens with constant f2.8 aperture for mirrorless cameras, except for the Tamron 28-75mm f.8 Di III G2 which just hit the streets – but is only available (so far) for Sony E-mount.

The Nikon Z 28-75mm f2.8 costs 1049 EUR / 1197 USD / 949 GBP and should become available in January.

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Facts and features

Let’s compare the Nikon Z 28-75mm f2.8 (“Z 28-75” for short) to the Nikon Z 24-70mm f4 S and Nikon Z 24-70mm f2.8 S. I also put in the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III (1st generation, “Tamron G1” for short) which is only available for Sony E-mount but that lens looks very similar in construction and MTF performance to the new Nikon. As usual I’ve rated the features with a [+] (or [++]), when it’s better than average or even state of the art, a [0] if it’s standard or just average, and [-] if there’s a disadvantage.

Size (diameter x length): 75 x 121mm (3.0 x 4.7in.). Add an estimated 41mm for the lens hood and 25mm when zoomed in to 75mm focal length. I assume Nikon implemented a single barrel design to do this just like on the Z 24-70mm f2.8 S. The Z 24-70mm f4 S is 78 x 88mm (in its collapsed state) + 41mm lens hood + 50mm extension when zoom-in. The Z 24-70mm f2.8 S is 89 x 126mm + 41mm lens hood + 30mm when zoomed in, the Tamron G1 is 73 x 118 + 27mm lens hood. When comparing the Tamron G1 with the Z 28-75 keep in mind that the flange distance for Z-mount is 2mm shorter than for E-mount. [0]

Weight: At 565g (1.25 lb.) plus an estimated 38g for the plastic lens hood the new lens is astonishingly light for a constant f2.8 zoom. The Z 24-70mm f4 S is 497g + 28g lens hood, the Z 24-70mm f2.8 S is 806g + 43g lens hood. The Tamron G1 is 540g + 25g lens hood. [+]

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Above: Nikon Z 28-75mm f2.8; below: Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III (1st generation)

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Optics: with 15 elements in 12 groups including 2 special dispersion and 3 aspherical elements the construction looks identical to the Tamron G1. The three Nikon lenses in this comparison have fluorine-coating on the front element to repel water, dust, and dirt and make cleaning easier. The Z 24-70mm f4 S has 14 elements in 11 groups, the Z 24-70mm f2.8 S has 17 elements in 15 groups including three aspherical elements and profits from Nikon’s “ARNEO” anti-reflective coating. [+]

Coverage: With its 2.7x zoom-range the Z 28-75 (and Tamron G1) starts at the short end with an angle of view of 75 degrees, compared to the 84 degrees of zooms starting at 24mm. This may be a decisive factor: Not always can you step back enough to get the 9 degrees wider view of 24mm focal length. At the long end the Z 28-75mm (and Tamron G1) offers 7% more reach/magnification than 70mm focal length which is only a minor benefit: If the image at 70mm is sharp enough, cropping a 45MP shot at 70mm to match the angle-of-view of 75mm still nets you around 39MP. [0]

Here is the angle of view that a 28-75mm zoom lens covers compared to the coverage of a 24-70mm zoom both shot from the same spot:

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Above: Angle of view of 28mm (left) and 75mm (right) on a full-frame camera (Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III G2)

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Above: Angle of view of 24mm (left) and 70mm (right) on a full-frame camera (Nikon Z 24-70mm f2.8 S)

Closest focus distance of the Z 28-75 and Tamron G1 is 0.19m (0.6ft.) with a working distance of 5cm (2.1in.) at 28mm focal length, 0.39m (1.3ft.) at 75mm focal length. Maximum magnification is 1:2.9 which is very good – probably achieved at 28mm focal length just like with the Tamron G1. The Z 24-70mm f4 S goes to 1:3.1, the Z 24-70mm f2.8 S achieves 1:4.2, both at 70mm focal length. [+]

Image stabilization: No. All lenses in this comparison rely solely on the body-based stabilization on Nikon’s full-frame Z cameras. [0]

Filter-thread: The Z 28-75 and Tamron G1 use 67mm filters, the Z 24-70mm f4 S uses 72mm filters, the Z 24-70mm f2.8 S needs 82mm filters [+]

Autofocus: Yes with built-in AF drive. Manual-focus override is by simply turning the multi function ring – if you have focus assigned to it. The ring has a variable gearing (like Nikon’s other AF Z-Nikkors) which allows for very precise manual focus when turned slowly but cannot be switched to linear gearing. Which makes smooth focus pulling for videographers almost impossible. On Nikon Z cameras introduced October 2020 or later you can reverse focus direction. [+]

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Aperture ring and other control elements: the multi-function control ring of the Z 28-75 and Z 24-70mm f4 S can be assigned to operate the aperture (which is the default), exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity, or focus – or simply switched off. As these two lenses lack a dedicated focus ring the multi-function ring automatically falls back to its customary focus control when the camera is switched to manual focus. The Z 28-75 lacks an AF/MF switch witch both the 24-70mm zoom lenses have. The Z 24-70mm f2.8 S also sports an OLED display indicating focal length, aperture or focusing distance (in m or ft.) and depth-of-field plus an extra function button which can be assigned different functions e.g. AE/AF-lock. The Tamron G1 simply has a dedicated focus ring and no other control elements. [+]

Lens profile: All three Z-Nikkors come with a lens profile for vignette control, diffraction compensation, and auto distortion control. The latter cannot be deactivated on the Z 24-70mm f4 S. How it is with the Z 28-75 has to be seen but I assume that auto distortion control can be deactivated on the new lens. [+]

All three lenses cover full frame/FX or smaller sensors. [+]

Price: 1049 EUR (incl. 19% VAT) / 1197 USD / 949 GBP. The Z 24-70mm f4 S is currently at around 800 EUR / 1000 USD / 800 GBP, the Nikon Z 24-70mm f2.8 S costs 2000 EUR / 2000 USD / 2000 GBP. This makes the Z 28-75 looks like a bargain if you want/need a standard zoom lens with a constant bright f2.8 focal ratio. So relative to the other two Z Nikkors the new lens seems attractively priced. The Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III (1st generation) is still available in shops at street prices of around 670 EUR / 630 GBP and Tamron’s new and improved 28-75mm f2.8 Di III G2 costs 949 EUR / 899 USD / 849 GBP – but both Tamron lenses are only available for Sony E-mount. [+]

All three Z-Nikkors come with the usual flimsy pouch with no strings to pull it close. The lens hood is included and is reversible for transport. The lens hood of the Z 24-70mm f2.8 S has a lock to prevent it from accidentally falling off. The Tamron G1 comes with lens hood but lacks a pouch. [0]

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Sealing: yes. All three Z-Nikkors have a rubber grommet at the lens-mount plus further special weather-sealing throughout the construction. The Tamron G1 has only a seal at the lens mount. [+]

At a score of 0[-]/4[0]/10[+] the Nikon Z 28-75mm f2.8 offers a good feature set including full weather sealing, fluorine-coating, multi function ring, and most crucially a low weight and very reasonable price. The only really critical point may be that the zoom starts at 28mm which gives a 9 degrees narrower angle of view than lenses starting at 24mm. But all-in-all I think Nikon has put a very interesting proposition in the market.


Sharpness and contrast

Let’s have a look at the theoretical performance of the Nikon Z 28-75mm f2.8, Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III (1st generation), Nikon Z 24-70mm f4 S and Nikon Z 24-70mm f2.8 S:

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Above: Nikon Z 28-75mm f2.8 at 28mm f2.8 (left), 75mm f2.8 (right)

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Above: Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III (1st generation) at 28mm f2.8 (left), 75mm f2.8 (right)

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Above: Nikon Z 24-70mm f4 S at 24mm f4.0 (left), 70mm f4.0 (right)

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Above: Nikon Z 24-70mm f2.8 S at 24mm f2.8 (left), 70mm f2.8 (right)

These MTF charts show the computed lens-performance of lenses wide open at infinity without influence of diffraction at 10 line-pairs/mm (red) and 30 lp/mm (blue). Higher values are better (more contrast) and the closer the dotted and solid lines are together the less contrast dependents on the orientation of the test-pattern (less astigmatism). The x-axis displays the distance from the optical axis (=center of the sensor) in mm.

The MTF-charts of the new Nikon look very similar to the Tamron G1 although there are some slight deviations. So perhaps there are small differences in the type of glass – or Nikon’s computers simply calculate the MTF of a lens differently than Tamron’s computers. From the charts the new Z 28-75mm f2.8 should be behind the flagship Z 24-70mm f2.8 S in overall contrast and detail resolution. Comparing the new lens to the Z 24-70mm f4 S is inconclusive as the focal ratios differ so it depends upon how well the Z 28-75 sharpens up when stopped down to f4.0.

Looking at all the facts currently known about the new Nikon Z 28-75mm f2.8 and the 1st generation Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III it looks like both lenses are based on the same optical design and should perform very, very similar. On the outside size and weight is also very close with the Nikon having the typical Z-Nikkor look and feel plus the added benefit of its multi function ring, thorough weather sealing, and fluorine coating. This all should make for a decent standard zoom lens with constant f2.8 aperture. The question remains, why Nikon did not use the optical design of Tamron’s 2nd generation (G2) lens which recently hit the streets and is a clear improvement over their G1 design.

Check back for my full review when the lens becomes available. And if you’re interested to see how the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III G2 compares to its 1st generation sibling and the Nikon Z 24-70mm f2.8 S head over to my Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III G2 review.

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