The Nikkor Z 17-28mm f/2.8 is a new lens in the ultra-wide zoom category at a mid-range price that is perfect for travel photography, landscape photography, and video.
It is a full-frame Nikon lens but can be mounted on a crop sensor body such as the Nikon Z50.
I shot all images in this review of the 17-28mm f/2.,8 on a Z system full-frame camera.
I’m a wedding photographer who could put this lens to use for some dramatic portraits for sure.
To test its capabilities, I wandered the streets of Chicago recently, taking cityscapes to test its sharpness and color tones as well as its ability to handle sun flare and more.
Let’s dive into my review,
Table of Contents
Nikkor Z 17-28 f/2.8 Lens Specs
- Light in weight and small in size.
- Just as sharp as Nikon’s S line beyond f/5.6 aperture.
- Good price (especially for the f/2.8 aperture).
- Good build quality and sealing.
- Internal zoom mechanism.
- Will accept screw-on filters.
- No lens function buttons.
- Does vignette when shot wide open.
- Prone to flare when shooting into light sources.
- No image stabilization.
- Focal Length – 17 to 28mm
- Maximum Aperture f/2.8
- Minimum Aperture f/22
- Angle of View 104° to 75°
- Minimum Focus Distance 7.5″ / 19 cm
- Optical Design 13 Elements in 11 Groups
- Diaphragm Blades 9, Rounded
- Focus Type Autofocus
- Image Stabilization – No
- Filter Size 67 mm (Front)
- Dimensions (ø x L) 3 x 4″ / 75 x 101 mm
- Weight 15.9 oz / 450 g
Build & Ergonomics
I appreciate that this lens is light in weight yet retains a solid build quality as well as a metal mount.
The ultra-wide angle Nikkor Z 17-28mm f/2.8 lens comes with a bayonet fit lens hood, although I admit that I almost missed this as it was buried in the bottom packaging of the box.
I used the lens on a Nikon Z9 camera body, and it felt ergonomically sound when shooting this lens.
However, if you are someone who liked to program the lens function buttons as on most of the Nikkor S line lenses, the Nikkor Z 17-28mm f/2.8 lens does not have any of these.
It does, however, have a control ring where exposure compensation, ISO, aperture value, and more can be programmed in.
I admit I never use this feature because I constantly move the ring by accident. I would think most photographers would just leave this for manual focus.
The lens is internal focusing, but the front element does protrude out which could be an issue in very dusty conditions.
The 67mm filter thread will be welcome to those who attach various filters.
When manual focusing, the focusing ring feels good, but videographers need to know that there is some focus breathing.
Low light focusing was really good, and I don’t think this was just because I was using a Nikon Z9 camera body.
It’s a fairly fast-focusing lens, and I can’t imagine too many shooting situations where it would hold you up.
The focusing performance is silent and accurate. The constant maximum aperture of f/2.8 is very helpful in low-light scenes.
The big surprise to me was the close focusing distance of 7.5 inches. This will allow you to capture details and textures with a uniquely wide-angle perspective.
I simply loved the sharpness of the Nikkor Z 17-28 f/2.8 lens for the walkaround cityscapes I was shooting.
I was photographing handheld the entire time, and I imagine if I had a tripod on me, I could have even sharper results.
There is no vibration reduction built into the lens, so you will have to rely on in-body stabilization. However, with an ultra-wide lens such as this, I feel it’s better to have the low weight than to bulk up the lens with this feature.
I have shot other ultra-wide angle Nikon lenses before, such as the Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8 S lens, for much more money, and I feel this lens is just as sharp past an aperture of f/5.6.
I neglected to bring a lens hood with me, and I did see some colored blobs of flaring in some backlit shots that perhaps the higher-priced S-line lenses would not produce.
This lens is fluorine coated with Nikon’s own formula, but keep in mind that ultra-wide angle lenses are known for flaring.
Nikkor Z 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens Sample Images
Here are some sample images taken with the Nikkor Z 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens using a Nikon Z9.
How I Tested the Nikkor Z 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens
I used the Nikkor Z 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens exclusively on a Nikon Z9 camera for this review. I shot the lens in downtown Chicago as though I was traveling and taking in the city.
I spent a few hours at home taking random images and getting used to the ultra-wide angle to mid-wide zoom range before spending close to 8 hours in the city taking street photography images as well as cityscapes of the tall buildings and Chicago River.
I even snuck into the Hotel Continental for a few low-light images in their spacious lobby area.
Although this is a fast f/2.8 aperture lens, my goal was to test the sharpness at the f/5.6 to f/11 range to see how it held up against the Nikon S Line lenses.
I’m happy to report that it delivered excellent quality for a relatively budget price.
If you are looking for more control of settings via the lens, note that you will have to go into the camera menu, as this is a simple design and does not have the bells and whistles of the Nikon S line of lenses.
The Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S Lens is the closest alternate lens if the fast f/2.8 aperture is important to you and you don’t mind the extra cost.
You will achieve better results in the fast aperture range of f/2.8 thru f/4 and less flaring.
Another option is the Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S Lens which is slightly higher in price but does go wider and a bit longer than the Nikkor Z 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens.
If low light is your main concern, the NIKKOR Z 20mm f/1.8 S Lens is the way to go. However, this prime lens will require you to zoom with your feet.
Value for Money
At around $1200, the Nikkor Z 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens is a good value and will be on sale at times.
Unless you are shooting professional real estate photography or doing paid commercial work, this ultra-wide-angle zoom will serve you well.
Although I shoot professionally, my genre of wedding photography doesn’t require me to use Nikon’s top-quality S series lenses for this focal range.
I may pick this one up to have on hand for certain venues and styles I may need to convey with a very wide perspective.
Some will look at the Tamron lenses on which it is believed this lens is based and consider the price a Nikon tax of sorts.
However, you gain a full Nikon warranty and firmware updates, the Nikon optical formula, and will know that your investment will pay dividends in the future and be future-proof.
Will this lens work on Nikon F Mount?
No, this lens is specifically made for Z mount.
Is this the same lens as the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens?
There are rumors of this, but if true, the addition of the lens ring functions signals to me that Nikon added their own specifications to the lens including coatings.
Nikkor Z 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens Review | Conclusion
I definitely see myself purchasing the Nikkor Z 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens as my ultra-wide angle lens option for wedding work.
It has the fast aperture I’m looking for when photographing in dim venues, and it has very good sharpness, is lightweight, and is low in cost.
I will take full advantage of the lens’s small footprint as it will not take up much room in my ThinkTank Security roller bag.
If you are shooting Nikon Z in a variety of genres and are looking for a fast wide-angle lens that doesn’t break the bank, you will be quite pleased with Nikon’s option here.