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Today, I will introduce a Nikon lens I initially acquired many years ago for hiking: Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 AF-D. I wanted a small-sized, reasonably-priced wide-angle lens, and I found this lens perfect out of all the choices for Nikon F mount.
Handling and Build
- Diameter & length: 69 x 54 mm
- Weight: 260 grams (such a light lens!)
- Filter size: 62 mm
- Minimum focus distance: 0.25 m
- Aperture: 7 blades, f2.8 max
Right from the start, the lens’s small size was the main reason behind my acquisition. It’s lightweight and ideal for hikes where weight limit is a constant factor. And though nowadays I hardly have time to hike, until this day, this lens remains one of my prudent purchases.
Unfortunately, because it’s an AF-D lens, it’s quite unpleasant to operate the focus manually. The focus ring is short and not so good for precise focusing. It also feels flimsy and plasticky, especially when you hit on infinity or minimum focus edge. And if you’re using the new Nikon Z mount, the autofocus will be useless.
The good news is that focusing is not a genuine concern even without autofocus since it’s considered an ultra wide-angle lens due to its 20mm focal length. Everything will mostly be in focus if you just set it to infinity.
Image Quality and Usage
I have to be honest with you: this 20mm lens does not have exceptional image quality. It produces acceptable photos, and that’s about it. Do not expect super sharp photos.
And since it’s an old lens with no modern coating, expect strong chromatic aberrations when shot against bright lights. It also produces busy, bubbly bokeh, which may not be your preference.
Due to its rather fast aperture of 2.8, this lens is pretty usable during low light situations, although with a film camera, you would have to use faster film rolls like ISO 800 and above.
It’s a fitting lens for landscape, architecture, or even street photography. As you can see in the two photos below, it gives a vast sense of space. The distance is emphasized more than it actually is.
It goes without saying that with an ultra-wide angle lens, you need to consider distortion in each shot. Changing the angle, even a bit, could make or break the image. That being said, if you can master this lens, it can elevate your wide-angle photos.
Over the years, this lens has been a favorite of mine. I captured numerous keepers with sentimental values, so it’s a no-brainer that I value it highly.
As I mentioned before, the size and weight are its best features. However, they will be negated if you’re considering using the lens in Nikon Z mount or other cameras because, more often than not, you will have a large adapter as big as the lens itself.
It’s a fun lens to use, nonetheless. It is handy when weight is a concern during your travels. I’m partial to AF-D lenses, though they are often considered somewhat inferior to the manual-era AI lenses and their successor, AF-S. I think their portability is the most substantial reason to own them. This lens and its two relatives, the 50mm and the 28-105mm, are my favorite lenses from AF-D line.