How a 28mm 1.8G Prime Fits Into Your Photography


This past fall, I purchased Nikon's 28mm 1.8G at the suggestion of another photographer friend. As I have enjoyed the 85mm and 50mm 1.8G primes, the wider angle perspective would appear to complement these two primes. This lens needed to capture a clear and clean wide angle image that is a ‘what you see is what you get' versus the linear, vanishing point perspective achieved with my super-wide 14-24mm zoom.

My expectations of this lens were the same as other primes, it needed to be lightweight, fast and produce sharp images.

How did the 28mm lens shake out? I'll share observations and a few tips.


The 28mm captures a nice, fairly wide subject area without distortion. At sunrise on the beach in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, the 28mm pulled in the complete feeling of the moment. The sun's reflection, the starburst, the pier and horizon line balanced well in terms of color, sharpness and total scene.

When looking through the viewfinder, the image appears smaller so moving in closer is required. While the zooming action happens with the feet when using primes, there's a noticeable difference in how much closer in I needed to move with the 28mm versus the 50mm. The image below I initially started too far back. The beach sand took away from the impact I was looking for. I moved to stand on the rocks and very close to the water to really hone in on the light beaming across the rocks.

This is also true when photographing close-up with people or pets using a 28mm. Moving in to the subject is needed to avoid background distractions unless it adds to the scene. The wider angle is well, wider, and pulls in a lot of the surrounding area. While learning the 28mm, consistently checking, playing back and zooming in all around the image is suggested to avoid unwanted distractions.

In outdoor photography where I wanted a wide angle of view but without too much or any sky, the 28mm really shined. The field of daisies illustrates a wide, but not too wide angle of view with just a smidgeon of sky for context.

The waterfall scene below started with the 14-24mm but I just couldn't get it right. There was too much sky and many distracting trees in the image. As I also wanted to slow the movement of the water, I used a B+W filter. The filter size is the same as the 85mm so thankfully it was already in the toolkit. The outcome was a smooth, creamy waterfall surrounded by fall color.

Leading lines with wide and super wide are a desired outcome when working with near-to-far images. The 28mm visually and more subtly carries the viewer into the distance than a super wide.

Tips to Speed Up the Learning Curve

  1. Start closer to your subject and move out versus starting further away and moving in.
  2. Playback and review the images from top to bottom to look for distractions and to determine if you need to get closer to your subject.
  3. If using multiple primes or wide angle zoom, stand in one spot (tripod helps here) take some images with each of your lenses to see the total scene that was captured with each. This is a quick way get acclimated to your lens and speed up the ‘which prime do I use” process when in the field.

An additional note is that the 28mm 1.8G also works well in low light conditions. While I use a tripod for landscape, on the street walking around, it's a good performer. The 28mm has been a fun addition to the camera bag and I would highly recommend this distance if you enjoy using primes. Out of my primes, I use the 50mm first, the 28mm next followed by the 85mm.

About Author

Sheen Watkins is a conservationist, wildlife photographer, instructor, author and photography writer. You can follow her photography on Facebook, Instagram and her website.

I prefer zooms for the usual reasons but supplement with primes when they add something specific (e.g. macro, portrait, etc.) Is there some benefit, beyond what is true for all primes, to the 28mm 1.8 over, say…an ultra-wide zoom like the 16-35 f/4?

If recently bought my first prime the 35mm 1.8 dx so it’s more of a 50mm. Your post was both interesting & timely to me.

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