Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 vs. Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC: A Comprehensive Lens Showdown for Aspiring Photographers and Seasoned Pros Alike

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Welcome to our in-depth comparison of the Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 and Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC, a duo that every photographer, regardless of experience level, has likely contemplated about. With diverse characteristics, these two lenses epitomize versatility and bring unique perspectives to your photographic journey. Whether you’re capturing breathtaking landscapes with a wide-angle perspective, immersing into street photography with its blend of spontaneity and narrative, or striving to immortalize the depth and personality in stunning portraits, these lenses can play pivotal roles in shaping your creative vision.

Understanding the nuances of each lens will allow you to match their strengths to your style, catapulting your photography to the next level. If you’re on a quest to unravel the mysteries of these lenses, seeking to discover their potential in various photography genres, or aiming to leverage their capabilities to enrich your photographic skill set, you’ve landed at the right spot.

In this article, we will delve deep into the contrasting world of the 28mm and 50mm lenses, helping you make informed decisions about which lens best aligns with your photographic pursuits. Through our comparison, you will gain insights into how each lens could potentially influence your image output, understand the aesthetic differences they bring to your compositions, and grasp the operational subtleties they carry.

So, buckle up and join us on this enlightening exploration. You’re about to embark on an insightful journey that could dramatically enhance your photographic acumen, reshape your creative viewpoint, and possibly even redefine your artistic style. Let’s get started!


Nikon NIKKOR Z 28mm F2.8Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm F2.8
Max ApertureF2.8F2.8
Aperture TypeFixedFixed
Focal Range (mm)2850
Mount TypeNikon ZNikon Z
Max Format35mm FF35mm FF

The Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 and the 50mm lens compared here share a few similarities. They both have a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a fixed aperture type. They also fit the same Nikon Z mount type and have a maximum format of 35mm FF. However, their primary differences lie in their focal lengths and their specific uses and features given these differences.

Starting with the 28mm lens, it is a wide-angle lens which provides a broad view of the scene. This lens is ideal for landscape, architectural, and street photography, where capturing a larger scene is desired. The f/2.8 maximum aperture allows a fair amount of light to enter the camera, which can be beneficial for shooting in low light conditions. However, remember that if you are primarily shooting in well-lit environments or using a tripod, a larger aperture might not be as crucial. The fixed aperture will provide consistent performance across various lighting conditions and when adjusting shutter speed or ISO settings, which can be helpful for maintaining consistent image quality.

On the other hand, the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC is a macro lens. This means it provides a 1:1 maximum magnification, making it suitable for close-up subjects due to its minimum focusing distance of 6.3″. This lens excels in capturing fine details and textures, making it an excellent choice for product, food, portrait, and macro photography. Like the 28mm lens, this lens also has a fixed maximum aperture of f/2.8, maintaining the same light gathering capacity, irrespective of the subject distance.

As a macro lens, the 50mm focal length offers a more narrow field of view compared to the 28mm, isolating the subject better from its background. It allows for a greater working distance compared to wider macro lenses, which can be beneficial when photographing skittish subjects or when lighting needs to be positioned between the camera and the subject.

In conclusion, if you frequently shoot landscapes, architecture, or street scenes, the 28mm lens would likely be your choice for its wide field of view. However, if you often engage in macro or portrait photography and value the ability to capture small details, the 50mm lens would shine in its capability for close focusing and detailed rendition.

Design and Ease of Use

Nikon NIKKOR Z 28mm F2.8Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm F2.8
Diameter x Length (mm)⌀70×43mm⌀74.5×66mm
Weight (gr)155260
Filter Thread (mm)5246
Weather SealingNoYes
Distance ScaleNoNo
DoF ScaleNoNo
Hood SuppliedNoYes

The Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8, with dimensions of 70x43mm and a weight of 155 grams, is more compact and lightweight. This makes it highly portable and easy to carry around, particularly beneficial when traveling or for extended shooting sessions. The smaller size and lighter weight could also offer a more balanced feel with the camera, making it more comfortable to handle over longer periods. Furthermore, its compactness is a boon for street photography, allowing a photographer to remain unobtrusive and take candid shots more discreetly. In terms of storage and lens swapping, this lens requires less space in your camera bag and, being lighter, is easier to manage when needing to change lenses swiftly in dynamic environments.

On the other hand, the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC has larger dimensions, measuring at 74.5x66mm, and weighs more at 260 grams. Its larger size and heavier weight might make it feel slightly front-heavy on some camera bodies, potentially causing discomfort during extended use.

In conclusion, if portability, balance, discreetness, and ease of lens swapping are of primary importance to you, the 28mm lens would be superior due to its compact and lightweight design. However, if you prefer a lens that has a more substantial feel and possibly a more robust build, you may lean towards the 50mm lens despite its larger size and heavier weight.

Lens Mount and Barrel

For the Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8, the mount is made of sturdy polycarbonate, a type of plastic renowned for its resilience and wear resistance, often outperforming certain metals. However, despite its strength, the polycarbonate mount might not withstand excessive stress, so it’s advisable not to carry the camera by this lens. Notably, this lens mount lacks a rubber gasket, a feature that typically offers extra sealing against dust and moisture.

Instead, it relies on a hard plastic lip for sealing, which might not be as effective as a rubber gasket in protecting against external elements. Consequently, this lens does not offer specific weather sealing, though it doesn’t readily expose points for water entry. The barrel, also predominantly plastic, is lightweight and well-built. It may seem toy-like due to its plastic construction but don’t be fooled; it’s precision-engineered and sturdy. The rubber-coated plastic focus ring adds to the ease of use and comfort during handling.

On the other hand, the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC features a robust metal mount, ensuring a solid connection to the camera body and enhancing durability. The mount is further reinforced with a rubber gasket, which, along with the weather sealing in the lens design, offers robust protection against dust and moisture, safeguarding the lens during outdoor shoots in variable weather conditions. This lens mount’s eleven gold-plated contact points facilitate efficient signal transmission between the lens and camera.

The barrel, primarily made of polycarbonate, is also lightweight and compact, making it ideal for travel photography or everyday use. It has a user-friendly design that enhances comfort during handling and eases manipulation of its functions. The lens utilizes an extending inner barrel system for focusing on close subjects, extending by around a third of its original length at a 1:1 macro distance.

To sum up, if your priority lies in superior durability, secure weather sealing, and efficient signal transmission, the 50mm lens’s metal mount and weather-sealed design make it a superior choice. However, if affordability and a lightweight, comfortable design are your top considerations, the 28mm lens, with its polycarbonate mount and lightweight barrel, could be the right fit for you.

Weather Sealing

The Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 and the 50mm lens exhibit noticeable differences in their approach to weather sealing.

The 28mm lens is not explicitly advertised as weather-sealed. Although it doesn’t feature a dust gasket at the lens mount, it employs a hard plastic lip to offer some form of barrier against dust and dirt. Made predominantly from plastic, the lens isn’t designed specifically for harsh weather conditions. Still, its durability in practical situations is noteworthy. As an example, it has proven its worth by functioning optimally after a walk in the rain for 30 minutes. However, it’s important to be cautious when using it under harsh weather conditions without supplementary protection, due to its lack of specialized weather sealing.

Conversely, the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC boasts a comprehensive weather-sealing design. Its robustness against various environmental factors is evident, thanks to the rubber grommet at the lens mount and other weather-sealing components throughout the lens’s construction. These features collectively enhance the lens’s resilience against unfavorable weather conditions, making it a reliable choice for outdoor use. Additionally, the front lens element is equipped with a fluorine coating, which acts as a shield against dust, dirt, and smudges and makes cleaning the lens surface more manageable.

In summary, if your photography involves harsh or unpredictable weather conditions, the 50mm lens with its thorough weather sealing would be a superior choice. This lens can provide you with peace of mind, allowing you to focus on capturing the perfect shot without worrying about potential damage to your equipment. On the other hand, if your shoots are usually in more controlled environments, the 28mm lens, despite its lack of specific weather-sealing features, could be a suitable and cost-effective choice, given its demonstrated practical durability.


In the case of the Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8, there is a single ring, primarily acting as a focus ring, located towards the front. Its rubber covering ensures a comfortable grip, which enhances the overall user experience. Its rotation, characterized by a smooth fly-by-wire system, facilitates precision when manually focusing. Despite the lack of additional features such as a windowed distance scale or depth-of-field indicator, this ring’s design leans towards simplicity and user convenience. A standout aspect is its customizability on Nikon Z series cameras where it can control other settings like ISO or aperture, aligning with the photographer’s shooting style. The interaction with the ring, considering its resistance and tactile feedback, is deemed satisfactory.

The Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC presents a well-crafted control ring that also functions as the focus ring, positioned around the lens barrel’s mid-section. The ring’s ridged design ensures a firm grip, while its dampening allows for precise focus adjustments. Although the absence of hard stops at the extremes may demand estimation while focusing to infinity, the overall tactile experience is appreciable due to the ring’s smooth rotation. The rubber grip, textured for better control, is designed to withstand challenging conditions, such as damp environments or use with gloves. This ring’s versatility is evident in its ability to adjust aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation when in autofocus mode. Though the distance markings (1:1, 1:1.4, and 1:2) offer some guidance as a focus scale, the lack of a dedicated depth-of-field indicator and potential focus hunting at longer ranges may be considered limitations.

From a comparative perspective, if you value simplicity, comfort, and customizability with satisfactory tactile experience, the 28mm lens’ ring stands out. However, if a solid grip, detailed focus adjustments, and multi-functionality in varying conditions appeal to you, the 50mm lens’ ring is the superior choice, despite a few limitations. It’s a reminder that both rings are designed thoughtfully, each with its unique strengths, to cater to diverse photography styles and conditions.


The Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 and 50mm lenses exhibit distinctive approaches to incorporating switches and buttons into their designs, each with its own set of pros and cons.

The 28mm lens opts for a minimalist design without any external switches or buttons. Adjustments for autofocus or manual focus are executed through the camera’s menu system or assigned to a function button on the camera body. This approach benefits the lens with a cleaner aesthetic, but it might make accessing certain functions less intuitive or more time-consuming as users must navigate through the camera’s menu or recall their customized button assignments. Furthermore, the lack of an AF/MF switch could pose an inconvenience for photographers who frequently toggle between autofocus and manual focus during a shoot, as this would require adjusting the camera’s settings.

On the other hand, the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC embraces a more user-friendly design, sporting two switches on the lens barrel. The first is the A-M switch, which facilitates an effortless transition between autofocus (AF) and manual focus (MF) modes. Conveniently placed, this switch allows for swift adjustments during a shoot. The second switch is a focus range limiter, a handy tool for macro photography, enabling the user to set the focus range to full or restrict it to 0.3-0.16m. This feature speeds up focusing when capturing subjects at a close range by reducing the autofocus’s scanning range. Like the A-M switch, this one is also easily accessible, located on the barrel’s left side. Despite the absence of additional buttons or LCD displays like those found in more sophisticated models, such as the 105mm, this lens emphasizes simplicity and ease of use. The control ring and switches provide smooth operation and satisfactory tactile feedback.

In conclusion, if a sleek aesthetic with a minimalist approach aligns with your style and you don’t mind using the camera’s controls for most functions, the 28mm lens would serve you well. However, if ease of use, quick access to autofocus/manual focus modes, and enhanced functionality for macro photography appeal to you more, the 50mm lens with its user-friendly switches emerges as the superior choice. Both lenses exhibit thoughtful design choices, illustrating that functionality can coexist with aesthetic appeal.

Filter Thread

The Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 comes with a 52mm filter thread, a standard size making it easier to find compatible filters. Constructed of plastic, the thread may not be as sturdy as metal alternatives, yet it suffices for regular use. Crucially, the front element and the filter thread remain stationary during focus adjustments. This static nature facilitates the use of polarizing filters or graduated neutral density filters, as they won’t get misaligned due to lens rotation while focusing.

In contrast, the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC sports a 46mm filter thread. This size is slightly less common compared to some other F-mount lenses, such as the 60mm F-Nikkor (62mm filters) or the 40mm F-Nikkor (52mm filters), potentially necessitating the purchase of a new filter set to fit the 46mm thread. Like the 28mm, the 50mm lens also uses a plastic filter thread, contributing to the lens’s lightweight design without offering the durability of a metal thread. A major advantage, much like its 28mm counterpart, is that the front element and filter thread don’t rotate when focusing. This feature proves handy when using filters like circular polarizers or graduated neutral density filters that require a fixed orientation to achieve the desired effect.

While the 52mm filter thread on the 28mm lens offers broader compatibility and more accessible filters due to its standard size, the 46mm thread on the 50mm lens might require some additional investment in a less common filter size. However, both lenses ensure ease of use with filters due to their non-rotating front elements.

In conclusion, both lenses cater to photographers’ unique needs and preferences, with no one-size-fits-all answer. If standard filter size and easy filter availability are your primary concerns, the 28mm lens may prove superior. Conversely, if you prefer a slightly lighter lens and don’t mind sourcing less common filter sizes, the 50mm lens holds its ground.

Lens Hood

The Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 does not provide an official Nikon lens hood, leaving users to seek out compatible third-party alternatives. Options such as the F-Foto HF-52 or the LingoFoto HN-2, while not being Nikon products, can be considered due to their compatibility with the lens’s 52mm filter thread. This means that although there isn’t a proprietary Nikon hood tailored for this lens, photographers have the flexibility to choose from a range of generic options available in the market.

On the other hand, the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC comes equipped with a lens hood, specifically the HN-41 model, directly in the package. This lens hood, made of high-quality plastic, features a screw-in design, facilitating easy attachment and secure placement on the lens. However, the relatively shallow 6mm depth might limit its effectiveness in protecting against lens flare. Also, due to its small size and the way it attaches, it might be susceptible to misplacement or loss. Apart from the included HN-41, there’s an option to separately purchase the HN-30 lens hood, a 62mm screw-in metal hood, that offers enhanced robustness and superior protection to the lens’s internal front optical assembly.

To conclude, while the 28mm lens offers flexibility with various third-party lens hoods, the 50mm lens stands out with its inclusion of a proprietary lens hood and an option for enhanced protection with the HN-30. Thus, if a ready-to-use, manufacturer-provided lens hood is crucial to you, the 50mm lens would be the superior choice. However, if you appreciate the liberty to choose from a wider range of alternatives, the 28mm lens could meet your needs.

Focusing and Optical Stabilization

Nikon NIKKOR Z 28mm F2.8Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm F2.8
AF MotorStepper motorStepper motor
Rotating Front ElementDoes not rotate on focusingDoes not rotate on focusing
Min Focus Distance0.19m0.16m
Max Magnification (X)0.21
Full-Time Manual FocusYesYes
Focus MethodInternalExtending front

Diving right into the core of these two extraordinary lenses, the Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8, impresses with a minimum focus distance (MFD) of 0.19m. While this may not seem as proximate as other options, this distance allows photographers to strike a healthy balance between capturing minute details without necessarily invading the personal space of subjects, which makes it an excellent choice street photography. Its maximum magnification stands at 0.2x, meaning this lens can render a subject on the sensor at a fifth of its actual size. While this might not be ideal for extreme close-ups, it does offer enough versatility for general photography purposes where life-size magnification isn’t mandatory.

On the other hand, the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC flexes its muscles when it comes to macro photography. With an MFD of just 0.16m, this lens allows photographers to get exceptionally close to their subjects. This short MFD, coupled with a remarkable 1.0x maximum magnification, means you can capture subjects in their actual size on the camera sensor, making it ideal for emphasizing small details or textures in macro photography.

Both lenses boast a Full-Time Manual Focus feature, which facilitates fine-tuned focus adjustments without needing to switch between manual and autofocus modes. This function is invaluable in scenarios demanding high precision, like macro photography, where a minute shift in focus could significantly impact the final image.

To wrap things up, the Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 shines for general use, and is particularly adept at street photography, while the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC excels in the realm of macro photography with its superior close-focusing capability and life-size magnification.

Focusing Performance

Delving into the focusing performance of both the Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 and 50mm lenses, there are some significant differences to consider.

The 28mm lens packs an impressive dual motor focus system, embodying the notable trait of Nikon Z-mount lenses. This ensures swift and reliable autofocus capabilities similar to other lenses in its league. One remarkable feature is its internal focusing mechanism, a design that maintains the lens’ length constant, irrespective of the focus or zoom settings. Consequently, this lens is less susceptible to changes when you’re using polarizing filters, as the front element doesn’t rotate during focusing. The lens also showcases a commendable close-up shot capability with its minimum focusing distance of 7.5 inches.

However, it does exhibit some focus breathing, although in most scenarios this slight shift in viewing angle wouldn’t be conspicuous. The lens might slightly struggle in low-light conditions, particularly in AF-C mode, but it excels in well-lit situations using AF-S mode. With a seamless transition to manual focus override, focusing becomes a breeze. Thanks to Nikon’s excellent electronic manual focus reputation, this lens provides a fantastic manual focus experience with just a fingertip. For videographers, the silent autofocus feature becomes invaluable, ensuring minimal disturbance while shooting. Additionally, the lens offers notable autofocus acquisition speed and accuracy.

Moving on to the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC, its autofocus performance is reasonably good, focusing from infinity to 0.59m within roughly half a second. However, it might exhibit some focus hunting when it’s far out of focus. A slight downside is the audible autofocus operation, which might require an external microphone for capturing ambient sounds while video shooting, especially in the macro range. The autofocus, though mostly accurate, may hesitate when switching between different subject types. Moreover, this lens’ autofocus speed, while reasonably quick, isn’t extraordinarily so. Its low-light performance might falter due to slower autofocus, particularly in low-contrast scenarios. The manual override can be activated by engaging the electronic focus ring, but it may not be as precise as a mechanical manual focus system.

In terms of focus breathing, there’s a noticeable 5% magnification when adjusting focus from infinity to 0.59m, which could be distracting during video shooting. An added feature of this lens is the focus limiter switch, which minimizes focus hunting during macro photography.

In conclusion, if silent operation, seamless transition to manual focus, and speed in autofocus acquisition are paramount to you, the 28mm lens clearly outshines the 50mm lens in terms of focusing performance. However, if you require a lens with a swift shift from infinity to close-up focus and a focus limiter feature for macro photography, the 50mm lens may be a more suitable choice.

Optical Stabilization

The Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 lacks a built-in optical stabilization system. However, it can harness the power of sensor-shift Image Stabilization (IS), also known as Vibration Reduction (VR), provided your camera supports this feature. This technology allows the camera sensor to move in order to counterbalance minor movements that might induce image blur. The reported real-world improvement stands at two stops. To elaborate, if a clear image normally requires a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second, this lens, working with the camera’s IS, can achieve the same clarity at a slower shutter speed of 1/15th of a second. This proves particularly advantageous in low-light situations that demand slower shutter speeds. Besides, this stabilization process is typically noiseless, ensuring no disruption in your shooting experience. However, it’s noteworthy that the stabilization effectiveness could be influenced by additional elements like hand-holding techniques or the specific shooting conditions.

Contrarily, the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC does not possess optical stabilization or VR. This absence of VR might not be a considerable issue for a majority of Nikon Z users since Nikon’s full-frame Z cameras usually have in-body image stabilization (IBIS). Nevertheless, during macro photography, which involves capturing close-range subjects, even minimal camera shake can lead to significant image blur, particularly when shooting handheld without a tripod and utilizing a magnified view. Hence, stabilization can play a crucial role in handheld macro photography, minimizing in-viewfinder shake and helping achieve sharper focus.

Analyzing both lenses in terms of optical stabilization leads us to some interesting insights. While it is a general assumption that optical stabilization may not be a critical requirement for wide-angle lenses like the 28mm lens due to their broader field of view and shorter focal lengths, it can prove advantageous in specific conditions such as handheld shooting in low light or video recording. Modern cameras with IBIS work effectively with these lenses to reduce camera shake, making the absence of built-in optical stabilization in the lens less problematic.

However, in the realm of portrait photography, usually associated with lenses like the 50mm one, optical stabilization can be beneficial under certain circumstances. These include shooting handheld, working in low light, using longer focal lengths, or when shooting video. Optical stabilization can help maintain sharpness, achieve better exposure, and provide smoother footage.

Image Quality

Nikon NIKKOR Z 28mm F2.8Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm F2.8
Special Elements2 aspherical elements1 ASPH
Diaphragm Blades79


The Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 demonstrates various degrees of chromatic aberration, coma, and spherical aberration under different conditions. Longitudinal chromatic aberration, a variety of chromatic aberration that results in color fringing, is noticeable when the aperture is wide open, and though reduced, it remains present at f/4. It’s more pronounced in the near field than the far field, which is a bit unusual. However, the lens performs commendably in controlling lateral chromatic aberration. Spherochromatism, an aberration causing colored fringes on out-of-focus highlights, is also significant, particularly when shooting at larger apertures like f/2.8.

Coma, a type of aberration creating distortion in corners, is higher than usually seen in f/1.8 optics, but it decreases significantly at f/4 and is entirely absent by f/5.6. Lastly, the lens displays spherical aberration, especially when used at full aperture, which could result in lower contrast in the far corners of full-frame images. However, some of these issues can be mitigated through appropriate camera settings and post-processing techniques.

Contrarily, the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC exhibits excellent control over chromatic aberration, making it almost unnoticeable in normal viewing. This lens also shows minimal longitudinal chromatic aberration (LoCA), even at macro distances, which often presents as color fringing and is difficult to correct post-shooting. The spherical aberration, which can cause a focus shift, is well managed in this lens, indicating it’s not a significant concern. The lens also shows very little spherochromatism, which is usually evident in fast lenses when shooting contrast-rich objects at full aperture. Finally, although there is some coma, contributing to softer edges, it’s not a major concern, demonstrating the lens’ well-crafted optical design.

To conclude, it is evident that both lenses exhibit different types of aberrations. The 28mm lens shows a higher degree of chromatic aberration, coma, and spherical aberration, while the 50mm lens has managed to control these aberrations effectively. This is indicative of the superior optical design of the 50mm lens.


The Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 is notable for its strong center sharpness across all apertures, creating consistently sharp images. The center is notably sharp even at its widest aperture of f/2.8, reflecting the high quality of the lens’ optical design. However, the corners show some softness at wider apertures, particularly at f/2.8, which is a common feature among lenses in this category and not a serious flaw. Stopping down the lens to around f/4 significantly improves corner sharpness, although it doesn’t quite match the center’s sharpness. This corner softness at wider apertures can be attributed to a combination of field curvature and sagittal coma flare. The latter, which reduces contrast, improves notably by f/4 and is fully corrected by f/5.6. The lens’ sharpness performance at different distances is also noteworthy, with distance performance being superior to close-up performance. Finally, the lens produces very sharp images when stopped down to around f/8 when shooting wide-angle subjects.

On the other hand, the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC exhibits incredible sharpness, particularly at the center, even when shot wide open. This sharpness may appear to soften at smaller apertures like f/22 and f/25, but this is hardly noticeable when viewing the image at normal sizes. The sharpest results, particularly at the edges, are observed between f/8 and f/22. Although there is a slight decrease in image quality at f/5.6 compared to f/8, stopping down to f/8 or f/11 leads to a notable improvement in sharpness, detail, and contrast. A 100% crop of images taken with this lens reveals beautiful sharpness and intricate details, further affirming its remarkable performance. However, sharpness appears less impressive at macro shooting distances.

In conclusion, the 28mm lens performs exceptionally well in center sharpness, especially at wider apertures, but falls a bit short in corner sharpness. The 50mm lens, however, maintains excellent sharpness across the frame and performs well at a variety of apertures. Given these observations, the 50mm lens appears to be superior in terms of sharpness. However, keep in mind that the lens choice should ultimately align with your specific needs and style of photography.

Bokeh Quality

Diving into the comparison of the bokeh quality between the Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 and Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC unveils captivating specifics about their artistic performance.

The 28mm lens offers a bokeh quality that is generally pleasant despite its wide-angle perspective and relatively slower aperture. The lens manages the transition from sharp to blurred areas with grace, a characteristic shared among contemporary Nikkor lenses. The resulting bokeh isn’t overtly prominent, rather it integrates subtly with the image composition.

One can observe a touch of ‘onion-skinning’ in the out-of-focus highlights, although it doesn’t drastically impact the overall image quality. However, when the aperture is stopped down, the circles of confusion depart from their perfect round shape, showing a slight elongation and occasional inconsistencies tied to the aperture blades. Nevertheless, given its class, the lens’s bokeh performance is generally commendable.

Conversely, the bokeh produced by the 50mm lens demonstrates a spectrum of effects, largely contingent on the shooting context. During macro photography, the lens generates smooth and aesthetically pleasing bokeh, exhibiting a harmonious blend of tones. In evenly lit backgrounds, the bokeh remains pleasing. However, the lens encounters a few challenges under certain circumstances. For example, backlit subjects might cause conspicuous highlight outlining, leading to less appealing bokeh in some close-up shots.

This lens can also create a “cat’s eye” bokeh effect in the corners at wider apertures, an effect that some photographers might find unappealing. The lens’s bokeh does not distract from the main subject, which is generally considered a positive feature. However, it tends to produce smaller bokeh balls, which may not align with the preferences of those looking for more pronounced bokeh. Occasionally, this lens can yield a somewhat “busy” bokeh, accompanied by minor edge halos and longitudinal chromatic aberration. Despite these nuances, they can add unique character to the images depending on the photographer’s aesthetic preference, thus giving the lens a sense of versatility.

In conclusion, while the 28mm lens provides a generally pleasing and smooth bokeh, the 50mm lens brings a broader variety of bokeh effects, thereby offering more versatility but potentially more inconsistencies. Consequently, if your preference leans towards a consistently smooth bokeh, the 28mm lens may have an edge in terms of bokeh quality. However, if you appreciate versatility and a range of effects, the 50mm lens could be the more fitting choice.


The Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 presents a commendable capability in managing flare and ghosting. Even when dealing with demanding lighting scenarios, such as pointing directly at the sun or shooting around the frame’s edge, it manages these optical issues effectively. A slight veiling flare is only discernible at its widest aperture of f/2.8, signifying a well-executed optical design and potent anti-reflective coatings. The lens doesn’t totally eliminate flare, but it suppresses it to the point where it doesn’t critically impinge on image quality, making it a strength of this lens. As for ghosting, it’s also well-managed. This lens ensures that lighting, whether in-frame or near the edge, doesn’t spawn conspicuous ghosting artifacts, allowing for more flexibility when incorporating strong light sources in the shot.

Contrastingly, the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC demonstrates a measure of flare and ghosting, especially when intense light sources are in-frame or strike the lens at specific angles. Veiling flare, which typically diminishes contrast, is slightly more noticeable than desired. Yet, this can be suitably adjusted in post-processing. When provoked with a robust light source to induce glare and ghosting, it was found that the lens hood wasn’t wholly successful in suppressing these effects. This could potentially result in light streaks when the light source is just beyond the frame’s corner. Despite the lens hood’s limited effectiveness, the lens sustains a relatively flare-free performance even when aimed directly at the sun. While ghosting and flare can be noticed in certain situations, the severity of these effects will fluctuate based on factors such as the angle and strength of the light source, the aperture setting, and the specific framing of the shot. It’s vital to experiment and adjust settings to lessen these effects when necessary.

In conclusion, both lenses handle flare and ghosting decently, albeit differently. The 28mm lens appears to control these optical artifacts more efficiently, hence offering superior performance in this regard. However, the 50mm lens provides an acceptable performance considering the variability of the effects based on different factors. Experimentation and post-processing can help manage any observable issues, making it a viable option too.


The Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 exhibits perceptible vignetting at the extreme corners, which is more pronounced when paired with a full-frame (FX) sensor. At its maximum aperture of f/2.8, vignetting exceeds 1EV at the corner, a considerable level. However, the vignetting is largely negligible within a substantial central circle, encompassing the DX corners. As the lens is stopped down, the vignetting reduces significantly, becoming virtually unnecessary to correct by f/4 for most types of photography.

Nikon’s Vignette control can assist in mitigating this effect but doesn’t completely eliminate extreme FX corner vignetting at the default value. If you’re shooting in RAW, you have the option of adjusting vignetting during post-production. Vignetting, or falloff, can also be managed in-camera, with settings of HIGH, NORMAL, LOW, and OFF. Moreover, the use of filters doesn’t intensify the vignetting issue; several regular screw-in 52mm filters can be stacked without causing additional vignetting on full-frame.

In contrast, the Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC displays significant vignetting, especially when shooting at wider apertures. At an aperture of f/2.8, the image corners darken significantly, approximately about 2EV. Stopping down the aperture to f/4 or f/5.6 reduces this effect, though it never completely dissipates. In-camera vignette control provides some mitigation, but it doesn’t fully eradicate the issue.

The vignetting is less conspicuous at macro distances, where it becomes mostly negligible. When Vignette control is set to high, the image corners lighten more, further mitigating this effect. It should be noted, however, that Adobe’s RAW converter applies vignette control based on the in-camera setting and cannot be adjusted during post-processing.

In conclusion, while both lenses exhibit vignetting, it is more manageable in the 28mm lens, especially when stopped down to f/4 and beyond, making it superior in this aspect. Nonetheless, the level of vignetting in both lenses can be perceived as an artistic attribute or a technical limitation, depending on your photographic intent. Whether you prefer the wide-angle allure of the 28mm lens or the micro capability of the 50mm lens, both offer the ability to creatively use or control vignetting to suit your photographic vision.


When evaluating the distortion characteristics of the Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 and Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC, several factors come into play, notably how these lenses interact with the camera’s built-in correction systems and the extent to which distortion can be minimized in post-processing.

The 28mm lens demonstrates a commendably managed distortion profile. When paired with Nikon’s Z cameras, distortion correction is persistently active, ensuring clean output images. A minor adjustment with a factor of +0.5 using Photoshop’s lens correction filter could further refine camera-corrected images for precise results. However, if you’re working with raw data as opposed to JPEG images, the application of distortion correction hinges on the software used to process the raw data, rendering the in-camera correction potentially ineffective. Despite this, the lens shows a hint of pin-cushion distortion even when corrections are active. Still, this level of distortion control is more than sufficient for typical photography needs.

On the other hand, the 50mm lens showcases minimal distortion, which becomes almost unnoticeable with in-camera or post-processing corrections. It displays less than 1% of uncorrected pincushion distortion, which is largely inconsequential in real-world usage. Notably, distortions are virtually undetectable when the lens is used for macro or close-up photography. Moreover, even when in-camera corrections are deactivated, the lens exhibits slight pincushion distortion, which can be entirely rectified with software like Photoshop’s lens correction filter. When shooting at a distance, mild pincushion distortion may be perceived, but this is effectively managed by the lens profile. Lastly, with close working distances and three-dimensional subjects, perceived distortion may be more related to the short working distance and perspective rendition rather than a lens defect.

In conclusion, both lenses manage distortion commendably, offering either automatic or post-processing correction options to ensure distortion-free images. However, the 50mm lens appears to edge out slightly due to its inherent low distortion characteristics and the ability to maintain negligible distortion across a variety of shooting scenarios, making it superior in terms of distortion control. Regardless, both lenses allow for remarkable image capture, reinforcing the assertion that the lens you choose should align with your specific shooting requirements and aesthetic objectives.

Final Verdict

In light of the detailed analysis, the optimal choice between the Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 and Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 MC depends largely on the genre of photography you’re engaged in, the level of photographer experience, and personal preferences.

For landscape, architectural, or street photography, the 28mm lens, with its wide field of view, superb distortion control, and excellent center sharpness, is a commendable choice. Its compact and lightweight design adds to its convenience in outdoor, on-the-move photography. For beginners, this lens offers simplicity, comfort, and customizability, making it a great starting point to learn the nuances of photography.

However, if you’re more inclined towards macro, close-up, or portrait photography, the 50mm lens with its minimal distortion, superior sharpness across the frame, and efficient signal transmission stands out. Its solid grip and detailed focus adjustments prove useful in maintaining control, particularly in macro photography. Moreover, its optical stabilization can be advantageous for handheld shooting or low light conditions, common scenarios in portrait photography.

Professional photographers might appreciate the 50mm lens’ durable build and weather sealing, making it a reliable choice in harsh or unpredictable conditions. Its silent operation and seamless transition to manual focus further enhance its professional appeal. The lens also offers swift shifts from infinity to close-up focus and a focus limiter feature, making it versatile for a variety of shooting scenarios.

The 28mm lens, on the other hand, might be preferred by intermediate photographers who value affordability while still requiring good performance. Its ring’s satisfactory tactile experience and its capacity for silent operation and fast autofocus are appealing features. Additionally, the easy availability of standard filter sizes can make this lens a more convenient option.

Despite the differences, both lenses showcase thoughtful design choices, aligning functionality with aesthetic appeal, making them valuable tools in the hands of any photographer, irrespective of their experience level.

To sum it up, the 28mm lens caters more to the beginner to intermediate level, street and landscape photographers who value portability and simplicity. Conversely, the 50mm lens appears to be better suited for intermediate to professional photographers engaging in portrait or macro photography who prioritize robust build quality, optical performance, and versatile functionality. Regardless, both lenses are capable of producing remarkable images, making them noteworthy additions to any photographer’s toolkit.

Meet the Author

Wei Mao

Wei was a cruise photographer who worked at Disney Cruise Line. He is a lucky traveler who has been to more than 20 countries with his camera while working on an around-the-world cruise. Photography has changed his view of the world forever. Now he wants more people to benefit from photography through his blog.

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