Fuji X-E1 and Nikon Series E 28mm f/2.8 - Comparison with Fuji 18-55mm zoom

The second of the Nikon Series E primes I've bought on ebay arrived. This is the 28mm f/2.8. Slightly more expensive than the 50mm f/1.8 I bought, this one cost me £63.50. Like the 50mm its very small and light and as you can see on the pictures above, only slightly bigger than the Kipon adapter its fitted to my X-E1 with. This one is in mint condition and it looks really great and fits the camera so well. I've got some metal 52mm lens hoods and fitted one, so it gives the whole thing a lovely retro look and feel. 

There are all sorts of opinions on the internet saying this lens isn't as good as some of the other Series E lenses and is in fact slightly soft. (Mostly down to Ken Rockwell I think.) However, if this is supposed to be soft, then mark the Fuji 18-55mm zoom down as soft too, because I've just done some tests and I can't tell any difference between them. In fact in the results I got, if I didn't know any different I'd say that it was the same lens. The results, from raw at ISO 200 identically processed in Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop CC as is my usual practice, are so similar its hard to believe the two lenses were designed and manufactured some 30 years apart. 

So a really nice addition to my lens collection. I've bought these Series E lenses to use on my Fuji and Panasonic cameras as a light prime collection when I've got the time to work with manual focus lenses. I'm still waiting for my Metabones Nikon to Fuji X Speed Booster, when I will get a (35mm) equivalent of a 30mm f/2 with that and a 42mm f/2.8 with my Kipon adapter. 

I must admit, I hadn't really taken any notice of the Series E lenses until recently, and it was only a review of the Speed Booster on Phillip Blooms site that brought them to my attention. Having been so impressed with the 50mm f/1.8 I decided to put together a 'set' with that, this 28mm and a 100mm f/2.8 that should be arriving any day. The three of them have cost me just under £200 and I'm seriously pleased with the results I'm getting. With the added focus peaking in the Fuji, its now much easier and quicker to focus accurately and makes the whole process a lot more pleasurable. I can't deny that I love the look of the lenses on the Fuji and it puts a smile on this 'retro heads' face. Why I derive such pleasure from using a combination that looks like I've raided Grandads attic is something that I have no real answer to, but I do. Something to do with this is how cameras and lenses looked when I started getting serious about photography, and maybe there is some attempt to relive that unbridled enthusiasm that overwhelmed me. However, whatever the reason, using stuff like this gives me a lot more pleasure than using modern cameras, no matter how good they may be.

It isn't just this either. The two Series E lenses I've got so far give seriously good results, and combined with a Speed Booster give me possibilities I don't have with the brand lenses. As I mentioned with the Fuji I'll be getting 30mm f/2 and on my Panasonics 42mm f/2 in 35mm terms. Plus I'm getting aperture rings, (mostly) metal construction and a piece of gear that may well last longer than I do! I've got nothing against modern lenses, I use them all the time and have nothing but praise for the majority of them, but there is a kind of magic in using these older lenses, though I do realise that the early 1980's is hardly the Stone Age! It is, when I've got time, a real pleasure to manually focus a lens. Apart from anything else, its a silent experience, no whirring, no beeping and no other electronic noise chuntering away. Just me and the viewfinder and the shutter button. For some reason, I take the whole process slower, which is something to see since I'm not that quick anyway, and when I do eventually get round to depressing the shutter it's always a very satisfying experience. Very Leicaesque and for me there is no higher accolade.


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