28mm 1:3.5 - Konica AR, Minolta MD-II, Nikkor Ai

While testing a few 2/28mm lenses from around 1980, I took the opportunity to run a parallel test of a few 3.5/28mm from the 1960s and 1970s:

* Konica Hexanon AR 3.5/28mm [7/7]
* Konica Hexanon AR 3.5/28mm [5/5]
* Minolta MD 3.5/28mm [5/5]
* Nikkor Ai 3.5/28mm [6/6]


Test 28mmf2 overview

Overview over the test image, taken with a Sony A7 (24MP full frame). The 100% crops shown below are marked in yellow. Focusing was done slightly off-center (wooden barrier in the upper middle of the image)



Test Konica AR 28mmf35-7L

The Konica AR 3.5/28mm was a rather modern design when introduced in 1967. Unlike other contemporary designs (which still had a large air space between the relay lens and the negative front dublet / wide angle converter), it had a glass block instead an air space, reducing the necessary size of the negative front element. This [7/7] design was offered in several mounts, some with metal grip, others with diamond shaped rubber focusing. While the lens is quite slow, at f11 large parts of the image are very well corrected (nearly no CAs, and some pincushion distortion only in the outermost corners). Wide open, af f3.5, it is comparable to the the Hexanon AR 1.8/28mm at f4, but both lenses are clearly inferior to the Minolta MD-III at f4. A good cheap and sturdy lens for landscape and architecture.


Test Konica AR 28mmf35-5L

The later [5/5] design of the Konica Hexanon AR 3.5/28mm is said to be inferior to the earlier [7/7] design. Apart from a different distortion (barrel instead of pincushion) I can't see that many differences, however. Wide open, my 3.5/28mm [5/5] has weaker corners, but otherwise a bit more detail than the [7/7], but this may be due to sample variation. Stopped down to f11 the differences in resolution are negligeable.


Test Minolta MD-II 28mmf35

The Minolta 3.5/28mm [5/5] first was released in 1975 - in a late MC-X mount with rubber focusing. Starting from 1977, the same design was sold in MD-I and MD-II mounts. Probably the MD-III version shares the same optics as well. The lens has a bit more CAs than the [7/7] Hexanon 3.5/28mm, but better detail resolution as well, at least af f3.5. This may not be evident from the crops shown here, but it is quite obvious when comparing the entire 24MP FF images. Stopped down to f11 i would prefer the Konica [7/7] due to its missing CAs. Otherwise the two lenses are quite similar.


Test Nikkor Ai 28mmf35

The AI Nikkor (1977-1981) is very well made lens with a beautiful barrel and smooth focusing. Of course focusing and aperture are turning "the other way round", but that's Nikon ...The lens is a [6/6] construction similar to the groundbreaking Nikkor-H 3.5cm 1:2.8 from the early 1960s. The Ai version has very good corners even wide open, but lower performance in the mid-field, with visible astigmatism at f3.5. At f11, the image quality (including extreme corners) is best among all 3.5/28mm lenses compared here.