When I started out in digital photography, I used to think that shooting with a wide angle lens was all about “getting it all in”, and a lens best used for sweeping landscapes, and for great depth of field. Then, after getting into film photography, I read from a few sources that a fixed prime such as the 28mm lens was popular as a photojournalist lens. Huh? Wide angle for photojournalism?
Then, it started making some sense. In the days before auto focus, digital/auto everything, using a lens of such a focal length would allow for fast, precise focusing, without a lot of adjustment necessary after the fact. And, being able to “get up close” to a subject was also a huge benefit. Unlike the barrel distorted wide/normal/superzoom zoom lenses, this one will have virtually no barrel or line distortion. Otherwise great glass, such as the Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 DX lens is a nightmare at the wide end, because of the geometric distortion. Without software corrections in port, you are going to have straight lines that bend all over the place. You are going to experience edge distortion. Not with a lens like this one- no corrections necessary.
I have been reluctant to invest in wide Nikkor or Canon glass, as the primes are just about cost prohibitive. As I recently have been dabbling with Minoltas, and their gorgeous Rokkor glass, it only made sense to start with the Minolta system. Great glass, for a fraction of the cost of Nikkor and Canon. So, a 28mm f/2.8 Rokkor recently arrived. The lens is amazingly compact, sharp, and contrasty. It is a very easy lens to establish selective focus with. On the other hand, this is not a “shallow depth of field”, like the fast, longer counterpart focal lengths. Even wide open, it seems as though there is lots of DOF always there. Lens flare seems to be a bit of a challenge- a good lens hood might make sense here.
Here are a few samples from a recent visit to Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. These were taken with the Minolta XG-7, and the Rokkor 28mm. A red filter, I believe, was in use here. Maybe a yellow. The film was Kodak TMax 100.