Repair: Zoom-Nikkor 28-85 f/3.5-4.5 Ai-S

Hello, everybody! I love underdogs. In fact, I always cheer for them in every sport. Underdogs aren’t expected to win but they usually do and even if the other side won they usually exhibit admirable traits that you could say that they have won the game in the hearts of everyone watching the game. They are usually held in great esteem by both sides due to this trait, you can even say that they are crowd favorites. Today, we’ll talk about such an underdog, a lens that many people don’t expect to perform well just because it’s an old, variable-aperture zoom but it does its job, it does it better than expected. It’s also cheap these days and that adds to its appeal.


The Zoom-Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 Ai-S debuted in 1985 but it was still for sale new up until 2005, 20 years after it was unveiled. It’s a practical lens, it has a useful focal range and a useful gimmick wherein it can extend itself at 28mm, giving it the ability to focus even closer, like having a built-in macro extension ring. The maximum speed is merely f/3.5 at 28mm and f/4.5 at the 85mm end. While a 28mm f/3.5 lens is acceptable, an 85mm f/4.5 lens can be a bit awkward to use. This limits its usefulness at the long-end but this is an industry-standard these days for cheap zooms.

Unlike many Zoom-Nikkors of its time this one isn’t a “pumper-zoom”, it has a proper zoom ring and a separate focusing ring like most modern zooms. It also has a 3rd ring near the aperture ring that enable you to extend it just a bit more at 28mm so you can take close-ups. There are 2 more lines near its centerline indicating the centerlines for infrared photography. There are 2 dots indicating the real aperture of the lens at either end of the focal range, green for 28mm and orange for 85mm. I don’t like variable-aperture zooms, it makes manual exposure a bit more difficult since you have to factor-in its real aperture when taking an exposure.