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Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor Lens Review

Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor, a standard zoom lens for Nikon DX format cameras which was introduced with the Nikon D70.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Nikon AF-S DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G
Price : £170
Rating :
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Nikon AF-S DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G

This standard zoom lens for Nikon DX format cameras was introduced with the Nikon D70 as a kit lens option and is available to pick up new for between £170 and £250 depending on the supplier. As this lens has been around for quite a while it often crops up used and can be picked up in good condition for around £130. It sports internal focusing with full time manual override and a relatively bright f/3.5-4.5 maximum aperture.

More recently released alternatives from Nikon include the AF-S 16-85mm VR f/4-5.6, which costs around £420 and includes a longer zoom range and vibration reduction. The cheaper AF-S 18-105mm f/4-5.6 VR lens may also be considered as it only costs around £230.

The closest equivalent from third party manufacturers is the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 OS HSM, which costs around £350. This lens has a slight brighter maximum aperture than the Nikon 18-70mm and also includes optical stabilisation.

Nikon AF-S DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G

Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor Handling and features

As with Nikon's other sub-professional lenses, the lens barrel is constructed from high quality plastics with a metal lens mount. It has a slightly textured finish, which doesn’t show marks easily and a large rubberised zoom ring, which extends in two sections and doesn't suffer from zoom creep when pointed downwards. It balances extremely well on the Nikon D300 body used for testing and is quite lightweight at only 420g.

As focusing is performed internally the 67mm filter thread does not rotate during use, making this lens ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters. Focus speeds are reasonably quick and the thin manual focus ring offers a decent amount of resistance, which makes applying fine adjustments fairly straightforward.

The minimum focus distance of 38cm isn't overly special for a lens in this focal range, although I rarely found myself hitting the minimum focus stop during normal use.

Nikon AF-S DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G

Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor Performance

Sharpness in the centre portion of the frame at 18mm is already excellent at maximum aperture and the quality towards the edges is good enough. Stopping down improves clarity across the frame and peak sharpness is achieved at f/8, where the clarity is excellent across the frame.

A similar pattern of performance is repeated at 35mm, with excellent centre sharpness at maximum aperture, with the clarity improving towards the edges of the frame as the lens is stopped down. Peak quality across the frame is achieved between f/5.6 and f/8 at this focal length.

Finally at 70mm, the lens holds up well, maintaining excellent sharpness in the centre at maximum aperture and very good sharpness towards the edges of the frame. Peak quality is again achieved between f/5.6 and f/8.

Resolution @ 18mm
Resolution @ 18mm
  Resolution @ 35mm
Resolution @ 35mm
Resolution @ 70mm
Resolution @ 70mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D300 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations may start to become visible in high contrast regions towards the edges of the frame at either end of the zoom range. Imatest recorded values approaching one pixel width, which may require some correction in image editing software.

Chromatic aberrations @ 18mm
Chromatic aberrations @ 18mm
  Chromatic aberrations @ 35mm
Chromatic aberrations @ 35mm
Chromatic aberrations @ 70mm
Chromatic aberrations @ 70mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D300 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is reasonably controlled. At 18mm the corners are 1.36 stops darker than the image centre at maximum aperture and this reduces to 0.97 stops at 70mm. Visually uniform illumination is achieved at f/5.6 throughout the zoom range.

Distortion at 18mm can be quite noticeable for a lens of this focal length, with Imatest recording 4.22% barrel distortion. At 70mm 0.484% pincushion distortion is present, which is much less noticeable. Luckily the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so any curvature of lines should be relatively easy to correct in image editing software.

A fairly deep petal shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which does an excellent job of shielding the front element from extraneous light that may cause flare of loss of contrast. When shooting into the light, this lens is fairly resistant to flare and good levels of contrast are maintained.

Nikon AF-S DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G Sample Photos


Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor Verdict

Although this isn't the latest lens design, it still holds up well against its contemporaries, producing images with excellent sharpness in the centre at maximum aperture, and across the frame at optimum apertures.

Owners of Nikon's current 18-55mm lens may still look to this lens as an upgrade, and rightly so. The lack of vibration reduction is more than made up for in increased performance, build quality and a more handy zoom range for day-to-day snaps. Those who picked this lens up with an older camera, such as the Nikon D70, may wish to hang onto this optic, unless they have particular specialised needs beyond what this standard zoom offers.

Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor Pros

Excellent sharpness, especially when stopped down a little
Handy zoom range
Lightweight
Decent build quality

Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor Cons

Barrel distortion at 18mm
Slightly high CA levels at either end of the zoom range

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

Nikon AF-S DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G Specifications

ManufacturerNikon
General
Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF-S DX G
Lens
Focal Length18mm - 70mm
Angle of View35 - 100
Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/4.5
Min Aperturef/22 - f/29
Filter Size67mm
35mm equivalent27mm - 105mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus38cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades7
Elements15
Groups13
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens hood, Lens Caps, Soft Case
Dimensions
Weight420g
Height75.5mm

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Comments


User_Removed 10 17.9k 8 Norway
24 Jan 2012 2:10PM
'Cons'


Quote:Barrel distortion at 18mm
Slightly high CA levels at either end of the zoom range



Both easily corrected in PP - in Capture NX, the Barrel Distortion is one button and done automatically from the EXIF data. (Show me ANY wide-range zoom that doesn't have Distortion!!) and there are third party plugins to achieve similar results for PS.

The CA is, again, easily dealt with in PP.

I won't part with mine - AND if you are into Infra Red photography using a Life Pixel-converted Nikon body, then it's a 'must-have' lens due to its ability to hold the same focus throughout the entire zoom range and because of this, it can be calibrated for IR autofocus throughout the zoom range Wink

I think this Review has been a little 'harsh' - why only 3 Stars for 'Features' when it rates highly in sharpness etc..??? Results are everything in my book.

IMO it is a cracking lens and is highly recommended.

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StuartAt e2
10 1.0k 6 England
24 Jan 2012 8:16PM
I've had mine since I got it as the kit lens to the D70. It is probably my most used lens on the D300 and only now after (about 6 years) am I thinking about looking for something a bit faster. Unfortunately the 24-70 2.8 is a tad more expensive!!!
theorderingone 10 2.4k United Kingdom
25 Jan 2012 12:37PM

Quote:I think this Review has been a little 'harsh' - why only 3 Stars for 'Features' when it rates highly in sharpness etc..??? Results are everything in my book.


Mike, that's because 'features' deals with things like VR, internal focusing, silent focusing, whether it focuses especially close for the type of lens it is, whether it has a constant aperture, or fast aperture etc.

Although it is a fairly basic spec lens, that shouldn't detract from the great results this lens is capable of.

Barrel distortion at 18mm and CA are cons, especially if you use pictures straight from the camera, or simply can't be fussed correcting everything in post, which is a pigeon hole many fall into. Not everyone uses Capture NX, especially as it doesn't (always) come supplied with Nikon cameras.

If you correct barrel distortion, it actually results in a loss of resolution towards the edges of the frame, so it still isn't a 'perfect' solution, although in most cases it will be 'acceptable'. If i didn't include aspects that can be corrected in post in my assessment of a lens, I'm pretty sure each lens would be perfect! Tongue
User_Removed 10 17.9k 8 Norway
25 Jan 2012 3:45PM

Quote:internal focusing, silent focusing


It has both of these 'features' - the internal focusing is not mentioned specifically as such and the silent focusing isn't even mentioned.

Tongue Tongue Tongue

Wink
theorderingone 10 2.4k United Kingdom
25 Jan 2012 9:33PM

Quote:It has both of these 'features' - the internal focusing is not mentioned specifically as such and the silent focusing isn't even mentioned.


Hehe. That's why it didn't score zero. Tongue
ElSid 6 8 United Kingdom
26 Jan 2012 10:57AM
I'm a bit puzzled about this review. Having looked at the Nikon's Global lens website it does not appear in the list of current lenses and neither does appear to be listed on dealers websites - not even Grays...

All this would appear to suggest that it is no longer a current lens so why review it?
joshwa e2
4 710 United Kingdom
26 Jan 2012 11:44AM
It's listed on both Nikon UKs and Nikon USAs website:
http://www.europe-nikon.com/en_GB/product/nikkor-lenses/auto-focus-lenses/dx/zoom/18-70mm-f3-5-4-5g-ed-if-af-s-dx-zoom-nikkor

http://www.nikonusa.com/Nikon-Products/Product/Camera-Lenses/2149/AF-S-DX-Zoom-NIKKOR-18-70mm-f%252F3.5-4.5G-IF-ED.html

And whilst it's mostly available second hand online, it could be considered a good (cheap) upgrade option for someone wanting a bit more zoom than the standard kit lens.
ElSid 6 8 United Kingdom
26 Jan 2012 3:54PM
Curious... As far as I was aware the lens had been discontinued some while back. I reckon anyone wanting a new one is going to struggle...Wink


Quote:And whilst it's mostly available second hand online, it could be considered a good (cheap) upgrade option for someone wanting a bit more zoom than the standard kit lens.


Have to agree. I use a secondhand one I picked for a very good price and it delivers some decent performance with my D50.Smile
15 Oct 2012 1:38PM
I use one of these lenses on an Fujifilm S3 Pro and it surprised me just how good it is. Printing magazine cover size is no problem.
250.00 for a mint condition S3 and this lens......thank you eBay!!!

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