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

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Category: Interchangeable Lenses
Product: Nikon AF-S DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G
Price: £170.00
Rating: 3.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 5

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

Wide angle | 1/125 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 200

Wide angle | 1/125 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 200
High-Res

Telephoto | 1/100 sec | f/8.0 | 70.0 mm | ISO 320

Telephoto | 1/100 sec | f/8.0 | 70.0 mm | ISO 320
High-Res

A minimum focusing distance of 38cm allows you to get reasonably close to your subject  | 1/100 sec | f/5.6 | 35.0 mm | ISO 360

A minimum focusing distance of 38cm allows you to get reasonably close to your subject | 1/100 sec | f/5.6 | 35.0 mm | ISO 360
High-Res

Sharpness is excellent across the frame at optimum apertures | 1/160 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 200

Sharpness is excellent across the frame at optimum apertures | 1/160 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 200
High-Res

1/100 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 220

1/100 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 220
High-Res

1/100 sec | f/8.0 | 70.0 mm | ISO 560

1/100 sec | f/8.0 | 70.0 mm | ISO 560
High-Res

1/250 sec | f/5.6 | 70.0 mm | ISO 200

1/250 sec | f/5.6 | 70.0 mm | ISO 200
High-Res

1/100 sec | f/4.5 | 70.0 mm | ISO 500

1/100 sec | f/4.5 | 70.0 mm | ISO 500
High-Res


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 Length 18mm - 70mm
Angle of View 35° - 100°
Max Aperture f/3.5 - f/4.5
Min Aperture f/22 - f/29
Filter Size 67mm
35mm equivalent 27mm - 105mm
Internal focusing Yes
Focusing
Min Focus 38cm
Stabilised No
Construction
Blades 7
Elements 15
Groups 13
Box Contents
Box Contents Lens hood, Lens Caps, Soft Case
Dimensions
Weight 420g
Height 75.5mm

View Full Product Details




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Comments

User_Removed
24 Jan 2012 - 2:10 PM

'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.

Last Modified By User_Removed at 24 Jan 2012 - 2:16 PM
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24 Jan 2012 - 8:16 PM

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StuartAt
StuartAt e2 Member 91029 forum postsStuartAt vcard England6 Constructive Critique Points
24 Jan 2012 - 8:16 PM

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
25 Jan 2012 - 12:37 PM


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
25 Jan 2012 - 3:45 PM


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

Last Modified By User_Removed at 25 Jan 2012 - 3:48 PM
theorderingone
25 Jan 2012 - 9:33 PM


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
ElSid  6 United Kingdom
26 Jan 2012 - 10:57 AM

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
joshwa ePHOTOzine Staff 3583 forum postsjoshwa vcard United Kingdom
26 Jan 2012 - 11:44 AM

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/zoo...
http://www.nikonusa.com/Nikon-Products/Product/Camera-Lenses/2149/AF-S-DX-Zoom-N...

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
ElSid  6 United Kingdom
26 Jan 2012 - 3:54 PM

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

ateamstuff
15 Oct 2012 - 1:38 PM

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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