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Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Lens Review

Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews an ultra-wide angle lens for FX format DSLRs.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
Price : £600
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED

An ultra-wide angle zoom lens for FX format DSLRs covering an ultra-wide field of view without the size, weight or cost of constant aperture f/2.8 or f/4 equivalents. This lens costs around £600 and includes silent focusing with full time manual focus override.
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED

 

 

Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Handling and features

Weighing 385g this lens is noticeably lighter than Nikon's other lenses covering this range that sport a constant maximum aperture. As a result it makes a reasonably lightweight combination with the Nikon D600 body used for testing used for testing. High quality plastics have been used for much of the lens' construction and a rubber gasket surrounds the metal lens mount, to help prevent the ingress of dust and moisture into the camera body.

Auto focus is quick and silent, thanks to the use of a Silent Wave Motor. A wide rubber focusing ring is located close to end of the lens and its action is well damped and smooth. This makes fine manual focus adjustments quite easy to apply. The zoom action is also smooth and can be operated with the lightest of touches. Zooming moves the front element within the lens body, so the overall length of the lens does not change.

Closest focus distance is 28cm, and focusing is performed internally, so the 77mm filter thread does not rotate, which should make this lens ideal for use with graduated filters and polarisers.
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED

 

 

 

 

Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Performance

Sharpness already approaches outstanding levels across the frame at 18mm and maximum aperture. Stopping down the aperture improves clarity further with peak sharpness across the frame being achieved at f/8.

At 24mm, sharpness in the centre of the frame remains very high at maximum aperture, but clarity towards the edges of the frame falls just below excellent levels. Peak sharpness across the frame is achieved between f/5.6 and f/8 for this focal length. Here clarity is outstanding in the centre of the frame and excellent towards the edges.

Finally, at 35mm sharpness remains outstanding in the centre of the frame, but clarity towards the edges of the frame falls off to good levels at maximum aperture. Peak sharpness across the frame is again achieved between f/5.6 and f/8 where clarity in the centre is outstanding and sharpness towards the edges of the frame is very good.

 

 

 

 

Resolution @ 18mm
Resolution @ 18mm
Resolution @ 24mm
Resolution @ 24mm
Resolution @ 35mm
Resolution @ 35mm

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 D600 using Imatest.


Chromatic aberrations are well controlled although they increase to noticeable levels at 35mm with the aperture stopped down to f/16 or beyond. Even so, the levels of fringing are only very slight and shouldn't pose too many issues in normal photography.

 

 

 

 

Chromatic aberration @ 18mm
Chromatic aberration @ 18mm
Chromatic aberration @ 24mm
Chromatic aberration @ 24mm
Chromatic aberration @ 35mm
Chromatic aberration @ 35mm

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 D600 using Imatest.


Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is quite pronounced for a lens with a reasonably modest maximum aperture. At 18mm the corners are 2.18 stops darker than the image centre and at 35mm the corners are 1.15 stops darker. Visually uniform illumination is achieved with the aperture stopped down to f/8 or beyond throughout the zoom range.

As you might expect very strong barrel distortion of 4.78% is present at 18mm, which will be easy to spot in any images that have straight lines running parallel to the edges of the frame. This level is reduced to 1.28% barrel distortion at 35mm. The distortion pattern is uniform at either end of the zoom range, which should make applying corrections in image editing software fairly straightforward.

A shallow petal shaped hood is supplied with the lens which does a reasonable job of protecting the lens from extraneous light that may cause issues with flare. Although this lens doesn't sport the latest Nano Crystal coatings, it is very resistant to flare and contrast holds up extremely well when shooting into the light.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Sample Photos

 

 

 

Value for Money

This lens costs around £600 and includes silent focusing with full time manual override and a variable maximum aperture of f/3.5-4.5. It seems reasonably priced for a brand new lens, especially considering the performance it delivers, as the price is bound to drop as the lens becomes more available.

The older D version of this lens is still available at many retailers for around £470 and has basically the same spec, except for the silent focusing motor and the addition of a manual aperture ring for use with older Nikon cameras.

Those shopping for an ultra-wide angle lens covering this range may also consider Nikon's 16-35mm f/4G ED VR lens, which costs around £830. This lens sports Vibration reduction technology, a wider field of view and a constant maximum aperture of f/4.

Those requiring a wider field of view may also consider Nikon's 14-24mm f/2.8G ED lens, which offers an even wider field of view and a faster f/2.8 maximum aperture, but costs around £1299.

Tokina are the only major third party manufacturer offering a comparable FX format ultra-wide angle lens currently. Their 16-28mm f/2.8 lacks a silent focusing motor, but does offer a wider field of view, a faster constant maximum aperture of f/2.8 and costs around £700.

 

 

 

Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Verdict

Based on sharpness alone, this is a great lens, at a reasonable introductory price from Nikon. Sharpness in the centre of the frame is outstanding throughout the zoom range and CA levels are kept under control. It's a shame that distortion and falloff aren't better controlled, but then these are flaws to be expected with this kind of lens.

Those after a high quality ultra-wide angle lens for their FX format Nikon camera without paying silly-money will do well to add this optic to their list of considerations.

 

 

 

 

   
  The Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens has outstanding sharpness in the centre throughout the zoom range.  

 

 

Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Pros

Outstanding sharpness in the centre throughout the zoom range
Resistant to flare
Good build
Reasonably lightweight
Good CA control

 

 

Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Cons

Barrel distortion at 18mm
Falloff of illumination towards the corners at 18mm

 

 

 

 

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  


Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Specifications

ManufacturerNikon
General
Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF
Lens
Focal Length18mm - 35mm
Angle of View63 - 100
Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/4.5
Min Aperturef/22 - f/29
Filter Size77mm
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus28cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
BladesNo Data
Elements12
Groups8
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight385g
Height95mm

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Comments


Apparently I have my Nikon 17-35 F2.8 and love it but problem is the weight to carry around. I sold and bought new Nikon 18-35 G ( I made some profit from 17-35!! ) and I must say that 18/35 is very very very sharp I am very happy for much low price and lighter to carry around. I wouldnt bother to buy 16-35 VR. 18mm wide is good enough for my landscape work and good wide with my Hitech filters including Cir Pol, it would be waste of time with 16mm wide.

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