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Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens Review

Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the new super-zoom lens from Nikon, the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
Price : £509
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Nikon Nikkor AF S DX 18 140mm F3

This super-zoom lens for Nikon DX format DSLRs covers a huge 7.8x zoom range, equivalent to 27-210mm on a 35mm camera. It sports silent internal focusing and Vibration Reduction. 

Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Handling and Features

Nikon Nikkor AF S DX 18 140mm F3

The size, weight and build of this lens are typical of 18-135mm optics that used to be bundled as part of a kit with Nikon DSLRs. It's reasonably lightweight at only 490g, thanks to the mostly plastic construction, although the lens mount is metal and the lens balances well on the Nikon D300 body used for testing. The plastics used are of high quality, creating a reasonably robust impression, reinforced by the rubber gasket, designed to prevent the ingress of dust and moisture via the lens mount, although the lens itself isn't weather sealed.

A silent wave motor powers auto-focus and it obtains focus reasonably quickly. Manual adjustments can be applied at any time via the narrow focusing ring closest to the lens mount. The manual focusing action is smooth and well damped, which makes fine adjustments easy to apply. The zoom action is also smooth and consistent through the range. Enough resistance has been applied to prevent the zoom creeping forward when it is pointed down, which is good as there is no locking switch provided.

Nikon Nikkor AF S DX 18 140mm F3

Closest focus distance is 45cm, and focusing is performed internally, so the 67mm filter thread does not rotate, which makes this lens ideal for use with graduated filters and polarisers.

Nikon's Vibration Reduction system promises to allow hand held shooting at shutter speeds slower than the usual rule of thumb for sharp hand-held photos might allow. With care, sharp hand held shots are possible at shutter speeds as low as 1/13sec around half the time, which is around four stops slower than would normally be possible.

Nikon Nikkor AF S DX 18 140mm F3

Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Performance

Sharpness at 18mm is already outstanding in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture, and the clarity recorded towards the edges of the frame at this aperture is good. Stopping down improves sharpness towards the edges of the frame, falling just short of excellent levels at f/5.6.

Zooming to 50mm results in sharpness being reduced. Clarity is still very good at maximum aperture in the centre of the frame, although the performance of this lens falls short of good towards the edges of the frame at this focal length and aperture. Stopping down improves sharpness across the frame, peaking at f/8. Here sharpness is excellent in the centre and very good towards the edges of the frame.

Finally, at 140mm, sharpness is very good in the centre of the frame and good towards the edges of the frame at maximum aperture. Stopping down to f/8 produces outstanding sharpness in the centre of the frame with very good clarity towards the edges.

MTF @ 18mm
MTF @ 18mm
MTF @ 50mm
MTF @ 50mm
MTF @ 140mm
MTF @ 140mm

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.

Levels of chromatic aberrations are well enough controlled with fringing towards the edges of the frame only becoming an issue when the lens is stopped down to f/22 at 18mm. 

CA @ 18mm
CA @ 18mm
CA @ 50mm
CA @ 50mm
CA @ 140mm
CA @ 140mm

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 well controlled. At 18mm the corners are 1.83 stops darker than the image centre and at 300mm the corners are 0.59 stops darker. Visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down to f/8 or beyond throughout the zoom range.

As is often the case with lenses sporting a high zoom ratio, distortion is quite pronounced at both ends of the range. At 18mm 5.02% barrel distortion is present, which is quite noticeable and at 300mm 1.5% pincushion distortion is present, which is less apparent. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so it should be relatively easy to apply corrections in image editing software afterwards.

No hood is supplied with this lens, which is unusual, as Nikon normally bundle one as standard. Luckily this lens isn't too prone to flare or loss of contrast when shooting into the light, so it may not be necessary to spend another £15 on the optional HB-32 hood.

Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Sample Photos


Value For Money

This lens costs around £500, which seems quite expensive as Nikon's 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II can be picked up for £35 more, which sports slightly better build quality and a longer zoom range. The fact that Sigma's 18-125mm f/3.5-5.6 DC OS HSM can be picked up for around £230, only reinforces that this lens is quite expensive.

Although this lens isn't available as part of a kit yet, it seems like the logical home for this will be sold bundled with an SLR. Whether it will be added to a kit with one of Nikon's current SLRs, or a new one remains to be seen.

Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Verdict

This lens is a competent performer, producing decent sharpness throughout its zoom range, with low falloff and CA. However it appears to be priced quite highly, and probably doesn't perform well enough to justify being a choice as an upgrade from a similar lens, like Nikon's 18-135mm lens, that is no longer available. However, if it is bundled as a kit with a camera body for a decent price in the future, it should be a choice most photographers, after a convenient zoom lens, should be happy with.


 
 
 
 

Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Pros

Good sharpness throughout the zoom range
Lightweight
Effective VR system
Convenient zoom range

Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Cons

Distortion, especially at 18mm
Price

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Nikon Nikkor AF-S DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Specifications

ManufacturerNikon
General
Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF-S DX G
Lens
Focal Length18mm - 140mm
Angle of View11.3 - 76
Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/5.6
Min Aperturef/22 - f/38
Filter Size67mm
35mm equivalent27mm - 210mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus45cm
StabilisedYes
Construction
Blades7
Elements17
Groups12
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight490g
Height97mm

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