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Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm F/3.5-6.3 VR Lens Review

John Riley has been capturing photos with the Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm F/3.5-6.3 VR lens from Nikon. Let's find out how this telephoto zoom lens performs.


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Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR
 

The new Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens extends even further the range of DX (APS-C format) lenses for the crop sensor Nikon Z cameras, such as the Z 50 and Zfc. This gives a "35mm equivalent" field of view similar to a 27-210mm lens on a full-frame camera. This is a welcome boost in range compared to the other manufacturers, whose lenses tend to stop at 135mm, still unconsciously perhaps paying homage to that 135mm focal length that originated with early Leica 35mm cameras. It was the point at which SLR focusing became more accurate than rangefinder focusing, so Leica rangefinder camera lenses stopped at 135mm.

The new Nikkor Z lens has much in common design-wise with the previously reviewed Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR, so time now to try it out to see if it handles and performs as well. For the purposes of this review, the DX crop mode on the 45.7 MP Nikon Z7 II results in an APS-C frame of 19.5MP, which is very close to the 20MP delivered by the Nikon Z DX bodies. Let's see how we get on.

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Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm F/3.5-6.3 VR Handling and Features

Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR
 

The lens is quite compact and weighs in at a svelte 315g, clearly using plastics extensively in its construction. This extends to the mount, also plastic. As we have previously seen with the lower cost Nikon lenses for the Z series cameras, this does not translate as anything negative as their performance has been exemplary. True, it would be better if a lenshood were to be included in the package as hoods do not only protect against flare. They are a useful first line of defence if the lens is knocked accidentally, taking the blow and helping to prevent front element damage. There is a standard 62mm filter thread.

There is a wide and easy to grip zoom ring, clearly marked at 18mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 100mm and 140mm. The action is smooth but firm enough so that there is no tendency for the lens to creep when pointed up or down. This is useful when shooting small objects with the camera on a tripod; the lens stays in focus when longer shutter speeds are used.

Closest to the camera is the lens control ring, set to adjust focus as default. Manual focus can be used in AF mode to apply tweaks to the focus point as well as for manual focus when selected by the camera body. The ring can alternatively be programmed to adjust aperture, exposure compensation, ISO or to be inert. The control ring is electronic in operation, smooth and silent.

Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR
 

Focusing is down to 0.2m (0.66 feet), for a maximum magnification of 0.33x, or 1:3. Although not a macro lens, this comes very close indeed and makes for a very useful general-purpose lens. AF is driven by a very quiet, fast and accurate stepping motor.

Optical construction is 17 elements in 13 groups, including 2 Aspherical and 2 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion). The rounded diaphragm opening comprises 7 blades.

VR (Vibration Reduction) is built-in, and this is switched on and off from within the camera menus. There are standard and sport settings available. It is claimed that 5 stops advantage is possible, and testing this out confirms it is a realistic expectation.

Nikon claim that the lens is "dust and drip-resistant" and the small print on the website adds the caveat “not under all situations and conditions” and this seems reasonable cover against the possibility of it being used in unrealistic conditions. Weather-resistant but not waterproof is how I read that, but we will all have our own judgement as to what we throw at the lens by way of poor weather. To be fair, this is a valuable feature that enables us to shoot in conditions that previously we might not, extending the usefulness of our kit.

The 18-140mm is certainly all about usefulness, offering a fantastic range of focal lengths and a very valuable close focusing ability as well. A great lens to use.

 


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