Nikkor AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 G ED (DX) - Review / Lab Test Report - Analysis
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (APS-C)
Article Index
Introduction
Analysis

Distortion

The lens shows barrel type distortion throughout the whole zoom range. Despite the DX crop advantage, it is fairly pronounced at the short end of the zoom range. Zooming in decreases the amount of distortion to lower levels. At the long end of the zoom range, there is only a small amount of barrel distortion left.

Move the mouse cursor over the focal length text marks below to observe the respective distortion
18mm 24mm 35mm

The chart above has a real-world size of about 120x80cm.

Vignetting

The lens shows a small amount of vignetting and clearly profits from its full-frame design in this regard. With critical subjects light fall-off towards the borders might be visible at large apertures, but stopped down vignetting should no longer be an issue.

MTF (resolution)

The lens delivers excellent center resolution with very good borders and good to very good corners at the shortest focal length.

Zoomed to 24mm, the resolution drops a little throughout the frame at the largest aperture, but recovers to excellent figures in the image center with very good borders and corners when stopped down.

At the long end of the zoom range, the overall image quality drops a bit more across the frame. The image center shows very good resolution throughout the tested aperture range. At the image borders the lens shows good resolution at large apertures and (just) very good resolution stopped down, while the extreme corners remain at good figures at all tested apertures.

Below is a simplified summary of the formal findings. The chart shows line widths per picture height (LW/PH) which can be taken as a measure for sharpness. If you want to know more about the MTF50 figures you may check out the corresponding Imatest Explanations

Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)

Lateral CAs (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) are well controlled for such a lens. The largest amount is visible at the shortest focal length and the largest aperture. Zooming in and stopping down reduces the amount of CAs to lower levels.

Note that CAs can easily be corrected in software or by the camera itself (most modern Nikon DSLRs remove CAs themselves if you shoot JPGs).

Sample Images

You can find some sample images taken with the Nikon D3x in our Nikon FX review of the lens.

Verdict

The Nikkor AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 G ED delivers excellent center sharpness and very good border and corner performance throughout most of the zoom range, at least when stopped down. Only at the long end of the zoom range the overall resolution drops a little.

Distortion is a bit pronounced at short focal lengths, but hardly visible towards the long end of the zoom range. Typical for many FX lenses when used on a DX camera, vignetting is no issue. CAs are moderate and well controlled for such a lens.

The build quality is on a typical level for a Nikon consumer zoom. Even though the lens barrel is made of plastic and the whole lens quite light for its size, it doesn't feel cheap. Thanks to an AF-S drive, the autofocus works silently and quite fast.

So, in summary the verdict remains the same as in our FX review of the lens: the AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 G ED shows a very solid performance (much better than its predecessor), without being really stellar though. However, while such a verdict makes the lens an attractive choice on FX because of its affordable price (for such a wide lens), the situation is very different on DX, where it has to compete with dedicated DX zoom lenses, which offer a larger zoom range and mostly show better performance at usually lower prices.

For anyone who shoots with both FX and DX cameras it may make sense to use the lens on both systems and thus save the cost of a dedicated DX zoom. For DX only shooters, however, a dedicated DX zooms probably makes a lot more sense.

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