Zeiss Distagon T* 18mm f/3.5 ZF (FX) - Review / Test Report - Sample Images & Verdict
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (full format)

Sample Shots

The following sample shots were taken with a D3x and RAW-converted via CaptureOne 5.2.

Click on a thumbnail to view the original file (opens in a separate window).

Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 18.0mm
Aperture: f/3.5
Exposure 1/1250s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 18.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/320s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 18.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/500s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 18.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/320s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 18.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/250s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 18.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/320s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 18.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/250s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 18.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/100s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 18.0mm
Aperture: f/3.5
Exposure 1/4000s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 18.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/800s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 18.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/320s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 18.0mm
Aperture: f/3.5
Exposure 1/2000s

Verdict

The Zeiss Distagon T* 18mm f/3.5 ZF may live in the shadow of the more popular Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 but it is definitely worth considering when shopping for an ultra wide-angle prime lens. The resolution figures are slightly worse compared to its cousin but it is obviously also wider and as such more difficult to design. The lens is already pretty good at max. aperture and capable of very good results across the image frame at medium aperture settings. There's some field curvature but regarding the immense field of view its basically only somewhat relevant at f/3.5. The amount of barrel distortion is only moderate but a bit complex (mustache style). Lateral CAs are comparatively well controlled albeit visible at times. A real weakness is the amount of vignetting which is extreme at f/3.5 - a rather typical flaw of the Zeiss Z-series it seems. However, it's not overly annoying at mainstream aperture settings (around f/8).

Just like the rest of its family, the Zeiss lens is built to the highest standards. Some users may complain about the lack of AF but this isn't really a significant flaw for a wide-angle lens. The focus confirmation is available in the viewfinder and in very critical (close focus) scenes Live-View can give you the needed guidance. That said, it remains a bit of an anachronism these days. The price level is quite steep in absolute terms but it's not all that bad in comparison.

Talking about comparison: besides its sister lens, another serious competitor in this focal range of course is Nikon's AF-S 14-24, which also offers superb sharpness, some more flexibility due to the zoom range and of course AF. Unlike the Zeiss, though, it suffers from flare issues and compared side by side the Nikkor is large and a heavy brick.

The ZF 18 showed a few weaknesses in our lab tests so we can't really provide exceedingly high ratings here but it did actually more than convince during the field tests. Actually, it only slightly slipped a "Highly Recommended".

Optical Quality:    
Field Quality:(Landscape Photography)
Mechanical Quality:
Price/Performance:
      
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