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Review by Markus Stamm, published May 2013
Special thanks to Lars Hofmann for providing the lens
Nikon offers several wide-angle zoom lenses. Most of these target professional users and consequently deliver very good if not exceptional performance. However, these lenses are also quite expensive and because of that usually not an option for amateurs.
There is an affordable Nikon wide zoom, though, the Nikkor AF-D 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5. Unfortunately, this lens looks a little outdated today (for example due to the lack of AF-S) and, what's maybe more important, it shows rather mediocre performance on modern digital FX cameras.
So, with the D600 now expanding Nikon's FX camera portfolio into the consumer segment, the pressure rose to update this lens and offer a modern and attractive wide angle zoom for current or future FX users.
As a result, the Nikkor AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 G ED, was announced in January 2013. It offers a modern silent-wave AF drive and an update optical construction, now featuring 2 ED and 3 aspherical elements. Let's have a look at how the lens performs on our current FX test camera, the Nikon D3x.
The lens shows the typical build quality of Nikon consumer zooms: a plastic barrel based on a metal mount. For its size the lens feels rather light.
The rubberized zoom and focus rings both operate smoothly and are well damped.
During zooming, an inner lens tube moves slightly, as can be seen in the product shots below. So, the total physical length of the lens remains constant at any zoom setting.
The lens features an internal focusing (IF) design so the front element does not rotate and using a polarizer is no problem.
Thanks to a silent-wave AF drive (AF-S) the lens is fully compatible with all Nikon DSLRs, including the entry-level DX models. The AF-S drive works silently and autofocus action is quite fast.
A petal-shaped hood is supplied with the lens.
The AF-S 18-35 is a G-type lens, so it does not offer an aperture ring anymore.
|Optical construction||12 elements in 8 groups inc. 2x ED and 3x aspherical elements|
|Number of aperture blades||7 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||0.28 m (max. magnification ratio 1:5)|
|Dimensions||83 x 95 mm|
|Filter size||77 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||Nikon HB-66, petal-shaped, bayonet mount (supplied)|
|Other features||silent-wave AF motor|