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Nikon Wide Angle DX Nikkor Zoom Lens Comparison


Nikon Standard Wide Angle AF Zoom Lenses Compared
AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II
AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED
AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED
AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor
18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED
 


July 24th, 2007

If you are looking to buy a new wide angle to telephoto zoom lens to go with your new or existing Nikon digital SLR like the Nikon D40X or the Nikon D80, there are a number of different lens options available.

Nikon currently offers four wide angle consumer oriented zoom lenses specifically designed for their DX format digital SLR cameras; the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II, the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED, the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED, and the AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED.

We have completed a side by side lens comparison between these four Nikon DX wide angle zoom lenses, testing them against each other at various focal lengths and apertures to hopefully offer assistance in the decision making process.

Although we have provided links to full size versions of the test images, we have also included crops taken from each image while viewed at 100%. Please note that each sample image is close to 5MB in size. If you want to compare the full size image from each lens you will have to download close to 20MB of files per comparison. The cropped images that we have provided are intended to save you from this task. All the images were taken in JPEG, Large, Fine mode with either the Nikon D80 or the Nikon D40x digital SLR.

To begin our review we provide a brief description of each lens, a list of the major features, followed by specifications and latest prices. The pages that follow include side by side image sample comparison tests and our conclusions. The navigation menu below is found on each page for your convenience.


 Navigation Menu
Nikon Side by Side Lens Comparison Introduction: Overview, Features, Specifications and Design
Nikon DX Wide Angle Zoom
Lens Comparison Test:

18mm at f/8
Nikon DX Wide Angle Zoom Lens Comparison Test: Nikkor DX Zooms
Versus 50mm f/1.8D Prime Lens
Nikon DX Wide Angle Zoom
Lens Comparison Test:

35mm at f/5.6
Nikon DX Wide Angle Zoom
Test
Optical Characteristics and Conclusion


Nikon DX Wide Angle Zoom Lens Overview

The Nikkor AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G II ED is one of the more popular options and can be economically purchased on its own or in a bundled kit with entry level oriented digital SLR models such as the Nikon D40 and D40X.

If you are looking at stepping up in zoom range, the AF-S DX 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED zoom offers approximately the equivalent field of view of a 28-200mm lens in 35mm terms. The Nikon AF-S DX 18-135mm zoom is targeted at users who want a lens that will offer extra versatility in terms of telephoto ability (bring subjects closer), and serves as an effective all around lens that is moderately priced.

Another popular option (especially with higher end Nikon D200 and Nikon D80 users) is the Nikon AF-S DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED, a lens that is designed to more rugged specifications and features a metal lens mount. This lens is also one full stop brighter than the AF-S DX 18-55mm ED II at the upper telephoto end (f/4.5 Vs f/5.6).

The AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED zoom tops the list, offering an impressive 28-300mm focal range in 35mm terms, coupled with Nikon's 2nd generation Vibration Reduction technology. (Up to 4 stop vibration compensation)

Designed to be a very versatile all around lens, the AF-S DX VR 18-200mm has enjoyed immense popularity, to the point that if you are looking at getting this lens you will find it in short supply. In some cases you may find you will have to put your name on a waiting list with your dealer to get one. Nikon has been working hard to produce enough units to meet the worldwide demand for this lens.


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Field of View at Maximum Telephoto Setting

The series of images below illustrates the relative field of view provided when shooting with the camera in a stationary position at the maximum telephoto focal range provided by each of these lenses (55mm, 70mm, 135mm and 200mm DX format).

Note: since the Nikon DX format sensor is smaller than the traditional 'full frame' 35mm format, there is a focal multiplier effect that applies in order to get the equivalent field of view (FOV) provided by these lenses in 35mm terms. The focal multiplier effect for the Nikon DX format is 1.5 times the given focal length. (AF-S DX 18-135mm x 1.5 = provides equivalent to 27mm-202.5mm FOV in 35mm terms)


 
     
 


With either the Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm or the AF-S DX 18-70mm zoom you would want to consider getting a second lens to carry around for those important telephoto shots were you might be prevented from getting closer to the action, for example; sports, wildlife, travel etc. (The Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR IF-ED or Nikon AF-S VR 70-300mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED are both recommended options)

As can be seen the Nikon AF-S DX VR 18-200mm zoom lens offers considerable more telephoto power than even the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-135mm zoom when all of the the lenses are set at their respective maximum focal length settings.


Nikon Standard Wide Angle Zoom Lens Comparison:
Major Features and Benefits


The four Nikon DX zoom lenses that we are comparing differ considerably in terms of overall design and features.

Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II: Offers the popular focal range of 18-55mm (picture angle equivalent to a 27-82.5mm lens in the 35mm format) for use in a variety of situations.

  • Incorporates a compact SWM (Silent Wave Motor) for quiet focusing for quiet and smooth autofocusing


  • ED glass (one) and aspherical lens elements help minimize possible chromatic aberrations and lens distortion


  • Compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry


  • Enables focusing from as close as 28cm from the subject


  • Polycarbonate lens mount

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    Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED:
    Provides 18-135mm focal range (7.5x zoom) for use in a wide variety of situations (equivalent to a 27-202.5mm lens in the 35mm format).

     

  • Incorporates a compact SWM (Silent Wave Motor) for quiet focusing for quiet and smooth autofocusing


  • ED glass (one) and two aspherical lens elements

  • Two focus modes, [A] auto and [M] manual, are available

  • Enables focusing from as close as 45cm (17.7 in.) from the subject through its entire focal range

  • The IF (Internal Focus) design provides a constant lens length and eliminates rotation of the front lens element, facilitating the use of circular polarizing filters


  • Polycarbonate lens mount

  • Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED:
    Offers added durability and a 3.8x zoom range covering the equivalent field of view of a 27mm-105mm lens in 35mm terms.

  • Dust and Waterproof rubber sealing mount


  • Three ED glass and two aspherical lens elements


  • Built-in Silent Wave Motor for ultra-fast, ultra-quiet operation


  • M/A mode for quick switching between autofocus and manual focus operation


  • Enables focusing from as close as 50cm (20 in.) from the subject through its entire focal range


  • Metal lens mount

  • Nikon AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED:
    Offers the broad 18-200mm focal range (11.1x zoom) for use in a variety of situations (equivalent to a 27-300mm lens in 35mm format)

  • Enhanced Vibration Reduction (VRII) offers the equivalent of using a shutter speed 4 stops faster. VR does not compensate for subject movement, only camera shake (sample image below)


  • Two ED glass and three aspherical lens elements. Incorporates a compact SWM (Silent Wave Motor) for quiet focusing


  • Enables focusing from as close as 50cm (20 in.) from the subject through its entire focal range


  • M/A mode for rapid switching between autofocus and manual focus operation


  • Metal lens mount and more rugged construction compared to the AF-S DX 18-55mm ED II and the AF-S DX 18-135mm IF-ED.

  • Nikon
    AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED lens
    with VR On and Off

    AF-S DX VR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED with VR Off and On
    AF-S DX VR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED with VR On
    135mm, 1/10 sec at ISO 1600 with Nikon D80
    AF-S DX VR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED with VR Off
    135mm, 1/10 sec at ISO 1600 with Nikon D80


    AF-S DX 18-55mm
    AF-S DX 18-135mm
    AF-S DX 18-70mm
    AF-S DX VR 18-200mm
    Rear Lens Mount View



    Nikon Standard Wide Angle Zoom Lens Specifications


    Nikon Nikkor Lens Lens Construction Groups / Elements Angle of View Nikon DX Format Min f/stop Close Focus Distance m/ft Max Reproduction Ratio
    AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED 5 / 7 76°-28°50’ 22 0.28 (0.9) 1/3.2
    AF-S DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED 13 / 15 76°-22°50' 22 0.38 (1.2) 1/6.2
    AF-S DX 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED 13 / 15 76°-12° 22 0.45 (1.5) 1/4.25
    AF-S DX VR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED 12 / 16 76°–8° 22 0.5 (1 5/8) 1/4.5
    Nikon Nikkor Lens Filter Attachment Size Lens Case Lens Hood Size (mm) Weight (g)
    AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED 52mm CL-0715 HB-33
    Optional
    69 x 74 210
    AF-S DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED 67mm CL-0915 HB-32
    Included
    73 x 75.5 390
    AF-S DX 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED 67mm CL-0915 HB-32
    Included
    73.5 x 86.5 385
    AF-S DX VR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED 72mm CL-1018 HB-35
    Included
    77 x 96.5 560





    Nikon DX Wide Angle Zoom
    Lens Comparison Test:

    18mm at f/8
    Nikon DX Wide Angle Zoom Lens Comparison Test: Nikkor DX Zooms
    Versus 50mm f/1.8D Prime Lens
    Nikon DX Wide Angle
    Lens Comparison Test:

    35mm focal range at f/5.6
    Nikon DX Wide Angle Zoom
    Test
    Optical Characteristics and Conclusion
    Nikon Side by Side Lens Comparison Intro (this page): Overview, Features, Specifications and Design

     

     



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