Archive for the ‘Nikon Nikkor 18-135 Reviews’ Category

Nikon 18-135 Lens Review

September 29, 2008

Nikon 18-135 Lens Review

“Good, but not excellent”

nikon nikkor 18-135

I’m a hobbiest/enthusiast not a professional, yet I’ve taken the time to learn terms like vignette, bokeh and about pincushion/barrel lens effect. The 18-135mm DX Nikkor lens suffers from all of them. If you’re not a perfectionist or professional, then you will certainly not be disappointed by this utilitarian starter lens. If you expect to take your photography to “the next level” then this lens will quickly become a paperweight not worthy of space in your camera bag. —

First, I’ve noticed vignetting (i.e., a slight darkening of the corners) at “extreme zoom” (135mm zoom). It’s most noticible on skylines and photos of airborne objects. —

Second, I’ve noticed slight pincushioning (the inverse of a fish-eye lens, everything is pulled towards the center of the photo, destroying square lines) at almost all zoom settings. —

Third, the Bokeh (blur) is bad bokeh. Typically, photographers consider good bokeh to be that which is brightest in the center and gradually fades towards the edges until it merges with the blurred background. The 18-135mm lens suffers from bad bokeh, which is the blur highlight is on the edge of the blur. While this might be what you want for some artistic reason, it makes small light sources that blur in your background really stand out and detract from professional grade photographs. —

Lastly, if you do any night shots, macro/close-up work or want to do any extended shutter photography, you will find that the lack of image stabilization (or vibration reduction as Nikon calls it) will drive you to purchase another lens quickly… unless you can work with tripod for all of your shots. —

However, I’ve not suffered from any of the auto-focus issues that other customers have (although it doesn’t focus well in darkness, this is not the lens’s fault and there are solutions outside of the lens to solve this problem), nor have I had any defects in my lens. The photos are sharp (other than the above problems), but I have not had a chance to test (nor will I intentionally experiment with) durability. I’ve taken my 18-135mm on several “vacation” style outings and snapped well over 1000 shots in the first 3 weeks I owned my D80 w/ 18-135mm Nikkor Zoom lens. — Already I’m upgrading to the 18-200mm Nikkor Zoom lens with VR. — I wish I had not purchased this lens as part of my kit, but it has been good to me.

In summary, the 18-135mm Nikkor zoom-lens is an excellent beginner lens, but if you are a perfectionist (or professional) you would be better served to avoid purchasing the 18-135mm as part of your starter kit.

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Nikon 18-135 Review

September 29, 2008

Nikon 18-135 Review

“A solid value and nothing to scoff at”

nikon nikkor 18-135

Wide open this lens has some noticeable flaws, but if you force it to using a more closed aperture (say F8), many of those become less apparent. Even if you’re forced to shoot wide open or you don’t know better, you can correct the aberrations and vignetting in software.

While some prefer the slightly better build of the 18-70mm, I’d take the extra 65mm (close to 100mm on the DSLRs that use these lenses) any day over a distance scale and a metal lens mount. For crying out loud it’s an autofocus walk around lens, so distance scales are relics for few people to use and the mount is a moot point, since it will stay on 99% of the time. As for focus speed, it’s great. There are faster focusing lenses, but not with a comparable zoom range for the price. Nikon is not a charity, they design sophisticated lenses, build them to high tolerances, and sell them to a loyal following at a fair price. Yes a $1000 lens will be better than a $330 one, and yes a $2500 lens collection will do better than a $330 lens. I should hope so!

Enough of the weaknesses, which plenty of other folks will write about, it is a very good lens. 135mm is about as long of a lens that I would want without VR stabilization, but it works well when there is ample light. Since it’s only intended for DSLRs, bumping the ISO is always an option to assure shake free shutter speeds.

Why isn’t this a 5* review, well, I can honestly tell you that there are many people with defective lenses in need of repair/replacement. I believe those issues have been fixed, but it’s not a good circumstance. I recommend that you be sure to buy a genuine US copy with a full warranty–don’t fall for any extended warranty though, as it’s got a generous 5 years from Nikon. Being to ‘po boy I am, I opted for one of those refurbished ones, hoping it was a unit that was returned by someone expecting a perfect lens at a bargain price, and a double check by Nikon assured that it is and likely will always be fully functional. No regrets thus far.

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Nikkor 18-135 Review

September 29, 2008

Nikkor 18-135 Review

“A good Lens for amature photography.”

nikon nikkor 18-135

So you want to buy a nice “all around lens.” Well, this could be it, however, take some of my following into consideration.

Pros;
This lens is a cheap and easy way to cover a large range of zooms. Depending upon your needs and camera you own, this lens allows for a lot of versatility. +1 Star.

The lens is light weight and fairly short when dealing with storage. Being compact and still having a decent zoom range makes it a good all around lens. +1 Star

This lens has few buttons and is easy to understand. I have taken some very decent “professional” shots with it, from close up of flowers to family portraiture, and even dark evening long exposure shots that would rival many of my other more expensive lenses, and never had to fumble with buttons, or switches, or even that pesky aperture ring when the time didn’t allow it, a good fire and forget lens. +2 Stars

Its a Nikon lens, and as such has a very nice large sweet spot when focusing. Typically with high aperture numbers, you loose your sweet spot, and get a “general focus,” rather than a sharp focus on your subject. For a cheap lens this lens does rather well covering most bases. +2 Stars

Cons;

You get what you pay for. This lens being made of plastic, and not having any real support in the frame, is easy to break (trust me I know). -1 Star (Partially for my own stupidity)

Vignetting on this lens is horrible in the wrong situations. There are many photos that I have had low light, used my SB-800, and got some nasty rings around the corners. I can only imagine what it must look like on a film camera. -2 Star

Because this lens is so slow (yes, f/3.5 is slow) the auto focus feature does not work well in many situations, such as dark, or low contrast vertical lines. I like to shut off my “white light” on my D200 so as not to blind my subjects. -2 Stars

This lens is so slow to focus that if you are taking fast nature shots, get another lens, and leave this one at home. This lens would have been a perfect candidate to receive the VR treatment with its slow f3.5-5.6, and at longer focal lengths the “camera shake” can be so bad as to ruin a good shot. When looking at this lens make sure that its just a general “get into the photography world” lens, and not your “End all Beat all” lens. -2 stars (for not going all the way to where it should be.)

Conclusion;

When looking at a lens, there are often three factors a newbie should look at…

1. Can I afford it. If you have to buy more of the same lens because of cheap workmanship, is it worth having? Why not just buy the “less than twice” expensive upgrade that will last four times longer or more?

2. Is it easy to use, or easy to learn. A lens (or anything in life) is no fun, and is not worth it, if you can’t figure out how to use it. This lens is as easy as they come.

3. What kind of photography am I going to shoot? As an armature or “newbie” photographer, this lens will satisfy most of your requirements. However, just know that at some point, the lack of features may bite you when you need it most. Being a slow lens, you are destined to have to rely on your flash much more, or, never get that shot of the Buck jumping across the shadow laden stream at twilit.

Final Score?
5 stars assumed to begin with.

5 +1 +1 +2 +2 -1 -2 -2 -2 = 4 Stars.

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Nikon 18-135 DX Review

September 29, 2008

Nikon 18-135 DX Review

“Best buy for versatile lens”

nikon nikkor 18-135

I compared this to the Nikon 18-200 VR:
1) The 18-135 is lighter and nicely balanced in handling, when mounted on the light bodies (like D-40). The 18-200 VR is much too heavy for the slight added zoom range.
2) The build quality is better than the 18-200. I got an 18-200 from the Japan factory, and it had dirt inside, inbetween lens elements! The 18-135 came perfectly clean.
3) The 18-135 has a smooth zoom barrel. While the 18-200VR has a horribly grinding zoom barrel, which sounds like it’s got sand in it.
4) The zoom barrel stays put in any position, while the 18-200 does not stay in place (if you hold it vertical, it starts drifting – a LOT).
5) The focus speed is Much Faster than the 18-200. If you think this is slow, wait till you spend $ 700 for the 18-200 and have to wait while it hunts-n-pecks, focusing endlessly…
5) The VR did not give me any faster exposures. I composed the exact same shot with both lenses and got the exact same readings.
6) The only down side is the pincussioning. I agree with the other reviewers about this. But it’s really only noticeable on architecture. Everything else about this lens overrides this blemish.
All-in-all, the 18-200 VR is nothing but Hype, for which they charge the consumer an extra $ 400. This is sales baloney.
I can’t wait to get rid of my 18-200! I’m keeping this one.

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Nikon 18-135mm Zoom Review

September 29, 2008

Nikon 18-135mm Zoom Review

“Good results”

nikon nikkor 18-135

I have been using this lens on a D70S for several months with good results. Autofocus functions well if you respect the limits (avoid poor contrast, target object small relative to the total frame, poor lighting, etc.). In any case, like all Nikon IF lenses you can tweak the focus by grabbing the focus ring.

I don’t consider the pincushion/distortion issues significant and I am satisified with the immages from 18 to 135.

This lens compliments my 70-300 VR Nikon, and the combo is about the same price as the 18-200 VR but with an extra 100 mm on the long end.

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