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Just Posted: Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens review

By dpreview staff on Oct 30, 2012 at 21:53 GMT

Just posted: Our review of Nikon's latest superzoom for its DX format SLRs, the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. In the first of our series of lens reviews produced in partnership with DxOMark, we take a look at the longest-range zoom currently made for any interchangeable lens camera system. By current standards it's large and heavy for its class, and expensive too, but does its imaging performance make this all worthwhile? Read our review to find out.

87
I own it
36
I want it
5
I had it
Discuss in the forums

Comments

Total comments: 163
12
zx7dave
By zx7dave (Apr 2, 2013)

This is a nice upgrade to the 18-200. It is the same size/weight as the 28-300 FF lens. The most annoying part of this lens is that it is rated at 3.5-5.6 f-stop...yet you are at the f/5.6 by the time you hit 50mm.... so 50-300mm is all f/5.6....Might as well make it a continuous f/5.6 lens so I don't have to mess with my settings when I go from 18-mm....
Thanks Nikon for the extended range lens...thanks also for cheaping out and making the 50-300 all f/5.6....

0 upvotes
albertbc
By albertbc (Mar 16, 2013)

To Andy and those who have had extensive use of this lens and the 18-200 nikon version, which one (of course very subjective) seems to have better overall IQ in the common zoom range? I guess theoretically it would be the shorter zoom but still interested in people's real life experiences with them.

0 upvotes
Steve Bingham
By Steve Bingham (Nov 2, 2012)

Nice job, Andy. This kind of proves what we all expected! I was especially impressed by your willingness to point out the 1/80 sec problem. Pretty weird. I suppose some will love this lens, but I would never think of using it - ever. :) Oh yeah, and about the f stop of 5.6 going to t stop of 6.6? That's a bunch - but to be expected.

Now quickly, how about a dozen more!!!!

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Island Golfer
By Island Golfer (Nov 2, 2012)

A too familiar conclusion for these types of "do-it-all" lenses from Nikon:
■Very soft results at telephoto
■Extreme distortion across most of the range (but can be corrected in-camera with recent SLRs)
■Image stabilization not as effective as on similar lenses, especially at telephoto end
■Flash shadowing at wideangle on smaller SLRs
■Large, heavy and expensive compared to other superzooms

1 upvote
Danel
By Danel (Nov 2, 2012)

Optically, this is likely the best super zoom on the market. The questions about the stabilization and focus issues mentioned in the review could be deal killers though. Two things I love about my Nikon 18-200 are how well it focuses and how well the stabilization works.

4 upvotes
foto2021
By foto2021 (Nov 4, 2012)

All superzoom lenses are junk. To describe this one as the best of them is hardly a compliment.

0 upvotes
Dan
By Dan (Nov 6, 2012)

I strongly disagree. MANY of my best images come from my 18-200 simply because I just happen to have it on my camera most of the time.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
koruin
By koruin (Nov 2, 2012)

I was under the impression that we will get immediately a lot of lenses ready for comparison in your newly rewritten widget. Did I get it wrong? I though you are going to populate it with DXO tests data, but there are just few lenses available for comparison now...

0 upvotes
MarkByland
By MarkByland (Nov 2, 2012)

Just curious about the statement regarding the lens as being the longest range zoom available for any interchangeable lens system. What about the Sigma 50-500 or the 150-500?

0 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Nov 2, 2012)

They are talking about the multiplier, 16.7X. A 50 to 500 is only 10X

1 upvote
zx7dave
By zx7dave (Apr 2, 2013)

I have the 150-500..and it is pathetic in comparison. Maybe one out of 5 shots are good if I stay away form the 460-500mm soft spot...

0 upvotes
taotoo
By taotoo (Nov 1, 2012)

"The 18-300mm uses Nikon's 'Silent Wave Motor' for focusing"

Is it a PROPER ring type setup?

"we saw a certain predisposition towards random misfocusing towards the telephoto end of the zoom."

That might be the "f/5.6 is actually f/5.9" issue. If you zoom out to 280mm or so, does the misfocusing go away?

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Nov 1, 2012)

Thanks for resuming the lens reviews!

Comparing it to the "old" Sigma 18-250 review, there used to be fewer words, more numbers. I appreciate the words too, but more data points on the widgets were very useful. As an example, the Sigma is not the worst at the extreme tele, it is actually even worse at the long range before the extreme. The simple linear approximation on just 3 points would surely miss that.

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
1 upvote
ljmac
By ljmac (Nov 1, 2012)

I must say I'm very disappointed with DxO's lens testing chart - it doesn't allow me to visually determine lens sharpness at all. The old DPR chart (with its cross hatch boxes) was far better for this purpose.

3 upvotes
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (Nov 1, 2012)

We hope to return this functionality one day

1 upvote
InTheMist
By InTheMist (Nov 1, 2012)

Thumbs up for the great review!

I use the Tamron on DX and 28-300 on FX to "compliment" my full range of 2.8 zooms. If I'm honest, sometimes its better to have a compromise zoom than no shot at all. Especially on vacation or backpacking and the like.

3 upvotes
King Penguin
By King Penguin (Nov 1, 2012)

I wouldn't backpack with this, need a truck to carry it around! Whereas a few nice primes......much lighter & more compact + better IQ too.

And if I need to get closer, it's not that far to walk (esp. when not incumbered with this around ones neck!

1 upvote
Daniel from Bavaria
By Daniel from Bavaria (Nov 1, 2012)

Hi,

My father does have a lot of very good glas but is also a big fan of the 18-200. Therefore he instantly bought the new 18-300 and sent it back after a few days. He will stick on his 18-200 vrII. The 18-300 is in his opinion optical worse, much heavier and much bigger.

Regards,
Daniel

3 upvotes
smileblog
By smileblog (Nov 1, 2012)

Wow.. Look at that picture of the lens with a body.

This guy is so BIG... Oh my.

2 upvotes
foto2021
By foto2021 (Nov 4, 2012)

Thank you, Anastasia Steele.

0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Nov 1, 2012)

Thank you, thank you for the VR/IS/OS test and VF comparison on yesterday's K-30 review.

This lens is not as good as the price suggested. For $1000 it has to be a lot better than 3rd party superzooms.

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (Nov 1, 2012)

It is better than the Sigma 18-250 (see DPR review here).

0 upvotes
vesa1tahti
By vesa1tahti (Nov 3, 2012)

It is a lot better than cheap superzooms. Big, heavy and comfort, designed for big and heavy people.

0 upvotes
kokuwana
By kokuwana (Oct 31, 2012)

A lens review is as important as a camera body review.So I welcome lens reviews with the expectations of its regularity as well as all posted tips.Thanks again DP!
Many quotes refer to IQ of J1 V1 V2 being superior to the IQ of dslr.
Could DP give us a verdict/debate about body and lenses of one system in comparison with other?Hope so!I also think about the smartphone/tablet lens.
Anyway is just my opinion.Thanks again.

0 upvotes
Jack Simpson
By Jack Simpson (Oct 31, 2012)

Truth be told, when it (AFS 18-300/3.5-56) came out, I figured the Tamron 18-270 PZD lens was going to fly off the shelves even quicker than they were ..... but that was the case, for Nikon at least, we still sold more of the Nickon 18-300's than the Tamron 18-270's (Nikon mount). Canon mount, however, is another case :)

0 upvotes
Paul Axt
By Paul Axt (Oct 31, 2012)

Now time to review Sigma 18-250mm macro - we will see how it compare to Nikon.

2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Nov 1, 2012)

http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/sigma_18-250_3p5-6p3_os_c16/

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Nov 1, 2012)

Tamron review is missing though.

0 upvotes
Paul Axt
By Paul Axt (Nov 1, 2012)

http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/sigma_18-250_3p5-6p3_os_c16/ peevee1 - its old sigma - new sigma is marked MACRO and it come just 2-3 months ago - its shorter, lighter and looks like much sharper (other sites reviews) - Im still waiting for dpr review (unfortunately no local shops in my area got it so I can't check it myself)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Oct 31, 2012)

No surprises here but a lesson for Nikon worshippers (I own a ton of Nikon stuff but do not worship). Every manufacturer has some dogs. These super zooms are wildly popular; I sold a ton of very soft Tamron super zooms to people who just wanted a small lens.

1 upvote
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (Oct 31, 2012)

I never did get the point of superzoom lenses. If your object is to "never have to change lenses" then why not just buy a Panazonic FZ200 and call it a day?

The whole point behind buying a more expensive ILC is "changing lenses."

Even though zoom lenses have gotten better, good prime lenses really deliver the best image quality. And even among zoom lenses, a 3X zoom generally will perform a lot better than a 15X zoom will. This is simply because ANY zoom lens is a compromise, and the wider the range, the bigger the compromises involved.

Personally, I feel you are paying too large a premium for having the convenience of not changing lenses. A Nikon 2 lens kit would cover the same range at 1/4th the cost... and probably deliver better image quality.

But that's just my opinion. Others will certainly disagree.

9 upvotes
OldZorki
By OldZorki (Oct 31, 2012)

I know lots of people, who own SLR and one superzoom. they have no idea even how to change lenses. I do not know why they even have SLR - good compact superzoom would serve them better and cheaper. Perhaps SLR makes them feel more like real photographers, as I have no other explanation.

3 upvotes
hoggdoc
By hoggdoc (Oct 31, 2012)

Well Marty your are forgetting what the size of the sensor and electronics in the larger DX bodies add to the overall quality of the image. Also those super zoom lens on cameras like the FZ200 are inferior to the type of lens being reviewed here.

The real advantage of a "Superzoom" lens on a DSLR is the flexiblity they provide. They may not be the "best" for casual shooting, travel, street shooting, they offer real advantages.

5 upvotes
Rachotilko
By Rachotilko (Oct 31, 2012)

"Also those super zoom lens on cameras like the FZ200 are inferior to the type of lens being reviewed here"
I am not sure you can back your words with evidence. FZ200 is equipped with lens of superb quality.

1 upvote
Josh152
By Josh152 (Oct 31, 2012)

You people are acting like if you buy this lens it's the only one you can ever use again. Sure some people will only use a super zoom but the real point of this lens for a DSLR is so you can use it in situations when it is not practical or convenient to change lenses and use something better the rest of the time. If you buy a compact fixed lens super zoom you are stuck with super zoom IQ. A DSLR lets you choose when you want to make that compromise. Being able to use the right lens for the right circumstance is the whole point of a camera with interchangeable lenses.

10 upvotes
Patco
By Patco (Oct 31, 2012)

> "If your object is to "never have to change lenses""
That's not my object, but I do use my 18-200 VR for those times when convenience is higher up on my list than any specific advantages I would have with some of my other lenses.

> "The whole point behind buying a more expensive ILC is "changing lenses.""
While being one of the points of these cameras, changing lenses is not the "WHOLE point". Because one *can* change lenses, doesn't mean one *must* change lenses.

12 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (Oct 31, 2012)

I agree with all of you.

Obviously, this lens is ideal for some people and seems pretty expensive and heavy for others. I am in that second group, but that doesn't mean those in the first group are wrong.

Of course larger sensors have plenty of advantages over smaller ones. And if your object is convenience, then I would think a travel zoom or super zoom camera would be an ideal second camera for those snapshots.

If you want "DX quality" then you can get it at a far lower cost with almost the same versatility buy buying a Nikon 2 lens kit. How much trouble is it to make a lens change once in a while?

You can also get DX quality from a much smaller system. I think if you compare a Nikon D5100 to a Sony NEX 5N, the NEX does pretty well.

Everyone has different needs and preferences, which is why fixed lens cameras are still very popular. For some a Fuji X100 or Sony RX1 makes sense. But my point was... if you are buying an ILC, then you are paying for the ability to change lenses.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
Josh152
By Josh152 (Oct 31, 2012)

Your are still stuck on the mentality that it is either a super zoom or a 2 lens setup. Here is something that will blow your mind. You can have the super zoom for when you need the convenience, like say on a trip to the zoo with your family, AND a two lens set up for better IQ when changing lenses isn't' a big deal like when you are photographing by yourself.

3 upvotes
Dougbm_2
By Dougbm_2 (Nov 2, 2012)

The FZ200 although posing a tiny sensor and (good) evf only does have an excellent lens. A Leica 25-600mm f2.8 constant aperture through the whole range (although is sharper stopped down to f4). Of course what you wont get with a tiny senored camera is depth of field but the f2.8 will improve low light performance, allowing higher shutter speeds.
This Nikon 18-300 is just too big and weighty.

0 upvotes
Dan
By Dan (Nov 6, 2012)

I tried a Panasonic FZ150. What should I say...maybe, the experience was less than favorable...but I bought it because it was supposed to be the fastest of its kind. However, WB is off, shutter response is not fast enough, flash shoe doesn't behave as desired...the list goes on and on. What was I thinking!? There is no way a non-DSLR could ever satisfy me after I've been spoiled by DSLRs. I ended up buying a Sony HX30V to replace it, and I am extremely pleased with it.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Dan
By Dan (Nov 6, 2012)

Marty, if you agreed with all of us you wouldn't be asking these questions. A 2-zoom kit would require the changing of lenses, something I refuse to do at times! I will miss the shot! I have a DSLR because it is fast and performs to my expectations in high-ISO performance. I don't care if the corners aren't perfectly sharp or if there is a little distortion (which I find has no noticeable effect on my images). When I want something special, I use my 85mm F1.4 or my 70-200 F2.8 but mainly for their larger apertures, not so much for increased sharpness or reduced distortion.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
oking23
By oking23 (Oct 31, 2012)

My belief is that those who have purchased and used this lens, as I have, are happy with the results. (See the comments from the verified purchasers at B&H). Clearly it will not meet the needs of everyone, but no lens does. However, it appears that too may individuals are critical of the lens without ever using it. As I earlier indicated, it is now a favorite of mine. It performs quite well on my Fuji S5 and Nikon D300. The review should not discourage anyone from trying the lens if there is an interest. It can always be rented for a weekend before a decision to purchase is made.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
5 upvotes
hoggdoc
By hoggdoc (Oct 31, 2012)

I agree, I have the first edition of the Nikon 18-200 lens and have many times grabbed it out of my bag to make a shot, and was more that satisfied with the results.

3 upvotes
thomo
By thomo (Nov 1, 2012)

I've just returned from a 3 week tour of eastern Europe with the 18-300 lens on a D7000. I have an 18-200 that I have used extensively since I bought my first DSLR (a D80). After 3000 shots I am very pleased with the results but I did notice something unusual which I don't think has been picked up in the period of this short review.
There is a lag on the VR function (haven't measured it precisely) that is noticable particularly when changing from landscape to porttrait orientation. Sometimes I had to half push the shutter release a second time before it would stabilise but when it did it was magic. I have one shot, taken in low light at 300mm and 1/15 sec exposure - that is almost 5 stops better than without VR. The only problem with the lag is that it effects quick 'grab' shots which I do a lot of when touring. I'll be discussing this with Nikon to see if something can be done about the lag.
I'll try and post some samples tonight on the lens forum.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
falconeyes
By falconeyes (Oct 31, 2012)

I think DPR does not understand an important point about lens tests: The influence of sharpening and a Bayer-AA filter. DxO therefore publishes full MTF results and provide valuable data. DPR however ONLY publishes MTF50 results where sharpening was off. This is not smart AT ALL!

Either publish MTF20 results (such as contained in DxO results), or use sharpening (such as done by photozone) or at least use test equipment without a Bayer-AA filter (D800E, K-5IIs etc.).

Otherwise results will clip at about 50% the sensor resolution and this will prevent the more expensive lenses to be compared effectively.

Sad DxO didn't consult DPR better ...

1 upvote
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Oct 31, 2012)

MTF50 and MTF20 simply tell you slightly different things. MTF20 is close to 'resolution', MTF50 is more about perceived sharpness of the image as a whole. Is one automatically better than the other? That's a whole different question.

Your argument that MTF50 results should use sharpening seems odd though. All this does is inflate the MTF50 numbers in a systematic way. It doesn't make them any better comparable to each other.

There's certainly a strong case for using cameras without AA filters for testing lenses. But the problem is that you then have to do so for all systems, which isn't sensibly possible at the moment.

Ultimately no way of presenting data this complex is perfect. But if you really want to look at MTF20, you're free to follow the link to DxO's full data for each lens. That's what it's there for.

5 upvotes
falconeyes
By falconeyes (Nov 1, 2012)

Andy, thanks for the reply. You may want to drop me an email to my regular email account to discuss this further. I would have to explain to you how MTF of a complex system is aggregated from component MTFs and why MTF50 as you decided to use it is neither useful nor in line with MTF analog measurements done on an optical bench. And why it is rather inefficient to compare lenses which are better than kit lenses.

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Nov 1, 2012)

You seem to be labouring under the false assumption that I don't understand what you're saying. And I agree MTF50 is rather inefficient at comparing 'good' lenses on a fine level. But that's not the point - it is very good at distinguishing 'good' from 'not-so-good'. I also don't think it's remotely relevent how closely these MTF measurements correspond to those performed using an optical bench. The methodology we use is designed purely for internal comparison, and it works perfectly well in that respect.

5 upvotes
falconeyes
By falconeyes (Nov 1, 2012)

Andy, you may alternatively read my paper "Understanding image sharpness". I do indeed think that you miss a point here (like many actually do). If you think it through, you measure something like lens-MTF75 and call it sharpness. It isn't.

I have seen too many lenses with (unsharpened) rather moderate MTF50 but outstanding resolution (MTF20 or sharpened MTF50). And the other way round, esp. for kit lenses with a small number of lens elements.

You seem to be labouring under the false assumption that lenses rank the same when using MTF75, MTF50 or MTF20.

1 upvote
Dan
By Dan (Nov 6, 2012)

All the more reason to take pictures with the lenses instead of freaking out over test results. If only people knew the potential of the "worst" lenses...

2 upvotes
HubertChen
By HubertChen (Oct 31, 2012)

In the following question I am completely out of my field of expertise. I am wondering:

What is the point of this Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR ?
It has VR, but it is not working on the long end in the shutter speeds you need. It works on a DSLR, but can not harvest the DSLR quality. It is an All in one lens, meaning people buy it for convenience, but it is so big and heavy that it is inconvenient. It is meant for the casual shooter, but it has so many issues which you need to be aware while shooting which usually only pros do. I hope I managed to write this without sounding cynical.

So here comes my question out of curiosity and ignorance: Would not be a dedicated small sensor super zoom camera serve the purpose better ? Or who would buy this thing doing what ? Nikon usually makes sense to me. What am I not getting ? Why reboot the lens review with this thing ? I am really curious :-)

4 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Oct 31, 2012)

"Why reboot the lens reviews with this thing?" We had to start somewhere, superzooms are popular, and we didn't know how it would perform before we started. That, after all, is what reviews are all about.

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
9 upvotes
Rachotilko
By Rachotilko (Oct 31, 2012)

Very well put !

And while I appreciate your effort to stay away from cynical tone (which is quite rare in the current insultation-infested communication style), I cannot resist the temptation to be cynical myself:

Superzoom lens are mostly for those folk who base their appreciation of owning a DSLR not on its photographic (IQ or DOF or lowlight performance) merits, but rather on other benefits (mostly social ones) associated with its ownership. Yet they want to have a perceived convenience of all-in-one package. In this respect an above average price tag of such a lens is surely not discouraging for this class of prospective buyers.

On the other hand, operating a small sensor camera superzooms have become somewhat of a social stigma lately. Nobody wants to be seen with one !

2 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Oct 31, 2012)

@Andy

Indeed, lens reviews are more valuable for choosing between poor lenses like these than they are for evaluating good ones.

Anyone thinking of buying the 18-300 has a pretty good idea going in that they are giving up many things for the zoom range, this review tells them precisely what they will face, helping them make an informed decision.

A review of something like a 50mm F1.8, on the other hand, is much less useful. Of course it will test extremely well, and even if there is any measurable difference between one 50mm prime lens and another the differences will not be "field relevant". One's choice of 50mm can comfortably be left to personal preference.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
HubertChen
By HubertChen (Nov 1, 2012)

Thanks to all replies. They triggered interesting thought processes. Will dwell on this and get back in case I found something interesting to say. I very much agree with all three of you and appreciate your time. Especially Richard's reply was most enlightening to me! I myself restraint from buying a super-zoom after reading in lens reviews just how bad they are. I have forgotten why I do not consider super-zooms. Thanks for this reminder.

About etiquette in this forum
I on and off am responsible for a facebook forum. In the beginning the tone was as bad as in here. When I can take the time to post I did same style as do in here. Showing how to say what you have to say but remain polite all the time without holding back your opinion. Through leading by example I changed the tone within months and increased the reader base from hundreds to thousands. How polite a group is depends on its leadership. Sadly I see none in here. I hope more people who know etiquette will show more examples.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
HubertChen
By HubertChen (Oct 31, 2012)

I am glad lens reviews are back. The improved test result widget is indeed very nice and useful to develop a feel for the lens without actually shooting it. Now I am hoping for many lens reviews. It is a pity however that you could not manage backwards compare-ability with your existing lens reviews. In order the gauge the quality of a lens by studying its test result widget representation, it would have helped to first study one or better several representations of lenses one owns and is intimately familiar with. Then after developed a feel for the representation to move on to the lens one is considering to buy. Now with a lens data base of 1 lens this ( which I do not own ) this lens review system needs to grow at least 100 review so I have a chance at least 2 of my lenses are in it. I also want to caution that in the past the dpreview result were sometimes inconsistent with http://www.photozone.de/reviews results, which usually match my personal experience very nicely.

0 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Nov 1, 2012)

Lenses are something of a hobby for me. Its geeky and not really relevant to taking good photos, but I enjoy trying to get a feel for influence the optical design has on the image.

At the end of the day I conclude it is not worth trying to measure lenses, except to evaluate a baseline level of performance. Measurements separate good lenses from poor ones, but does not help identify a great one from the ranks of of the merely good.

Partly because what makes a great lens great is subjective, and mostly because what makes a great lens great is at any rate not simply more of what makes a good lens good.

A sharp lens with low distortion is good. A very sharp lens with very low distortion is not necessarily great. It doesn't scale like that. At a given point you start to look for different factors, like contrast and color and out of focus rendering, and, to get down to it, nothing more and nothing less than how much you like the final result.

1 upvote
HubertChen
By HubertChen (Nov 1, 2012)

@ Richard
Indeed. Thanks for bringing this up. All the time I was thinking that this widget is real nice, but I had the feeling I would not trust dpreview but would go back to photozone.de. It disturbed me because I wanted to like this lens review here, yet I could not shake this feeling. You put the finger on it why that is: In photozone they pay attention to all these other factors, such as local and global contrast, color rendition and bokeh, purple fringing, longitudinal shift, etc. On top of it the writer is a decent photographer himself. He shoot with the lens real life and comments what he sees. His comments are very much in line with my perception of a great lens, thus his findings are very consistent with mine, thus I trust their review on lenses which I have no access to. I need to dwell more on this. Great inspiration. Thanks again Richard!

0 upvotes
iudex
By iudex (Oct 31, 2012)

I have a 55-300/4-5,8 telezoom and made a brief comparison of lens speed at different focal distances (I know the lenses are not competitors, just for info):
Nikon 18-300/3,5-5,6:
18mm: f3,5, 28mm: f4, 50mm: f5,3, 105mm: f5,6, 200mm: f5,6, 300mm: f5,6
Pentax DA 55-300:
55mm: f4, 107 mm: f4, 120mm: f4,5, 190mm: f4,5, 210mm: f5,6, 260mm: f5,6, 300mm: f5,8.
So the biggest difference is in the middle of the focal range: while the Nikon has f5,6 from 105mm, the Pentax has f4 (a whole 1 EV better) on that focal length and retains reasonable f4,5 (i.e. 2/3 EV advantage) up to cca. 200mm.

1 upvote
viking79
By viking79 (Oct 31, 2012)

Yeah, different class lenses so it really isn't fair. However, I have a Samsung NX 18-200 mm and it is the same as the Nikon, it hits f/6.3 way too fast. However, it has a nice range, focuses fast, and is fairly compact.

0 upvotes
iudex
By iudex (Oct 31, 2012)

That´s what I wanted to say: the aperture border figures may be similar, but the course may differ significantly. When shooting with the telezoom, I use mainly the lengths with best aperture value (relative to focal length), i.e. 107mm (f4) and 190mm (f4,5).

0 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Nov 1, 2012)

That's just how variable aperture zoom lenses work. The middle of the aperture range is available only in the widest third of the zoom range.

Good that you pointed it out though. Most people tend to just read the first number in the aperture range and don't think about what will be available over the range of focal lengths they will typically use.

Pro Tip: In addition to all their other failings, superzooms are deathly slow.

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (Oct 31, 2012)

FINALLY A LENS REVIEW
After 2 years, TWO YEARS of asking about it...

...well, better late then never.
Hope that more reviews will follow, and that they'll become as common (if not more) as body reviews!

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Oct 31, 2012)

And to think, we weren't going to do it until you asked! ;)

5 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Nov 1, 2012)

For my part, I'm asking for a cigar. How long will I have to wait for it ?

0 upvotes
harry
By harry (Oct 31, 2012)

Dinosaur! Even it is a brand new lens, I felt it like a dinosaur for yesteryears.. Let me explain.

A short years ago when the mirrorless and compact superzoom digicams were not available, the 18-300mm would have made ome sense for people with DSLRs. I would not argue the potential IQ for a DSLR/18-300mm combo, when compared to such compact superzooms such as the Nikon P510 or Sony HX20V, would be better. But the compact superzooms are much more likely to be used because of their sizes, and let's be honest, more practical to be used for all occasions.

I seriously doubt the user of 18-300mm would have many successful shots at 300mm; and for those who know how to shoot, probably would be disappointed at its soft IQ at the long end. So basically, one is to carry an extra dead weight for the "reach" of, say 150-300mm.

It's kind of like thinking of our presidentail candidates: one one hand, we wish for a person who is more than a superman.

2 upvotes
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (Oct 31, 2012)

Stopped down this lens seems to have better sharpness at 300mm than most the other lenses available to compare have at 200mm.

1 upvote
iudex
By iudex (Oct 31, 2012)

@Andy: the question is, how many succesful shots will you have on 300mm when stopped down (with lets say f8 and acceptable ISO the times will be too slow for a decently sharp picture). I know what I am saying, I have a 55-300/f4-5,8 telezoom and even during a sunny day the times are sufiicient only to have f5,8.

1 upvote
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (Oct 31, 2012)

handheld or tripod? DPR says that the VR is effective down to 1/160th sec handheld, and the test image DPR shot at 1/640th F5.6 ISO 200 could be taken at F8 with either 1/320th ISO200 or 1/640th ISO400

0 upvotes
dbscsp
By dbscsp (Oct 31, 2012)

All in all, that's a realistic review. In reality, it's a lot of fun to work with the 18-300. My hands are large enough to handle a D7000 with this kind of lens a day long. In-camera correction of distortion works OK, and in most cases, a small amount of remaining barrel distortion is benefitial on wideangle. Use DxO or whatever to completely correct this. Use 18-200 if your hands are not large. Use dedicated primes for low light or maximum quality. The stabilisation issue described here... don't know, I will do some tests. At 300 mm in many cases you will have mild to heavy blurring because of the atmosphere you are looking through, remember that.

1 upvote
vesa1tahti
By vesa1tahti (Oct 31, 2012)

You are absolutely right, dbscsp! The influence of the atmosphere on the quality of photos is obvious in photographing long distant objects. The minimum focusing distance is 0,45 meters at 300 mm. So,almost macro images with this lens don't have blurring at all. This is almost allways forgotton in these analysis.

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Oct 31, 2012)

Atmospheric blurring will be visible in long shots, but in mid-range shots - maybe wildlife or sports - it's unlikely to be a problem. The IS problem around 1/80sec, however, can affect shots taken at any distance.

Remember also that very few IS systems work well for macro work at all. For this you need to be able to detect and correct translational movement, i.e. the lens's entrance pupil changing position relative to the subject. Only Canon's 'Hybrid IS' and Olympus's '5-axis' IS on the E-M5 are designed to counter this. So it would be a mistake to expect any superzoom to be much good for hand-held macro at slower shutter speeds.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
vesa1tahti
By vesa1tahti (Oct 31, 2012)

Okay ! Maybe I've done something wrong, but I've gotton very good and detailed macro images with this lens !

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Oct 31, 2012)

I'm not saying you can't get good and detailed macro shots with this lens - after all one of the Pros in the review is 'Decent close-up capability'. I'm just saying that you can't assume the VR system will work anywhere near as well at these high magnifications. But this doesn't matter if you have lots of light, or use a tripod.

0 upvotes
rfsIII
By rfsIII (Oct 31, 2012)

That IS problem sounds like a software/firmware issue. I bet Nikon will have a solution eventually.

0 upvotes
viking79
By viking79 (Oct 31, 2012)

That sounds like shutter vibration that the IS system isn't correcting for. Don't know if they could fix that in firmware, best way might be to have the camera avoid those shutter speeds. Reminds me of my K-7...

1 upvote
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Nov 1, 2012)

This is a DX lens, so 300mm is 450mm eq.

I dunno, call me skeptical, I just cannot believe VR could ever work effectively at such focal lengths, the adjustments it has to do are too large.

Or more precisely: lets say the handheld limit for critical sharpness at 450mm eff. is 1/1000s (even that is pushing it!) so if VR gives 2 stops, it might work down to 1/250s. I could not imagine VR being able to correct camera shake at any slower speed than that...

Comment edited 49 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
vesa1tahti
By vesa1tahti (Nov 1, 2012)

VR works effectively at even 200-300mm focal lengths. Sometimes there is a small delay, I accept it. But when learning to use this lens it gives superb results. Best of all superzooms.

0 upvotes
Samuel Dilworth
By Samuel Dilworth (Oct 31, 2012)

This lens brings to mind the great clippers launched at the dawn of the steamship age.

It’s bigger, more sophisticated, and more expensive than any previous product of its type, yet all that engineering effort and cost is arguably wasted, since an extreme zoom ratio is more easily obtained on a smaller sensor and with software-corrected distortion.

Yes, it’s f/5.6 at the long end, which puts an impressive number of photons on the large DX sensor. Does anyone want it, though, when that comes with a weight of 830 grams and a cost of $1k?

Some will, of course, but to me a much smaller lens with lower light throughput and better optical performance, with a smaller image circle, would make much more sense.

Still, I’m very glad to see lens reviews back.

1 upvote
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Nov 1, 2012)

Superzooms for ASPC dSLRs have always been a niche product. They have continued to exist, however, despite a long history of competing compact superzoom cameras. No reason to think this wont continue.

Not my cup of tea at all, but some people like them.

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (Oct 31, 2012)

And to think there's so many soothsayers out there shouting that the DX (and EF-S) lenses are all dead since the coming of the cheaper Full Frame cameras...

.

3 upvotes
Rachotilko
By Rachotilko (Oct 31, 2012)

Full frame vanity can and will be defeated ! Well, I am ready to sacrifice my life in the fight against the full frame evil

0 upvotes
Josh152
By Josh152 (Oct 31, 2012)

There still isn't any truly affordable full frame cameras. When you can get full frame for a MSRP of $1200-$1500 it WILL be the beginning of the end of DX DSLRs. DX is and always was a compromise on IQ to get the price down and more recently to get the size of the camera down.

I think what will happen in 5-10 years is that the $500-$1000 price point consumer, "soccer mom" DSLRs will be replaced with DX mirroless and DSLRs will be marketed to the enthusiasts/pros, all be FX, and start at $1200-$1500.

With mirrorless options getting better and better DSLRs need something to set them apart and make the extra size and weight worth it. As mirrorless cameras get more capable increasingly it will only be the enthusiast and pros who will lug a DSLR around. So FX and starting the base model with features similar to the D7000 is the best option IMO. Especially with the Nikon 1 series not just capable of but excelling at action photography, a domain that was previously exclusive to DSLRs.

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (Oct 31, 2012)

Main advantage of APS-C (stop using Nikon's marketing BS!) is reach - you can get relatively small lens with narrow field of view and ergonomics of a true DSLR (something no mirrorless can offer, not even OM-D). Also right now APS-C lenses cover the same focal equivalents as Full Frames while using only a "sweet spot" on FF lenses (no more crazy vignetting or very blurred edges) so it's a win-win, not a "compromise of a quality". I got FF body and somehow can't see APS-C bodies disappear any time soon - they have great advantages over FF and IMHO offer far better balance of ergonomics-image quality-price-size factors then either: FF bodies or Mirrorless.

1 upvote
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Nov 1, 2012)

Every FX camera is also a DX camera. Have a look at the sensor, and mentally draw a box in the middle section. There you are, APS-C!

0 upvotes
Joel Benford
By Joel Benford (Oct 31, 2012)

This might seem an odd comment, but... 75% seems a bit high for a lens that isn't very good, just less bad than the competition.

How do you plan to scale lens scores? Is it going to be "relative to it's class", meaning above average but unspectacular lenses of any kind will get 75%? Or is it an absolute scale, so premium macro lenses are going to get more than 95% and Lomos less than 50%?

For what it's worth, I think a single scale would be best. That way a potential buyer gets some idea of what they'd lose by buying a superzoom instead of a two zoom set, or a 24-70/2.8 instead of primes.

Of course, it's entirely clear from the text what the story is, and some might say that anyone who only looks at the numbers deserves what they get. But the fact remains some people will just look at the numbers, especially if preparing a shortlist.

2 upvotes
Thoughts
By Thoughts (Oct 31, 2012)

I agree. for a camera 75% is really good according to DPR.
The old approach may still be usable : recommended, highly recommended or not recommended (it is rare here) .

2 upvotes
dbscsp
By dbscsp (Oct 31, 2012)

I unterstood that 75 % means it is a good superzoom in relation to other superzooms. It does not mean that it is a super-lens in general.

0 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (Oct 31, 2012)

I agree completely.

The only sensible way to look at these ratings are "within the class of similar products." No one thinks a compact P&S camera that gets a 75% rating can produce results as good as a DSLR that gets a 75%, and the same theory applies to lenses.

This $1400 lens got a 75% "in the superzoom lens category." A $100 50mm prime lens will blow it away at 50mm. But the cheaper better lens will not have the same range.

2 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Nov 1, 2012)

Commercial considerations dictate that dpreview can not score a perfectly good brand name superzoom 35% just because its not as sharp as cheap standard prime. Lets be realistic here: it would be unfair to do so for any standpoint.

Scoring lenses is a bad idea. Period. However you people ask for it, so it will be done. So enjoy griping over the numbers and methods, that's part of the deal.

Score is a subjective evaluation of the relative worth of the product in comparison with its peers. So you will see cheap lenses outscore expensive ones, poor zooms outscore razor sharp primies. That's the reality, you'll all have to deal with that too.

0 upvotes
Leonard Shepherd
By Leonard Shepherd (Oct 31, 2012)

Was the review good?
It says VR was not as effective at 300mm as shorter focal lengths, but used a constant focus distance, not allowing for the obvious magnification increase at 300mm.
Safe hand held speeds increase with image magnification - with any focal length.
Nikon indicate in the 105 VR instructions a subject 8 feet wide or narrower needs 1 shutter speed faster for sharp results. This implies a need for 2 speeds faster by 4 feet wide and so on.
Increased magnification at 300mm same focus distance relative to 28mm leaves less VR benefit available for camera shake reduction.
The review gives a fair summary of the VR results a relative novice might get. An advanced worker might know about the image magnification issue using VR.
Was there a slight tendency to misfocus at 300mm? The example shown used a fine detail subject with which all Nikon DSLR instructions indicate AF may not be particularly accurate. Was the reviewer paying enough attention to the quality of the AF target?

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Oct 31, 2012)

You've clearly not read the text about the stabilisation testing, which states that the 300mm tests used a longer distance. Nor have you noticed that the criticism is highly specific, and based on an inability to stabilize properly at 1/80sec. This is a clear difference to other lenses I've tested using exactly the same methodology.

As for misfocusing, that was consistent across a large number of real-world shots, using 2 different lenses. The sample shown simply illustrates it particularly well. But while the 100% crops show fine low-contrast detail, the image itself clearly has plenty of high-contrast patterns for the AF system to work with, and that's what I aimed at when focusing. (I've done this stuff before, you know.)

Comment edited 35 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
marcin wuu
By marcin wuu (Oct 31, 2012)

That's an interesting implication you made here. Does this mean that a subject 2' wide would need 4 speeds more? 1' = 8 speeds? Say you want to shoot a one inch object. Simple calculation reveals that you need 2^96 more speeds. This is a mind boggling number of speeds, more than there is stars in the entire universe and by several orders of magnitude. Do you have a camera that fast?

0 upvotes
Josh152
By Josh152 (Oct 31, 2012)

You'll have to ignore Lenard. He is of the opinion that a Nikon DSLR can only focus accurately on a perfect target. Of course this would make them all useless for real world use and is easily demonstrated not to be true but that doesn't deter him from endlessly blaming the AF target, no matter what it is, when someone suggests their camera missed focus.

Comment edited 37 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
gl2k
By gl2k (Oct 31, 2012)

Dunno if the price of this obvious consumer lens fits that of the camera where it will reside. Hard to believe that a typical D3200 owner will spend $1k on a lens. hmmm ...

2 upvotes
vesa1tahti
By vesa1tahti (Oct 31, 2012)

I purchased this lens, and sold my Tamron 18-270 PZD. Nikkor has much, much better quality of images. Together with the D7000. And many of my friends in Finland do have the same opinion. Maybe this review is a little bit misleadind? Ia all, good job from DP anywhy.

1 upvote
jacketpotato
By jacketpotato (Oct 31, 2012)

Try keeping this baby steady at 300 (450) whilst following action or birding, wildlife . More so in lower light.
After lots of blurry photos you will wonder why you bought it.

For the price Nikon J1 + 10-100 will get you far more keepers.

1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (Oct 31, 2012)

Yea, I'm sure Nikon 1 will give you keepers in low-light.
Hahahahahahahahaha
keep the jokes coming.

3 upvotes
robjons
By robjons (Oct 31, 2012)

Another big heavy OVERPRICED zoom lens from Nikon.
“I AM Nikon": I can charge a huge premium just because.

4 upvotes
M Jesper
By M Jesper (Oct 31, 2012)

Just because there are other budget lenses with similar range doesn't mean that this has to be the same. In fact it means the opposite. You even name cause and result in the same sentence, as being big and heavy doesn't mean they pour concrete in it, it means it actually contains more. Meaning less compromises, bigger production process, more costs. That makes it relatively EXPENSIVE, but certainly not overpriced. There are lenses out there half as complex as this costing €1200, just because the market says so. Worth it or not, it is not overpriced. Partly thanks to the tin cans already out there.

3 upvotes
Mike99999
By Mike99999 (Oct 31, 2012)

I find Nikkor lenses very cheap considering the stellar performance you get. I'm happy Nikon prefers quality over low prices or small sizes.

1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (Oct 31, 2012)

That's not even close to "stellar performance". You should really look sometimes outside the Nikon window and stop getting mocked by it's (really loud) marketing machine.

1 upvote
MichaelKJ
By MichaelKJ (Oct 31, 2012)

"But overall we're not convinced the 18-300mm offers sufficient advantages to justify the size and price premium over its main competitors."

Good review, except for the rating. While DPR did a good job of noting the positive and negative aspects of this lens, the overall evaluation made me very surprised that it got a 75.

8 upvotes
photo nuts
By photo nuts (Oct 31, 2012)

Ya, the rating surprised me too.

But this review was done in collaboration with DXOMark, so I guess it's to be expected.

1 upvote
Zafar Kazmi
By Zafar Kazmi (Oct 31, 2012)

Excellent review. Just need a few more to be able to put measurements (especially MTF) in context.

2 upvotes
noirdude
By noirdude (Oct 31, 2012)

Good review! But I stay with my tamron 18-270 VC for street photo, the VC works as promised. It's just to expensive for a walk around lens, not to mention its weight too.

Keep it up!

0 upvotes
oking23
By oking23 (Oct 31, 2012)

I am sorry to see that the review of the lens was not really a positive one. I have used it since July 2012, and while it does not rival the pro lenses, it has performed wondefully as an all-around lens, especially for family and vacations pictures. I also have the 24-70 (2.8) and 70-200 (2.8(VI), but because of its convenience and performance, the 18-300 has become a favorite. Try this lens with the Fuji S5 and you will be quite pleased.

2 upvotes
Sosua
By Sosua (Oct 31, 2012)

Likely does OK on a 6mp sensor, but certainly does not appear to be able to keep up with the pixel pitch of modern APS-C chips - a shame, since its a new lens...

0 upvotes
Mike99999
By Mike99999 (Oct 31, 2012)

The Tamron is not a good lens. It's so unsharp at the long end that you might as well be cropping. Colors are not pleasing.

0 upvotes
vesa1tahti
By vesa1tahti (Nov 1, 2012)

I sold my Tamron 18-270 VC PZD, very bad images at long end. Nikkor 18-300 has much, much better image quality. Cheers.

0 upvotes
paulski66
By paulski66 (Oct 31, 2012)

Excellent review. Thank you!

0 upvotes
photo nuts
By photo nuts (Oct 31, 2012)

Great to see lens reviews again. But please, please keep this up. Hope we don't have to wait one year for the next one. :)

Quite obviously, the Nikkor 18-300 lens is too heavy and too expensive. As pointed out by others, better stick to a simple 2 lens kit.

6 upvotes
G Davidson
By G Davidson (Oct 31, 2012)

I can only agree. For someone like me who dislikes changing lenses (chance of dust, missing shots) it also means a two-camera setup. This lens can't come up with the goods on a modern sensor, though, it is good to have a definitive review to point this out.

0 upvotes
Josh152
By Josh152 (Oct 31, 2012)

Yeah right try lugging two bodies or changing lenses while chasing your kids around a zoo or amusement park. Every zoom is a compromise between convenience and IQ. This lens is just weighted more toward the convenience side and is a perfectly good option if changing lenses or lugging around a bunch of them is not practical. This lens is not over priced or too heavy considering it covers a focal range you would need like 2-3 different lenses to cover if you didn't use it.

1 upvote
paulski66
By paulski66 (Nov 1, 2012)

If you're looking for convenience and don't give a flip about image quality, why not just get the Panasonic FZ200...which, btw, will give you better image quality at a significantly lower cost. Hell, it costs 1/2 what this costs, and you get a free camera thrown in, to boot!

0 upvotes
Phil Askey
By Phil Askey (Oct 31, 2012)

Great to see lens reviews make a return to dpreview, to see photographs of Tower Bridge and the surrounding area again, the first review reads well and has lots of good technical data. Kudos Andy and the rest of the team.

6 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Oct 31, 2012)

Good to see you here visiting your creation, Mr. Askey. I hope you're as a thrilled to see the return of detailed lens evaluations as I am. The hiatus was tough to get through, but the resulting review format looks promising, with excellent graphical displays and no shortage of useful info. Thanks, dpr.

But please remember that not every tablet is an iPad. Testing the site on Android and Windows 8 models is also important. I have a Nexus 7 and often run into features (not necessarily on dpr) that don't work right on the Chrome browser standard to current Android tablets.

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Oct 31, 2012)

Thanks Phil, and full credit to Josh for writing the widget - it's all-too-easy for the developers to go unnoticed.

Comment edited 48 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (Oct 31, 2012)

Yes nice to see London's Tower Bridge back too.

2 upvotes
thx1138
By thx1138 (Oct 31, 2012)

Well this may be a zoom, but it's certainly not super. Yuck.

Stick with a two lens combo 17/18-50/55 + 70-300 for much better IQ or stick to a smaller range like an 18-135.

0 upvotes
Pixel Judge
By Pixel Judge (Oct 31, 2012)

Thank you DPR for bringing back lens review!
Can't wait to see more of this!!!
Or better yet, lens comparison! How about...for example...
-Super zoom lens comparison,
-fixed 28mm, 35mm, 50mm... lens comparison,
-m43 Kit Zoom Lens comparison,
-Micro Lens comparison,
...etc.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Simon97
By Simon97 (Oct 31, 2012)

Glad to have lens test back!

This lens extends quite long. The girls will be impressed.

5 upvotes
Sosua
By Sosua (Oct 31, 2012)

I presume the ratings are within its own category? (Reading the review and looking at the samples it looks like an 800gram lemon)

Would be interesting to see what the lens categories are.

Surely Nikon would be better placed creating useful enthusiast DX lenses to pump life into the format?

0 upvotes
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (Oct 31, 2012)

Great to see the lens tests return. What was good is still there and the additions are appreciated too.

Comment edited 13 seconds after posting
1 upvote
steelhead3
By steelhead3 (Oct 30, 2012)

I am only familiar with Sony dslrs and they are starting to have lens correction on jpegs but not raw. Are other cameras also set up this way or are raws also corrected? Will this be included in the review; the reason I'm asking is value of lens, obviously it costs more to produce a good lens than a cheap one corrected by soft ware.

0 upvotes
Spectro
By Spectro (Oct 31, 2012)

example for nikon if you use view or capture nx the lens profile is automatically turn on. With the same raw file on ligtroom4 you see vigetting ca, so you have to turn it on manually. dxomark own software you have to download the lens profile all the time.

0 upvotes
sadwitch
By sadwitch (Oct 30, 2012)

Thanks for this. Seems the superzoom to beat is still the long forgotten Panasonic LEICA 14-150mm for 4/3

2 upvotes
M Jesper
By M Jesper (Oct 31, 2012)

Large sensor superzooms are a magnitude more difficult, no doubt the PLEICA will do better with edge-to-edge sharpness. Not to mention size and weight. If you can find a 4/3 camera with a sensor (and DoF, DR, Clarity, Color, Noise) that's good enough for you than by all means go for it, because performance-wise it is (m)4/3's only weakness, if at all.

Comment edited 56 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
luka3rd
By luka3rd (Oct 30, 2012)

Good review! Shame for the strange VR problem at crucial speeds...

1 upvote
EmmanuelStarchild
By EmmanuelStarchild (Oct 30, 2012)

Great review, but I'm a Canon owner. What else do you have? :-)

3 upvotes
Pat Cullinan Jr
By Pat Cullinan Jr (Oct 31, 2012)

Haw haw!

0 upvotes
Total comments: 163
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