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Lens reviews update: a quick look at the Nikon 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 VR

By Andy Westlake on Oct 22, 2013 at 13:17 GMT
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DxOMark has recently tested the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, which in some markets will be sold as a 'kit' zoom with the latest D5300 SLR. As part of our ongoing collaboration, we've added the test data to our lens widget, so you can compare it with Nikon's other current DX standard zooms. We've included test data on both the D7000 and D7100 - the latter should be a good indicator of its performance on the D5300. Read on for more analysis. 

Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens test data

Click on any of the images or links below to open our interactive lens widget, and explore the data further

The AF-S Nikkor 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G E VR puts in a pretty impressive performance all round (here shown on the 16MP Nikon D7000). Sharpness is high, especially towards the wide end, although it drops a bit at telephoto. The lens isn't at all bad at maximum aperture, but as usual for this kind of lens, the best results are generally obtained at F5.6 - F8.

Lateral chromatic aberration is pretty well-controlled too, and only likely to be particularly visible at the extremes of the zoom range. It's worth noting that all of Nikon's current SLRs (and most others dating back to 2007) correct this automatically in JPEG processing anyway, as does Nikon's own Raw conversion software. So you'll only see it all if you have an older camera, or use third party Raw converters.

Vignetting isn't much of a problem - there's visible darkening in the extreme corners when shooting wide open at either end of the zoom range, but it can effectively be cured by closing down a stop. Recent Nikon SLRs can also correct for it in their JPEG processing.

The distortion graphs reveal the price of the lens's impressive sharpness, though. There's the usual barrel distortion at wideangle, but the 18-140mm also shows considerable pincushion distortion across the rest of its range (and worst at 50mm). This will cause visible bowing of any straight lines towards the edge of the frame, and is likely to be visible in a range of picture types (e.g. images of buildings, or landscapes with non-central horizons). It can also be corrected in software if necessary, but at the expense of image sharpness.  

Compared to AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR

The 18-140mm is effectively a premium kit lens, offering an extended range (equivalent to 27-210mm) compared to the usual 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR (27-83mm equivalent). The test data shows that it's notably sharper, particularly in the 50mm region, but with that penalty of hugely increased distortion.

Results on D7100 and D7000 compared

This comparison shows the increased sharpness you get from going from the 16MP D7000 to the 24MP D7100. The gains are considerable at all focal lengths, substantially because the D7100 also lacks an optical low-pass filter. This means that all lenses will look shaper on the D7100 (and D5300) in much the same way.

Overall, the 18-140mm looks like it should offer a substantial step up over the basic 18-55mm kit lens, and indeed is one of the very best of Nikon's extended-range zooms for its DX SLRs. But this does come at the cost of pretty huge distortion, and although this can be corrected in software when necessary, doing so will have a slight impact on the image sharpness.

Full test results on DxOMark (and other recent reviews)

Our lens test data is produced in collaboration with DxOMark. Click the links below to read DxOMark's own review of the Nikon 18-140mm, or see other recent reviews on the DxOMark website. 

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Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

Comments

Total comments: 45
Judy77
By Judy77 (3 months ago)

I'm about to buy the Nikon D5300 and was wondering how the 18-140 kit lens compares with the Tamron 18-270 mm lens? Which is the better lens in terms of sharpness and overall picture quality, and the autofocus speed?

0 upvotes
omarasl
By omarasl (6 months ago)

I just have Nikon , it is very good but I still need more , I think if I change the lens it will be better , could some one help me to decide what is the better, I have some photos by my Nikon in my lens :
http://www.squidoo.com/nikon-d3200-bundle

but I still need more especially when it is night

Thanks for helping

0 upvotes
Tonio Loewald
By Tonio Loewald (6 months ago)

Looks like the 18-140 is a very nice kit zoom, and if it had been available earlier I might not have gotten the 16-85. That said, I really do like the slightly greater wide angle option.

0 upvotes
Nightwings
By Nightwings (6 months ago)

Thanks DPR! A nice comparison would be between the 18-105 and 18-140 ... but on the same camera. Currently the 18-105 is / was tested on a D300.

2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (6 months ago)

it's more important to test with a same camera
than a newer camera.

0 upvotes
Nightwings
By Nightwings (6 months ago)

I agree.... which is why it's hard to compare the 18-105 against the 18-140. Bother were tested on two different cameras.

0 upvotes
hi50
By hi50 (6 months ago)

The high distortion of this lens reminds me of the 18-135 that was a kit lens option on the D80. (And shortly thereafter discontinued.) Although the no. of elements/ groups have changed it looks like Nikon still has some work to do on a lens in this zoom range.

0 upvotes
mbrobich
By mbrobich (6 months ago)

Everytime I import into ACR, everything is amazingly fixed !!

1 upvote
mbrobich
By mbrobich (6 months ago)

I removed the Low Pass filter(AA) on my D7000, should be pretty sweet and sharp for an all around walk around lens !!!

0 upvotes
aeschylus
By aeschylus (6 months ago)

How do you do this please?

1 upvote
Giklab
By Giklab (6 months ago)

You need to buy a special version of the D7000 - it's called a Pentax K-5IIs

1 upvote
mbrobich
By mbrobich (6 months ago)

Follow this great how-to:

http://www.lifepixel.com/tutorials/infrared-diy-tutorials/nikon-d7000-ir

1 upvote
PhotoBlaz
By PhotoBlaz (6 months ago)

As seen from Dxo comparison with Sigma 17-70 it is much sharper, or am I missing something?

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (6 months ago)

Click on the DPR comparison widget above, just below the heading:

"Results on D7100 and D7000 compared"

Change one of the lenses to the Sigma 17-70.

You'll see that the Nikon is resolving more lines at the wide end at every aperture, and at the longer focal lengths it seems a toss up. Didn't check DxOMark because I find their lens test numbers a bit cryptic and prefer normal MTF graphs.

2 upvotes
m87501
By m87501 (6 months ago)

Looks pretty good on the D7100. With VR & that range for $600 interesting.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (6 months ago)

I was so tempted by a recent D5200 / 18-140 kit, which was on special for around $950 because of the D5300 announcement. I don't frequently use super zooms or even standard zooms, but I figured that such a lens would be useful for travel. It looks like a solidly built optic.

In the end, I couldn't find a single 18-140 test online. So I compromised an picked up an X-E1 / 18-55 kit. :-) But I'm glad DPR tested this lens as there will likely be a lot of interest in it. Thanks guys.

1 upvote
calking
By calking (6 months ago)

You'll love the Fuji system. A good choice IMO.

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (6 months ago)

Yes, I've been loving it. IQ is great, the camera and lens exude quality.

As a Nikon user, the D5200 might have made more sense as far as lenses I already own, but the pull of the shiny black X-E1 was too powerful to resist. :-)

2 upvotes
HeyItsJoel
By HeyItsJoel (6 months ago)

I'll never understand why Nikon insist on starting their kit lenses at 18mm when the ideal length to start is @ 16mm (~24mm fov).

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (6 months ago)

They have the 16-85 VR which is an excellent lens. But super-zooms like the 18-140 or 18-200 are more difficult to design, which probably explain why they don't start at 16mm.

1 upvote
CarVac
By CarVac (6 months ago)

Where do you get this idea of an "ideal" focal length from?

Most people don't know how to shoot properly with a 28mm (much less 24) equivalent; they try to fit it all in. So for a kit, they won't benefit from the wider view.

Now you might benefit, but then you can go purchase the 16-85 for yourself, and not deprive the average user of their tele range.

1 upvote
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (6 months ago)

The greater the range, the lower the quality, especially where wide angle is concerned. This is why a lot of point and shoot camera zooms go down to 28mm but not 24mm.

1 upvote
HeyItsJoel
By HeyItsJoel (6 months ago)

@ CarVac: I get that "ideal" focal length of 16mm from personal experience and the opinion of those who are interested in wide angle photography. Not everyone in the world is interested in the tele end you know. Who are you to judge who shoots what "properly"? Average shooters can certainly benefit by introducing them to a whole different way of seeing the world they want to capture. The 18mm at the wide end may work for you, but don't presume to speak for everyone else.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
calking
By calking (6 months ago)

Yeah --I thought that was a bit antagonistic as well. There isn't a night and day difference between 24 and 28, and I actually think more consumers would be inclined to "want to get it all in" versus zooming from far off.

My whole thing about the Nikon zooms is this:

18-55 (2 versions)
18-70
16-85
18-105
18-140 (featured)
18-200 (2 versions)
18-300

That's 9 versions of consumer zoom in this range (not counting the 17-55). So why would some consumer opt for a 18-140? So Nikon can sell the same guy an 18-200, 55-200, 55 - 300, or 70-300 when he wants something longer than 140mm.

Too much overlap in this consumer zoom range IMO. An 18-200 is still a good choice for a general purpose lens.

3 upvotes
Photo_AK
By Photo_AK (6 months ago)

You forgot the 18-135 ;)

0 upvotes
Guidenet
By Guidenet (6 months ago)

I think 18mm just happens to be easier to design and a good place to start for most. It will take most photographers years to learn how to properly use a lens wider than that. To "Get it all in" is a pretty poor reason, in my opinion.

Using a wide angle to help you emphasize depth and space is where the wider fields of view come in handy. You need to learn how to get closer, not get in more on the sides. :-)

0 upvotes
Paul Pasco
By Paul Pasco (6 months ago)

you left out the 18-135

0 upvotes
CarVac
By CarVac (6 months ago)

I get where you're coming from now, but my point, as Guidenet reiterated, is that 18mm is more beginner-friendly and that is why Nikon chose it.

Indeed, the more advanced users will find the wider angle to open up more possibilities for them, but for the users Nikon is evidently targeting it just makes weaker photos.

0 upvotes
joejack951
By joejack951 (6 months ago)

24mm equivalent may be an ideal wide angle focal length, and if so, ideally you'd then have some range above and below in order to tweak composition around the focal length. Hence the existence of wide angle zooms like the 10-24. A lens starting at 16mm would only provide just a bit more wide angle than an 18mm lens while not really allowing that ideal focal length to be utilized to its fullest. IMO of course.

0 upvotes
Shamael
By Shamael (6 months ago)

buy Sony NEX, they satart at 16 mm with the collapsible lens. Me too, I think that lenses should be made in a range between 16 and 70mm. Beyond that, it is advisable to change the lens. I had a 18/200VR on my Nikon system once, I sold it, it served me btween 18 and 75 mm only, seldom I went higher, and generally, at long end, shooting nature, the lens is too slow and sharpness is low as well. Here, you better buy a tele zoom in the 2.8 aperture, you get fixed length primes, and telezoom in the range 70/200 with better performance. A lens that goes from 18/300 is a bad compromise, or you have bad performance all over, or shared, good on one end and bad on the other. The ancient D70 zoom, with 18/70 was a great lens, and that range was sane.

0 upvotes
calking
By calking (6 months ago)

@ Paul and Photo AK -- thanks for pointing that omission out. That makes 10 lenses in this range~!!!

0 upvotes
d3xmeister
By d3xmeister (6 months ago)

I prefer 28mm to 24mm, maybe because that's what I had in the film days. Had a few 24mm but still fell mor confortable with 28mm

0 upvotes
Daniel Bliss
By Daniel Bliss (6 months ago)

Looks very nice, like they finally got the superzoom concept right. Nikon have always been strong on the shorter-range kit lenses, but this is a first for something with this big a range.

Typical contemporary lens design; go for broke on sharpness and let Photoshop fix the distortion.

0 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (6 months ago)

"But this does come at the cost of pretty huge distortion, and although this can be corrected in software when necessary, doing so will have a slight impact on the image sharpness."

If this is going to be mentioned here, then lenses for m43/NEX/Fuji, etc should be tested without automagical software correction as well.

3 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (6 months ago)

When testing lenses, we aim to show what users will get out of them when using their cameras as designed. SLR systems generally don't apply distortion corrections by default, so we'll show their uncorrected output and comment on corrections. However mirrorless cameras tend to use corrections by default, and you have to try really hard to see uncorrected output, essentially breaking the system. So we'll show the corrected output, then comment on how they look without corrections.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (6 months ago)

hmmm.. all you have to do is shoot RAW to see the uncorrected output, not really breaking the system and something that many people will do on DPR.

And, many RAW converters will automatically apply corrections based on lens and focal length... again, not extraordinary for users on DPR.

And, many DSLRs allow you to apply lens corrections, in camera.. you just have to take 5 seconds to turn them on.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
h2k
By h2k (6 months ago)

I agree with Andy. If you take a mirrorless Raw image into Adobe Camera Raw, distortion is immediately corrected and can't be undone. I had to use some freebie raw converter (was it XnView?) to get uncorrected raw images out of interest (which looked awful "in their underwear").

Comment edited 44 seconds after posting
1 upvote
brendon1000
By brendon1000 (6 months ago)

@Jogger - Your statements are very incorrect. Only a few 3rd party RAW convertors will show the actual distortions. Adobe camera RAW, DXO and Olympus and Panasonic default RAW converters all show the corrected output.

Futher these lenses generally start wider than their rated focal lengths.

So a 20mm f1.7 for instance may actually be a 18mm f1.7 lens with massive uncorrected distortion and when corrected for distortion the lens shows an approximately 40mm FOV when taking into account the 2x crop.

However Nikon, Canon, Sony etc lenses are not any wider so correcting large amount of distortion on an 18mm lens may result in a 19mm or 20mm FOV depending on how much distortion there is.

0 upvotes
M Lammerse
By M Lammerse (6 months ago)

I haven't used so called kit lenses of Nikon for a long time. But I remember the excellent quality of the 18-70mm DX lens.
Seeing the results of this one. Another proof that Nikon does not downgrade image quality due to that it is a kitlens.

Comment edited 33 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
AndyHWC
By AndyHWC (6 months ago)

Surprised no reference or mention of the 18-105mm VR. I wonder how is the new 18-140 stack up against the good old 18-105mm.

5 upvotes
G Davidson
By G Davidson (6 months ago)

My thoughts exactly. This seems to me to be the nearest 'competition' and the lens it's replacing as the higher-end kit. If it does much better on newer sensors, that's news in itself.

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (6 months ago)

You can make this comparison in the widget and judge it for yourself - the one caveat is that our data for the 18-105mm comes from the D300, so it's not directly comparable for sharpness. Here's the 18-140mm compared to the 18-105mm

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
molnarcs
By molnarcs (6 months ago)

Not good - 18-105 in that chart sits in front of the 12mp d300, while the 18-140 is tested with the d7000. Still, one could extrapolate that the 18-105 is still a very good performer, on par with the new lens.

1 upvote
CarVac
By CarVac (6 months ago)

The data for the 18-140 isn't up in the widget yet...

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (6 months ago)

Sorry about that, should now be visible.

1 upvote
Total comments: 45