Review Nikon AF-S DX 18-140 mm f/3.5-5,6 G ED VR (N DX)
Would you like a Nikon camera with interchangeable lenses and yet only one lens on your camera? Choice enough. Since a few weeks ago, you can add a Nikon 18-140 mm walk-around lens or vacation zoom to your choice list. The Nikon recipe for a reasonably priced walk-around zoom is: supply high (center) sharpness from full aperture, limit using expensive glass types for an attractive price tag, and correct jpg files in the camera for chromatic aberration and distortion, compensate for the limited brightness with extremely effective vibration reduction and don't skimp on the build quality. To what extent is this new Nikon vacation zoom a competitor to the Nikon 18-105 mm, the Nikon 18-200 mm, or the Nikon 18-300 mm? We were curious about the possible differences and are therefore quickly launched a Nikon 18-140 mm review. From wide angle to telephoto lens, two shots, taken from the same point of view, illustrate the zoom range of the Nikon 18-140 mm. The view angle of this lens corresponds to the angle of view of a 27-200 mm lens on a camera with a full frame sensor. Without changing the lens, you get, thanks to the large zoom range, two completely different pictures: a wide angle shot where the image even at maximum aperture already has a large depth of field, or a telephoto shot with a narrow depth of field.
Nikon AF-S DX 18-140 mm/3.5-5,6 G ED VR review @ Nikon D7100
From wide angle to telephoto lens, two shots, taken from the same point of view, illustrate the zoom range of the Nikon 18-140 mm. The view angle of this lens corresponds to the angle of view of a 27-200 mm lens on a camera with a full frame sensor. Without changing the lens, you get, thanks to the large zoom range, two completely different pictures: a wide angle shot where the image even at maximum aperture already has a large depth of field, or a telephoto shot with a narrow depth of field.
Construction and autofocus
The lens housing of the Nikon 18-140 mm lens is plastic. The lens mount is metal, and that's an improvement over the Nikon 18-135 mm from 2006, which you can see as the predecessor to the Nikon 18-140 mm. Another improvement – also in relation to the Nikon 18-105 mm and the Nikon 18-200 mm – is that the Nikon 18-140 mm extra is well sealed against dust and moisture. During focusing, the filter doesn't turn, which for example when using a polarizing filter is great. The focus ring and zoom ring turn smoothly without the lens feeling cheap. The AF drive is a Silent Wave Motor, which with the Nikon 18-140 mm also gives you AF capability on Nikon cameras without a built-in AF motor, such as the Nikon D3200 or the Nikon D5200. The SWF motor provides quick, virtually silent focus and shows virtually no searching in low light. The AF accuracy turned out to be slightly lower than we see with bright Nikon lenses, but the difference is so small that you probably won't see it in practice.
The effectiveness of the built-in image stabilization we did not measure this time. The effectiveness that Nikon reports is about 4 stops, and that's a lot. From our previous review, it appears that Nikon's image stabilization is indeed very effective. As a result, the moderate brightness in comparison with fixed focal length lenses is more than compensated for, and even in low light you can take pictures with the Nikon 18-140 mm DX without worrying about motion blur.
Nikon AF-S DX 18-140 mm/3.5-5,6 G ED VR @ 140 mm, f/5.6
We normally test the vignetting in jpg files where the camera is set to adjustment for vignetting. At the time of our review, there was no adjustment profile available for the Nikon 18-140 mm. Because the RAW and jpg files in this test were not corrected in the camera for vignetting, vignetting is more visible than in jpg files from the previous review of the Nikon 18-105 mm. The vignetting of the Nikon 18-140 mm at 18 mm at f/3.5 and f/4.0 is slightly on the high side. Also at the other extreme focal point of the zoom range, 90 mm and 140 mm, the vignetting is only at f/5.6 a bit too high. Vignetting is simple to deal with afterwards with photo-editing programs.
Unfortunately, there was still no firmware update available for this lens, so we did not correct for distortion. We expect that Nikon will make the firmware available soon. The distortion in jpg and RAW files is high at nearly all focal lengths, with the peak at around 50 mm. Distortion can also be combatted with software, such as with the lens correction profiles in Lightroom or Photoshop
Macro? With the shortest focusing distance at 45 cm, you get close to your subject. You don't manage a 1: 1 image scale, making this, strictly speaking, not a macro lens. But you can make some great pictures with it. At the longest focal point distance and open aperture (f/5.6), you can isolate a subject well from the background.
Most vacation zoom lenses for cameras with an APS-C sensor deliver a bokeh that isn't that nice. The Nikon 18-140 mm is a positive exception. Especially at a focal length of 140 mm, we took pictures that surprised us pleasantly. On this point the Nikon 18-140 mm beats the Nikon 18-105 mm, which delighted us less with its bokeh. Due to vignetting at maximum aperture, you see the bokeh in the corners turn into a cat's eye bokeh. From f/5.6 you start to see the angular shapes of the aperture in the bokeh.
This lens is, just like the Nikon 18-105 mm and vacation zooms from other brands, relatively sensitive to backlight; both light flecks and flares are visible. When shooting, you'll have to take that into account.
The resolution, expressed in lines/sensor height, reached in the center at the different focal lengths and apertures great values. The corners are less sharp than the center and stopping down barely helped. Thanks to the high resolution of the test cameras (24 megapixels) the lower sharpness in the extreme corners in practice is almost not visible to most photographers. On this point, the Nikon 18-105 mm, Nikon 18-140 mm and the Nikon 18-200 mm differ from each other very little.
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The chromatic aberration in jpg files remains sufficiently low, thanks to the in-camera adjustment. With chromatic aberration, you can tell whether you're dealing with a professional Nikon lens (designed so that lateral chromatic aberration is completely absent) or a cheaper consumer lens (where less effort goes into completely eliminating chromatic aberration). At very large magnifications in the uncorrected RAW files, you can find in the corners at sharp contrast transitions purple and green edges. Here is a worst case example (image cut-out at 100%). Today, that is fortunately easy to correct in Capture NX or Lightroom.
Conclusion Nikon AF-S DX 18-140 mm 3.5-5.6 G review
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WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you store the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera.
This is indeed an lens that you can leave on your camera for the entire vacation. And you will be guaranteed to come home with beautiful pictures. The Nikon 18-140 mm is equipped with effective image stabilization, and as a result, the relatively low brightness is more than offset. The wide zoom range is practical to use, and the background blur is very beautiful. The lens is sensitive to backlighting. The suggested retail price is attractive. The differences from the Nikon 18-105 mm and the Nikon 18-200 mm lenses in optical terms are small. Compared to the Nikon 18-200 mm, this lens is more attractively priced and more resistant to extreme conditions due to the extra sealing. Compared to the Nikon 18-105 mm, lens this is more expensive, but you get a longer focal length, better sealing against dust and moisture, and a more beautiful background blur in return.
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.