When Nikon decided to compete in the superzoom lens category, it did in a big way, with the introduction of the AF-S DX Nikkor 18–300mm f/3.5–5.6G ED VR during June 2012. A few months later, and this lens is available for purchase, and many reviewers have been able to examine and investigate this newest Nikon lens.
At 18–300mm, there is no larger superzoom, as measured in focal length range. Since it is DX lens for cropped-sensor DSLRs, this Nikon lens is the equivalent of 27–450mm in 35mm format. Its focal-length power leaps ahead of the long-standing superzoom champion, the Tamron 18–270mm f/3.5–6.3 Di II VC PZD. Not only does the new Nikon superzoom have the largest focal length range, but also a larger aperture at full telephoto, f/5.6 compared to f/6.3 for the Tamron.
As you may have already anticipated, the Nikon does cost significantly more than the Tamron, but it appears, from a closer look at the lens, that the value is there for the money. To include focal length, aperture and other advantages, Nikon had to make the largest and heaviest of all superzooms in its category. This has always been the tradeoff with these lenses, although the Nikon is a bit of a beast compared to the Tamron.
Nikon AF-S DX 18–300mm f/3.5–5.6G
Weight: 29.3 oz. (830g)
Dimensions: 3.3 x 4.7 in. (83mm x 120mm)
Tamron 18–270mm f/3.5–6.3 Di II VC PZD
Weight: 15.9 oz. (450g)
Dimensions: 3.5 x 3.8 in. (88mm x 96.4mm)
While a superzoom lens can be the next logically choice of a second lens for hobbyists or enthusiasts with cropped-sensor cameras to buy, they should be fully aware of the abrupt change from the feel of a small kit lens, 18–35mm, for example, to that of a superzoom, especially this new Nikon.
The size of the Nikon AF-S DX 18–300mm f/3.5–5.6G may be warranted and appreciated, considering the array of its features and capabilities.
Elements Configuration: To offer such a wide range of focal lengths, the Nikon 18–300mm is packed with a significant number of glass elements in an intricate configuration. Nineteen elements are placed in 14 groups, and include 3 Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements, which help to control aberrations. Nikon gave each element its “Super Integrated Coating” (SIC) to keep any flaring to a minimum.
Lens Construction: Nikon didn’t skimp on the use of high quality plastics for this superzoom’s barrel parts. The lens is also protected from the introduction of dust and moisture with the use of a rubber seal surrounding the metal lens mount. Clear advantages of this lens’ larger size are substantial zoom and focus rings that are comfortable and easy to operate, especially for photographers with big hands. The barrel has a comprehensive set of controls, including a zoom lock switch to stop zoom creep. Of special note is the A/M control, so the photographer can switch to manual during autofocus.
Autofocus System: Another advantage is the use of Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor to focus the lens. Nikon’s system has proven to be well above average in focusing speed and virtually eliminating any noise from the motor. This new Nikon superzoom lens has the same predisposition to autofocus much slower in live view or movie mode. Again, this is part of the tradeoff of any lens of this size.
Optical Image Stabilization: The new Nikon 18–300mm is also equipped with Nikon’s VR II, or second-generation vibration reduction technology. Specs call for being able to shoot at shutter speeds four stops slower than without VR II, which is a critical aid when using this large and heavy lens.
Image Quality: In third party tests, the Nikon 18–300mm lens scores as expected for superzoom lens. Distortions, aberrations and flaring are relatively well controlled. The Nikon reputation for building excellent lenses helps to enhance what are typically average to a bit above-average image quality results in competing lenses. This is not a lens from which to expect professional quality, but it’s the class act in its category.
Considering the few choice of superzoom lens with a maximum focal length range, the Nikon AF-S DX 18–300mm f/3.5–5.6G is a welcomed addition to the marketplace. Any hobbyists and enthusiasts looking for an all-in-one lens must now seriously consider this new Nikon lens and carefully compare its benefits to its competitors, despite its size, weight and price.
The Nikon AF-S DX 18–300mm f/3.5–5.6G Lens is available from Amazon for $999.00
Photo © 2012 Nikon Corporation
Your feedback is important to thousands of PhotographyTalk.com fans and us. If this article is helpful, then please click the Like and Re-Tweet buttons at the top left of this article.