Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED AF-S DX

When checking out all the different standard zoom lenses in Nikon’s website, it can be difficult to tell right off the bat which lenses are completely balanced in performance, quality, and price. There are so many zoom ranges to choose from to make it a little bit more confusing, but the technique is to choose the ones with a fairly high optical zoom like the Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED AF-S DX lens which has a 3.8x zoom (calculated by dividing the max range by the min range). This particular lens is highly affordable, but still manages to preserve incorporate good features inside and out of the lens.

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Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED AF-S DX

Design & Construction

For a kit lens, the Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor has a solid build and feel to it. When it is mounted to the D70 which is the camera that includes this lens, the balance is perfect for beginner photographers to handheld shoot without trouble. But this doesn’t mean that it isn’t as good when attached to the bigger cameras because the lens still has some significant mass in it because of the other technologies that will be highlighted below. Therefore, owners of heavier models shouldn’t be worried at all when it comes to the balance issues as these models remain balanced as well.

Some users may have trouble handling the zoom ring as it can be quite stiff, but the focus ring is still easy to use. Unlike the 18-135mm, the lens mount is made of metal which is a great plus in durability. The focus ring does look similar to the zoom ring so there can be some minor confusion, but overall, the fact that is lightweight, fairly durable, and works well with other bodies makes this a great lens in design and construction for a low price.

Actual user review:
“I must say, this lens rocks. It’s very contrasty and color redention is great. And very sharp, too. Many zoom lenses don’t perform well at their longest focal length, especially at the widest aperture. But even at 70mm and f/4.5, it can still hang with the big boys. There’s a little bit of light falloff in the corners at 18mm wide open. However, that’s no show stopper because it’s not bad and rarely will you need a wide open aperture at that focal length. There’s some barrel distortion at 18mm, but will not be noticable in most shots. In the real world we don’t take pictures of pieces of paper with grid lines, do we? The f/3.5-4.5 is a little faster than your typical f/4-5.6 zooms. So you get slightly faster shutter speeds and better autofocus performance in low light. And the autofocus is fast and accurate, especially for a lens in this price range. The focus ring has a nice smooth damped feeling when focusing manually. But the focus ring is in the back and zoom ring in the front, which takes some getting used to. Build quality is great for a lens of this price point. And there’s even a rubber seal on the lens mount-I’ve never had a lens with a seal. The lens hood was hard to remove and install, but if you grab it by the sides and not top and bottom, it makes it easier. But I still found it a little tight, so I sanded the plastic stops on the hood. You may want to do this to yours. The filter thread is 67mm-filters of this size are a bit pricey, but not nearly as bad as 77 or 82mm. Overall, the 18-70 is about the best bang for the buck Nikon offers!” – Bill (TX,US)

Features & Specifications

The sharpness quality of the Nikon18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED is not only excellent for a lens at this price range, but also uniform across the entire image. It even has its own “sweet spot” present where the sharpness is even better when across full focal length range at maximum aperture and stays that when it is stopped down a couple stops or less. Unsurprisingly, the images can soften up at the smallest aperture at f/22 or f/25 depending on the focal length being used, but the average blur index still rises to just 3 blur units at 18-70 which is better than the other models at small apertures. Even at the smallest focal range at 18mm, the sharpness stays better than average.

Chromatic aberration also handled very well in most of the ranges with values less than 0.03% during a worst-case scenario. It can rise up a bit when using it as a telephoto lens (maximum focal range), but once again for its price, the CA handling is excellent and credit goes to the 3 Nikon Extra-low Dispersion glass elements which also includes an aspheric element to minimize chromatic aberration and keep the distortion low too. Although the vignetting is one of the weak points, everything else is handled well for this lens.

The AF-S label adds to the overall value as well with the exclusive Silent Wave Motor that allows it to auto-focus at blazing speeds while keeping the accuracy and minimizing the noise at the same time. It is further improved because of its Internal Focusing design that allows great balance and smoother operation. Finally, there is an M/A mode that makes it extremely easy to switch from auto-focus to manual and back without any annoying delays.

Bottom Line

The Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED AF-S DX can be considered one of the best performing lens available that cost around $300. There are no major flaws in this lens on design and feature perspectives with the exception of vignetting and the 3.8x optical zoom makes it flexible too making it capable of handling portrait photography tasks and landscape photography when wide view lengths are needed. It is also well-optimized exclusively for any of the Nikon cameras in the D series.

Average User Rating:

  • “My wife and I shoot weddings and our wide lens of choice is the Nikon 12-24mm. The only other wide angle lens we have in our inventory is the 20mm f/2.8 so whoever doesn’t have the 12-24 has to use the fixed focal length 20. My stepdaughter got the 18-70mm lens with her D70s and, while her camera was in the shop for warranty repairs, we borrowed her lens. I found it was the perfect companion lens to my 80-200mm f/2.8 and gave me useful coverage over pretty much the entire 18-200mm range. So I bought one this week from my favorite camera store. They had two left from D200 kits where the customer only wanted the body and not the kit lens. It’s not the fastest lens in the bag, but it’s fast enough for my D200. If you want one, you’d better act quickly because they don’t make ‘em anymore. “ – J.M.Flora (AR,USA)
  • “Having purchased a D40 Kit, I got to look at the 18-55 lens. Certainly a bargain priced Nikkor to compete with the Canons. The 18-70 new style ED IF lens is far and away the heavy duty superior. I ordered one and immediately noticed the differences. The optical quality of the little lens isn’t really bad at all, but the 18-70 is certainly better. The greater reach also helps keep it on the camera most of the time. Its heftier construction and feel is more steady and sharper. While there is some distortion at the low end under certain conditions, like most DSLR zoom lenses, it is not readily noticeable, and only occurs under certain conditions. Certainly not a deal killer! This 18-70 is the one you will have on the camera most of the time, and can take the job and do the work. Overall a heavy duty Nikkor with a reasonable price, and tack sharp results. You’ll like it!” – P.Martini (AZ,US)

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