Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D IF-ED

In order to take good photographs spanning different categories including environmental, indoor, close-up, portrait, and candid, it is important to choose the right digital SLR camera. Obviously, a more powerful camera can deliver better image quality thanks to the increased megapixels and better image processor. However, the camera lens also plays a role when it comes to image clarity and that can be a huge extra expense for those that have been drained purchasing a Nikon DSLR camera. Many of the affordable lenses under $500 do not perform very well when compared to the ones above $1,000, but there are still some decent wide-angle zooms like the moderately priced Nikon AF Zoom-NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D IF-ED that can handle a variety of jobs fairly well.


Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D IF-ED | [book id='32' /] Opens in new window

Design & Construction

The build quality of the Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D IF-ED is surprisingly good for a budget lens and the clever use of durable plastics doesn’t make this a lens that gives up easily. The economical approach to the design and construction was not only made for cost-effectiveness, but also to achieve better handling as well. The focus rings and zoom rings are easy to operate with no unwanted binding and manual focusing is a cinch.

The f/3.5-4.5 maximum aperture allows the lens to retain a small size and keep the overall weight low which is great for keeping the light bodies light and not adding more unnecessary weight to the flagship and high-end models. It doesn’t feel cheap at all when holding this lens. Those seeking to buy a lasting wide-angle zoom lens at a cheap cost will find comfort with this lens.

Actual user review:
“This is just a plain sweetheart of a lens. It covers the useful 18-35 mm range (which is 27-52mm on a Nikon digital SLR, which is a VERY useful range). This lens costs less than half the price of the (expensive) professional Nikon 17-35, and does almost as nice a job. Sufficiently nice, in fact, that most amateurs will not discern much, if any, difference. While not built like a tank, I think that the quality of construction on this one is excellent, and more than adequate for enthusiastic amateurs and even some pros. On a Nikon digital SLR, which will use the center portion of this lens (due to the size of the sensor in the SLR) you can expect excellent, even spectacular results. This is a fabulous lens for landscape and nature shots, portraits, or just plain walking around taking pictures. Someone who only wanted one lens that was not a telephoto could do much worse than to select this excellent, versatile lens. This one is great for parties, vacations, and the works. The images I have shot with this lens have all featured superb contrast, are very sharp, and have beautiful color rendition. There just is not a lot not to like about this lens. I give it 4 stars for overall performance, but 5 stars for value and price/performance. Some lenses just get it all together and work and become keepers. This is one of those.” – R.J.Buffington (CA,US)


Features & Specifications

The sharpness levels of the Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D is decent when used at the full focal length range where the corners are a tad soft, but nothing really alarming. The real sharpness takes place at the center of the frame. Corner sharpness can be further improved by means of stopping down. Even a half-stop shows significant improvements in sharpness quality around the corners. Setting it at f/5.6 results to better performance in all areas and superior sharpness at f/5.6 to f/11.

It carries the same dual ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements that are necessary in reducing chromatic aberration which is just enough for fairly low levels of CA when used at the average level. Taking the price value into consideration, the CA handling is still good for a wide-angle zoom.

Distortion handling is rather different from the rest of the lenses in the wide-angle zoom category. First of all, the barrel distortion occurs at the wide end and changes to pincushion distortion when longer focal lengths are used. The shading performance is also unique in a somewhat good way as it doesn’t really lead to any major problems that other wide-angle zoom lenses present. The minor weaknesses in shading can be compensated in post-production anyway.

The Nikon 18-35mm is the only model that lacks the AF-S label so the autofocusing operation resorts to the old screwdriver coupling. Still the longest focus time is still roughly a half-second and it uses an internal-focusing design which means that the front element stays in place when focusing and displays a fast and smooth auto focus. This makes it well-suited to use with graduated neutral density filters and polarizers. The manual focusing is smooth too and is actually a bit quicker than some of the other modern lenses.

Bottom Line

The lack of AF-S may bring the Nikon AF Zoom-NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D IF-ED to the bottom of the wide-angle zoom list, but the price makes this a tempting buy and the great sharpness and overall image quality makes this a good wide-angle zoom lens for a variety of occasions. The design doesn’t show many signs of cheapness and should stand well even when it is frequently used. It is an ideal lens for beginner photographers that want fast and smooth controls and do not wish to add some weight to their body.

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