If you are an aspiring landscape photographer and want a very good lens, then the Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D ED-IF AF Zoom Nikkor Lens may be just what you are looking for. It may not be the best Nikon lens for landscapes but it is nevertheless a very good lens at an affordable price.
This lens is compatible with FX and DX sensor formats, and accounting for the 1.5x crop factor with a DX DSLR the focal lengths translate to 27-52.5mm. I purchased this lens myself (used) some years ago for use with my D300 and so on that camera body the lens behaves like a 27-52.5mm zoom lens. But I also have used it with my F100 and F5 cameras and on 35mm film the 18-35mm wide angle zoom truly gives wide angle shots at those focal lengths.
(Note: unless you exclusively own DX format DSLR cameras, I recommend purchasing FX compatible lenses all the time)
The lens uses 77mm filters and lens cap. It also comes with the Nikon HB-23 bayonet hood. According to Nikon, this is an essential part of the lens. So if you purchased a used one that doesn’t include the hood, consider purchasing one in addition to the lens. In my case, the seller included the hood.
“By reducing the amount of non-essential light falling onto the front lens element, lenses can better achieve their optimum optical performance, producing more saturated images. In less-than-ideal lighting conditions, the performance difference can be substantial.”
This is an “ED” or Extra-low Distortion glass element lens. This feature purportedly minimizes chromatic aberration and distortion. It also allows for lighter and smaller lenses. While the latter is certainly true – and many reviews of this lens approve of the light weight of this lens – others complain about lack of sharpness in the corners and some chromatic aberration. These are most apparent at the widest angle of zoom.
I must say that I have not personally noticed these issues in my use of the lens. Perhaps this is due to my using it predominantly on the D300 where the inherent crop factor may preclude my awareness of widest angle corner distortion as others have seen.
A nice feature of this lens is that it has a manual/autofocus mode – so if you are in a situation where you want to manually focus the lens just flip the focus mode switch on the camera to “M” and you are in command. Flip it back to “S” or “C” for single point or continual autofocus to hand the focus control back to the camera.
The “IF” designation of this lens indicates that it is an internal focusing element, such that any adjustment of focus occurs internally and the outside of the lens doe not move. This design makes for a fast and smooth autofocus (AF).
The “D” designation on the lens barrel indicates the Nikon D-type design which “… provides precise distance information for flash and ambient light exposure processes.” This means that Nikon have provided a nice little window that shows camera-to-focal point distance on the lens barrel. I’m not sur how useful this is. Unlike prime lenses, there is no indication on the barrel of depth of field at the smallest apertures. For landscape photography it is often helpful to know this in order to take advantage of hyperfocal distance. But if you are using a very small aperture, such as f16, f22 or higher the hyperfocal distance may begin only a foot or two in front of the camera. And often, the foreground can be more important in an image than the most distant features on the horizon.
I’ve had a pretty good experience with this lens. If you can find one used one in good condition for a few hundred bucks it is well worth adding to your kit. A new lens will be a few hundred dollars more. Looking at alternatives in the Nikkor line will always mean more money. A very good alternative to consider is the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED lens. Comparable in (the new lens) price range, a prime lens can be counted on for tack sharp images.
For those who really want a wide angle zoom with performance, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED is the one to look at. This lens is considerably more expensive but offers an f2.8 aperture at a 14mm focal length, and its quality glass.
If you are a beginner to advanced amateur on a budget, the Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D ED-IF AF Zoom Nikkor lens is a good value and will give you sharp images, especially if you are using a camera with a DX sensor.
- Good value
- Good to Excellent performance
- Manual/autofocus modes
- Internal focusing (IF)
- May see some evidence of chromatic aberration and/or distortion in the corners of an image on a FX sensor/35mm film