This super-zoom lens for Nikon DX format DSLRs covers a huge 7.8x zoom range, equivalent to 27-210mm on a 35mm camera. It sports silent internal focusing and Vibration Reduction.
The size, weight and build of this lens are typical of 18-135mm optics that used to be bundled as part of a kit with Nikon DSLRs. It’s reasonably lightweight at only 490g, thanks to the mostly plastic construction, although the lens mount is metal and the lens balances well on the body used for testing. The plastics used are of high quality, creating a reasonably robust impression, reinforced by the rubber gasket, designed to prevent the ingress of dust and moisture via the lens mount, although the lens itself isn’t weather sealed.
A silent wave motor powers auto-focus and it obtains focus reasonably quickly. Manual adjustments can be applied at any time via the narrow focusing ring closest to the lens mount. The manual focusing action is smooth and well damped, which makes fine adjustments easy to apply. The zoom action is also smooth and consistent through the range. Enough resistance has been applied to prevent the zoom creeping forward when it is pointed down, which is good as there is no locking switch provided.
Closest focus distance is 45cm, and focusing is performed internally, so the 67mm filter thread does not rotate, which makes this lens ideal for use with graduated filters and polarisers.
Nikon’s Vibration Reduction system promises to allow hand held shooting at shutter speeds slower than the usual rule of thumb for sharp hand-held photos might allow. With care, sharp hand held shots are possible at shutter speeds as low as 1/13sec around half the time, which is around four stops slower than would normally be possible.
Sharpness at 18mm is already outstanding in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture, and the clarity recorded towards the edges of the frame at this aperture is good. Stopping down improves sharpness towards the edges of the frame, falling just short of excellent levels at f/5.6.
Zooming to 50mm results in sharpness being reduced. Clarity is still very good at maximum aperture in the centre of the frame, although the performance of this lens falls short of good towards the edges of the frame at this focal length and aperture. Stopping down improves sharpness across the frame, peaking at f/8. Here sharpness is excellent in the centre and very good towards the edges of the frame.
Finally, at 140mm, sharpness is very good in the centre of the frame and good towards the edges of the frame at maximum aperture. Stopping down to f/8 produces outstanding sharpness in the centre of the frame with very good clarity towards the edges.