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Nikkor DX kit lens group test: 18-55mm vs 18-70mm vs 18-135mm vs 18-200mm VR Gordon Laing, April 2007

/ Resolution / Corner sharpness / Fringe and macro / Geometry / Vignetting

Nikkor DX kit lens group test corner sharpness comparison

Enhanced Digital Camera Resolution Chart  

To measure and compare the corner sharpness of each lens using the Nikon D80, we photographed the Enhanced Digital Camera Resolution Chart with each lens at its shortest and longest focal lengths using various aperture settings. The D80 was set to Aperture Priority, Large Fine JPEG mode and the Optimise Image parameter set to Normal. All four lenses were tested within moments of each other under identical lighting conditions.

The crops are taken from the lower left corner of the chart and presented here at 100%. The wide angle crops which show a slightly larger area of the chart are due to minimum focusing distances forcing us to shoot from a little further away. No crops have been resized.

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Zoomed-out to their widest focal lengths and with their apertures fully open, the budget DX 18-55mm shows the weakest result of the group, although the DX 18-70mm isn't far behind. Both lenses require stopping down beyond f8 to deliver a sharp result in their extreme corners when zoomed-out to 18mm. The situation is much better for the DX 18-135mm and DX 18-200mm, although due to closest focusing distances, both lenses had to be tested from slightly further back - hence the larger area in their crops. Both of these lenses exhibit some coloured fringing in their extreme corners even when stopped right down, but at least the details are relatively sharp.

Zoomed-into their longest focal lengths, the budget DX 18-55mm actually delivers one of the best results here, although to be fair, it also has the shortest optical range of the group. Both the DX 18-70mm and DX 18-135mm suffer from softness in their extreme corners when zoomed-in and set to most apertures here. The DX 18-200mm delivers a pretty good result considering its long optical zoom range, and while there's some coloured fringing at the wider apertures, this reduces as the f-number increases and the details remain relatively sharp throughout.

Nikkor DX 18-55mm II f/3.5-5.6
Nikkor DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5
Nikkor DX 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6
Nikkor DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR
Nikkor 18-55mm at 18mm f3.5
Nikkor 18-70mm at 18mm f3.5
Nikkor 18-135mm at 18mm f3.5
Nikkor 18-200mm at 18mm f3.5
DX 18-55mm II at 18mm f3.5
DX 18-70mm at 18mm f3.5
DX 18-135mm at 18mm f3.5
DX 18-200mm at 18mm f3.5
Nikkor 18-55mm at 18mm f8
Nikkor 18-70mm at 18mm f8
Nikkor 18-135mm at 18mm f8
Nikkor 18-200mm at 18mm f8
DX 18-55mm II at 18mm f8
DX 18-70mm at 18mm f8
DX 18-135mm at 18mm f8
DX 18-200mm at 18mm f8
Nikkor 18-55mm at 18mm f16
Nikkor 18-70mm at 18mm f16
Nikkor 18-135mm at 18mm f16
Nikkor 18-200mm at 18mm f16
DX 18-55mm II at 18mm f16
DX 18-70mm at 18mm f16
DX 18-135mm at 18mm f16
DX 18-200mm at 18mm f16
Nikkor DX 18-55mm II f/3.5-5.6
Nikkor DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5
Nikkor DX 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6
Nikkor DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR
Nikkor 18-55mm at 55mm f5.6
Nikkor 18-70mm at 70mm f4.5
Nikkor 18-135mm at 135mm f5.6
Nikkor 18-200mm at 200mm f5.6
DX 18-55mm II at 55mm f5.6
DX 18-70mm at 70mm f4.5
DX 18-135mm at 135mm f5.6
DX 18-200mm at 200mm f5.6
Nikkor 18-55mm at 55mm f8
Nikkor 18-70mm at 70mm f8
Nikkor 18-135mm at 135mm f8
Nikkor 18-200mm at 200mm f8
DX 18-55mm II at 55mm f8
DX 18-70mm at 70mm f8
DX 18-135mm at 135mm f8
DX 18-200mm at 200mm f8
Nikkor 18-55mm at 55mm f16
Nikkor 18-70mm at 70mm f16
Nikkor 18-135mm at 135mm f16
Nikkor 18-200mm at 200mm f16
DX 18-55mm II at 55mm f16
DX 18-70mm at 70mm f16
DX 18-135mm at 135mm f16
DX 18-200mm at 200mm f16

Nikkor DX kit lens group test results continued...

Outdoor / Resolution / Corner sharpness / Fringe and macro / Geometry / Vignetting
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