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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

Nikkor DX 18-135mm Gallery, taken with Nikon D80

At Cameralabs we already have Galleries for three out of the four lenses in this group test, so have devoted this particular page to the model we'd not previously tested: the Nikkor DX 18-135mm lens. You'll find links to Galleries with the other three lenses below.

The following images were taken with the Nikkor DX 18-135mm lens using the Nikon D80. Unless otherwise stated, each image was recorded using the Large Fine JPEG mode, with Auto White Balance, 3D Matrix metering and the Optimise Image parameter set to the default Normal for sharpening, tone, colour, saturation and hue; High ISO Noise Reduction was set to Normal. The individual file size, exposure mode, shutter speed, aperture, ISO and lens details are listed for each image.

The crops are taken from the original files, reproduced at 100% and saved in Adobe Photoshop CS2 as JPEGs with the Very High quality preset, while the resized full images were made in Photoshop CS2 and saved with the High quality preset. The three crops are typically taken from far left, central and far right portions of each image.

To view sample images taken with the other three lenses in this group test, follow these links:

Nikkor DX 18-55mm II Gallery / Nikkor DX 18-70mm Gallery / Nikkor DX 18-200mm Gallery

  Landscape: 4.49MB, Program, 1/200, f7.1, ISO 100, 18-135mm at 18mm (equivalent to 27mm)


The DX 18-135mm is a great general-purpose lens offering wide angle to respectable telephoto capabilities.

This shot was taken with the lens zoomed-out to 18mm, and has captured a wide landscape view.

In Program mode the D80 selected an aperture of f7.1, and the crops reveal a good depth-of-field and plenty of detail.


Portrait: 4.42MB, Program, 1/250, f8, ISO 200, 18-135mm at 32mm (equivalent to 48mm)

    This portrait shot was taken with the lens zoomed-in a little to 32mm, thereby operating at an equivalent focal length of 48mm.

The crops again show lots of detail with very low noise.

The DX 18-135mm makes a great portrait lens, especially when zoomed-into longer focal lengths, where it's easy to throw the background out of focus.

Macro: 3.30MB, Program, 1/640, f6.3, ISO 100, 18-135mm at 135mm (equivalent to 203mm)


This macro shot was taken with the lens zoomed-into its longest 135mm focal length and positioned as close to the subject as it would focus.

Bright lighting conditions allowed a fast shutter speed of 1/640 even at 100 ISO, although with an effective focal length of just over 200mm and no Vibration Reduction facilities, you have to be aware of potential camera shake when zoomed-in with this lens.


Landscape: 4.60MB, Program, 1/250, f5.6, ISO 100, 18-135mm at 135mm (equivalent to 203mm)

    Another shot taken with the DX 18-135mm at its longest focal length of 135mm. This allowed us to pick out distant yachts against the lake and mountain backdrop.

The crop of the yacht shows some coloured fringing, although to be fair, the lens was also operating at its widest aperture. A better result could have been had by increasing the sensitivity to 200 ISO, thereby allowing the aperture to be closed to f8.

Wildlife: 4.63MB, Program, 1/60, f5.6, ISO 1600, 18-135mm at 135mm (equivalent to 203mm)


This shot of a Kakariki Parakeet was taken moments after the first photo in this Gallery and illustrates the flexibility of the 18-135mm range.

Unfortunately low light resulted in a shutter speed of 1/60 even at 1600 ISO, and this wasn't sufficient to avoid camera-shake. This is the downside of a having a lens with a 200mm equivalent focal length but no anti-shake facilities.

If you're likely to shoot under dim conditions, the DX 18-200mm with VR is a better bet - although it won't prevent a moving bird from blurring.


Nikkor DX 18-55mm II Gallery / Nikkor DX 18-70mm Gallery / Nikkor DX 18-200mm Gallery

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