Sunday, March 24, 2013

Nikon DX AF-S 18 - 300mm 1:35-5.6G ED VR Lens

My wife and I are going to Europe this summer and the ability to use one all-around lens for the trip really appealed to me.  Nikon came out with this new 18-300mm (27-450mm equivalent) DX lens in June of 2012 so I decided to give it a try to see if it will work for the trip.  It isn't cheap but this is a once in a lifetime trip for us so for me the ends justify the means (not to mention I can write it off).

I took the lens out for a trial run to our local zoo to see what kind of images I would end up with and how it would feel packing it around.  The lens does have some weight to it coming in at a little over 2lbs so with camera, battery pack, L bracket and strap everything is weighing in at a little over 5.25lbs.  

Lets Play!
One of the complaints I had read about is that the lens is a little soft as far as focus goes and I will agree, it's not tack sharp like my 105mm 2.8 Nikon lens.  I am not a pixel counter and would rather have a good composition and feeling or mood to my images than count eyelash hairs so so far the soft focus isn't a huge issue for me.  The auto focus was quiet and fast--although not fast enough to focus on this wolf jumping up to play.  And to be honest the image tells a better story with him being a little out of focus anyway.  If he was in sharp focus you would never see the wolf behind him or the other wolves farther back in the image not to mention creating an illusion of depth to the image.

Counting Whisker Hairs (no eyelash hairs to count)
Talk about barrel distortion
Another complaint was that there is distortion and vignetting with this lens at all zoom lengths--yep thats true also.  With the few images I have taken throughout it's zoom range this is not a problem either.  Using Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw; one click on the lens profile and all is forgiven.

When panning and trying to create a feeling of motion I'm usually lucky if 1 out of 5 of my images turn out with a fairly sharp focus on the face and eye of the animal.  With this lens that ration stayed the same.  Out of 6 images 2 turned out OK and this one was the best.

The vibration reduction features of todays lens is amazing and with this lens there is no exception.  The image above was hand held at 1/125 sec f/6.3 and maximum zoom of 300mm which is equivalent to 450mm on my Nikon D300 DX format camera.  OK it's not tack sharp but I am not going to complain and would have no issues printing the image and hanging it on the wall or offering it for sale in the gallery I am a member of.

The End
In conclusion I believe this is going to be a great lens for the trip.  Yes it does have some heft but it is balanced well for me and the weight provides stability when shooting hand-held (that will be most of the time over in Europe).  Vignetting and distortion, no problem it's an easy fix.  The soft focus could be an issue but with good technique that will be minimized and acceptable.  The ability to take only one lens will free-up a lot of space in my bag and maybe for once I will pack light.  But I doubt it, I'm already trying to figure out how to get a tripod and maybe one of my flashes in that extra space!  As with all our photographic equipment it is just a tool; learn to work within the limitations of the equipment you have.  You create the images not the camera and lens.

Until next time.....BP

1 comment:

robin peterson said...

So that first wolf pic wasn't photoshopped? Cool. Now put a "follow this blog" link in the right column so your fans can get your updates automatically!

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