HANDLING: This Nikon proves to be very light, especially when compared to the Nikon 16-35mm. Manufactured in China, it weighs even less than the Canon EF 17-40mm, thanks to an extensive use of plastics. Those are interesting rather than significant points though, and don’t reflect on quality. There is a tiny bit of play in the manual focusing ring, but not as much as the more costly Nikon 16-35mm, made in Japan.
FEATURES: 12 elements in eight groups, similar to the Canon, with ED glass and asphericals as usual. The maximum aperture varies with focal length, and f/3.5 at the 18mm end is one-third of a stop faster than f/4, and f/4.5 at 35mm is one-third of a stop slower. AF uses the Silent Wave Motor with full-time manual override, filter size is 77mm, lens hood supplied.
AUTOFOCUS: Silent Wave Motor focusing works quietly and efficiently. It’s not quite the fastest mover in town, though we’re talking fractions of a second here and you’d never miss a shot because of it.
PERFORMANCE: At the important business of sharp imaging, this lens excels. On full-frame, the centre starts well into the excellent zone and never goes below that standard at anytime, while the edges only dip just under it at the highest f/numbers due to diffraction. The parity between centre and edge is exceptionally good. On APS-C, the higher resolution demands of the smaller format naturally depress the MTF figures, though no more than expected and very much in line with the other lenses here. For pixel-peepers seeking ultimate resolution, the Nikon 18-35mm peaked at 103 lines-per-mm in the MTF 20% test. That’s slightly lower than rivals, though to put things in context, even the mighty Nikon D800 with З6-megapixels can ‘only’ resolve a theoretical maximum of 102 lines-per-mm so the lens is unlikely to be a limiting factor.
On the aberrations front, distortion, vignetting and CA are plentiful, but no more so than is typical for this type of lens. Fortunately, all these things can be cleared up in postprocessing, usually with a mere mouse-click in software like Lightroom that provides automatic customised corrections. Indeed many lenses are produced with software correction in mind, giving lens designers more scope to improve optics in other areas. VERDICT: Introduced just a few months ago, this Nikon G-series lens is a complete overhaul of the olderl8-35mm D-version, with all-new optics and integral SWM autofocus. Its build quality is high-end consumer grade rather than pro-spec, though optically this lens is certainly top drawer. Being a new model, the price is still high and needs to fall more in line with the similar Canon EF 17-40mm lens for the value to match performance.