Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Nikon 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 VR Review

Image © Nikon USA


My Nikon D500 is a great camera and there might be times when I want to use that camera outside its primary purpose.  It's primary purpose is the long range sport shooter, paired with the 70-200/2.8

What about the other times?  FX lenses in the wide range are going to be too tight, so we look at a dedicated DX lens range.  The 18-140/4.5-5.6 VR is a great candidate.  See how well it fairs below.

All images in this review taken with the Nikon D500.

1/320, f/5.6, ISO 100 @ 140mm

1/250, f/7.1, ISO 1800 @ 140mm

1/100, f/5.6, ISO 450 @ 66mm


 This lens is mostly made of plastic, so the weight is not really there.  It balances well on the D500.  It is by no means a large lens.

The zoom ring is nice and smooth and your field of view with the DX crop factored in is 27-210mm.   That is a pretty good range for a walk around all in one shooter.

It works well in many situations from street photography, wildlife and photojournalism as you will see in the images samples provided.

1/250, f/5.6, ISO 360 @ 140mm

1/200, f/4.8, ISO 100 @ 56mm

1/160, f/5.3, ISO 560 @ 95mm

Image Quality

I've looked at the 18-200VR and 18-300VR.  All considered great performers from Nikon.   I generally don't need much more than the 200mm-ish field of view on the long end.  A majority of third party sources and some small testing I've done on my own have shown that the 18-140 was generally a better performer in all comparable ranges.

1/640, f/6.3, ISO 100 @ 22mm

1/400, f/5.3, ISO 100 @ 95mm

1/250, f/7.1, ISO 100 @ 140mm

1/250, f/7.1, ISO 100 @ 112mm

Auto Focus

We are not in pro grade AF territory here, but the performance is great for everyday use.  I've not missed  shot because the lens could not focus fast enough.

1/640, f/5.6, ISO 100 @ 140mm

D500 HDR mode
1/400, f/5.6, ISO 100 @ 100mm
Bottom Line:
If you don't need the longer field of view of 210mm, then this is a great value lens when you look at the performance that you get from it.  If you do need more reach and an all in one, then the Nikon 18-200 or 18-300 lenses might better fit your bill.  You might also want to consider a 2 lens kit, perhaps the 18-55 and the 55-200VR.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 Review

Image © Olympus America


Wide angle options can be very slim for a smaller sensor camera.  Micro four thirds has a few zooms, the O9-18/4-5.6, P7-14/4 and the new PRO designated O7-14/2.8.  This discussion leaves out the fisheye lens options.

Today we are going to explore the O9-18 and why we chose and love this wide angle option.

1/1250, f/8, ISO 200 @ 9mm
Olympus PEN-F

Out of the three wide zooms, the O9-18 won out.  After many hours of research, the IQ difference between the 9-18 and the Panasonic 7-14 were not that great.  The Olympus was much smaller, and I only see this as an occasional use lens.  There for, the less room it needs, the more likely I am to bring it, "just in case".

The zoom and focus ring are ready to get to and find.  The one little niggle that she might have is that the lens has a zoom lock on it.  This needs to be unlocked when not in stored mode.  There is a small switch on the side of the lens, you push forward and twist the barrel.  I don't find it an issue as I just knock it and me it unlocked until I plan on putting the lens away in the bag for a while. 

It's a personal preference thing. 

The lens weighs next to nothing, and is very first pocketable or can be slipped into a small belt pouch.

The field of view(FOV) of this 9-18 will be equivalent to 18-36mm.  A great wide side, plus going down to 35mm FOV can make for an alternative option for street shooting in tight quarters.  
1/200, f/8, ISO 200 @ 18mm
Olympus PEN-F

1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 18mm
Olympus PEN-F
Image Quality
Don't let the small size fool you.  While the aprrture range does not make this a first wide angle choice for low light, it is plenty capable and very sharp indeed.  The images have good contrast, and distortion is well controlled, with only minor post processing need for what is not handled in camera (for Olympus users).

I'll let the images speak for themselves.

Olympus PEN-F High-Res Mode
1/100, f/4, ISO 1250 @ 9mm
Olympus PEN-F

1/60, f/6.3, ISO 800 @ 18mm
Olympus PEN-F

Auto Focus

As to be expected with modern Olympus built micro four thirds lenses, this is a quick focusing lens.  You'll have no complaints from me on its S-AF performance.  Also consider that at f4-5.6 and 9-18mm focal lengths, your duty of for will be large anyway.

1/60, f/4, ISO 400 @ 9mm
Olympus PEN-F

1/60, f/4.8, ISO 800 @ 13mm
Olympus PEN-F

Bottom Line:
If you need a holy Trinity of Olympus lens, you'll want the 7-14, 12-40, 40-150 f/2.8 lenses.  That wood be a great so for me, but I rarely need the very wide end, so convenience and cost are more important than pixel peeping sharpness and weather sealing. 

After you factor this into the equation, a used O9-18 was the best choice and as you can see, is capable of making some great images.