Along with a slew of new point and shoot cameras (which we at Photography Life do not particularly care about), Nikon announced an updated version of the Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 lens – a budget lens designed for both DX and FX cameras. The new Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED replaces the 13 year old 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D lens, which had never been a popular lens to begin with. So it was about time to update the lens with better optics, AF-S and other newer technologies.
So what does the updated 18-35mm bring to the table compared to the previous model? First of all, the focus motor has been replaced with the latest generation AF-S motor, which means that autofocus will work on any modern Nikon DSLR, including entry-level models like D3200 without a built-in motor. Second, the optical formula has been updated – the new 18-35mm has 12 elements in 8 groups, versus 11 elements in 8 groups on the AF-D version. More ED and Aspherical lens elements have also been added for better clarity and contrast. Third, thanks to this updated optical design, the minimal focus distance has also been shortened to 0.28m from 0.33m. Fourth, the new lens is of “G” type, which means that the aperture ring is no longer there. Fifth, the lens exterior has been completely redesigned to make it look just like all modern AF-S lenses and the typical M/A / M switch has also been added. Lastly, the new 18-35mm is slightly larger than the old version and also weighs 15 grams heavier.
Overall, these are all very modest changes aimed at improving the lens performance. Unfortunately, Nikon chose to skip on the much-needed Vibration Reduction (VR) technology for some reason. To be honest, I do not understand the reason for skipping on VR, when the Nikon 16-35mm has it (heck, even the cheap Nikon 18-55mm kit lens is equipped with VR). On the positive note, the new 18-35mm seems to be much better than its predecessor optically, as evidenced from its MTF charts. Here are the MTF charts for the older Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D:
And these MTF charts are for the new Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED:
Both center and corner performance seem to be improved, which is never bad news…
Here is the comparison of optical design between the two lenses:
As usual, we will start reviewing this lens as soon as it becomes available. We will compare it to the older version, as well as the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR in our upcoming review.
The Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED is available for a preorder from our partner B&H for $749. Expected availability is March 2013.