How does the 18-35 AF-D Hold Up Now?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ben_hutcherson, Feb 27, 2018.

  1. I'm an ultrawide junky and make no apologies for it.

    As much as I love my 14-24, there are times when it's just too big to cart around with me. There's also the filter "issue" with it.

    The 16-35 is tempting, but it's a bit more than I want to spend right now.

    So, that brings me a round to the 18-35 as a possibly promising option at well under $300 from KEH.

    It would be used on FF digital(D800) and film.

    From what I can gather in some reviews:

    1. It's light and plasticy(not a bad thing given why I'm buying it)

    2. It has a lot of distortion

    With that said, it has an aperture ring. I know that will make some(many) of you roll your eyes, but that's a selling point to me since it gives me full compatibility with "key" bodies(F2AS, FM2N, FA, F4).

    Also, again I love the 14-24 but its showing its limitations to me as a film lens due to the lack of filtration(no colored filters for B&W or warming filters for slides). In fact, I've considered buying a 14mm 2.8 precisely so that I can use rear gels.

    So, with all of that in mind, how does the old 18-35 hold up on something like a D800?
  2. I owned that lens for many years - used on film (where I didn't have any complaints (probably never looked close enough)), then for a while on a DX body (D200). I traded it long before I ever had a chance to use it on an FX camera. Provided one stopped down to f/5.6, the lens was doing OK on a D200 (and at least on one test I've seen still OK on a D7000). Various tests done on FX bodies revealed rather poor corner performance no matter how far one stops down, and heavy vignetting. Unlike many other Nikon lenses, this one performs better at the long end than towards the short one. Based on what I've read, I would not bother putting that lens on a D800. I am afraid that in order to get a lens with an aperture ring, the 17-35/2.8 is the better option.
  3. I'd pass on the older 18-35mm. Are you looking primarily for a zoom or would a prime ultra wide lens meet your needs? If the latter, I'd look into the Samyang 14mm/2.8. B&H has an instant savings deal right now ($100 off) -- at $279, it is certainly worth considering. It is manual focus only and it has an aperture ring. Granted, at 530 g it's not exactly light, so that's something to consider.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  4. Thanks Dieter-you've scared me away :) . Unfortunately, the 17-35 puts me right back into the price range of the 16-35...which would come down to a question of VR or old body support(as much as Iove VR, I'd go with the latter as I find it LESS useful on UWs). That's not happening now.

    The Samyang is out for me for the simple reason that it gets me right back to where I am with the 14-24-no filter support. I'd not be out MUCH more just buying into one of the available filter systems for the 14-24.
  5. Okay, once again, feel free to call me an idiot but I went ahead and bought an example of the lens I was originally asking about. I figured that I couldn't go wrong for $250, and could always resell it if I hated it.

    I got it today, and as expected it's optically inferior to the 14-24. It's not a lot different at 18mm from my 18mm AI-s lens(which I recently sold), although the prime did have much less distortion.

    I think that I will be happy with it for my intended use. If I want bitingly sharp wide angles, I'll use the 14-24, but this will serve me fine on film and for travel.

    Just as a few general comments for anyone considering this lens in 2018, though:

    1. It's cheap and plastic feeling. It's no worse than any consumer oriented lens, but if you're use to even mid-range DX lenses you might be disappointed. Still, that translates into lightweight

    2. Manual focus is VERY loose and sloppy-something not unusual for screwdriver lenses like this, but still it's not as nice as even an AF-S lens-much less a manual focus lens. Also, the zoom ring is VERY sloppy feeling next to even some lower end lenses like my 24-85 3.5-4.5 VR.

    3. Don't buy this lens for DX-the 18-55 is better in virtually every way.

    4. I've only tested it on my D800, but focus is quite fast. I suspect this will be true on any body that can handle screwdriver lenses. The focus throw is short and there's just not a lot of mass to move around.

    5. When I was testing, I found a lot a veiling flare with the sun just outside the frame. Use a hood!

    I suspect that anyone with something like a D3 or D700 will be satisfied with the optical performance(distortion aside) at least when stopped down a bit. I'm also expecting to be quite happy with it on film.

    In addition, the 18mm AI-s has a serious handicap even on film in that you can only use a single thin filter(Nikon brand or similar). The 18-35 takes 77mm filters, and I had no issues with stacking two normal filters as long as one of them wasn't a thick polarizer. Throw an 81A or a colored filter on it and don't worry about it. If you use UV filters, it might be a good idea to get a thin one to leave on the lens so you can still stack a polarizer. The only special filter you might need is if you regularly use an 81A+polarizer you might want to buy a "Moose Polarizer."

    I'll also add that I know I can filter the 14-24, but doing so would have cost more than this lens. Plus, none of the systems I found offer just basic colored filters.
  6. I broke my 18-35mm AFD and replaced it with a second hand AFS version. I notice the AFS is sharper and more modern with profiles etc.

    If it was me I would go for the AFS. But that said, if my AFD was still working I would still be using it. From the images I have showed people no one has crticised the lens.
  7. Darn, I just felt like asking apologies for it ;-)

    Out of curiosity: any reason why you haven't looked at the 20mm primes? In this price range, they should be available plenty, and there are no issues with filters, and the performance of a number of them is pretty solid. I've got the small (52mm filter) AiS 20mm f/3.5, and while it's not brilliant at infinity, I am pleasantly surprised at how well it keeps up on my D810, except for the extreme corners which I didn't expect it to do anyway. Out of the issues you mention, 1,2 and 5 do not apply to this little lens....
  8. I actually have an AI-s 20mm 2.8 along with an AI 24mm 2.8.

    Both of these lenses are great, but honestly now that I've tasted the "forbidden fruit" down to 14mm, I get bored with a 20mm pretty easily. I'd use the 20mm if I were going to go out with only one prime wide angle(or possibly the 24mm) but really I'd miss the extra 2mm.

    Despite its shortcomings, the 18-35 DOES give me a lens that's compatible with almost every body I own(or at least will be once I "fork" it) and covers a useful range of focal lengths at a relatively small size and weight.

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