Nikon 18-70mm vs. 18-105mm VR

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by steven_pink, Oct 24, 2014.

  1. Thanks to the recommendation of some
    members, I recently purchased a D7000 (instead of
    making the leap to FX). My entire lens collection
    consists of FX lenses and I have nothing to cover
    my wide angle and to use for walking around (which
    is very inconvenient). I've been considering the
    Nikon 18-70mm, Nikon 18-105mm VR (which I had
    in the past), and possibly the Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8.
    I'm going to be buying used and trying to spend
    under $200. The 18-70 smokes the other two on
    pricing (a used lens for ~$70???), but is there
    something particularly better about the 18-105 VR's
    optical quality? I don't use VR much on the lenses I
    have, so that's not much of a selling feature to pay
    almost twice as much for. I liked my 18-105 while I
    had it, but I wasn't crazy about how cheap the build
    quality was. I understand the Sigma will give better
    low light performance, but I'm really having trouble
    justifying it over the old 18-70mm.

    Can anyone give recommendations based on
    experience? I'm a poor student so cheap is preferred
    as long as I'm not skimping out. This lens is just
    going to be a convenient walk around lens for when
    I'm not using my nice equipment or don't want to
    carry it around.

    If it matters, my main gear is:
    D7000 and D90
    28mm f/3.5 (AI)
    50mm f/1.8
    70-200mm f/2.8
    300mm f/4
  2. Steven;
    I heave only used the 18-70 and I consider it one of the greatest bargain lensed that Nikon ever made.
  3. I had an 18-70 on my D70, and an 18-105 on my D5000. I liked the build quality of the 18-70 better, and preferred the reach of the 18-105. But its complex horizon distortions were frustrating. Both suffered from vignetting wide open at the extremes. Lately I see more positive posting about the 18-140. I'm currently using the combination of a 18-55 VR II and 55-200 VR.
  4. I have used both these lenses for quite a while on D70, D200 and D300. I much prefered the 18-70mm as I found the VR system on my 18-105mm pretty ordinary (I do like the VRII system better) and at the wide end neither option is great, however I found the extra reach beyond 70mm of the 18-105 provided lacklustre results making me wish I'd not sold the 18-70mm. By lacklustre I mean I did not like the way my landscape / architecture images looked in so far as they appeared flattened and without the same clarity and saturation that I'd long grown accustomed to with the 18-70mm.
    I'd recommend the 18-70mm in this case, as stated above, one of the best bang for bucks Nikkors I've used.
  5. I also haven't used the 18-105, but had an 18-70 for years and LOVED it.
    The size is just right, it's a little more ruggedly built (I think) than the 18-105, and doesn't really have any serious weaknesses.
    Tremendous value.
  6. I've had the 18-70 for several years, and as Owen said: one of Nikon's greatest bargains ever. In terms of construction quality, it sure feels better made than a 18-105VR. Optically... I'm not too sure. My 18-70 needed some stopping down (f/5.6 it was absolutely fine). What I see from several 18-105VR of friends, it's a tad sharper at wide apertures.
    These lenses do suffer a bit more from sample variation probably, they're very close basically. In my view, you cannot go wrong either way, and $70 for a 18-70 is a really nice price, so that probably makes it a very easy choice :)
  7. I have both lenses and have used the 18-70 for almost 10 years now and the 18-105 vr since I got my d7100 a year ago. I have done a lot of great shots with both lenses (see my folders). I do have to echo what Walter said. Both are great lenses when you have a good copy, so when buying used, beware of sample variation and test any lens before buying.
  8. I received my 18-105mm lens as part of a kit when I purchased my Nikon D7000 in November, 2013 when B&H Photo was selling the kit with a very substantial discount (obviously in anticipation of the release of the D7100 the next year).
    The lens has surprised me with its fine performance and it's been the primary carry lens that I've used with my D7000. I've subsequently purchased the new Tokina 12-28mm lens but haven't had much opportunity to use it.
    I carried the 18-105mm lens this year on a trip to the Southeast Utah parks and on to some monuments in Arizona. It's certainly been a very useful lens, and I do find the VR feature quite useful for handheld photography!

  9. Thank you so much for all your input! I feel like the
    18-70 is the way to go from what you've said.

    About the 18-140mm... I see they're around $200
    used. Is it worth the extra $100+? If I'm going over
    50mm I would typically use my 50mm f/1.8 or 70-
    200mm f/2.8, so the extra reach isn't a big deal for
    me. What else makes the 18-140 better?
  10. Your 70-200/2.8 is most likely far better than either the 18-105 between 70 and 105, or the 18-140 between 70 and 140. As I understand, the 18-140 is a later model designed to be the standard kit for the higher resolution requirements of more recent Nikon bodies.
  11. The 18-70 is top-notch as far as build quality and sharpness, but the distortion quite noticeable on the wide end.
    This is by no means an award-winning photo but the horizon is not even near the edge of the frame.
  12. The 18-70 is top-notch as far as build quality and sharpness, but the distortion is quite noticeable on the wide end.
    This is by no means an award-winning photo but the horizon is not even near the edge of the frame.
  13. That's some serious distortion... Where in the zoom
    range is it most/least distorted?

    Also, does anyone have experience with the
    sigma/tamron 18-50 f/2.8 lenses? There's quite a
    few options there that can be had around $150-
    $200 used.
  14. The Tamron 17-50 options are both excellent - the older model is maybe a bit sharper, the newer has VR, so you have
    some tradeoff either way. The newer Sigma model with VR is also great. Since you're not looking for longer than 50mm
    I'd think one of those lenses would be ideal. They're all stronger optical performers than these variable aperture kit
  15. The distortion of lenses such as the 18-70 is easily corrected these days with software. PS and ACR both have easy to use built in corrections for this lens. It should not be an obstacle. Here's an example with a horizon using the 18-70 at 18mm.
  16. uncorrected
  17. Corrected
  18. I bought the Nikon 16-85 VR lens to replace my 18-70mm. It outperforms the 18-70mm in my opinion. I have no experience with the 18-105mm lens. I do recommend the 70-200mm f 4.0 FX lens if you need that much reach. It is very sharp and costs a lot less than the f 2.8 version.
    Joe Smith
  19. Here's Eric's image with a quick correction. His shot wasn't level to begin with, but the curvature was easily fixed.
  20. straightening is easy too. I used ps "select all" edit/transform/skew
  21. I do recommend the 70-200mm f 4.0 FX lens if you need that much reach.​
    I already own the 70-200mm f/2.8. I mentioned the gear I travel with most in my original post.
    The distortion of lenses such as the 18-70 is easily corrected these days with software. PS and ACR both have easy to use built in corrections for this lens. It should not be an obstacle.​
    I'm really not too concerned about distortion. As I said, this is just a walk around lens. When I need to do wide angle shots at events (I mainly do event/sport photography), I usually use my DJI drone for an aerial view.
  22. The 18-105mm is like 2 lenses in one, giving you some extra reach, which is nice to have when you need it. The VR feature is also nice when you need it. Since you owned it, I am not telling you something you do not know. If you don't need the extra reach or the VR features at all, save your money and just go with the 18-70mm. IMHO, they are both nice to have, even if rarely used (the times you do need/use them, you will be glad they are there). IQ is pretty much the same between the two.
  23. I own both, and will sell the 18-105. It's unbelievably bad. The 18-70 is sharp, and has quick, accurate focus, as well as great rendering. The 18-105 is worse than the Sigma equivalent. Well, mine is, anyway.
  24. Sigma's modern quality lenses are pretty
    phenomenal. It makes me sad that their previous
    bad reputation hurts them so badly. I used a
    friend's Sigma 50mm f/1.4 (Not even the new Art
    version) and was blown out of the water.
  25. Eyal's experience supports the fact that there is a lot of sample variation in these kit lenses. I am fortunate in that both my 18-70 and 18-105 VR are quite good. There are slight differences in each of them, and they both have their strengths and weaknesses, but its mainly only noticeable when pixel peeping. On 10x15 inch prints you'd be hard pressed to tell which lens I used. It is important to thoroughly test a lens before purchasing it. The camera store I use has a 30 day return policy, which is great. I think KEH has a good return policy too.
  26. I used to have a great 18-105 and my father had a mediocre 16-85. On both our cameras, my lens clearly outperformed
    his. (He never believed that, because his lens was more expensive, even though I could show the difference in photos.)
    My previous lens, an 18-55 VR, was even better, but the zoom range limitation made the 18-105 a better option.

    With these consumer kit lenses there is certainly room for sample variation.

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