Reviews |Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR

Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR Review

Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR review
Review

Price when reviewed

£599

$596.95
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Our Verdict

The Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR makes a good choice of lens for everyday or travel photography with one of Nikon’s APS-C format mirrorless cameras. Its 7.8x zoom range makes it a versatile optic and the combination of its optical construction, on-board stabilisation and Nikon’s correction profile ensures that it delivers very good results for the price.

For

  • Nice zoom range
  • Stabilisation rated at 5 stops
  • Weather-sealed

Against

  • No focus scale
  • f/6.3 at the telephoto end
  • Plastic mount

What is the Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR?

The Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR is designed for use on Nikon’s DX or APS-C format mirrorless cameras such as the Nikon Z50 and Z fc and with travel photography in mind. The APS-C format status means that it produces framing equivalent to a 27-210mm lens on a full-frame camera like the Nikon Z7 II.

While Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless cameras have in-body stabilisation, its APS-C format models don’t, however, the VR in the lens’ name denotes that it is stabilised.

Specification

  • Product type: Wide to telephoto zoom lens
  • Announced: October 2021
  • Mount: Nikon Z
  • Format: APS-C (DX)
  • Focal length: 18-140mm (effectively 27-210mm on APS-C format)
  • Maximum aperture: f/3.5-6.3
  • Minimum aperture: f/22-40
  • Construction: 17 elements in 13 groups with 2 ED (Extra-low Dispersion) and 2 aspherical elements
  • Coatings:
  • Focusing system: Internal
  • Minimum focus distance: At 18mm: 20cm/0.66ft, 24mm: 22cm/0.73ft, 35mm: 25cm/0.83ft, 50mm: 30cm/0.99ft, 70mm: 36cm/1.19ft, 100mm: 40cm/1.32ft, 140mm: 40cm/1.32ft
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.33x
  • Stabilisation: Yes. Lens shift using voice coil motors (VCMs), 5EV compensation
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 7
  • Filter size: 62mm
  • Weight: 315g / 11.2oz
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 73 x 90mm / 2.9 x 3.6-inches
Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR review

Features

Thanks to its 18-140mm (27-210mm equivalent) focal length range, which equates to a 7.8x zoom, the Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR is a versatile lens that can be used for landscape, street, portrait and travel photography. It stretches considerably further than the Nikon Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR at the telephoto end, and goes wider than the Nikon Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR. The effective 24mm at the wide end of the 16-50mm lens could be useful when photographing in cramped interiors where the 27mm effective focal length of the 18-140mm might see you pushed up against a wall trying to fit everything in. However the extra telephoto reach over the 16-50mm could very handy for framing distant details and vistas.

Nikon constructs the Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR from 17 elements arranged in 13 groups with two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) and two aspherical elements. These special elements help keep the size of the lens down while helping to maintain image quality across the frame.

The focusing is internal and powered by a stepping motor which means that the front element doesn’t rotate during focusing (handy if you’re using a graduated filter) and the movement is fast and quiet.

As I mentioned earlier, the Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR is stabilised. The VR system uses voice coil motors and is said to give up to 5EV shutter speed compensation.

Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR review

Build and handling

Nikon has used plastic to make the Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR’s barrel and mounting plate. This helps keep the weight down to a portable 315g / 11.2oz, but it would be nice to have the reassurance of a metal mount.

At 90mm / 3.6-inches in length from the lens mount at its shortest and 73mm/ 2.9 inches in diameter, the Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR looks nicely matched to the Nikon Z50. At full extension (at the 140mm point) it measures around 136mm / 5.35 inches and doesn’t feel front-heavy or unbalanced on the camera.

The broad zoom ring sits towards the front of the lens and occupies around half its length at the shortest focal length. This ring has a nice firm movement and, although there’s no zoom lock,  it doesn’t extend as you walk with the camera hanging on a strap. I noticed a slight change in the effort required to rotate the zoom ring between around the 35mm and 70mm, it seems very slightly stiffer than at either end, but not problematically so.

Further back towards the camera, the narrow control ring, which we would traditionally call the manual focus ring, feels looser than the zoom ring, but it moves smoothly and, again, isn’t sloppy.

This control ring can be set to adjust the aperture, ISO or exposure compensation when the autofocus system is in use, but when the camera is in manual focus mode, it’s for focusing. As the focusing is by wire, there’s no physical end point to the movement of the ring, however, a distance scale appears on the screen or in the viewfinder as soon as the ring is rotated.

As there are no buttons or switches on the lens barrel, the focus mode is set via the camera. Similarly, the lens’s stabilisation is activated or turned off using the Optical VR option in the camera’s menu.

There’s no option on the Z50 to set the viewfinder or on-screen image to enlarge when the focus ring is rotated, but there are on-screen zoom buttons which operate whether you’re looking at the screen or the viewfinder so you can zoom in to check the focus as you use the ring. There’s also the option to activate focus peaking.

Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR review

Performance

Nikon’s Z50 and Z fc both use a hybrid autofocusing system that combines phase detection and contrast detection and when the Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR is mounted, the focusing is swift and very quiet. In AF-C (Continuous AF) mode, you can just hear the jitter of adjustment. However, in AF-F (Full-time AF) mode, which is the default option for video, the noise disappears and the focusing is silent.

Further good news for videographers is that focus breathing is controlled well so the framing doesn’t change as the focusing distance changes.

Although it doesn’t hit the spectacular levels of sharpness seen with Nikon’s S- series lenses such as the Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S, the sharpness from the Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR is good. The sharpness is also maintained well into the corners, however, the impact of diffraction is noticeable at the smallest apertures – especially at the longer end of the lens where I would avoid reducing the aperture below f/22.

Although there’s a profile applied automatically to correct distortion, chromatic aberration and corner shading in raw and Jpegs images, I noticed very slight barrel distortion in some images with lots of horizontal lines when shooting at the 18mm end. It’s by no means a major issue and could easily be missed.

There’s also a suggestion of vignetting and I found a couple of minor instances of chromatic aberration, but again it’s within acceptable bounds. I dealt with the chromatic aberration with a few clicks of the Defringe tool in Adobe Camera Raw.

I’m disappointed that Nikon doesn’t include a lens hood in the box with the Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR, instead there’s an optional one that you can buy (HB-101). However, the lens doesn’t suffer badly from flare. As usual, you can introduce it by careful angling of the front the element relative to the sun, but it’s not a major concern with this optic.

Out of focus areas are generally pleasantly rendered but I noticed a few specular highlights have a bright outline with a dot in the middle, which could be distracting in some situations.

Shooting hand-held at the 140mm end of the lens, I got a hit rate of around 80% when using a shutter speed of 1/4sec. That’s a little over the 5EV claimed shutter speed compensation. Increasing the shutter speed to 1/8sec gave me a hit rate of around 100%.

Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR review

Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR sample image

Follow the link to browse and download images from the Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR on the Nikon Z50.

Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR image gallery

Verdict

The Nikon Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f3.5-6.3 VR is an attractive lens for Nikon Z50 and Z fc users, although it’s modern styling makes it look more at home of the Z50 than the Zfc. Its focal length range covers a number of photographic situations including landscapes, cityscapes, portraits and more, so it’s a good choice for travel photography. However, it’s not as compact as the Nikon Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR. Also, as a wide-angle fan, I would also miss the extra 2mm width, but the additional telephoto reach is a luxury that could be very useful for day trips and travel.

It’s worth avoiding the smaller aperture settings, especially at the longer end of the lens, but overall it’s a good performer with distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration kept under control well. The VR stabilisation is also very good and could be useful for low light situations.

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