I’ve always been tempted to buy the acclaimed Nikon 12-24mm f/2.8, but its volume, weight, high cost and most importantly, the inability to use filters in a natural way without using complex and expensive gadgets have made me give up that goal.
My research on the net made me discover the Nikon 18mm f/3.5, which aim at launch in 1999 cost the not inconsiderable amount of $ 1,000.00. The filter diameter of 72mm. was also attractive to me as my other favourite landscape lens, Nikon 28mm f/1.4, also had the same thread diameter. The high cost of the filters, especially the B+W ND with 10 f stops reduction, so valued for long exposures in daylight, do not make owning one of these filters for each lens diameter very viable.
The results I had been able to watch at, even with high-resolution cameras such as the Nikon D800, were somewhat encouraging, so I decided to buy one on eBay for just € 300.00. Another possible option that was I was also tempted to, was the Zeiss 18mm f/3.5, but the larger filter thread and its observed optical performance, which was very good, but not perfect (it has exaggerated vignetting), made me give a try to the nikon first.
Following I do not intent to do a full review, neither I know if I’m able to do so. I just want to record my first experiences with this lens, and say that the results have exceeded my expectations. The camera used has been a full-frame Nikon D800. The RAW files are from the full resolution (36MP), lightly processed in Lightroom. For me personally and after seeing these first results, it has more advantages than disadvantages. Judge yourselves.
- Remarkable optical performance.
- Light and compact.
- 72mm filter, the same as my other favourite lens.
- Minimum optical aberration (straight vertical lines).
- Minimum difrantion a f/16.
- Chromatic aberration, but easily correctable by software.
- Susceptible to receive reflections from sources like the sun. In landscape photography where the normal is working with a tripod, this is more or less avoidable at the time of exposure.
- Soft on the extreme borders. Improves at f/8.
- Vigneting. Improves at f/5.6. Almost disapears from f/8 on.
- Difraction at f/22.
Notice the sunlight reflection in the lower left of the picture below: