Not many years ago it would have been pure fancy to propose a £200 lens that featured ED glass, an aspherical element, internal focusing and instant manual intervention in AF mode yet that is precisely what Nikon offers in its 18-70mm zoom......
This, one of Nikon’s kit lens options for the D70/D80 range, is a rather square, almost dumpy, lens but it feels well-built. Its zoom ring falls under the fingers-and-thumb of the user’s left hand whereas its manual-focusing collar is closer to the camera body – and therefore slightly less accessible. This is probably the optimum arrangement given that the lens is likely to be zoomed more often than it is focused manually. Usefully, when manual intervention is needed it can be brought to bear even when the lens is in AF mode.
In terms of technical sharpness, the lens has an impressively flat set of MTF50 curves that indicate almost constant performance regardless of the focal length and aperture setting. If nothing else, that means users can forget about trying to use the lens’s optimum settings and can focus instead on the more creative aspects of their photography.
A niggle, however, is the way in which Nikon’s HB32 bayonet-mount lens hood covers the zoom collar when in its stored position. It is virtually impossible to use the lens when the hood is stowed and this fact alone suggests that the hood should be stored separately from the lens when being transported if there is any chance that the lens might be called into action in a rush.
The mid-priced 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5, is much more than just the ideal compromise. Not many years ago it would have been pure fancy to propose a £200 lens that featured ED glass, an aspherical element, internal focusing and instant manual intervention in AF mode yet that is precisely what Nikon offers in its 18-70mm zoom. What is probably the most important feature of any lens is the way that it feels and behaves when in use. Factors such as size and mass help when predicting these things but only physical handling can tell you the truth. The arrangement of the focusing and zoom collars on the 18-70mm lens is excellent, and this fact alone makes the lens more usable than others. Add to that its overall image quality together with a 4x zoom range, and the 18-70mm has to be a winner.
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15/13, Asph + ED
73 x 76mm