- Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 'Full-Frame' FX lens - weight 385g
- Fuji 10-24mm f/4 APS-C lens - weight 410g
- Sony 16-35mm f/4 'Full-Frame' FX lens - weight - 518g
Not all DSLR lenses are heavy. Not all mirrorless lenses are light. By slightly restricting the zoom range, having no in lens stabilisation and by using modern materials Nikon have come up with a light(ish) wide-angle zoom. No fixed aperture, but actually faster than either the Fuji or Sony wide-open. And from my initial tests sharper than either the Fuji or Sony. No one writes lengthy articles on the Nikon lens, in fact it slipped through my radar until very recently, because seeing the 18mm wide end I think I assumed it was an APS-C sensor covering DX lens. However, it's not. It's a 'full-frame' / 35mm film size sensor covering lens and it's stunning. The sharpest wide angle zoom I've ever used.
And it's a lens that yet again debunks the myths about DSLR and MCE (Mirrorless / CSC / E.V.I.L) cameras. This is no headline grabbing lens, it's been around for a couple of years, but aside from a slight softening in the extreme corners, it's almost flawless. And as I indicated above very (VERY!) sharp. In fact it might be the sharpest Nikon lens I've ever owned, which considering it's a wide-angle zoom, is pretty remarkable.
I tried it on my Sony A7 II and was impressed with that as well. So much so that I've ordered a 3rd. Party battery grip for the A7 II, which was a camera I was considering selling. Not because I'm planning to use that lens extensively, but the grip would give extra battery life for the upcoming, much rumoured A7r II with IBIS. And the thought of using this lens to create 36MP images is something I have to experience.
As you can see, the lens is nice and wide, without having serious distortion issues and while the usual focal length of one of these zooms is 16-35mm, I do actually prefer the more normal type perspective from 18mm. It is also quite fast in terms of aperture for a lens of this type. Both the Fuji and Sony lenses I showed the weight comparison above with are f/4 fixed lenses, but the Nikon averages out at that anyway. Plus, as you can see, this is going to be very much a fair weather lens for me and all of the above samples were shot at ISO 50 in bright sunlight.
And this is a classic example of why I'm still using and enthusing about DSLR's and DSLR lenses. The pictures at the top of the page make the camera / lens combination look monstrous. But it's really not that heavy in comparison with some MCE outfits.. The basic D750, minus grip, is 1220g. About the same as the Fuji X-T1 + 16-55mm f/2.8 + grip + extra battery outfit I was using. The Fuji equivalent X-T1 + 10-24mm, again with grip and extra battery (which the D750 doesn't need either of but the Fuji definitely does) is around 1000g, so there's not this huge difference that everybody talks about. Take a comparable Sony outfit. The A7 II is 599g (with battery) The 16-35mm is 518g - so 1118g in total. And if you are planning on taking more than 300 shots you'll need an extra battery and maybe the battery grip as well to help balance the camera, so pretty much the same.
As far as I'm concerned the D750 + 18-35mm is manageable. Plus yesterday I carried the 55-200mm DX zoom as well. Anyway, after a few changes to the way I work and even how I carry gear around, I've having less trouble with 'photographers back' these days and apart from anything else the benefits of using this D750 outfit are currently outweighing any size and weight considerations I might have. I've got plenty of lightweight alternatives anyway.
Now I really haven't got an axe to grind here, people will use what they want and if they only have one camera outfit then they are entitled to make their own decisions as to what they use. But I am concerned that a fair representation is made of all the alternatives. Sure, there are very heavy DSLR camera / lens combinations and there are lightweight MCE equivalents, but it's also important to make clear that there are lighter, smaller, DSLR combinations that can be put together. And these combinations are also capable of the highest quality results. With my old Nikon and Voigtlander primes and zooms and my new Nikon lenses (This 18-35mm and my 20mm f/1.8) I've got a reasonably weighted set of options that are often lighter than many of the Sony FE alternatives. Not as light as what I can get with m4/3 but similar to many Fuji X outfits and of course the new Samsung NX system is heavy too. (NX1 body + 16-50mm is around 1170g.) I use the battery grip on my D750, but I don't have to since the battery life is so good. Plus I did try the 18-35mm on my Df and I liked that very much for balance and weight.
So we currently have a situation where certain aspects of MCE systems are getting bigger and heavier and certain aspects of DSLR systems are getting smaller and lighter. (e.g. some of the current Nikon and Canon 'budget' DSLR's) so any perceived advantage for MCE is often exaggerated. However, the bottom line here is that the 18-35mm zoom is a top class lens and I imagine I'm going to have bolted on to what I'm using for most of the summer. I'm pleased I finally realised what it is and I'm pleased I bought it. I'm even more pleased with the images I view on the screen taken with it. And ultimately that's what really counts.