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Nikon 18mm f/2.8 AF-D
FX NIKKOR (1994-2006)
© 2009-2012 KenRockwell.com

Introduction   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

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Nikon AF Nikkor 18mm f/2.8

Nikon 18mm f/2.8 AF-D (FX, DX and 35mm coverage, 77mm filters, 13.3 oz/376g, abiout $800 used). enlarge. I got this one at this direct link to it at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), and it's also available at Amazon. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use those and these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

June 2012, August 2009     More Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses   All Reviews

How to Use Ultrawide Lenses

Sharpness Comparison to all other 18mm lenses 11 August 2010


Ideal Uses: Perfect for use on FX digital and film.

Not for: I wouldn't bother with this on a DX camera. I'd use any DX lens, like the 18-55mm kit lens, instead. This lens will not autofocus with the cheapest D40, D40x, D60, D3000 or D5000, but so what: use the kit lens instead for 18mm on DX.



Introduction         top

Introduction   Specs   Performance   Recommendations


Ritz Camera

I personally buy from Adorama, Amazon, Ritz, B&H, Calumet and J&R. I can't vouch for ads below.


This Nikon 18mm f/2.8 AF-D lens is very rare because it has always been so expensive. Few people bought it when new. It cost over $1,000 in its day, and it wasn't much different in performance than the 20mm f/2.8 AF-D which did pretty much the same thing in a smaller, lighter, less tough package for less than half the price. The 20mm is available to this day, while the 18mm was discontinued in 2006 from lack of interest.

Nikon only sold 7,000 of these 18mm lenses, while it's sold close to 100,000 of the 20mm AF — so far. Zooms are even more popular: Nikon sold 50,000 of the 20-35mm, 125,000 of the 17-35mm as of 2009, 110,000 of the 18-35mm and 75,000 of the 14-24mm, so far.

This 18mm excels at being the widest possible Nikon autofocus lens in the smallest, toughest package. All the Nikon wide zooms are much bigger and heavier.

This 18mm is expensive because it's a tough, pro lens and even uses an aspherical element, a first in its day along with the incomparable Nikon 28mm f/1.4 AF-D. The 28mm has a precision ground aspherical element, while this 18mm merely has a molded one.

Sadly, optical performance is nothing special, about the same as the 20mm AF. Unlike the less expensive 20mm, this 18mm comes in a nice fitted tubular case with an HB-8 hood.

When using this 18mm AF lens, be sure to keep your fingers away from the focus ring, which turns anytime the camera attempts to autofocus. There is no way to disengage it.

The 18mm f/2.8 AF-D has the same build and styling as the 28mm F/1.4D AF, 20-35mm f/2.8D AF and 85mm f/1.4D AF, which means a nice metal filter thread. The only plastic is the AF window and the aperture ring.


Compatibility       back to intro     back to top

The 18mm f/2.8 AF-D works great with almost every film and digital Nikon camera made since 1977. If you have a coupling prong added to the diaphragm ring, it's perfect with every Nikon back to the original Nikon F of 1959.

The only incompatibility is that it will not autofocus with the cheapest D40, D40x, D60, D3000 or D5000, but if you focus manually, everything else works great. These cameras have in-finder focus confirmation dots to help you.

See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details on your camera. Read down the "AF, AF-D (screw)" column for this lens.


Specifications         top

Introduction   Specs   Performance   Recommendations



Nikon calls this the Nikon AF Nikkor 18mm f/2.8D.

     AF: Auto Focus.

     D: The lens tells the camera the distance to the subject, which helps the exposure meter, especially with on-camera flash.


Nikon 18/2.8. enlarge.



13 elements in 10 groups. One is a molded aspheric.

RF: Rear focusing.

It's multicoated, which Nikon calls Nikon Integrated Coating.



7 straight blades.

Stops down to f/22.


Close Focus

0.85 feet (10 inches or 0.25m).


Maximum Reproduction Ratio



Hard Infinity Focus Stop?


This is great for astronomy; just turn to the stop and you have fixed laboratory-perfect focus all night.


Focus Scale



Depth-of-Field Scale



Infra-Red Focus Index

Yes: White dot in depth-of-field scale.


Aperture Ring

Yes, plastic.

Full-stop clicks.


Filter Thread

77mm, metal.

Does not rotate or move, ever.



3.231" diameter x 2.276" extension from flange (82.09 x 57.81 mm), measured.

Nikon specifies 3.23" (82mm) diameter by 2.28" (58mm) extension from flange, or 2.70" (68.5mm) overall.



Serial number starting in 2: 13.380 oz. (379.3 g), measured.

Serial number starting in 4: 13.280 oz. (376.5g), measured.

Nikon specifies 13.4 oz. (380g), never having updated its specification when it lightened the lens.



HB-8 plastic bayonet, included.

These are impossible to find used. They are the same hood as the 20-35mm f/2.8 AF-D.



CL-17, included.


Made in




TC-200/201 and TC-14A, but why?



April 1994.


Nikon Product Number



Performance         top

Introduction   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

Performance is certainly usable, but unfortunately for the price, almost identical to or slightly worse than the smaller and less expensive 20mm f/2.8 AF.

That's why I put this 18mm lens in Nikon's 10 Worst Lenses: because it works well enough, but really ought to be better for the price.

If you're looking in the corners closely for sharpness, you need to get the 14-24mm or 16-35mm VR instead for FX cameras.



AF speed is very fast.

One full turn of the AF screw focuses the lens from infinity to 1.5.' Whew, that's fast!


Color Balance

Color balance was a point or two cooler than the 20/2.8, probably not enough to ever notice.



Distortion is complex. Here's the horizon on FX:

18mm distortion

Distortion of the horizon on FX. enlarge.

Photoshop CS2's lens distortion filter is of no use to correct this complex distortion on FX, however on DX you can correct the barrel distortion with these figures:

FX and Film
10' (3m)

© 2009 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

* Minor waviness remains.
** Significant waviness remains.



Nikon 18mm f/2.8 D

Nikon 18mm f/2.8. enlarge.

This is a very standard lens with no surprises.

Be sure to keep your hand off the focus ring during autofocus.

Manual focus feels nicer than most AF lenses, but be sure to set your camera to M before turning the ring.


Falloff (darkened corners)    back to performance     back to top

Falloff on FX is plenty wide open, and not a problem stopped down.

It won't be an issue at all on DX (see crop factor).

I've exaggerated this by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background.


Nikon 18mm f/2.8D falloff on FX and film at infinity.



© 2009 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.





Filters, use with

There is no vignetting on FX with one filter.

Forget trying to use two filters at the same time.

Any vignetting gets worse at f/16.

Any vignetting gets a tiny bit worse at closer focus distances.


Flare and Ghosts

It has lots of little ghosts; worse than the 20/2.8 AF.

You need to use the obnoxious hood included, unlike with the 20mm AF whose hood you don't need.


Focus Breathing

As you pull focus in and out, the barrel distortion gets stronger as you pull in focus.


Mechanics and Construction

rear, 18 2.8

Rear, Nikon 18 2.8. enlarge.


Filter Threads and Hood Bayonet

Black painted aluminum on first version, black anodized on later (s/n starting with 4). The bayonet seems precision cast on earlier models and machined on latter models, unless the paint is hiding the machining marks on the earlier models. I could be wrong and they all may be one way or another, but I do know they are all metal.


Focus Ring

Rubber-covered metal.



Plastic and metal, black crinkle-coat paint.


Aperture Ring







One sliding plastic aperture ring lock.



Dull chromed brass.



I see metal.


Noises when shaken

One klunk on early version (s/n starting in 2) and maybe one slight click on latter version (s/n starting in 4).


Serial Number

Burnt into bottom rear of plastic aperture ring.


Made in




It is a bit sharper than the 20/2.8 AF wide open, but never gets perfectly sharp in the corners at any aperture.

The only SLR lens significantly better than all these is Nikon's newest 16-35mm and 14-24mm. The 14-24mm weighs three times as much and can't use filters for creative effects or for protection.

If you really need a sharp 18mm lens, also consider the the LEICA 18mm or Zeiss 18mm for LEICA M rangefinder cameras.


Recommendations         top

Introduction   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

Get one of these if toughness and light weight are important. I'm all about light weight, thus this lens is a favorite. It's the lightest 18mm f/2.8 lens ever made by Nikon.

If you want the same optical performance for less money, get a 20mm f/2.8 AF instead. The 20/2.8 has better ghost performance and the same sharpness and distortion performance as this far more expensive 18/2.8D AF. I still prefer this tougher 18mm for it's wider view and standard 77mm filter size.

If you want to spend a more money and get better performance, get the 17-35mm f/2.8D AF-S (almost as tough mechanically and better optically) or the 16-35mm VR (plastic, but best optically).

If youve found the time, effort and expense I endure to share all this information for free, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, and especially these links directly to it at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) and to it at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live.




More Information

Nikon, USA's product page.

Here's the link to where Adorama used to sell it new.


Help me help you         top

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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


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