When the D5200 came out and I started using it with the 18-55 kit I was stunned at how soft the images were. I thought for sure I had gotten a bad copy of the kit so I went down to the camera store and tried a different one and then I tried another and they were all equally bad. I popped on my favorite prime lens and the difference was huge- Grand Canyon huge. In the past I have not typically been a kit basher, there are those out there that say the kit lens is horrible, just buy the body and get a prime or other, better quality, lens and I often disagree with this approach, especially for people new to DSLRS. The kit lenses, while not the best lens around are certainly a great place to start: they offer some zoom, they are usually lightweight and don’t add much to the cost of the camera. BUT with these newer sensors, especially the very sharp sensors in the D5200 D5300, and D7100 the older kit lenses like the 18-55 just can’t perform well enough.

After my experience I advised anyone buying the D5200 to skip the 18-55 and get the 18-105 or consider some alternatives(Recommended Lenses for Nikon DX Cameras). The 18-105 is a better lens, it out performs the 18-55 easily but especially now that Nikon has dropped their AA filter, a filter that actually blurs the image slightly to avoid moire, in the D7100 and now the D5300 – they really needed a good lens to include with these cameras. Is the 18-140 that lens? Before we answer that I thnk it is very telling that they don’t even bother to bundle the 18-55 with the D5300 now. It is 18-140 or nothing. That makes the entry level price a good bit higher(even with B&H discounted price) and I don’t think Nikon wanted to do that- they just didn’t have any other options at this time.

So how does it compare to the 18-105?  The 18-140 is on the left and the 18-105 is on the right in all samples below. (Watch my video discussing the differences seen below)

18-140 on left 18-105 on right at 100% f/3.5 - the 18-140 is noticeably sharper
18mm f/3.5 18-140 on left 18-105 on right at 100% The 18-140 is noticeably sharper

 

50mm 100% crop the 140 is able to shoot at f/4.8, the 105's max aperture is f/5 - sharpness is near identical
50mm 100% crop the 140 is able to shoot at f/4.8, the 105’s max aperture is f/5 – sharpness is near identical

 

105mm 100% crop at f/5.6 The older 18-105 looks a little sharper to me.
105mm 100% crop at f/5.6 The older 18-105 looks a little sharper to me.
Edge of frame at 105mm 100% crop. Toss up? Maybe 18-140
Edge of frame at 105mm 100% crop. Toss up?
One of the reasons I am not a big fan of these larger range lenses - Distortion. See the bending or bowing in the image? Can be corrected in camera or in software with slight image quality degradation.
One of the reasons I am not a big fan of these larger range lenses – Distortion. See the bending or bowing in the image? Can be corrected in camera or in software with slight image quality degradation.

 

don’t buy this for the increased range - the difference in zoom or reach between 105 and 140 is small.
Don’t buy this for the increased range – the difference in zoom or reach between 105 and 140 is small.

 

More sample images with the 18-140 and the Nikon D5300

Final Verdict – Bought with the D5300 or D7100 this lens compliments the sensor of those cameras nicely and provides a good compromise between quality and convenience.  However, it is still a kit lens and you might consider other options if you need to frequently shoot in lower light or want to create those images with the blurred background . See my list of recommended lenses for Nikon DX cameras.

Buy the D5300 with 18-140 at B&H | Buy the 18-140 Buy from Amazon


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