Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 vs. Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6: The Ultimate Showdown for the Perfect All-Purpose Lens

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Are you in the market for a versatile and budget-friendly lens that can handle a wide range of photography genres? Then look no further! In this article, we’ll be comparing two popular Nikon zoom lenses—Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 and Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6. These lenses are often sought-after by photographers who want to capture stunning images without breaking the bank or carrying a bag full of specialized lenses. Whether you’re into landscape, portrait, travel, or event photography, one of these lenses could be the perfect fit for you. We’ll delve into their features, pros and cons, and provide insights that will help you make an informed decision about which lens best suits your needs. So, sit back, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and join us as we explore the world of photography through the eyes of the Nikon 18-140mm and 18-55mm lenses.


Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VRNikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR
Max ApertureF3.5-5.6F3.5-5.6
Aperture TypeVariableVariable
Focal Range (mm)18-14018-55
Max FormatAPS-C / DXAPS-C / DX
Zoom Ratio (X)7.83.1

The Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 and Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 both have variable apertures, with maximum apertures of f/3.5-5.6. They are designed for APS-C / DX format cameras, offering different focal ranges and zoom ratios.

The 18-140mm lens has a focal range of 18-140mm, providing a versatile 7.8x zoom ratioIt’s versatile enough to accommodate a range of photography styles, including but not limited to travel, events, and sports. Its broader focal range allows for greater flexibility in composition and framing. However, the lens may be larger and heavier due to its extended zoom range.

On the other hand, the 18-55mm lens has a focal range of 18-55mm, with a 3.1x zoom ratio. This lens is more lightweight compared to the 18-140mm lens, making it more appealing to amateur or hobbyist photographers who prioritize portability. However, its limited zoom range might not be ideal for photographers who require more versatility. Both lenses have variable apertures, which can result in reduced image quality and low light performance compared to fixed aperture lenses.

Design and Ease of Use

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VRNikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR
Diameter x Length (mm)⌀78×97mm⌀64.5×62.5mm
Weight (gr)490205
Filter Thread (mm)6755
Weather SealingNoNo
Zoom MethodRotary (extending)Rotary (extending)
Distance ScaleNoNo
DoF ScaleNoNo
Hood SuppliedNoNo
Hood CodeHB-32HB-N106

The Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 and Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 differ in their dimensions and weight, which can impact their portability, balance, discreetness, storage, and lens swapping ease.

The 18-140mm lens has a diameter of 78mm and a length of 97mm, weighing 490 grams. In contrast, the 18-55mm lens is smaller and lighter, with a diameter of 64.5mm, a length of 62.5mm, and a weight of 205 grams.

The smaller and lighter 18-55mm lens offers better portability, making it easier to carry around during travel or extended periods of walking. It also provides a more balanced feel when mounted on a camera, as it is less likely to make the camera feel front-heavy. Additionally, its compact size makes it more discreet for street photography and takes up less space in your camera bag.

Both lenses feature a rotary (extending) zoom method, which involves the lens physically extending when zoomed in or out. While this design is simpler and can result in lower prices and lighter weight, it might make the lens more cumbersome to handle, more challenging to weather-seal, and can impact the camera’s balance during zooming.

In conclusion, the 18-140mm lens offers a broader zoom range, making it more versatile for various photography genres. However, the 18-55mm lens is superior in terms of portability, balance, and discreetness due to its smaller size and lighter weight.

Lens Mount and Barrel

The Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 features a metal lens mount, providing enhanced durability compared to plastic mounts. However, it lacks weather sealing and a rubber gasket, making it less resistant to moisture and dust.

The lens barrel is primarily constructed from polycarbonate plastic, with textured rubber grips on the zoom and manual focus rings for comfortable handling. When adjusting the focal length from 18mm to 140mm, the lens extends by slightly more than 50mm and the internal barrel moves seamlessly without any shaky movements. The group of rear elements moves back and forth by approximately 3cm.

In contrast, the Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 has a plastic lens mount and barrel, making it lighter but less durable than its metal counterpart. It also lacks weather sealing and a rubber gasket, similar to the 18-140mm lens. The lens barrel features a retractable design, reducing its size when not in use, and changes its physical size when zooming in or out, with the shortest length at around 35mm and the longest length at the two extreme ends of the zoom range.

In comparing the lens mount and barrel, the 18-140mm lens holds a slight edge over the 18-55mm lens, primarily due to its metal lens mount offering better durability. However, the 18-55mm lens may be more portable due to its plastic construction and retractable design.

Weather Sealing

The Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 lacks weather sealing, with no gasket at the lens mount or internal seals at the rings, switches, or front of the barrel. It also doesn’t have a fluorine coating on the front element, making it unsuitable for harsh weather conditions or environments with high moisture and dust levels.

Like-wise, the Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is not designed to be weather-resistant and does not feature gaskets at the lens mount or internal seals at the rings, switches, and front of the barrel. Additionally, it does not have a fluorine coating on its front element.

The inclusion of weather sealing provides an added layer of protection against dust, moisture, and light water splashes, allowing for greater durability and performance in a variety of weather conditions. Lenses that are fully weather-sealed are generally more resilient and offer better protection and performance in challenging environments, while non-sealed lenses may require extra precautions or protection. Weather sealing can be more expensive due to the engineering and materials needed for sealing but offers valuable protection, especially in outdoor or unpredictable conditions.

Neither the 18-140mm nor the 18-55mm lens offers superior weather sealing, as both lenses lack this feature. Weather sealing may not be essential for all photographers, but it can be a beneficial feature for those who often shoot in harsh or unpredictable conditions.

If weather sealing is a priority for you, it’s advisable to consider other lenses with this feature to ensure optimal performance and protection for your equipment in various shooting conditions.


The Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 features 2 rings: a zoom ring and a focusing ring. The zoom ring is situated near the front of the lens, occupying a large portion of the barrel, and is covered in a thick, textured rubber grip band for comfortable handling.

The focusing ring, located behind the zoom ring, is narrower but still has a ridged rubber grip band. The zoom ring offers nice resistance and is well-damped, while the focusing ring has a long throw but lacks tactile feedback. Neither ring has windowed distance scale or depth-of-field indicators, and there is no extension lock switch on the zoom ring.

On the other hand, the Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 has a marked zoom ring with a rubber grip for smooth and comfortable operation. While the focus ring is situated at the front of the barrel and is relatively narrow, this lens is not particularly adept at manual focusing. Like the 18-140mm lens, it also lacks windowed distance scale or depth-of-field indicators and an extension lock switch on the zoom ring.

Comparing the rings of both lenses, the 18-140mm lens edges out the 18-55mm lens with its thicker, textured rubber grip bands on both the zoom and focusing rings, providing a more ergonomic and comfortable experience. While the 18-140mm lens offers better resistance and damping in the zoom ring, it falls short in terms of tactile feedback in the focusing ring. Both lenses lack additional features such as windowed distance scales, depth-of-field indicators, and extension lock switches.


The Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 features two control switches located on its left side, providing easy access and user-friendly operation. The first switch allows users to enable or disable autofocus (A or M), while the second switch controls vibration reduction (ON or OFF). The aperture is adjusted via a mechanical lever, offering a straightforward method for users to manage lens settings.

In contrast, the Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 has fewer physical switches on the barrel, with only a small lock button present for retracting and extending the lens. To switch between auto and manual focus or to engage or disengage image stabilization, users must navigate through the camera’s menu system.

To unlock and extend the lens to its shooting position, one must press the lens release button located on the outer barrel while rotating the zoom ring. When collapsing the lens, the button must be held down while rotating the zoom ring, which reduces the lens’s overall length by around 30mm.

Comparing the switches on both lenses, the 18-140mm lens offers a superior user experience with its dedicated control switches for autofocus and vibration reduction. These switches provide quick and easy adjustments, allowing photographers to adapt to changing shooting conditions swiftly. The 18-55mm lens, on the other hand, relies on the camera’s menu system for most settings adjustments, which can be less convenient and potentially slower in certain situations.

Filter Thread

With a metal filter thread size of 67mm, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 is compatible with 67mm diameter attachments. The filter thread remains stationary during focus and zoom operations, making it easy to use with filters like polarizers and graduated neutral density filters. The front element sits relatively flat and is located just behind the filter ring, while a small indicator mark on the outer edge of the filter ring helps guide users when attaching the optional bayonet-style lens hood.

On the other hand, the Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 has a plastic 55mm filter thread, which is a common size that makes finding filters easy. Using circular polarizing filters is made convenient by the fact that the front element of the lens does not rotate during focus. However, when zooming, the front element does rotate, which could make using a polarizer in certain situations more challenging. Despite this, the lens remains user-friendly when working with filters.

Comparing the filter threads of both lenses, the 18-140mm lens has a superior filter thread design due to its non-rotating feature during both focus and zoom operation. This design simplifies the use of various filters, such as graduated neutral density filters and polarizers, and contributes to a more efficient shooting experience. The 18-55mm lens, although still functional with filters, has a slight drawback with the rotating front element during zooming.

In conclusion, the 18-140mm lens offers a superior filter thread design that enhances the user experience when working with filters. This advantage, combined with its metal construction for added durability, makes it the preferred choice for photographers who frequently use filters in their work.

Lens Hood

The lens hood of Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 is not included in the package and must be purchased separately as an optional accessory. It features a plastic, petal-shaped design with a bayonet mount, which can be reversed for storage. The hood has an ergonomic bevel and can be smoothly rotated. Its primary purpose is to prevent lens flare and protect the front element of the lens from impacts.

Similarly, the lens hood of Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is not included in the package, and the optional HB-N106 bayonet hood must be purchased separately. The lens hood is made of plastic and features a matte finish, along with an ergonomic bevel that fits snugly onto the lens. This design effectively blocks unwanted light, reducing lens flare and ghosting. It can be smoothly rotated to adjust the direction of the hood, depending on the orientation of the light source.

Both lens hoods serve a similar purpose, providing protection from lens flare, ghosting, and potential impacts. Additionally, the bayonet mount on both hoods provides a secure and stable attachment, ensuring that the hoods stay in place during use.

Focusing and Optical Stabilization

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VRNikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR
AF MotorSilent Wave MotorStepper motor
Rotating Front ElementDoes not rotate on focusingYes
Min Focus Distance0.45m0.25m
Max Magnification (X)0.230.38
Full-Time Manual FocusYesYes
Focus MethodInternalInternal

Focusing Performance

Equipped with an ultrasonic Silent Wave Motor, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 delivers fast and virtually silent autofocus performance, operating almost silently. Its autofocus capabilities are effective in both single-servo and continuous autofocus modes.

Manual focus can be easily overridden by turning the focus ring, providing a seamless focusing experience. The lens’s internal focusing design ensures that its length remains constant, and the front element does not rotate while focusing. However, focus breathing is apparent in the lens, with the image appearing smaller as it focuses more closely, particularly at the longer end of the zoom range.

In comparison, the autofocus system of the Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is impressively quick and nearly silent, making it well-suited for video shooting without any unwanted noise. Focusing is smooth and responsive, and it boasts an estimated 30% faster focus speed than older models. Performance in low-light situations is also reliable, and the lens can focus accurately. One of the advantages of the AF-P version is its instant manual focus override feature, which makes it easy to switch between autofocus and manual focus modes without any delay.

Thanks to its internal focusing design, the Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 maintains a consistent length throughout the focus and zoom range, and the manual focus action is silky smooth. Additionally, the lens exhibits minimal focus breathing, making it well-suited for various photography and videography applications.

Overall, both lenses offer good focusing performance, with fast and quiet autofocus systems and smooth manual focus override. However, the 18-55mm lens has a slight edge due to its faster focus speed, reliable performance in low-light situations, and minimal focus breathing. As a result, the 18-55mm lens is considered superior in terms of focusing performance in this comparison.

Optical Stabilization

Featuring Nikon’s advanced vibration reduction (VR) technology, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 compensates for hand-held shake of up to 4 f-stops, significantly improving image sharpness. The stabilization slider has two modes: on and off. The lens’s built-in VR stabilization system is highly effective and enables photographers to capture sharp handheld shots at slow shutter speeds, even at the 140mm focal length, achieving an acceptable level of sharpness in roughly half of the shots taken.

On the other hand, the Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 features 4-stop optical image stabilization, which effectively reduces camera shake and allows for sharper photos even at slower shutter speeds. Field tests have demonstrated that the VR technology performs exceptionally well, allowing photographers to capture sharp images even at shutter speeds as slow as 1/5 second. The results achieved are impressive, with acceptable levels of sharpness being maintained in most cases.

The VR system is silent and doesn’t make any noise while operating. There is only one mode of stabilization, but it is effective in a range of shooting conditions. The outcome of shutter speeds can differ based on various factors such as the photographer’s approach and the prevailing shooting environment.

Both lenses offer useful optical stabilization systems, with the 18-140mm lens providing a stabilization slider with two positions and the 18-55mm lens featuring a single, effective stabilization mode. However, the 18-55mm lens demonstrates slightly better performance in field tests, allowing for sharper photos at slower shutter speeds.

Image Quality

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VRNikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR
Special Elements1 ED (extra-low dispersion) glass element, 1 aspherical lens elementTwo aspherical elements + super integrated coating
Diaphragm Blades77
Circular ApertureNoYes


The Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 exhibits chromatic aberration, which is slightly more noticeable compared to previous Nikon offerings. Nevertheless, it is generally not objectionable, with the corners of test images showing minor dark blue fringing around areas of high contrast. Coma performance in the 18-140mm lens is excellent, exhibiting no smeared blobs around bright points of light, even in the corners of the image.

On the other hand, the AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Nikon lens exhibits a reduced level of lateral chromatic aberration, both in the corners and at the center of the frame, demonstrating a marked advancement over its predecessor, the AF-S VR II version. However, some purple and yellow chromatic aberrations can be seen in the corners of the frame, although they are easily corrected in-camera or with software.

In summary, while both lenses display chromatic aberration, the 18-55mm lens demonstrates a more controlled level of aberration compared to the 18-140mm lens.


When it comes to sharpness, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 performs well, exhibiting impressive center sharpness, particularly at wider apertures, which further improves when stopping down to f/5.6 and beyond. Nonetheless, the corner sharpness is slightly soft, particularly at wider angles, though this issue can be significantly improved by stopping down to around f/8.

Typically, the optimal aperture for achieving the sharpest results varies based on the focal length, although f/8 and f/11 tend to produce the best outcomes. However, it’s worth noting that the effects of diffraction may become noticeable around f/8 and become more problematic at smaller apertures such as f/16 or beyond.

On the other hand, the Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 exhibits good sharpness, particularly in the center, throughout its focal range. Center sharpness is very impressive, especially when stopped down to f/8 or f/11. Corner sharpness is generally a bit softer, particularly at wide open apertures, but improves significantly when stopping down.

At different focal lengths, the sharpest aperture typically falls within the range of f/8 to f/11. The lens exhibits exceptional sharpness when wide open at 18mm, whereas at 55mm, it remains impressively sharp across the frame. Stopping down enhances sharpness and contrast, and at focal lengths like 35mm, it becomes sharp enough for various applications.

In conclusion, both lenses offer good sharpness performance, but the 18-55mm lens shows a more consistent sharpness throughout its focal range and across the frame. This makes the 18-55mm lens the superior choice in terms of sharpness in this comparison.

Bokeh Quality

The Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 features an iris diaphragm with 7 blades, resulting in bokeh that can be described as somewhat nervous. Bokeh quality is subjective and varies from fair to good depending on focusing distance, focal length, and aperture settings. The softest backgrounds can be achieved by standing back and zooming in to the longest focal length possible, shooting at 140mm f/5.6.

On the other hand, the Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 produces bokeh that is also subjective in quality, with highlights rendering as septagonal shapes but with some outlines. Although it’s not expected to have a smooth and silky bokeh, shallow-depth of field photos can be achieved when zoomed in to 55mm and shooting objects at the closest possible distance of 25 cm. The quality of bokeh this lens produces is considered acceptable.

In conclusion, both lenses have their limitations in terms of bokeh quality. However, the 18-140mm lens provides a more versatile range of focal lengths, allowing for the creation of softer backgrounds when zoomed in to 140mm f/5.6.


Thanks to Nikon’s Integrated Coating, which helps reduce optical anomalies, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 lens displays minimal flare and ghosting in most situations. Nonetheless, shooting directly into the sun or other intense light sources may result in some observable ghosting.

Using the optional petal-shaped lens hood (HB-32) can aid in reducing the likelihood of flare and ghosting. It’s worth mentioning that ghosting can be partially controlled, with fewer ghosts appearing when using a fixed lens compared to an older single-coated zoom lens.

In contrast, the Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 demonstrates excellent control over ghosting and flare, due to the Super Integrated Coating applied to minimize them. Even when shooting directly into the sun, the lens manages to handle the bright light without any significant loss of micro-contrast. However, when there are bright highlights in the background, they may take on a circular shape, and outlining can be common.

In conclusion, both lenses perform well in terms of flare and ghosting control, but the 18-55mm lens exhibits superior performance, effectively handling bright light without significant loss of micro-contrast.


If in-camera correction is disabled, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 lens may display noticeable vignetting at different focal lengths. Vignetting tends to be more pronounced towards the ends of the zoom range than in the middle. To mitigate vignetting, stopping down the aperture to f/5.6 or f/8 can help to brighten up the corners.

In contrast, the Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens demonstrates noticeable vignetting, especially when set to the widest aperture of f/3.5 and the widest focal length of 18mm, with the corners appearing darker by approximately 2.5EV. Nevertheless, stopping down to f/5.6 and beyond can significantly assist in reducing this darkening effect.

At around 35mm, the Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens still shows some level of vignetting, although it is least noticeable at 55mm. Although the lens exhibits some degree of vignetting, it is not a significant issue and can be readily corrected using post-processing software.

In conclusion, both lenses exhibit vignetting, but the 18-55mm lens appears to handle it more effectively, especially when stopping down the aperture.


Notable distortion is evident in the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, particularly at wider focal lengths. At 18mm, there is barrel distortion, and from 35mm to 140mm, pincushion distortion is noticeable. However, the lens provides in-camera distortion correction, and the distortion can also be corrected using post-processing software. Some users suggest enabling Auto Distortion Correction in the camera’s menu.

Unlike the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6, the Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens exhibits varying degrees of distortion at different focal lengths. At 18mm, noticeable barrel distortion is present, but it can be corrected through software or in-camera correction. Distortion is almost eliminated at 35mm and remains absent until 55mm, where slight pincushion distortion may be observable, but it does not usually affect most shots. Overall, distortion can be corrected through post-processing software or in-camera correction, and it does not significantly detract from the overall performance of the lens.

In conclusion, the 18-55mm lens has a noticeable distortion at various focal lengths compared to the 18-140mm lens.

Final Verdict

The Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6, with its versatile 7.8x zoom ratio, is suitable for a variety of photography genres, including travel, events, and sports. Its broader focal range allows for greater flexibility in composition and framing but comes at the cost of a larger and heavier lens.

The Nikon DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, on the other hand, is more lightweight and offers a 3.1x zoom ratio, appealing to amateur or hobbyist photographers who prioritize portability. However, its limited zoom range may not suit photographers who need more versatility.

Despite this, the 18-55mm lens has several advantages over the 18-140mm lens, including better focusing performance, superior optical stabilization, more controlled chromatic aberration, better sharpness performance, flare and ghosting control, more effective handling of vignetting, and a superior distortion profile.

While the 18-140mm lens has certain benefits, such as a more durable metal lens mount and the ability to create softer backgrounds with its longer focal length, the 18-55mm lens provides a more balanced, portable, and discreet option for photographers.

In conclusion, the choice between the two lenses depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you require a more versatile lens for different photography genres and can compromise on size and weight, the 18-140mm lens is a solid choice. However, if you prefer a lightweight, more portable lens with better overall optical performance, the 18-55mm lens would be the superior option.

Meet the Author

Wei Mao

Wei was a cruise photographer who worked at Disney Cruise Line. He is a lucky traveler who has been to more than 20 countries with his camera while working on an around-the-world cruise. Photography has changed his view of the world forever. Now he wants more people to benefit from photography through his blog.

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