light intuition





the dark sides of the nikkor 18mm 1:3.5 ai-s




this easy-to-hand lens is known to produce a strong vignetting, when used wide open with full frame digital cameras. eventually it is the result of a disharmony between the sensor design and a relative small back optical element of the lens that measures only 17mm. most probably, this is due to a combination of different causes, such as optical vignetting, natural vignetting and pixel vignetting*1,2.

now one might feel this as a lens defect and therefore a problem, but let's try to see the positive potential here, as vignetting can produce several pretty interesting effects on pictures:

  • vignetting might add a special touch / characteristic trait to photographs

  • the center of interest is highlighted and softly framed by the dark sides of the image

  • the dramatic effect produced through the wide angle perspective tends to be even more enhanced

  • vignetting enhances color graduation in monotone areas of pictures

  • furthermore the darker edges can help to attenuate highlights of strong light sources and help to lower the dynamic range of the picture taken

here are some examples - taken with the nikkor 18mm 1:3.5 ai-s - showing some of the above mentioned points.


background information to the photographs above:
the lens was used with a nikon l37c filter on it. the left picture was made closing the lens aperture to f8, the right picture was taken at full aperture (f3.5). *3

it is now very common - in order to enhance the center of interest - to apply post-processing-filters to the images, to obtain a vintage look or get a more dramatic effect.


image information:
the upper image was taken at f8 while the lower one at full aperture (3.5). there is also an iso variance and - alas, again! - the exif-data is not accurate.

one good thing about this vintage lens is that a lot of these "post processing filters" are already pre-installed and ready to use, when used wide open.


Sources and remarks



*3 the automatic iso-setting unfortunately boosted the stopped-down image to iso 720, while the full aperture picture was recorded at base iso of 100. this might also explain the burned highlights of the sky. furthermore due to a slight overexposure, the left image-exposure was lowered by 1.17 f-stops in capture nx2 to match the illuminance of both pictures in the center. the right picture was left untouched to illustrate the vignetting. please also note that the exif data is not correct, as forgotten to change the lens in the camera menu.


2017.02.05 © l.i.



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