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I have a Nikon D7200 and recently took it on a trip where I shot with both the kit AF-S 18-140 f/3.5-5.6 ED VR lens and the Nikon AF-S 24-70 f/2.8G ED lens.

While I consider myself a relatively good/knowledgeable amateur photographer, I found myself missing the answer what I believe is a basic question. I noticed that the photos that I took with the 18-140 were not nearly as sharp as the ones I took with the 24-70, even with correct focus at shutter speeds of 1/2000s. Is this an example of lower image quality due to lower quality glass, or something else? (Note that images were taken/viewed in RAW.)

I apologize if this question seems stupid, or if there is already an answer to this on the site. Thanks!

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Is this an example of lower image quality due to lower quality glass, or something else?

Without showing us specific examples it is hard to conclusively say what the difference is in your case, but it probably is due to your 24-70mm f/2.8 being a sharper lens than your 18-140mm lens.

When used with proper technique the AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm F2.8G ED is certainly capable of producing sharper results than the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR.

With regard to "quality of glass" it depends on specifically what you mean by that phrase. Some people use the word "glass" interchangeably with the word "lens." In that sense the 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses are "better glass" than the 18-140mm DX lens when talking about the image quality they can provide.

But it has more to do with the overall optical design of each lens than how high the quality of the actual glass is that is used to construct such lenses. It's easier to design a lens with less than a 3X zoom factor between the widest and longest focal length than a lens with a 7.8X zoom factor. It's also harder to design an 18mm lens than a 24mm lens for use on a camera with a lens registration distance of 46.5mm. The wider f/2.8 aperture of the 24-70mm lens does require more correction of optical aberrations to give good performance at the widest apertures, but this also gives the lens even better performance at stopped down apertures that are equivalent to the 18-140 with its narrower maximum apertures. Even if both lenses each had glass elements that perfectly matched the designed "blueprint" for each lens, the 24-70mm would be expected to perform better than the 18-140mm. In practice, the difference could be even greater as manufacturing tolerances for a more expensive 24-70mm f/2.8 lens might be a little tighter than for a consumer grade "all in one" lens.

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  • This is what I was looking for, thanks! It makes sense, but I was surprised at how easily I could see the difference. – NoahL Mar 18 '17 at 5:49
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    Lenses normally make a larger impact on image quality than the camera body does. The difference in bodies have more to do with how easy or hard it is to get certain shots or sequences of shots in rapidly changing conditions.. – Michael C Mar 18 '17 at 5:51

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