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Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Lens Review
Nikon 18-55mm VR DX Lens  


 

January, 2011
(tested with Nikon D50 and D90)

The 18-55mm VR was introduced in November of 2007. It was an update of the previous non VR version of Nikon's basic kit lens. Aimed for use with entry level DSLRs it was first released as a stand alone lens, then bundled with the Nikon D60 camera soon after. This is a DX lens, and as such, using it on film or full frame (FX) cameras will produce circular vignetting since the DX lens won't cover the entire image frame. (Full frame cameras do have a crop mode which utilize only the center of the sensor, eliminating the black corners when using a DX lens.)

This is a plastic lens, including the lens mount. The zoom ring is rubber coated. For manual focus there is a switch you need to push to the "M" position and then adjust the tiny grip that's on the front of the lens. There's a VR on/off switch. This lens doesn't have the two different VR options, normal and active, that the more expensive lenses have. Although it's an AF-S lens I found auto focusing to be on the slow side. Focus was accurate except under low light when the lens had a tendancy to hunt. The front element does rotate when focusing.

Given the price of this lens I was surprised how sharp it is. At the maximum aperture it's sharp in the center, but the corners are soft. Two stops down and the corners sharpen up at the short end of the zoom. At f/8 the lens is sharp corner to corner throughout the zoom range. Chromatic aberration is well controlled. There is some barrel distortion at the short end of the zoom, but not enough to cause concern. Vignetting is present at the max. aperture throughout the zoom range, more so at the wide end. Stopping down two stops and it's all but eliminated. Flare was only an issue when the lens was pointed directly into the sunlight. And even then it wasn't much of a problem.

 I bought the 18-55mm VR looking to improve my carry around combo, the Nikon D50 and 18-70mm DX lens (see review). The 18-55mm VR is 4.5 oz. lighter than the 18-70mm DX and also adds image stabilization. Although the 18-55mm VR is a nice lens, especially for the price, I just wasn't happy with the image quality as compared to the 18-70mm DX. I found the 18-70mm DX to be sharper and produce better contrast. I suppose though that for many this may be the only lens they will ever need. As a kit lens it serves it's function very well.

 

Specifications:

Focal length 18-55mm
Maximum aperture f/3.5
Minimum aperture f/22
Lens Construction 11 elements in 8 groups
Angle of view 76o - 28.50o
Closest focusing distance 0.28m (9 in)
Maximum reproduction ratio 0.31x
Number of diaphragm blades 7
Auto focus type AF-S (Silent Wave Motor)
Filter diameter 52 mm
Macro No
Dimensions 73 mm (2.9 in) x 79 mm (3.1 in)(Diameter x Length)
Weight 265g (9.3 oz)




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