Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED DX - Review / Test Report - Analysis
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (APS-C)

Distortion

The AF-S 18-55mm shows the quite typical distortion characteristic for a lens in this class. At 18mm there is very pronounced barrel distortion which eases continuously towards the long end of the zoom range. At 55mm the lens is basically free of distortion.

Move the mouse cursor over the focal length text marks below to observe the respective distortions
18mm 24mm 35mm 55mm

The chart above has a real-world size of about 120x80cm.

Vignetting

As mentioned the AF-S 18-55mm DX is a reduced image circle lens (APS-C) and typical for such lenses vignetting is somewhat more pronounced compared to classic full frame lenses. As to be expected the problem is most significant at 18mm @ f/3.5 where the vignetting exceeds 1.2EV at the image borders. However, this is only a local issue which is a much lesser problem at other focal lengths and at 18mm it can easily be resolved by stopping down a little. All-in-all the issue is pretty well under control for a DX-type lens.

MTF (resolution)

The Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm DX produced surprisingly good resolution figures under lab conditions which is quite unusual for a lens in this price class. The center resolution is very good throughout the zoom range. The border quality at the wide-end is a different story with rather soft results at max. aperture. However, stopping down to f/5.6 already improves the borders significantly. At 35mm and 55mm the resolution characteristic is more even across the frame.

While this may sounds quite positive the contrast performance isn't quite up to these levels. Specifically at 18mm you should avoid large apertures because the poor contrast resulting in dull colors - have a look at the two 18mm sample shots below.

Below is a simplified summary of the formal findings. The chart shows line widths per picture height (LW/PH) which can be taken as a measure for sharpness. If you want to know more about the MTF50 figures you may check out the corresponding Imatest Explanations

Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)

Chromatic aberrations (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) can be a problem at and below 35mm. The average CA pixel width at the image borders easily exceeds 1px with a peak at 18mm f/3.5 (1.7px). This will be visible in some situations unless you correct the issue via an imaging application.




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