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

Review by Markus Stamm, published March 2011

Introduction

The introduction of in-body stabilization in competing cameras has put Canon and Nikon under pressure to offer affordable stabilized options in the entry level market segment. Both companies stick to in-lens stabilization, but both managed to scale down their VR and IS system so they can offer optically stabilized kit lenses at very low prices.

The Nikkor 18-55 VR is a designated DX lens. The field-of-view is equivalent to 27-82.5mm so, while it may not be a speed daemon, it covers a quite attractive range.

Despite the addition of VR, the lens retails for nearly the same price as its direct unstabilized predecessor (at the time of this review around 100 EUR/130 USD). However, the low price already indicates that there aren't any improvements regarding build quality. Due to the use of rather cheap plastics (down to and including the mount) the lens feels sub-standard, but that's a fate shared by many entry-level kit zooms.

The very broad rubberized zoom ring feels reasonably smooth. Due to cost cutting measurements there isn't really a dedicated focus ring - you simply use the slightly fluted front portion of the inner lens tube instead (or, if mounted, the hood). The target audience for this lens will probably not mind but this is surely an annoyance for more serious users - manual focusing is quite a nightmare. If you touch the focus ring the viewfinder image tends so shake significantly because of the wobbling of the inner lens tube.

As you can observe above, the lens extends during zooming (and focusing). It reaches its longest length at the two extreme ends of the zoom range, the shortest physical length is around the ~35mm setting. The front element rotates so using a polarizer is quite cumbersome. Typical for all G lenses the Nikkor does not provide a dedicated aperture ring anymore.

The Nikkor features an AF-S motor (silent-wave (ultrasonic)) but while this has the benefits of providing near silent AF, the speed is comparatively slow. However, thanks to AF-S, the lens is fully compatible with all current Nikon DSLRs, including the motor-free entry level models.

The lens features first generation optical stabilization (VR, not VR II) which Nikon claims allows for up to 3 stops slower shutter speeds. Actual results will vary depending on the photographer, of course. In our field tests up to two stops longer shutter times were easily possible (given a steady subject).

The 18-55 VR is one of the very few lenses that Nikon delivers without a lens hood. The dedicated HB-45 hood is quite affordable, though.

Specifications
Equiv. focal length27-82.5 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/5.3-f/8.4 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction11 elements in 8 groups inc. 1 aspherical glass element
Number of aperture blades7 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.28 m (max. magnification ratio 1:3.2)
Dimensions73 x 79.5 mm
Weight265 g
Filter size52 mm (rotating)
HoodNikon HB-45 (optional), barrel-shaped, clip-on
Other featuresOptical stabilization (VR), Silent-wave AF drive




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