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Review by Markus Stamm
The Nikkor AF-S DX 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED VR was announced together with the Nikon D90 and it is
sold as kit lens with this camera (and the D60, too). However, it is also available as a separate offer.
The Nikkor is a DX lens with a reduced image circle specifically designed for APS-C DSLRs. Its focal range is equivalent to a 27-157,5mm lens on a full frame camera. This attractive zoom range combined with optical image stabilization so far has only been available from Sigma in form of the 18-125mm OS. Surprisingly, the Nikkor is available for a very affordable price of around 230€/310$ (January '09) which is a even less than the costs of the Sigma.
The lens may look familiar to some - it's obviously based on the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-135. On the outside not much has changed. Except for the VR sign and switch both lenses are very similar. The build quality is Ok for consumer standards. The lens barrel is made of decent quality plastics (still down to the lens mount, though). Both the broad zoom ring as well as the rather thin focus ring operate smooth despite not being damped. The lens (at least the tested sample) did not show any signs of zoom creeping.
The lens features a silent wave drive (AF-S) and thus is compatible to all current Nikon DSLRs including the entry level offerings which no longer feature an internal AF drive within the body. AF-S by itself is no warranty for speed though as this lens clearly shows - the AF works fast enough for every day use but certainly slower than higher grade AF-S lenses. It's certainly not the first choice for action shots (nor is it meant to be).
One of the main features of this lens of course is the optical image stabilization which Nikon calls Vibration Reduction (VR). It's a VR I module (and not the latest generation system (VR II) as it was specified in the initial press release) which according to Nikon allows for up to 3 stops longer exposure times. In the field, you should not rely on this number, however a 2 stop gain seems easily achievable.
The lens does not feature a VR mode switch, so there's no VR Active mode like on some higher grade VR lenses.
There's no distance scale and being a G lens the AF-S 18-105 VR doesn't feature an aperture ring.
As you can see in the product shots the lens extends considerably towards the longer end of the focal range. It uses a duo cam design (two extending inner tubes), fully extended there's some minor wobbling. Thanks to internal focusing (IF) the front lens does not rotate while focusing so using a polarizer is no problem.
|Optical construction||15 elements in 11 groups inc. 1 ED and 1 aspherical element|
|Number of aperture blades||7 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||0.45m (max. magnification ratio 1:5)|
|Filter size||67mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||Nikon HB-32, petal shaped, bayonet mount (supplied)|
|Other features||Silent wave AF motor, VR image stabilization, lens provides distance (D) information to the camera.|