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Review by Markus Stamm, published January 2012
In a not too distant past a system wasn't considered complete until it offered a normal prime. Today the most essential lens seems to be a super zoom, so it's not surprising that the limited selection of lenses announced at the Nikon 1 system launch included one of this kind, too (and no normal prime).
The Nikkor 10-100mm VR lens is very different compared to the other Nikon 1 zoom lenses currently available, most notably regarding size, weight and unfortunately also price. But there is one thing they have in common: it's a collapsible lens, that needs to extend an inner lens tube to be operational.
Move the cursor over the text marks below to see the lens in its retracted or extended condition
Unlike on the other current zoom lenses, the extension mechanism is motorized. As soon as the camera is switched on, the lens extends by itself and retracts when powered down or if the camera goes into standby. Since this procedure takes a while, Nikon fortunately included a lock switch on the lens that prohibits the retraction of the inner tube. This way, the startup time after camera power-on or wake-up from standby is not unnecessarily extended until just after that precious decisive moment.
The lens was obviously designed with not only photographers in mind, but also those shooting movies. To provide smooth focal length transitions during recording, the lens doesn't feature a classic manual zoom ring, but a motorized zoom that is operated by a small two-way switch. The more the switch is pushed in one of the directions, the faster the lens zooms in or out. In addition, the zoom speed depends on the mode the camera is in: when shooting movies, the lens zooms slower than in still-image mode.
Unfortunately, the power drive zoom doesn't allow to choose any desired focal length, but works with predefined steps (which is also the reason for the little "odd" focal lengths used in our analysis on the next page). While those steps are generally sufficient for most situations, you may occasionally find yourself in need of a focal length just between two of the available ones when trying to carefully frame a shot.
The two mentioned switches are the only control element on the lens. Typical for Nikon 1 lenses anything else, including VR, aperture, AF and manual focus, is controlled through the camera.
The build quality of the lens is very good. The lens is based on a metal mount, both tubes are made of high quality plastics, the outer tube also features metal elements as well as a rubberized ring, that doesn't serve any functional purpose except to offer some grip. The lens is tightly assembled and even when extended there is no wobbling. A dedicated hood is included with the lens.
Compared to other Nikon 1 lenses, the Nikkor 10-100 VR is unusually large. In fact, even when retracted, the lens isn't really smaller than for example a Nikon AF-S DX 18-200 and even larger than some full-frame super zooms available (like the Tamron 28-300 non-VC). There is one feature, however, that is unique in this lens class: once extended and operational, the physical length of the lens remains constant, regardless of the focal length and focus distance chosen. Any other super zoom currently available significantly extends when zooming towards the tele end of the zoom range.
The Nikkor features a fast and silent AF drive, which is unnoticeable when recording movies. Videographers will also appreciate the stepless aperture.
The lens also offers Nikon's optical stabilization system, called Vibration Reduction (VR). VR works in two modes, "Normal" and "Active". The latter mode should be used to correct for larger shaking, for example when shooting from a moving vehicle or during walking. According to the manual, both modes offer panning detection.
Unlike the other current Nikon 1 lenses, the Nikkor 10-100mm VR is available only in black.
|Equiv. focal length||27-270 mm (full format equivalent)|
|Equiv. aperture||f/12-15 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)|
|Optical construction||21 elements in 14 groups incl. 3 aspherical and 2 ED elements|
|Number of aperture blades||7|
|min. focus distance||0.3 m @10 mm, 0.85 m @100 mm (max. magnification ratio 1:4.8)|
|Dimensions||77 mm x 95 mm (retracted)|
|Filter size||72 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||HB-N102, petal shaped, bayonet mount (supplied)|
|Other features||Vibration reduction (VR), power zoom|