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Nikon DX 18-55mm f3.5/5.6G VR Nikkor Lens Review

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Nikon DX 18-55mm lens

Nikon's DX 18-55mm kit lens is a good addition to a camera bag.

Nikon

The Nikon DX 18-55mm lens is the manufacturer's "kit" lens, usually sold with its entry- and consumer-level cameras. As it's a DX, it can only be used with the Nikon's APS-C crop-frame cameras.

This lens has been around since early 2008, and it was recently re-designed to include vibration reduction (VR).

Continue reading to determine whether this lens is a good addition to your camera bag!

Pros

  • Good optical quality
  • Excellent vibration reduction system

Cons

  • Susceptible to flare, and the lens hood is near useless!
  • Plastic construction

Nikon DX 18-55mm f3.5/5.6G VR Nikkor Lens Review

Both Nikon -- and its nearest rival Canon -- brought out new versions of their 18-55mm lenses in 2008. Like Nikon, Canon's lens was also re-modeled to include image stabilization (IS on Canon's lens). This was mainly in response to the increased number of entry-level DSLRs that were appearing with stabilization units in the camera bodies. 

The original Nikon kit lens was highly regarded, so how does this one measure up?

Build Quality

The entire lens, including the lens mount, is made of plastic (a usual technique to keep prices down), but the 18-55mm lens does feel slightly more substantial than other kit lenses ... and certainly compared to its predecessor. The slightly increased weight of the lens probably causes this perception. However, the manual focus ring is tiny and difficult to grasp. This seems to be a common problem in cheaper lenses.

Autofocus

The Nikon 18-55mm lens features a compact version of Nikon's "Silent Wave Motor" used on its more expensive lenses. Like most basic lenses, the manual focusing ring rotates on autofocus, and you can't tweak the focus manually while in auto mode, because this could damage the motor.

The lens is both accurate and fast in everyday situations, and it continues to perform better than its rivals in low-light conditions. This appears to be because Nikon slows the speed of focusing in low light automatically, so as to allow for more accurate focusing. 

Optics

Optically, this is an exceptional lens for its price point, and the importance of the addition of VR cannot be over-stressed. It performs far better in low-light conditions than many of its rivals. This was already a good lens, and Nikon has managed to improve it.

However, it is distinctly prone to flare, and the basically useless lens hood will do little to help this situation. Strongly backlit situations end up having to be avoided, as the rotating front element design precludes the use of a larger hood. 

In Conclusion

This lens is a useful addition to any camera bag, and beginners will find that the focal length allows for a fair amount of experimentation. With the addition of VR, Nikon has produced a lens that rivals several more expensive models in image quality. However, the lack of a decent lens hood and manual focusing ring is frustrating, particularly as other manufacturers -- such as Pentax -- have proved that these can be included in a budget lens without loss of quality. 

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