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Nikon 18-55mm VR II review

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Nikon has always been known for its good quality lenses. Moreover, its cheap kit lenses have been very, very good, offering the optimal picture quality for those who have just stepped onto the way of photography.

Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55 F3.5-5.6G VR II – is one of them. People often call it Nikon 18-55 VR. It usually becomes a first lens for beginners and comes complete with a DSLR camera.

Nikon 18-55 VR II f22

Nikon 18-55 VR II f22

Built quality

First look at the lens – and you will see: inexpensive plastic, plastic bayonet and a small gap – all this tells us that Nikon 18 55mm lens belongs to a budget class.
Nikon 18 55 VR II is a very compact lens. There is a wheel with a rubber coating in the central part of the lens, it is responsible for zooming. The lens opening button is located on the zooming wheel. You need to press it and to turn the zooming wheel in the direction of a long focal length to set Nikkor 18 55mm into working condition. There is another wheel, covered with ribbed plastic and located near the front lens element. It is responsible for manual focus, but I can say that it is inconvenient and unintuitive.

There are two switches on the lens body:

– manual/automatic focusing;

– power on/off optical stabilization.

Nikon 18 55mm VR II autofocus speed is fast, but doesn’t set up records. Auto focusing works correctly and clearly, but sometimes it can fail, mostly in the poor lighting conditions.

Stabilization system works very well – I took sharp pictures from my hands on 1/10s at 55mm focal length, which is approximately three stops slower than normal.

Sharpness at 18mm and f/3.5 is “good” at the edges and very good at the center of the frame. Closing the aperture to f/8 improves sharpness at the center and at the edges to the level of “excellent”.

Sharpness at 35mm shows “excellent” just from f/8 to f/11, all other apertures show from “good” to “excellent”.

Sharpness at 55mm shows “excellent” just at f/11 only at the center of the frame.

Nikon 18-55 VR II 55mm f6.3

Nikon 18-55 VR II 55mm f6.3

Chromatic aberrations can create a big problem only when you shoot at closed aperture values at 18mm focal length.

Vignetting – is quite expected effect for kit lens. You can easily notice brightness drop at the edges of the frame at maximum aperture value and 18mm focal length. So it’s better to use f/5.6 to reduce that effect or to use a photo editor. Vignetting will not be a problem for you at 55mm even at wide open aperture.

Nikon 18 55 VR II lens shows low level of distortion even at 18mm. Moreover all modern Nikon DSLR cameras have in-camera distortion correctors, so distortion will not be a problem for you.

Alternative

If you decided to buy a lens separately from camera and you need a cheap and universal lens – look at Sigma AF 18-125mm F3.5-5.6 DC OS HSM. In addition to a much larger range of focal lengths, good build and image quality it offers a metal mount, which undoubtedly is a very big advantage. And all this – for 170 $.

If you need extended range of focal lengths and macro – look at Tamron AF 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD Asph (IF) Macro. Its price is about 300 $.

Nikon 18-55 VR II 55mm f5.6

Nikon 18-55 VR II 55mm f5.6

Conclusion

Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55 F3.5-5.6G VR II is a perfect choice for a beginner photographer. It has low level of defects, small weight and size, good sharpness and perfect work of stabilization system. Nikon 18 55mm lens price is about 150 $. I recommend that lens.

Here are Nikon 18-55 VR II sample images.

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