Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR, AF-S DX review

By Anthony Rampersad

I’m 28 and I live in Trinidad & Tobago. I’ve always been interested in photography but I guess its only recently that I’ve started taking my interest seriously. Somewhere in 2008 I shot my first “serious” picture and fell in love with both the process and results of the capture. I particularly enjoy nature and landscape photography and aspire to one day reach a pro-level skill even if its not accompanied by the pay.

Nikkor 18-55mm Overview

I’ve been using the 18-55mm near to 4 months now. I bought it with the aim of using the wider end of its focal length to practice my landscape shots. It’s actually a good performer and the pricing makes it a great value buy. I can see why many manufacturers choose to offer their DSLRs with the 18-55mm as a kit lens. It’s just very useful and applicable to most of your everyday shooting needs especially if you’re interested in those travel and vacation shots. I actually spent 5 nights in London taking shots with this lens (I simply do not understand how you people deal with that cold weather) and even without a tripod I was surprised at the quality of the shots. As with my previous review, all shots were taken with the Nikon D90 and I’ve arranged the review according to the below categories for easier reading:

Nikkor 18-55mm handling

I can’t say there’s anything particularly “wowing” about the handling and use of this lens except for the fact that its light, easy to carry, mount and dismount. And I certainly can’t fail to make note of the AF performance. Its quick, smooth and accurate making it almost second nature to operate. But, do try and get used to using the AF because the Manual Focus (MF) on this lens can be a bit annoying to use. Speaking strictly from experience and opinion there is much more to be desired of the MF. For a start, the very narrow focus ring is all the way out to the tip of the inner barrel. Now it may be that my fingertips were sorely numbed from the London cold but on too many occasions I found myself groping around the barrel to locate the ring in MF mode. I eventually decided to switch full-time to AF mode. The zoom ring at present feels like its lubricated with peanut butter (not the crunchy one though), just a bit sticky in places but Im assuming thats because it was still brand new. The VR is definitely one of the strong points of this lens. I managed to get night shots with speeds as slow as 1/10 sec (no tripod) that were still acceptably sharp (See sample shots).

Nikkor 18-55mm build quality

No major commendations or complaints here. Its all plastic, of course with the exception of the glass elements, and it has just that kind of feel, light and somewhat cheap. While the lens has no major weight to warrant an aluminium mount I still feel the need to be very cautious when attaching or detaching with the plastic mount. Still, it’s well put together and for the price one really couldn’t ask for more.

Nikkor 18-55mm image quality

This is where this lens makes up lost ground. It’s an excellent performer. Once you set your focus properly its sharp where it has to be and at its max aperture of f/3.5 produces nice shallow depth of field. In normal shooting situations (daylight to mid evening) the VR ensures that images are sharp and clean. The diaphragm blades on this lens are rounded so it produces a nice soft and rounded bokeh when it captures those highlights out of focus. Colour rendition is excellent. I just have to say I’m impressed. I expected a “kit lens” to be somewhat cheap and drab but the 18-55mm has certainly exceeded these expectations. I think most of my surprise had to do with the lens’ performance in night shots which is all I really had time for so far. I hope I’m equally pleased when I manage to get around to daytime shooting.


  • Superb image quality
  • Super-quick and sharp Autofocus
  • Excellent value pricing
  • No noticeable distortion
  • Good maximum aperture
  • Rounded diaphragm blades
  • Excellent VR (vibration reduction)


  • Sticky zoom ring (perhaps only when new)
  • Thin and awkwardly placed manual focus ring. Takes some time to get used to


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This entry was posted in Camera and lens reviews and tagged , , , by Joe. Bookmark the permalink.

About Joe

I've been an avid photographer for about 15 years now. It started out when I got my first decent digital camera, which was an Olympus C700 Ultra zoom, a great camera which allowed me experiment with a range of photography styles. After that I moved on to SLRs, mostly with Canon, and enjoy all forms of photography although I'd probably say I most enjoy wide-angle landscape photography. My day job is to run this website, so I hope you enjoy your visit!

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