Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm

This is the lens owned by many photographers who just got started with digital SLRs. It has come as a kit lens with a variety of Nikon models. Pretty small and light, it's actually better than some think. It comes in two versions, with and without VR (vibration reduction). Optically and otherwise they are identical.

+ small and light. Trust me, it matters
+ pretty reasonable image quality, better than what you'd expect
+ cheap, it's not the end of the world if you break it

- pretty limited zoom range, 55mm will feel limited pretty soon
- easy to outgrow, whether because of zoom range or simply looking for something better
- not great selling value

Intended Users
Great for:
  • novices looking for a simple, no-frills lens
  • people who take pictures only casually
  • when money matters, this is the cheapest-yet-good lens to get

Not for:
  • people who are already experienced with cameras and look for a better option
  • those who need zoom reach (this is not the lens for sport photos etc)
  • users who plan to take many indoor/low-light photos

Final Verdict
All in all not a bad lens, but after some time of use, the advancing amateur will quickly begin to realize its limitations. Pretty slow at the long zoom end (f/5.6 @ 55mm can be very limiting), not great zoom reach, and - although a decent performer - it doesn't really excel. Regarding the VR feature, it can be perhaps useful at the long end of the zoom range, but it wouldn't be a deal-breaker for me. If you're looking for the cheapest option, the VR is not worth the extra money

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