Thursday, January 16, 2014

An Experiment: Nikkor AF-S 18-55 on FX!

The humble 18-55 was the first lens reviewed by AmateurNikon. Like I wrote back in 2011, this is the lens owned by many photographers who just began their DSLR adventure. It's a lens meant for DX cameras (cropped sensor that is). DX lenses cannot really be used on FX cameras - except in their cropped, DX mode. If you try to use a DX lens on a full frame camera, you will notice that the image circle is too small for FX.


This is not entirely true. Not in all situations that is. There are some lenses, that in some conditions, work actually pretty darn fine on FX! And the 18-55 is such a lens! I was in the market for a wide-angle lens for my full-frame D700. Accidentally, I came across a faulty 18-55. Its optics were fine, aperture fine, and the only issue was an erratic autofocus. Manual focus worked fine. I grabbed it for only 13 euros (~$17).

As expected, the image circle is too small to cover the widest setting. But guess what? It's absolutely fine from 24mm and on, all the way to 55mm!

Here's a 24mm example. Doesn't look bad at all, does it?
Another great use: Macro (well, OK, close-up more like). Still, it gets you pretty darn close (if I remember well the reproduction ratio is something like 1:3, which is more than decent for a non-dedicated macro lens. The corner sharpness is not phenomenal of course, but it's definitely usable.

A close-up example at 55mm. (The dark corners are due to lighting, it's not vignetting)

Of course, let's face it. This is a DX lens, and a cheap one, too. I'm not suggesting it can be used for serious work with a full-frame camera (probably not even with a DX one either; too slow max aperture). But it's usable if you can't afford anything else for the time being, or you don't mind the optical shortcomings.

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