Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G DX VR: how to use this standard Nikon lens

    By | Tutorials | 16/04/2013 08:00am

    A standard zoom is the bedrock of any lens system, so we take a closer look at Nikon’s popular AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G…

    Nikon 18-55mm

    Most of Nikon’s consumer-orientated D-SLRs ship with an 18-55mm ‘kit’ lens. It’s an inexpensive but capable lens that can take care of most everyday shooting needs. It’s a great ‘starter’ lens and you’ll soon work out what extra lenses you might need later on.

    However, it’s not Nikon’s only ‘standard’ lens. There are more expensive alternatives that seem to be designed for a similar job, so what are the differences, what should you look for and is it worth paying more?

    The 18-55mm lens is the most basic Nikon ‘standard’ zoom. The next up is the 18-105mm generally sold with the D90 and D7000. The 18-105mm has two key advantages: a greater maximum focal length, and an internal focusing system. The front element of the lens doesn’t rotate, so it’s fine for use with filters. Nikon’s 16-85mm lens is a more expensive alternative. Its focal range makes it wider and ‘longer’ than the 18-55mm lens, it has internal focusing and a metal lens mount for durability. There are older 17-70mm and 18-135mm lenses but they are seen less often these days. Both lack VR, and are not in the first rank optically.

    All these lenses have a variable maximum aperture which depends on the zoom setting. Nikon makes a constant-aperture 17-55mm f/2.8 lens designed for professionals. It’s large, heavy and pricy, but is ideal for low-light shooting, bokeh effects and manual exposure, where you don’t want your aperture choice to be restricted by the zoom setting.

    The 17-55mm f/2.8 was designed in the days when Nikon’s pro SLRs used DX-format sensors, and is less relevant now that the company’s pro cameras are full-frame, but it’s still an interesting alternative as a premium standard lens for the D7000 or D300s, for example.

    Key features of the Nikon 18-55mm

    Nikon 18-55mm

    Focal range

    The 18-55mm zoom range is equivalent to 28-82.5mm in 35mm camera terms. It’s not bad for wide-angle shots, but its maximum focal length can be restrictive.

    Nikon 18-55mm

    Focus ring

    The 18-55mm has a narrow manual focus ring at the front of the lens. The front element rotates during focussing, which makes it difficult to use some filters.

    Nikon 18-55mm

    Auto/Manual focus

    The A-M switch swaps between Auto and Manual focus. Nikon’s better lenses offer an A/M-M option, so you can override the autofocus without flicking a switch.

    Nikon 18-55mm

    Lens Mount

    Like many cheaper lenses, the 18-55mm has a plastic lens mount rather than a metal one. This doesn’t necessarily make it wear faster, but it is more fragile.


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    Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 at 8:00 am under Tutorials. You can subscribe to comments.


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