Nikon V3 Optics

In the U.S., the Nikon V3 ships with the new 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR PD-Zoom lens. Below are test results using this kit lens (lab shots on other pages of these test results were taken with the 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 prime lens).

Kit Lens Test Results

A typical 3x zoom range, with decent performance for a compact kit lens.

10mm @ f//5.6 30mm @ f/5.6

As mentioned above, the Nikon V3 is offered with the newer, more compact 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR PD-Zoom kit lens, possessing a typical optical zoom range of 3x. The 35mm equivalent focal range is about 27-81mm, because of the V3's 2.7x "crop factor".

Sharpness and contrast appear good at 10mm and f/5.6 across most of the frame, but there's some mild to moderate blurring visible in extreme corners. Sharpness at full telephoto at f/5.6 is good in the center, but some corners and edges appear soft. (Stopping down helps in the corners, but you'll start to run into softness across the frame due to diffraction at smaller apertures.) Chromatic aberration is negligible, as the Nikon V3 suppresses it.

Please note that it's difficult to evaluate corner performance in shots with depth like these (these two shots are meant mainly to convey zoom ratio), so see below for our lab tests.

A small macro area (for a CSC kit lens), with good performance in the center. Flash throttled down well.

Macro with 10-30mm kit Lens
30mm @ f/8
Macro with flash

The Nikon V3's macro performance will of course depend entirely on the lens in use. With the 10-30mm VR PD-Zoom kit lens set to 30mm, the Nikon V3 captures a small (for a non-macro CSC lens) minimum area measuring just 2.09 x 1.39 inches (53 x 35 millimeters). Details are good but a little soft in the center at f/8 (one should really avoid smaller apertures like f/8 on a hi-res 1"-type sensor), though corners are quite soft. (Most lenses have some softening in the corners at macro distances.) There is also some very noticeable pincushion distortion as well. The Nikon V3's flash throttled down well, producing a decent, just slightly underexposed exposure with fairly even coverage.

Geometric Distortion
Higher than average distortion at wide angle and telephoto from the 10-30mm kit lens.

Barrel distortion at 10mm is ~1.0%
Pincushion distortion at 30mm is ~0.7%

The 1 Nikkor 10-30mm PD-Zoom VR lens produces about one percent barrel distortion at wide angle, which is above average and quite noticeable. At the telephoto end, there's about 0.7% pincushion distortion, also higher than average and noticeable. While these numbers are higher than average, keep in mind compact lenses often produce much higher distortion but are usually corrected during the camera's JPEG processing and during RAW conversion. And the V3 does offer optional automatic distortion correction. See below. Geometric Distortion is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide-angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto).

Distortion Correction
The Nikon V3's optional distortion correction.

Pincushion distortion at 10mm is negligible
Barrel distortion at 30mm is ~0.2%

With distortion correction enabled, barrel distortion at wide angle was just slightly overcorrected to a tiny amount of pincushion distortion. At the telephoto end, distortion correction overcorrected pincushion to about 0.2% barrel distortion, still quite low. Be aware that there is a slight crop caused by the correction at wide angle.

Chromatic Aberration and Corner Sharpness
Very low to moderately low chromatic aberration in JPEGs. Mild to strong softening in the corners when wide open.

Aperture: maximum
10mm @ f/3.5: Upper left
C.A.: Moderately low
Softness: Very soft
10mm @ f/3.5: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp
30mm @ f/5.6: lower left
C.A.: Low
Softness: Soft
30mm @ f/5.6: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp

Chromatic Aberration. Lateral chromatic aberration in the corners with the Nikon V3's 10-30mm kit lens is moderately low at wide angle and low at telephoto. See below for uncorrected RAW files.

Corner Softness. Wide-open at full wide angle, all four corners are softer than the center but the left-hand-side corners show more blurring than the right, indicating our copy is slightly de-centered. On the right side, softness is limited to extreme corners, and the center of the image is quite sharp, but some softness extends about a quarter the way into the frame from the left. At full telephoto, the bottom left corner is soft with softness again extending a fair bit into the frame, but the bottom right corner is a bit sharper and the top two are fairly sharp, while the center is sharp.

Shading. Vignetting or corner shading is fairly low at both wide angle and telephoto.

Aperture: f/8
10mm @ f/8: Upper left
C.A.: Moderately low
Softness: Slightly soft
10mm @ f/8: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp
30mm @ f/8: lower left
C.A.: Low
Softness: Moderately soft
30mm @ f/8: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp

F8. Stopped-down to f/8, corner performance does improve especially at wide angle, however there is a slight decrease in sharpness at the center, due to diffraction.  

Lateral Chromatic Aberration Suppression
The Nikon V3 automatically suppresses C.A. in JPEGs.

In-camera JPEG ACR converted RAW
10mm @ f/4: Upper right 10mm @ f/4: Upper right
30mm @ f/5.6: Upper right 30mm @ f/5.6: Upper right

Like most Nikon DSLRs, the V3 automatically suppresses lateral chromatic aberration in JPEGs. As you can see from the Adobe Camera Raw crops above (right) without correction applied, the lens actually produces relatively low to moderate amounts of C.A., and the camera's processor does a good job suppressing it in JPEGs (left).


Nikon V3 Viewfinder


Viewfinder Test Results

Excellent coverage from the LCD monitor.

18.5mm, LCD Monitor

In record mode, the Nikon V3's LCD monitor provided essentially 100% coverage (with distortion correction disabled), which is excellent.


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon V3 Photo Gallery .

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