Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED DX AF-S Nikkor

Lens Reviews / Nikon Lenses i Lab tested
18-55mm $107
average price
image of Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED DX AF-S Nikkor

Lab Test Results

  • Blur
  • Chromatic Aberration
  • Vignetting
  • Geometric Distortion

Your purchases support this site

Buy the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED DX AF-S Nikkor

(From Nikon lens literature) Introduced with the Nikon D50, the 18 - 55mm DX lens was designed as a lightweight entry-level lens for consumers that still offers Nikon quality. It has a plastic body instead of metal, but it still uses Nikon's Silent Wave Motor for quiet autofocus.

(Our own comments) Priced and built for the consumer, and built to the same specifications as the Canon 18 - 55mm lens, the 18 - 55mm DX is an excellent lens for its target market. It gives consumers a lens that they will never need to change in most situations, and surprisingly good performance for a bargain optic. Partnered with the 55 - 200mm, most users will need nothing else.

Test Notes

The Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 DX illustrates both the reason why people pay big prices for premium optics, as well as just how good you can do with a "bargain" lens if you're willing to stop down and shoot at smaller apertures.

Wide open, the 18-55 has very soft corners at the wide angle end of its range, and noticeable softness on one side or the other as you move toward longer focal lengths. The good news is that its images are quite sharp in the center across the board. When you close down the aperture a stop or two, things improve dramatically, and at f/8 - f/11, this lens can compete with the best available. Its sweet spot is narrower than those of high-end lenses, for the most part being only a single stop wide. Best performance is at f/8 at 18mm, f/8-11 at 35mm, and f/11 at 55mm.

Chromatic aberration ranges from moderate to average, being best at longer focal lengths, good at full wide angle, but only average in the middle of its range. Vignetting is fairly severe at maximum wide angle and maximum aperture, but drops rapidly as you stop down, reaching a level of less than 0.4EV at f/5.6. As you move away from maximum wide angle, the light falloff decreases rapidly, to a less than 0.1EV at 35mm and longer. Distortion is high at maximum wide angle, at just under 1% barrel distortion, but decreases to almost zero at 35mm and remains so all the way to 55mm.

As noted above, the Nikkor 18-55mm is an excellent lens for the market it was designed for, namely entry-level dSLR users. While it suffers from soft corners at wide angle and maximum aperture, closing down one or two f-stops makes a world of difference: At f/8 - f/11, it's actually a very sharp lens. If you do feel a need for better performance wide open (as well as a somewhat broader zoom range) though, you might consider purchasing the D50 as a body only, and substituting the excellent 18-70mm lens that normally ships with the D70S. Still, the combo of D50 and 18-55mm is an excellent bargain, and a great starting point for a dSLR hobby.

Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED DX AF-S Nikkor

Your purchases support this site

Buy the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED DX AF-S Nikkor

Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED DX AF-S Nikkor User Reviews

7.3/10 average of 23 review(s) Build Quality 5.9/10 Image Quality 7.7/10
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by Glutte (6 reviews)
    OK for the price
    Good quality pictures only from f/8-f/11

    I have owned both first and vr version of this lens. Qi is the same.
    It means edges and corners quite soft wide open bettered at f/8 and f/11. A little slow for moving subject.
    What's missing with this lens is punch.Pictures are ok but lack vividness of pro lenses.
    Considering price it can be a good deal on older low end dslr but shows his limit on my D7000.
    I bought a Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 as replacement and difference in picture quality is huge.

    reviewed April 19th, 2013 (purchased for $100)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by findtheking (2 reviews)
    Decent IQ for its price, minimum focussing distance is short
    5.6 @ 55mm is too small an aperture

    Good lens for a beginner DSLR user who wants to learn the ropes. Focussing distance being an advantage. The colors and contrast are pretty good.

    Very usable for casual shooting even if you outgrow this lens.

    Aperture is obviously not very wide at 55mm..being a low cost lens. It is meant for shooting in normal to good light.

    reviewed October 8th, 2009 (purchased for $75)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by Rene GM (6 reviews)
    light, inexpensive, good image quality
    has to be stopped down

    My only disappointment is the soft left edge of the image at 55mm, F8. One has to stop down to F11 to get sharpness across the image at 55mm. Otherwise, a very nice lens, especially at this price.

    reviewed June 3rd, 2007 (purchased for $120)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by spura (2 reviews)
    sharp images at F8,good lens for beginners
    Chromatic aberrations a bit is a problem

    fast AF, manual focus capability, also good construction quality, CA is a little problem at 18mm. Good lens for a included kit lens price, more better as Canon EF 18-55mm II kit lens, Nikon 18-55 produce sharper images, but when stopping down to F8.

    reviewed May 15th, 2007 (purchased for $60)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by Iyhel (6 reviews)
    Light, versatile, AF-S
    At this price point ? None !

    Nice basic lens, you don't need more to enter the DSLR world.

    It is excellent nowhere, but bad nowhere as well. And it's really versatile, more in my opinion than the 18-70 as it allows you to try proxyphtography thanks to its shot minimal focus distance.

    I think you could spend a long time shooting with it and be happy - if you don't, as I did, get a 50mm prime in the same time. It obviously suffers the comparison, especially, in lowlight operation, manual focus, and bokeh. But it's worth the $.

    reviewed March 13th, 2007 (purchased for $50)
  • 6 out of 10 points and recommended by alberto (8 reviews)
    optical qualiti stopped down, zoom range
    built quality

    Very cheap lens with good optical quality.

    Wide open this lens isn't a stellar performer but in good light situations(or high iso settings) is very sharp.
    Color rendition is good.
    Some CA at the wide end.

    reviewed January 15th, 2007 (purchased for $100)
  • 6 out of 10 points and recommended by jdf (8 reviews)
    Excellent image quality, AF-S
    Distortion, CA

    I have used this lens on a friend's d50, as the kit bundle. Overall i was very impressed with it's image quality. It's a very sharp lens, despite it's consumer look, indeed it may be even better than we think of. I have made some test with my 50mm 1.8 and it isn't too far awy. A positive note to it's AF-S motor, wich enables fast and precise focusing, The major downside it's not manual overide, nor it's quality is of very presicion. Overall a good starter lens ;)

    reviewed January 15th, 2007
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by njmd (2 reviews)
    Very good value for money
    Feels very fragile

    Image quality is very good (considering it's price). Very sharp results, at least at apertures f/8 - f/11. Some vignetting wide open, but it's easy to correct this aspect using the appropriate software. Almost absense of Chromatic aberration and purple fringing. Feels very fragile in hand. The rings, while rotating, don't give you the sensation of precise focus. But it focus well (slowly but well) even in bad light conditions. In conclusion: very good all purpose lens - personaly, I don't like super zooms and 18-55 mm is, according to my point of view, the maximum I'd choose.

    reviewed January 15th, 2007 (purchased for $259)
  • 0 out of 10 points and recommended by matthewporter (12 reviews)
    Value, Fast and quiet AF, Lightweight
    Plastic construction, Awkward AF/MF switching, Difficult focussing ring

    Actual amount paid: Purchased in D50 kit for £400(GBP)

    This was the standard kit lens available with the Nikon D50 although there is a newer version available since the release of the D40. It has a good range of focal lengths and is suitable for fairly wide landscapes as well as decent portraits.

    The construction is not fantastic but being entirely plastic (even the mount) makes this a very light lens. It features a Silent Wave Motor so focussing is very fast and almost silent. I find the AF/MF switch awkward to use though and would prefer to be able to just flip it on and off using the switch on the body which is a lot more positive. Manual focussing is also very inconvenient as there is no focussing ring - you just rotated the end of the barrel!

    All in all though, this is a very cheap and versatile lens which produces good results.

    reviewed January 14th, 2007
  • 0 out of 10 points and recommended by hbcc100 (6 reviews)

    This lens is the one that came with my D50. It is a good all round lens, especially for beginners taking pictures outdoors. However, compared to the lenses I got afterwards, it feels cheaply built and not as solid. On top of that, the amount of light you get is not great. For the price it is still a good lens though, but possibly one that you will want to replace.

    reviewed January 14th, 2007
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by biraz (3 reviews)
    sharp, good colors, great value for money
    build quality, manual focus almost unusable

    I bought this lens along with my Nikon D50; the difference between body only and kit was 35 euros; and for an equivalent $45 this lens is an absolute no-brainer.
    I found it very good especially between 18 and 35mm, stopped-down a little, for landscapes and city landscapes. The (barrel) distortion is controlled and "agreable". At f. 8 or 11 sharpness and colors are very good. It is very good for close-up photos at 55mm too.
    You can't really manually focus with its thin and very plasticky focus ring. But this lens delivers much more than it costs.

    reviewed January 13th, 2007 (purchased for $45)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by jonahg (2 reviews)
    Light weight, good performance when stopped down a bit, low cost, good compared to competitor's kit lenses
    Distortion, sharpness at 18mm, AF speed only average

    This lens is a good performer, especially considering it's kit lens competition (Canon). Like any $100 zoom, it really needs to be stopped down a few stops for optimum sharpness. It is capable of great pictures, especially in daytime or with lots of available light.

    Since the lens isn't very fast (F3.5-5.6), it's not really suitable for nighttime shots without a flash. I'm a big fan of leaving the flash off and capturing available-light candid shots of people. The 18-55 isn't the best lens for that kind of photography, but for daylight, especially outdoors, it is a good lens. I'd not buy it separately, but as part of a kit it does its job very well.

    reviewed January 2nd, 2007
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by Kong47 (9 reviews)
    lightweight, good colors, decent range on DSLR
    all plastic, no manual focus override, mf ring very small

    Not bad at all for the price. This lens is sharp in the center, but needs to be stopped down near f8 to get sharpness across the frame. The focal lengths are evenly spaced when zooming, but the manual focus ring is thin and awkward. Also, you can't manually override AF as in most of the other AF-S lenses. For a beginning photographer, this is an excellent bargain and will prove to be a great starter lens. Experienced photographers will likely want more from their lenses. Build quality is only so-so as well. Still, recommended as a lightweight, travel, everyday zoom.

    reviewed December 22nd, 2006 (purchased for $100)
  • 2 out of 10 points and not recommended by privid (5 reviews)
    see cons
    build, distortion, softness, build

    When I first got my D50 I didnt care about the lens I was too excited to have arrived in dslr land. I'm older now and ditched this crappy little plastic fantastic ages ago. It's soft, has barrel and pin-cushion distortion, is built like a plastic hun of junk... oh wait. It's annoying that Nikkor stoop to this level just leave it for the third parties and make a decently built lens, people will pay more. I will say in its defence that the photo's I took on it were fine for the 8x10 prints i made with it, I just expect/demand that Nikkor deliver more. Again like the 18-70 this lens is much better optically than its physical construction may suggest.

    reviewed December 16th, 2006
  • 6 out of 10 points and recommended by Tosiek (5 reviews)
    Small, lightweight, inexpensive
    Not very sharp, significant CA

    It's my first lens and I bought it along with my first DSLR, the D50. Since I'm new to the DSLR world, I say, this lens is great.
    Compared to compact cameras - sharpness and CA is great. If you want to buy your first DSLR, you'll be amazed how great your pictures are.
    Of course, for someone who already owns a DSLR, this lens is just mediocre. It's not as sharp as its big brothers (18-70, 18-135), has more CA, more distortion, and much weaker build quality.
    Overall, I like this lens very much, but after using it for several months I started looking for some more expensive replacement.

    reviewed December 6th, 2006 (purchased for $100)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by spuelijah (9 reviews)
    Cheap, Not much distortion
    Plastic mount, rotating front element, 3.5-5.6 variable aperature

    This lens came with my D50. Its got a good focal range but the variable aperature is bad. At 55mm the widest aperature is 5.6! Newbie photogs won't notice this and seasoned veterans can find ways to overcome it limits. However I traded mine in for a 18-70mm because of its much better build and metal mount.

    It's a good starter lens, but you'll want a better one later.

    reviewed December 2nd, 2006
  • 6 out of 10 points and recommended by Neogene (8 reviews)
    Cheap wide angle, silent

    I only use this lens for landscapes, i stop at f8 or f11 and it does what i need.

    I use instead of this or the tele 70-300 or the 50mm f1.4 that are for "fast" shots, instead of this that i suggest to use for natural or urban landscapes.

    When light start to fade you have to increase iso or shutter time to avoid many unusable photos.

    reviewed November 30th, 2006 (purchased for $150)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by lseguy (4 reviews)
    Light, compact, image quality for the price, no vignetting
    None for the price !!!

    Mine came with the D50 kit, I had some great time using it ! Light weight, AF is quick & silent (but not as the nikon 18-70, see below). Great pictures for the money, it could have become my only 'trans-standard' lens for walk-around shoots.

    Build quality does not seem to be "state of the art", but mine had no loose part or excessive play.

    I actually sold mine to get a more versatile nikon 18-70, geting a wider range & more light. Compared to the 18-55, AF becomes ultra-fast and I now have the full time focusing function !

    reviewed November 29th, 2006
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by nohm (11 reviews)

    Maybe I lucked out when I got a copy of this lens as park of my D50 kit, but this lens was great while I still owned it.

    It's undeniable that there is softness around the wide end, and the distortion will require some post production tweaks for those who need everything parallel, but besides that, the color and contrast were consistent enough to produce great images on my end. This lens truely is underrated, and it's unfortunate that Nikon quality control kinda copped out with here.

    reviewed November 27th, 2006
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by tamd50 (2 reviews)
    Cheap, Very Good image Quality
    Build quality not great, Rotating front element

    In my opinion this lens deserves some respect. It gets bashed too many times (often by camparison to its big brother the 18-70mm kit lens). I own both the kit lenses and hence say that this is a good lens that holds up very well against the 18-70mm

    The Good:
    1> This lens is cheap. At $125 US its a bargain.
    2> Very good optical quality. For its price point the lens delivers very good images. Photos are sharp, have good color and contrast. Distortion and Purple fringing (Chromatic abberations) are well controlled.
    3> Its light/compact so very easy to carry around.
    4> It has the Silent Wave Motor (SWM) making autofocus fast and quiet.
    5> 52mm filter thread means filters are inexpensive.

    The Bad (or as I like to call it "the not so good")
    1> Build quality feels a little poor.
    2> It has a plastic mount, so more chances of wearing out the mount if you change lenses very often
    3> Front element rotates while focusing which means that circular polarizing, GND etc.. filters will have to be re-adjusted after focusing.

    Inspite of the few above mentioned shortcomings, you have to realize that the shortcomings are really a compromise to offer good image quality at a very affordable price point.
    If you are a beginner, the lens is a no-brainer. I would even recommend this lens to amateur/ serious hobbyist who are looking for a good lens at an affordable price point.

    reviewed November 21st, 2006 (purchased for $125)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by olaieryk (3 reviews)
    cheap, HSM
    CA at 18

    Very cheap
    SWM – is silent and accurate
    Very good image quality from 18 to 40
    Small and light
    Plastic !!!
    Poor AF ring
    Soft edges from 18 to 24 full open aperture
    SWM – to slow
    CA at 18 (especially edges)

    reviewed November 15th, 2006
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by Lao2 (1 reviews)
    excellent results, lightweight, bargain

    This lens delivers sharp pictures all over, with very good contrast to match. Unless you're a pro, you don't need another standard zoom; this will do very well. Most reviewers say this lens is "nice tot start out with", admitting that is delivers good results, but referring to the Nikkor AF-S 18-70 as the "better lens". This is misleading as the Nikkor AF-S 18-70 does NOT give you better pictures. The differences between these lenses are:

    1) When used full open at 18 mm and F3,5, the 18-70 has the edge of sharpness in the corners. The resolution of the 18-55 at 18mm and F3,5 in the corners is still good though, and improves to excellent when stopping down.
    2) The 18-70 feels more solid. However, just because it is very light doesn't mean the 18-55 isn't well built.
    3) Statistics show that the 18-55 has more chromatic aberration (CA) than the 18-70. However, I've taken approx. 1000 pictures with the 18-55 and haven't seen any CA.
    4) The 18-55 has less distortion at 18mm.
    5) The 18-55 has far less vignetting all over.

    I make a lot of pictures at 18 mm and I'd much rather have the 18-55 than the 18-70, because the 18-55 has less distortion and vignetting. (I don't like having to correct a lot of pictures in Photoshop.)

    As far as resolution is concerned, if you don't use F3,5 at 18mm, the 18-55 equals or even beats the 18-70 and does a lot better in the corners than the much praised Nikkor VR 18-200! If you don't believe me, go to and look at the statistics of all three lenses. If you compare the charts you can see for yourself. Fortunately there are also some reviewers that are not prejudiced and recognise the qualities of the Nikkor 18-55 (have a look at:

    So the bottom-line is: Highly recommended (you can not go wrong with this lens; it offers very high image-quality for a bargain-price).

    reviewed August 10th, 2006
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by feadin (4 reviews)
    Cheap, light, nice image quality overall, silent and fast AF.
    Too light sometimes, feels not so solid, distorsion at wide angle.

    This is the lens that comes with the D50 Kit. The build quality is OK, only feels a bit weak... and is very light.

    Image quality is good, only a little vignetting at widest angle, maximum aperture. And sides a bit soft at the same settings, but that's easily fixed stepping down the arpture a bit. Also it has some distorsion at wide angle.

    AF is pretty fast, and silent.

    Anyway, it's a nice lens overall, and pretty sharp if you learn how to use it properly.

    reviewed March 9th, 2006
  • 7 out of 10 points and not recommended by Sumeet (5 reviews)
    Value for money, sharp if stopped down, light in weight
    Cheap construction, vigenetting, soft corners

    I got this lens initially with my D50. The lens gave me mixed results with soft corners and sharp in the middle, plus some vignetting and geometric distortions in wide angle.

    The free software (Picture Project) supplied with D50 also did not have any lens correction features which was again a let down from Nikon. Unless I purchased the Nikon Capture which allowed me to convert RAW files and correct some of the lens issues. I got around this by converting NEF-RAW files in Picture Project (though with a downside, Picture Project does not let me save large sized JPEGS only 2048 X 1536. Its a SHAM...from Nikon to force you to buy Nikon Capture.) without any lens correction and then editing my Jpegs with 'PTLens' a freeware for lens correction. I must say it is excellent little software (Many thanks to its developers).

    This lens bugged me for a while as I felt the D50 performance was a let down with this lens and finally I sold this on ebay for Nikkor 18-70. Extremely happy now with this lens unless I shell out 4 or 5 times more $$ on 17-55. Nah! will live with the 18-70.

    Don't get me wrong, this lens is great for the price, though, I did not mind spending a little extra on the better Nikkor 18-70. I only wish here in Australia I was not forced to by this with the D50 body as a kit lens and had an option of body only for D50.

    reviewed November 22nd, 2005
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by socks66 (2 reviews)
    Sharp images with good color and contrast with quick autofocus
    The small manual focus ring

    This little lens has been put down by a lot of people, and doesn't deserve this type of criticism. There has also been a lot of criticism of the plastic mount, but let me tell you that I work in the plastic industry, and these days the combination of certain polymers with impregnated glass can produce plastics close to the strength of steel, with great lubricating properties for better wear. Only time will tell how good Nikon got there combination of plastics to meet the lens requirement.

    For a kit lens the 18-55dx gives excellent picture quality, with great color and good contrast. At the wide end it can get a little soft in the corners, but set it to f8 for the best results. At the long end, it also is quiet good, but you may get your best results at about F5.6 to F11. The focus speed is very quick and silent. So overall the difference in buying the kit (body and lens) than just buying the body (this is usually under $100 difference) it would have to be one of the bargains of the year. Although the 18-70dx is a better lens, I haven’t seen one for under $100.

    So if you are looking at buying the D50, my suggestion is to get the kit with the 18-55 lens as it does perform far better than a lot of people give it credit. You may find that you will use this lens far more than you think……

    reviewed October 27th, 2005