Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II lens review: their first retractable DSLR kit lens has some quirks, but is a decent performer


posted Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 2:02 AM EST


At SLRGear, we review all kinds of lenses, from big telephoto zooms to ultra-fast portrait primes, and we also take on reviews of various kit lenses. Paired alongside the Nikon D3300, the updated Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II lens features an all-new design for a Nikon zoom lens -- the first retractable-style lens. Taking design cues from Nikon's 1-Series lenses, the retractable design of the new 18-55 II lens allows for an even more compact and portable everyday, general purpose lens.

The well-built yet all-plastic lens is small, light and easy to carry all day long. On the interior, the Nikon 18-55mm II is comprised of 11 elements in 8 groups, including one aspheric element. The aperture diaphragm is rounded with a 7-bladed design, which makes for smooth and pleasing background blur. The lens also features Nikon's Super Integrated Coating for improved color and contrast by reducing glare and reflections.

Apart from the odd image softness we experienced shooting wide-open at 35mm, the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II AF-S DX is a sharp lens at other focal lengths, even wide open. The newer Vibration Reduction system is a solid performer and a great feature to have. While there is some vignetting and distortion, particularly at the wider focal lengths, as well as some CA, these characteristics can be minimized with photo editing software very easily.

Head on over to SLRgear to read the full Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II review, complete with our in-depth report, final conclusion as well as our full range of test results and sample images.

The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II currently comes standard as the Nikon D3300 kit lens for around $549.95, but it can also be purchased separately for around $249.95. Interested in the D3300 Kit or just the lens by itself? Check out one of our trusted affiliates: Amazon (D3300, lens), Adorama (D3300, lens) and B&H (D3300, lens). Purchasing this camera or lens, or any other item, at one of these retailers helps support this site and keeps the reviews coming!

In the meantime, check out some sample photos shot by our senior lens technician Rob Murray using the Nikon D7000. You can view more sample photos, plus download the full-resolution files, over at our Flickr page.

D7000: 18mm, f/5, 1/320s, ISO 100, -0.3EV
D7000: 21mm, f/8, 1/320s, ISO 100
D7000: 55mm, f/8, 1/160s, ISO 100