My strategy to review the Nikon 18-105mm AF-S DX f3.5-5.6 G ED lens puts my subjective observations at an equally important level as objective facts and figures. This is especially important with lenses where the character of a resulting image is so subjective to appraise. When shooting portraits I want to use a lens that displays beautiful out of focus areas, often called the bokeh. When I shoot landscapes I want a lens that delivers corner to corner sharpness, works well right down to f/22 without iris flare and has an even illumination across the frame without vignetting. When I shoot interiors I want a lens without pin cushion or barrel distortion. All in all, I’m demanding on my lenses and that is why I’ve invested in the ‘top shelf’ Nikkors and Canon glass for my own professional photography.
So when I’m faced with a sub £180 lens that claims to do it all, you’ll understand why I’m naturally skeptical. My clients are used to sparkling images with clarity and bite. My lenses have to last six years or more on average with heavy daily use.
The Nikon 18-105mm lens came well packaged and included a pouch, caps at each end and a lens hood.
Handling and Optical performance
I was amazed at just how light this lens is. It weighs in at half the weight of the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and it has vibration reduction built in too. This is a feat of engineering that Nikon have to be congratulated on because the weight of a lens is a very significant factor for many photographers who work on location.
The build quality of the Nikon 18-105mm AF-S DX f3.5-5.6 G ED lens is good for lens that is so light and so capable too. It never felt like it was going to fall apart in my hand throughout my arduous weeks of testing, although if you drop the lens, don’t expect to pick it up and carry on with the shoot. I’ve dropped quite a few pro lenses in my time and mostly they are still fine apart from the odd dent and scratch.
The VR function on the Nikon 18-105mm lens is quiet and effective. I could easily hand hold the camera and get acceptable results at 105mm right down to 1/15th second. Very impressive indeed.
Overall clarity in the images was acceptable right throughout the zoom range at apertures of 5.6 and above. When the lens was at the 18mm zoom setting it showed some fuzziness at the corners with an aperture of f/3.5, however the sharpness was good from edge to edge at all zoom settings.
Chromatic aberration was a bit of a problem at the wide end of the lens in areas of high contrast but this was to be expected. Most users would find this an acceptable trade off given the other lens attributes. Linear distortion was well controlled.
- Small size and light weight compared with just about anything else with this range.
- A really useful VR (vibration reduction) system.
- The pictures were punchy and pleasing to edit, exhibiting good overall image quality.
- Fast autofocus.
- Chromatic aberration noticeable in high contrast edge areas.
- Ramps to f/5.6 as a maximum aperture by 50mm.
Remember these simple facts when investing in photography. The photographer sees the picture, the lens converts the three dimensional scene into a two dimensional image, and the camera records the image to make the photograph. The best way to improve the quality of your photographs is to invest in fine lenses. A good lens will last several generations of camera upgrades and will return real value on a cost per click basis.
Although this lens doesn’t live up to the quality of the pro range of Nikkors it is a good all-rounder and one that I’d be happy to take on holiday or as a backup at a wedding, and coming from me, that’s really saying something.
If you are buying a Nikon D90 digital SLR and are offered the Nikon 18-105mm AF-S DX f3.5-5.6 G ED lens as a kit bundle then take it. It will serve you well. When you are ready to take full advantage of the potential image quality of your camera I suggest you select some other glass from the simply vast array of wonderful Nikon optics available. Nikon make some of the best lenses in the world so do take the time to explore them, you will be amazed at the difference a lens can make.
7/10 build quality
6/10 optical quality
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