A few weeks ago we posted a review from Camera Labs that explored the options for Canon DSLR owners when it comes to kit lens upgrades. This of course only appealed to those of you with Canon DSLRs and I received a few emails from readers wanting information on alternatives for Nikon users.
I’m not a user of Nikon DSLRs so couldn’t offer much personal advice – but today stumbled upon a helpful article in Digital SLR User magazine (UK) which reviews 4 Nikon Kit Lens Alternatives. Nikon generally offers two options for kit lenses (the 18-55mm II and the 18-135mm – but you can always choose to buy the camera as a ‘body only’ option and upgrade to a better lens. This review looks at the two kit lenses already mentioned and two other possible upgrades to consider.
If you want to read the full review I recommend tracking down the August 2007 edition – but if you just want a quick summary – here’s how they ranked the four alternatives:
1. Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR f/3.5-5.6 – rating: 4 Stars
This was the most highly recommended of the four lenses due to it’s good build quality, excellent zoom range and image stabilization. Of course price wise it was almost double all of the other lenses tested). On the downside it was the biggest and heaviest of the zooms and had a little ‘zoom creep’ (the zoom moves a little when you point it downwards).
Their summary of this Nikon Lens was – ‘The DX 18-200mm is the graddaddy of zoom lenses in the Nikkor range right now, and it’s compact, easy to use and offers superb zoom capability. The second-generation VR II technology is an added bonus.’
It received 4 stars for ‘handling’, ‘functions’ and ‘operation’ and 3 stars for ‘cost’.
2. Nikkor DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 – rating: 4 Stars
The ‘Pros’ of this lens were listed as brighter f4.5 aperture at 70mm, superior build quality and longer zoom than the basic kit lens. The ‘Cons’ were it’s expense and that it had a few corner sharpness issues.
‘Handling’ and ‘Operation’ both scored 4 stars and ‘cost’ and ‘functions’ scored 3 stars.
“The DX 18-70mm is a big step up from the DX 18-55mm II in every respect. It’s a great general-purpose zoom, especially if you’re considering a 70-300mm now or in the future.
3. Nikkor DX 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 – rating: 4 Stars
This lens has an equivalent of a 7.5x zoom range and is listed as having a better build quality than the kit lens, being affordable and as coming with a lens hood (a plus). On the negative side of things it has no Vibration Reduction and has above average geometric distortion.
‘Cost’ was the only area this camera scored 4 stars in. ‘Handling’ and ‘Operation’ both scored 3 stars and ‘functions’ only scored 2 stars.
‘The DX 18-135mm may not match the 18-70mm in build quality, but still offers a lot of lens for your money. REcommended if you’re not planning on buying a longer lens in the near future.’
4. Nikkor DX 18-55mm II f/3.5-5.6- rating: 3 Stars
This last lens was rated lowest among the four under review but is listed as being quick, quiet and better quality than other rivals. On the downside was it’s lower build quality, rotating end section and shorter zoom range.
It rated at 5 stars for ‘cost’, 3 stars for ‘operation’ and 2 stars for ‘handling’ and ‘functions’.
“The DX 18-55mm II may be the most basic Nikkor kit lens option, but it’s classier than rival 18-55mm models in terms of focussing and quality. If you can’t afford to upgrade, it’s still a good model.”
Like I say – the reviews have been written up in a lot more detail in the original article and the above are just some of the summary information.
5. Want more Nikon Lens Recommendations?
When we asked our readers what DSLR lenses they are using the following Nikon Lenses came up as the most used (listed in order of popularity with our readers):
1. Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens
2. Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens
3. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor Lens
4. Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX Nikkor Zoom Lens
5. Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR Zoom Nikkor Lens
6. Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED IF AF-S DX Nikkor Zoom Lens
7. Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED IF Autofocus DX Nikkor Zoom Lens
8. Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor Lens
9. Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S Zoom Nikkor Lens
10. Nikon 85mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor Lens