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Nikkor AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 G VR Gordon Laing, January 2009

Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR results : Outdoor / Resolution / Corner sharpness / Fringe and macro / Geometry / Vignetting

Outdoor scene, Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR vs DX 18-55mm II with Nikon D60

Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR outside coverage   To compare real-life performance on a cropped-frame body, we shot the same scene with the Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR and DX 18-55mm II lenses within moments of each other using a Nikon D60 at f8 in Aperture Priority mode.

The D60 was set to its best quality JPEG and default processing settings. The crops are taken from the originals and presented here at 100%.

The image left was taken with the Nikon D60 using the DX 18-55mm VR at 24mm f8; the original JPEG measured 4.69 MB.


At first glance, the image taken with the older DX 18-55mm II appears a little darker than the one with the newer model. Since this is an outdoor test you might assume the lighting had changed slightly in the short period between the shots, but that was not the case and the exposures were also identical: 1/200 at f8 and 100 ISO. We also repeated the test at a later time and found exactly the same effect.

Upon closer inspection, the darker image was actually due to slightly higher contrast on the DX 18-55mm II lens over its successor. It's subtle at times, but visible in the crops below where the ones on the right from the older lens appear slightly punchier.

Interestingly while there's a small amount of coloured fringing on the mountain ridge crop from both images, the older Mark II lens also appears to suffer slightly less in this regard - perhaps due to its ED element that's absent on the optical design of the new VR model.

It's not all good news for the older lens though - in the third row of crops taken from the far right side of the image, the new VR version has the edge on resolved detail. But overall, the older Mark II lens has the edge in this test, and we also noticed it was sharper in the extreme corners when zoomed-into 55mm with the same landscape subject.

These are quite small differences though and will only really bother enthusiasts and pixel peepers who like to examine images on-screen at 100%. For most people, the addition of VR will greatly outweigh a small loss in optical quality over its predecessor.

But now let's continue with the optical benchmarking and our studio resolution results.


Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR
Nikkor DX 18-55mm II
Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR - outside crop 1
Nikkor DX 18-55mm II - outside crop 1
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR - outside crop 2
Nikkor DX 18-55mm II - outside crop 2
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR - outside crop 3
Nikkor DX 18-55mm II - outside crop 3
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR - outside crop 4
Nikkor DX 18-55mm II - outside crop 4
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO

Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR results continued...

Outdoor / Resolution / Corner sharpness / Fringe and macro / Geometry / Vignetting

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All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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