Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX

Finding a highly affordable lens can be tough because of the many categories of lenses to deal with. Nikon has their fair share of budget lenses, but they designed for specific uses rather than general purpose lenses for beginner photographers to try out. A good lens to start out with is a standard zoom lens like the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX Nikkor lens. Like other kit lenses, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR comes with select models including the recent midrange Nikon D90 model. That same lens can be used on more advanced bodies as well including the full-frame flagship models. What is great about this lens is that the price stays low and doesn’t introduce any major drawbacks in design and features.

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Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX

Design & Construction

In terms of design, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR looks similar to the Nikon 18-135mm model, and comes out just 3mm longer in both length and width and weights 35 grams more because of the VR system. On the build quality side, the Nikon 18-105mm is well-built and although it doesn’t reach the rugged qualities of the superior and more expensive lenses, it still remains more valuable than many of the kit lenses that resort to cheap plastics.

The handling is also similar to the 18-135mm where the focus ring is a bit loose, but smooth to operate and the same can be said with the zoom ring where it is nearly flawless keeping its smoothness with no hitches. It only takes a quarter of a turn of the zoom ring to fully zoom and it doesn’t lens creep at all when the camera is pointed at an angle. It also comes with a bayonet type butterfly hood that can conveniently reverse onto the lens whenever it isn’t necessary for usage.

Actual user review:
“I purchased this lens as a gift for use on a Nikon D-200, as the recipient enjoys taking both close-up botanical photos and portraits. This has proven to have been an outstanding choice, particularly with a tripod and the anti-vibration feature incorporated in the lens. These allow for crystal-clear photos which can easily be expanded to 14″x 17″ when set to the highest-quality jpeg setting, (and even larger in RAW), with effectively zero pixelation. Some of the botanical photos my wife has taken are simply stunning, even with most of the basic settings set to Auto (she is still a novice). The zoom, while not huge, allows for much greater flexibility over a fixed-focus close-up lens and the price is extremely reasonable, particularly for what you get. The White Box came with a sun-shield, a soft cloth lens ‘condom’ and caps for both ends. I would recommend this lens to anyone, novice, or experienced photographer if portraiture or close-in photographs were their requirements.” – M.Schaal (CO,US)

Features & Specifications

The Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED improves on its predecessors and other lenses of the same focal range in terms of sharpness where the sharpness stays consistent throughout the different focal lengths. Even when the widest aperture setting is used (usually a weakness for most kit lenses), the sharpness stays excellent with only hints of softness at the corners. It is possible to achieve excellent results at standard ranges from 35mm to 50mm where corner softness is absent. Sharpness quality is at the weakest at maximum 105mm focal length, but when comparing it with other lenses at this range, it is still exceptional.

Chromatic aberration is primarily present at the widest focal lengths (18mm), but when other focal lengths are used, the CA is only visible at the corners. Even better control of the CA is displayed when the lens is zoomed out. There is a slight rise in the CA when it is stopped down, but the ED glass element keeps the chromatic aberration low throughout the different apertures.

The Nikon 18-105mm is famous for the use of so many acronyms making it difficult to believe that it is actually a kit lens. For instance, it has the Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) for enhanced light transmission, reduced flare, and color consistency. It also has the exclusive Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM) that is found in other AF-S models for ultra-fast, quiet, and accurate auto-focus capabilities. Then it has Vibration Reduction (VR) to further improve the sharpness of the image by minimizing vibration. Finally, the Internal Focusing (IF) prevents the lens’s length from changing while focusing.

Bottom Line

All of these technologies are implemented in the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX lens without exceeding the $300 price tag. This raises the bar of other kit lenses because it generally performs very well in all areas. The 18mm is a bit weak because of vignetting and barrel distortion, but all the other good things about this Nikon-branded camera lens makes this a perfect lens to use when walking around and talking all sorts of pictures. The wide-ratio 5.8x zoom adds to the flexibility making it a good lens for photography indoors and great outdoors from streets to landscapes.

Average User Rating:

  • “I recently traded the 18-55mm VR lens from my D60 kit for this lens. I wanted something with more range than the 18-55 offered, and with VR, so it was a choice between the 18-200mm VR and this lens. Between the price of the latter, and the reports of worse distortion, zoom creep, and poor feel of the zoom & focus rings of the 18-200, I decided this was the best choice. The fact that this lens is a tad shorter and a good bit lighter (420g vs. 560g) make it an even better choice for a walkaround (or even only) lens for normal use. The fit & finish is much better than that of the kit lens, and while it is a bit heavier than the 18-55, it’s not appreciably longer, if any. I’m not a good enough photographer to tell you how it compares on distortion to either the 18-55 or the 18-200, so I won’t even try. But it produced a number of wonderful images for me today, under low light and handheld, without noticeable distortion, and they were very clear except if I was shaking badly (this is with shutter speeds of 1/40-1/10). I purchased it for $300 new, about half of the price of the 18-200mm VR. In all, I am quite satisfied with this lens as an all-around, do-everything lens.” – B.Florie (NC,USA)
  • “I was torn between the 18-105mm and 18-200mm. After a week of shooting with both on a D40x a few things became clear. The 105 seems to be more reliable. It can focus correctly more often (less hunt) and the VR, though less powerful than the VRII, reduces blur more often than the VRII on the 200mm. The 105 is much more comfortable on the D40/D60 body. It feels almost perfect. Not too heavy; not too light. The color saturation is better on the 18-200mm and the sharpness is very similar on both (at the center at least). My recommendation is that if money is tight and the weight of the camera is important to you (since this is a walk around lens), the 18-105mm is a very nice upgrade to the 18-55mm or the 18-55mm & 55-200mm combo. You can use the extra $ for a nice flash and the 35mm prime. If money is not and issue and you find yourself shooting a lot of images at 200mm – then go for the 18-200mm. Image quality will not be a deciding factor. In the end I sent my 18-200mm back and kept the 18-105mm.” – B.K.Martin

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