Review Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-P VR

Mar 20, 2017
Central Ohio
Real Name

image © NikonUSA


Looking for a smaller wide to medium zoom lens for use on the Nikon D500, one of the highly regarded consumer zooms is the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 DX AF-P VR.

Having previously used the Nikon 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 VR, that lens has not really gotten a lot of use.

Will this smaller, newer lens be able to cut the grade? Come with us on our review and find out.

Nikon D500
1/50, f/5.6, ISO 100 @ 18mm

18-55mm is a tiny lens. Mainly plastic, this lens is also very light weight. It is a DX only lens, so it's utility will be limited to APS-C sensors.

There is a lock button on the 18-55mm which prevents the zoom from extending when it is in the locked position. Pressing the button and turning the zoom ring will get you to 18mm and then the zoom lens will work like any other you are used to. To go back to it's compact position, you press the lock button again and park the lens.

The mount is plastic, so if there is a potential point of failure, it could be this part.

Zooming from 18-55 does not take very long of a throw, so zooming through the range is fast.

The focus ring is very small, so using manual focus may be a bit of a challenge for those who need it.

Another point to mention is that there is no VR on/off switch on the lens. This lens leaves the VR on by default. If you want to turn it off, you'll need to use a camera that has the ability to turn the VR on/off within the menu system.

The VR works adequately. Normally 18-55mm focal lengths don't need a lot of VR help, but it is nice to have it for when you need it that to not have it at all.

Nikon D500
1/60, f/4.8, ISO 1250 @ 38mm

Nikon D500
1/40, f/8, ISO 1400 @ 24mm

Image Quality
Nikon has done something very special with these AF-P lenses. They are some of the sharpest kit lenses I've used for DSLR systems. We were pleasantly surprised by the 70-300 AF-P and wondered if other reviews of the 18-55 AF-P would follow the 70-300.

Well, they certainly did. While I won't say that the 18-55 AF-P is as sharp as the 70-300 AF-P, the lens is no slouch on the D500 it was tested on.

From 18mm to 55mm the lens performs very well even wide open.

There is some distortion at all focal lengths, but that can be dealt with easily in post processing.
As with most AF-P stepper motor lenses, the AF speed is swift and sure. Using it for landscape and street photography, there is no issue with its performance.

Bottom Line
So why give up the versatility of the 18-140VR for the 18-55mm? Size is one factor, obviously. The 18-140 is a sharp lens, but it is an older design and it does lag in the IQ department somewhat for me. Since we picked up the 70-300 AF-P, we also have the longer end of the zoom range covered. Don't get me wrong...the 18-140 is a great lens...I'm just being super nitpicky, to be honest.

Lastly, we look at price. New, on its own the 18-55mm AF-P retails for $249. However, since this lens is packed in with a lot of kit lenses and the used market is saturated with people wanting to upgrade to faster aperture glass, you can find these lenses now for $100 or less.

Would I want to use this lens to shoot very low light? As good as the Nikon D500 is, no I would not. However, if you have good light and need something inexpensive, sharp and versatile this is a great choice.
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