The Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR is versatile 10x superzoom lens specifically designed for shooting movies on the new Nikon 1 camera system. It is the first Nikkor powered zoom lens with a voice coil AF motor that makes no audible noise when zooming in and out while recording videos. Unlike other Nikon 1 system zoom lenses, the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR lens has no zoom ring; zoom action is controlled by a switch on the side of the lens with three adjustable zoom speeds. This is done to prevent any additional lens shake that is caused by rotating a zoom ring on regular lenses. With the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR lens, you can get closer or further away from your subject very smoothly and naturally – the new AF motor is designed in such a way, that it prevents abrupt stops. Plus, the latest generation of Vibration Reduction technology further helps to keep the camera and lens steady, preventing jittery movements and reducing blurry images. With its focal length of 10-100mm on the Nikon 1 CX sensor (2.7x crop factor), its coverage is equivalent to a 27-270mm lens. The variable aperture of f/4.5-5.6 means that its maximum (largest) aperture changes between f/4.5 to f/5.6, depending on the focal length.
Although I will post a couple of videos demonstrating the nice video capabilities of the lens for shooting videos, I will primarily concentrate on image capturing capabilities of the 1 Nikkor 10-100mm in this review. That’s because I find the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR lens to have superb image capturing capability as well. Therefore, you will see my typical image sharpness and contrast comparisons to other Nikon 1 lenses such as Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8, Nikon 1 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR and Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 VR.
1) Lens Specifications
- A high-power zoom lens that covers the 10–100mm range of focal lengths (angle of view equivalent to 27–270mm in 35mm format)
- A 10x power drive zoom lens
- Retractable lens mechanism
- Equipped with a vibration reduction (VR) mechanism
- Zooming speed (3 speeds available) can be adjusted with positioning of the power drive zoom switch
- Smooth zooming with the built-in power drive zoom mechanism, an unusual feature for interchangeable lenses
- The perfect lens for those who want to maximize the enjoyment of recording still images, movies, or both
- Metal mount adopted for increased durability, and a metal exterior for an elegant feel
- High Refractive Index (HRI) lens element achieves great optical performance in an even more compact body
- Two aspherical lens elements
- Three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements
- Mount Type: Nikon 1
- Focal Length Range: 10-100mm
- Zoom Ratio: 10x
- Maximum Aperture: f/4.5
- Minimum Aperature: f/16
- Format: CX
- Maximum Angle of View: 77°
- Minimum Angle of View: 9°10″
- Lens Elements: 21
- Lens Groups: 14
- Optical Conversion Factor: 2.7x
- Compatible Format(s): CX
- VR (Vibration Reduction) Image Stabilization: Yes
- Diaphram Blades: 7 (rounded diaphram opening)
- High Refractive Index Elements: 1
- ED Glass Elements: 3
- Aspherical Elements: 2
- Autofocus: Yes
- Internal Focusing: Yes
- Minimum Focus Distance: 1ft (0.3m) at 10mm focal length, 2.8 ft (0.85m) at 100 mm focal length
- Filter Size: 72mm
- Accepts Filter Type: Screw-on
- Lens Barrel Retraction Function: Yes (performed by DCM motor built into the lens based on power status information received from the camera body)
- Dimensions: (Approx.) 3.0×3.7 in. (Diameter x Length), 77×95 mm (Diameter x Length)
- Weight: (Approx.) 18.2 oz. (515g)
- Supplied Accessories: LC-N72 Snap-on Front Lens Cap, LF-N1000 Rear Lens Cap, HB-N102 Bayonet Lens Hood
2) Lens Handling and Build
If you have used Nikon Nikkor lenses in the past, you will not be disappointed with the new Nikon 1 10-100mm VR, which resembles many Nikkor DSLR lenses in terms of build and quality. It has a tough, all-metal exterior with a single rubber ring for better traction and handling. Similar to other 1 Nikkor lenses, the end of the lens barrel features a gray metal ring for aesthetics. The lens employs an automatic retractable lens mechanism, which greatly reduces the size of the lens when it is not in use. When camera is turned on, the lens automatically extends and unless the switch on the side of the lens is set to “Lock”, it will also automatically collapse when the camera is turned off. Once the lens is fully extended, the length of the lens does not change, whether it is set to 10mm or 100mm. Just like the rest of the Nikon 1 lenses, the Nikon 1 10-100mm has a solid metal mount for better durability.
Nikon put plenty of thought into the new Nikon 1 lens line-up and developed the CX mount from scratch. Compared to the current Nikon DX/FX mounts with 8 contacts, the Nikon 1 lenses and cameras have a total of 12 contacts, which means more communication capabilities between Nikon 1 cameras and lenses. As a result, many of the lens functions such as VR, AF / Manual Focus, are now controlled by the camera. Even the manual focus ring has been removed to simplify lens operation. There are only two switches on the side of the lens: “T / W” (Telephoto / Wide) is used to zoom in and out, while the “Off / Lock” switch controls the automatic lens retraction mechanism. When set to “Off” mode, the camera will automatically extend and collapse when turned on and off, while setting it to “Lock” will keep the lens barrel extended, so that you can start shooting as soon as the camera is turned on. Another positive outcome of the new CX mount with extra contacts is the ability to upgrade lens firmware through the camera, which has never been possible before. Now you see an extra “L” firmware in addition to the traditional “A” and “B” under “Firmware version” in camera setup menu, which shows what firmware the lens is running on. Nikon has already identified and resolved a serious problem with Vibration Reduction on the Nikon 1 10-100mm lens and released a firmware update.
Another similarity between some of the Nikon DSLR lenses and the Nikon 1 10-100mm is, unfortunately, size. The Nikon 1 10-100mm is currently the largest and the bulkiest lens for the Nikon 1 system. In fact, it is larger and heavier than most Nikon DSLR kit lenses and it is almost as heavy as the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II superzoom. This is a huge disadvantage to this otherwise optically almost perfect lens (more on lens optics below). In fact, as I have already previously stated in my other Nikon 1 lens reviews, this lens defeats the purpose of a compact Nikon 1 camera system. It is so big, bulky and heavy, that it even looks unnatural when mounted on the Nikon 1 V1 and J1 cameras. I had a brief conversation about the Nikon 1 system with Laurie Excell, while shooting alongside her at Bosque del Apache and she also complained about size, bulk and weight of the 10-100mm lens. She said that she immediately returned the lens, because she felt it was “too inconvenient” for a compact camera. While videographers will certainly appreciate the capabilities of this lens, as a photographer, I personally would stay away from this lens for the above reasons. Take a look at how the lens compares to other 1 Nikkor lenses:
3) Lens Features and Optics
The Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR features some of the best lens features and optics found in modern Nikon lenses, which is expected, given the size, weight and price of the lens. It sports the latest generation of Vibration Reduction (VR II), Super Integrated Coating (SIC), Internal Focusing (IF) and Voice Coil AF Motor (VCM). Vibration Reduction is Nikon’s term for image stabilization, which is a very useful feature in low light situations, where camera shake and slow shutter speed can cause images to be blurry. Super Integrated Coating helps reduce lens flare and ghosting. Internal focusing means that the lens barrel does not extend or rotate when the lens focuses. And finally, Voice Coil AF Motor is a brand new motor specifically developed for this lens, which allows for super fast and near-silent autofocus + zoom operation.
The Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR has a complex optical design consisting of a total of 21 lens elements (in 14 groups), 3 of which are Extra-Dispersion (ED), 2 are Aspherical (AS) and 1 is a High Refractive Index (HRI). Extra-Dispersion lens elements help reduce chromatic aberrations and other optical problems and increase the overall sharpness and contrast of the lens. Aspherical lenses greatly reduce spherical aberration, which also increases lens sharpness and overall performance. High Refractive Index lens
compensates for field curvature and spherical aberrations. With so many correcting and enhancing glass elements, no wonder why the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR is so big and heavy.
The lens is shipped with the HB-N102 Bayonet Lens Hood, which not only helps eliminate ghosting and flares in daylight conditions (blocking sun rays from reaching the front lens element), but also helps protect the same front element. Similar to other Nikkor lens hoods, it can be mounted in reverse position for more compact storage.
As for its video capabilities, here is a video I shot at Bosque del Apache that demonstrates the silent zooming and AF capabilities of the lens:
As you can see, the zoom action is indeed very smooth and you cannot hear the motor at all in the video. VR works great for video recording, but you have to be careful when panning the camera with VR turned on, because it will occasionally bump the camera up or down, as seen in a couple of spots in the video. This is normal VR behavior and the same thing would happen if you were to pan while taking stills. Here is another one shot in slow motion with the Nikon 1 V1 camera:
4) Autofocus Performance and Accuracy
As I have already pointed out in my Nikon 1 V1 Review, the new autofocus system on the Nikon 1 system is phenomenal when compared to other mirrorless competitors. It is very fast and accurate, thanks to the hybrid autofocus system that Nikon specifically developed for the Nikon 1 cameras. Hybrid autofocus is a combination of phase and contrast detect AF that work together to obtain quick and accurate focus. Similar to the “Silent Stepping AF Motor” (STM) on the Nikon 1 10-30mm VR lens, the Voice Coil AF Motor seems to be as fast in acquiring focus in daylight conditions. In low-light conditions, AF speed definitely takes a hit, not because of the lens, but because the camera automatically switches to contrast-detect only mode. The biggest difference between the STM and the VCM motor, is that the latter is silent. Yes, you heard it right – it literally focuses without any noise whatsoever. I even tried putting the lens right next to my ear while half-pressing the shutter and I still could not hear a thing.
Overall, I had a very positive experience with autofocus performance and accuracy of the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR lens. It truly does acquire focus quickly, silently and most importantly, accurately. I shot several hundred images with the 10-100mm lens and I had a hard time finding images that were out of focus. Large depth of field due to the small 2.7x crop factor sensor surely plays a role here, but I have shot with point and shoot cameras with even smaller sensors before and managed to get a lot more out of focus images.
5) Vibration Reduction
The Image Stabilization / Vibration Reduction technology found on the Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 lens is very similar to the VR technology found on modern DSLR lenses – it is very effective when shot at slow shutter speeds. There are, however, some differences in the way VR is deployed on the new mirrorless cameras versus DSLR lenses. First, VR does not engage on DSLR lenses unless the shutter button is half-pressed (or AF-ON pressed). This is not the case with the Nikon mirrorless cameras – when VR is turned on in camera setup, it is constantly on. You do not have to half-press the shutter button – it will always be active. This seems to be a flaw in the Nikon 1 system design, because having VR turned on constantly will have its toll on battery life. Second, VR is no longer controlled through lens switches, but rather from inside the camera menu (as reported earlier). Lastly, for some strange reason, both the Nikon 1 J1 and V1 cameras were shipped with VR turned on in “Active” mode. This is rather strange, because the active mode is supposed to be used when a person stands on a moving platform (inside a car, on a boat, etc). Not sure if this is a firmware issue, but it would be interesting to find out exactly why Nikon decided to do that. Despite these differences and reported issues, Vibration Reduction works great. I would leave it on “Normal” mode within the camera setup and only turn it off when mounting the camera on a tripod.
6) Lens sharpness, contrast and color rendition
As I reveal in my sharpness tests in the subsequent pages of this review, the performance of the Nikon 1 10-100mm f/3.5-5.6 VR is excellent throughout the focal length of the lens and its aperture range. You can see many examples of lens sharpness taken in a controlled environment in the next page, along with comparisons against other lenses.
A quick note on lens sharpness that generally applies to all Nikon 1 Nikkor lenses. Due to the small size of the sensor and the nature of compact optics, an aperture of f/5.6 is rather small and often represents peak lens performance. While diffraction negatively effects images on DX and FX sensors above f/8-f/11, it greatly impacts lens performance at anything smaller than f/5.6 on CX sensors. In the case of the Nikon 1 10-100mm lens, its maximum aperture of f/5.6 on the long end means that you are at its peak performance when it is wide open and stopping down the lens only decreases image quality. This is yet another negative consequence of a small sensor camera design.
Isolating subjects from the background with a small-aperture zoom lens is a challenge due to its larger depth of field. This becomes even a more difficult task on Nikon 1 cameras, because of their small 2.7x crop factor sensors. While depth of field and the size of background highlights depend on multiple factors such as focal length, aperture, camera to subject distance and subject to background distance, the quality of Bokeh largely depends on lens optics. If you are able to get close to your subject while keeping the busy background further away from the subject, you can get a decent-looking bokeh, as long as you are shooting at maximum aperture and zoomed in to telephoto range (above 30mm, preferably close to 100mm). The 1 Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 lens is equipped with a rounded 7-blade diaphragm, which helps in obtaining circular bokeh highlights. Here is an example of bokeh quality shot at approximately 70mm:
Once Nikon releases fast f/1.2-f/1.8 prime lenses, I will look into their bokeh performance in more detail.
As for vignetting, the Nikon 1 10-100mm unfortunately shows vignetting at most focal lengths and apertures, with least amount of vignetting at 30mm and most at 10mm. In some cases, even stopping down the lens to f/8 does not get rid of vignetting, as shown below:
RAW shooters will see more vignetting in their images, because vignetting is automatically reduced on JPEG images by camera firmware. If vignetting is an issue for you, it is easy to fix in post-processing, so I would not worry about it. Adobe has not yet added a lens profile for the Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR into Lightroom or Camera RAW, but we should be seeing it in upcoming updates pretty soon. Once it is added, you will be able to get rid of vignetting with a single click through the Lens Corrections sub-module in Lightroom / Camera RAW.
9) Ghosting and Flare
Despite advanced lens coatings, the Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens does not handle flares and ghosting very well, especially when the sun is out of the frame – that’s where you will see a significant drop in contrast. There is a reason why Nikon supplied this lens with a hood. Make sure to keep it on all the time and use your hand to block additional light if it is still reaching the front element of the lens. Here is an extreme example of ghosting and flare when shooting with the sun in the frame:
Ghosting and flares are not always bad though. In some cases, you might want to use them creatively like this:
It goes without saying that the size, color, amount and shape of lens flares depends on a number of factors, including types and number of optical elements, lens aperture, focal length and the location of the light source in the frame.
10) Chromatic Aberration and Distorion
It is hard to keep chromatic aberration under control at all focal lengths on superzoom lenses, despite the fact that the lens sports ED, Aspheric and coated lens elements. There is a modest amount of chromatic aberration at the shortest end (in the corners, high-contrast situations), which is greatly reduced between 30mm and 50mm, then kicks back again at longer focal lengths all the way to 100mm in high-contrast situations. Here is an example of chromatic aberration that is visible at 10mm:
As for distortion, unfortunately, there is quite a bit of barrel distortion on the wide end at 10mm, which gets better by 30mm. From there on, pincushion distortion takes over all the way to the 100mm mark. These optical issues are expected for a superzoom lens like the 10-100mm though; if you look at other superzoom lenses like the Nikon 18-200mm VR, they also exhibit similar chromatic aberration and distortion problems.
Click here to download the full size version of the above image.
Let’s now move on to the good stuff – Sharpness tests. Select the next page below.
11) Sharpness Test
Some technical junk:
- White Balance: Auto, changed to “Custom”: 4750 Temp, +18 Tint in Lightroom
- ISO: 100
- EXIF information is preserved in the images
- Lens was mounted on Nikon 1 V1 Camera and Gitzo tripod
- Focusing was performed with manual focus assistance
- High ISO NR: Off
- Long Exposure NR: Off
- Active D-Lighting: Off
- Image Format: RAW
- Lightroom settings: Default settings
- Lightroom export: sRGB JPEG Quality 80
- Testing was performed at f/4.5, f/5.6, f/8.0. f/11.0 and f/16.0 apertures
- Nothing was moved during testing
12) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 10mm Center Frame
The wide-open performance of the Nikon 1 10-100mm at 10mm in the center is pretty good – sharpness and contrast do not really improve when stopped down:
Signs of diffraction are visible at f/8 and get worse by f/11:
At f/16, diffraction is so bad that I would not use this aperture on the Nikon 1 sensor at all:
The Nikon 1 lenses should not be used at such small apertures – I would not recommend shooting beyond f/8.
13) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 10mm Corner Frame
Corners are also good wide open with visible signs of vignetting:
Again, diffraction starts affecting resolution at f/8 and worsens by f/11:
I would not shoot at f/16, because diffraction is at its worst here:
Some green fringing is visible in all corner crops – typical zoom lens performance. Because the Nikon 1 lenses show so much diffraction at f/16, I won’t provide any more samples above f/11.
14) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 14mm Center Frame
Zoomed in to 14mm does not change much – the wide open performance is still as good as f/5.6:
15) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 14mm Corner Frame
Corners at 14mm look pretty good as well:
16) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 18mm Center Frame
17) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 18mm Corner Frame
Corner performance remains the same:
18) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 24mm Center Frame
Not much change at 24mm, the image is still very sharp and has great contrast:
Again, diffraction negatively impacts the performance at any aperture smaller than f/5.6:
19) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 24mm Corner Frame
No change in corner performance:
20) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 30mm Center Frame
Not much change in center frame performance at 30mm:
21) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 30mm Corner Frame
Corners are still as good:
23) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 40mm Center Frame
No changes in center performance at 40mm:
24) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 40mm Corner Frame
The same with the corners:
25) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 60mm Center Frame
No changes in center performance at 60mm:
26) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 60mm Corner Frame
At 60mm, we start to see some heavier signs of chromatic aberration in the extreme corners and sharpness is definitely affected:
27) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 80mm Center Frame
Center performance at 80mm is still good, but starting to lose resolution:
28) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 80mm Corner Frame
Even more visible chromatic aberration at 80mm, this time with signs of purple fringing as well. Wide open performance at f/5.6 is rather weak now because of it:
29) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 100mm Center Frame
Again, looks like zoomed in to 100mm we are seeing even more loss of resolution, which is typical for a superzoom lens:
30) Sharpness Test – Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 100mm Corner Frame
At 100mm we see a rather heavy amount of both green and purple fringing in the corners and there is a rather heavy loss of sharpness at all apertures:
The Nikon 1 10-100mm seems to perform well at short focal lengths in the center, with f/5.6 being its sweet spot. Once zoomed in beyond 60mm, there is a slight loss of resolution. As for corners, they start out pretty good at 10mm and get progressively worse, especially beyond 60mm due to chromatic aberration. Peak performance seems to be at around the 30mm mark.
One important fact to note here, is that due to the smaller size of the camera sensor and its pixels, all 1 Nikkor lenses, including the 10-100mm are sharpest at around the f/5.6 mark. Anything smaller than that, especially above f/11 severely impacts image quality due to diffraction. This differs from the typical f/8-f/11 aperture range you might be used to on DSLR lenses. If you shoot in Aperture Priority or Manual modes, try not to go smaller than f/5.6, if you want to get the sharpest image. It is OK to stop down to f/8 to get more depth of field, but definitely not a good idea to go any further. You will just end up degrading image quality too much.
Let’s see how the lens compares to other 1 Nikkor lenses.
Compared to Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8
The Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8 is currently the smallest and the lightest 1 Nikkor lens, known as a “pancake” lens. Its optical characteristics greatly differ from the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR lens – it is a fixed focal length lens, its maximum aperture is much larger at f/2.8 versus f/4.5 (and minimum aperture is limited to f/11) and it has no vibration reduction (VR). Let’s see how the 10mm pancake lens compares to the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR lens at 10mm.
31) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR vs Nikon 1 10mm @ 10mm Center Frame
Looks like the Nikon 10mm f/2.8 can resolve details a little better in the center at maximum aperture, with its 1+ stop advantage.
32) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR vs Nikon 1 10mm @ 10mm Corner Frame
33) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR vs Nikon 1 10mm Conclusion
When comparing the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR lens with the Nikon 1 10mm pancake lens, we have to keep in mind that both lenses serve different purposes. The pancake lens is the most compact lens available for the Nikon 1 system today and it offers much faster speed (larger maximum aperture, over 1 stop of difference), which is useful for low-light situations. The Nikon 1 10-100mm lens, on the other hand, is a superzoom lens with image stabilization targeted primarily at videographers. If we are to talk purely about lens sharpness and performance, then the Nikon 10mm f/2.8 seems to have better resolution in the center and about the same corner performance when stopped down to f/4. Vignetting on both lenses is moderate at largest apertures with a bigger spread on the Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8 lens, but once stopped down to just f/4, the Nikon 1 10mm looks much better. Unfortunately, the Nikon 1 10-100mm needs to be stopped down all the way to f/8 to significantly reduce vignetting at almost all focal lengths, except for 30mm, where it seems to have the least amount of problems (the same is true for sharpness, distortion and chromatic aberration). The Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8 also handles distortion, flares and ghosting better than the Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR does.
Compared to Nikon 1 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR
Let’s see how the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR compares to the Nikon 1 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR kit lens that comes with the Nikon 1 V1 / J1 cameras. Comparing these two lenses was rather difficult, because there is no fixed position of focal lengths on the 10-100mm lens and I had to move slightly, then take a picture and check its focal length. As a result, the comparison image crops might not have the same field of view.
34) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-30mm VR @ 10mm Center Frame
Looks like the Nikon 1 10-100mm lens has slightly better contrast at f/4.5 than the Nikon 1 10-30mm lens is at f/3.5. The difference stays about the same when both are stopped down to f/5.6:
Diffraction starts to affect image quality at f/8:
And by f/11 it greatly reduces both sharpness and contrast on both lenses:
35) Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 10mm Corner Frame
The wide open performance of the 10-100mm lens is very impressive – it is sharper than the 10-30mm. Stopped down to f/5.6, the 10-100mm still seems to be superior, although it is a close battle.
Not much changes by f/8, besides diffraction:
And f/11 looks rather poor on both:
36) Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 14mm Center Frame
Although the performance seems to be about the same when stopped down to f/5.6:
Further f/8 and f/11 do not look as good due to diffraction again:
37) Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 14mm Corner Frame
38) Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 18mm Center Frame
39) Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 18mm Corner Frame
40) Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 24mm Center Frame
41) Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 24mm Corner Frame
42) Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 30mm Center Frame
43) Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 30mm Corner Frame
Even stopped down to f/8-f/11 range, the Nikon 10-100mm lens looks much sharper.
44) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-30mm VR Conclusion
Without a doubt, the Nikon 10-100mm VR lens seems to outperform the Nikon 10-30mm lens at the center, as well as in the corners at pretty much all focal lengths between 10mm and 30mm and apertures from maximum (f/4.5) to minimum (f/16). I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t, given the price and size of this mega-lens. While the 10-100mm VR lens is designed specifically for videographers, it certainly does have very nice optical features that also make it a great lens for photography (at least at focal lengths below or equal to 30mm). Despite the superiority in sharpness, I still prefer the Nikon 10-30mm kit lens, because it is much more compact and smaller. The sharpness differences above do not make a huge difference in the field anyway…
Compared to Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 VR
The Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 VR is a telephoto lens for the Nikon 1 cameras that is equivalent to a 81-297mm lens (think of it as something like the Nikon 70-300mm lens). Below is a comparison between the two starting from 30mm.
45) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR vs Nikon 1 30-110mm VR @ 30mm Center Frame
Again, I won’t be providing any f/16 crops, since image quality is very poor at the minimum aperture.
46) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR vs Nikon 1 30-110mm VR @ 30mm Corner Frame
47) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR vs Nikon 1 30-110mm VR @ 40mm Center Frame
48) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR vs Nikon 1 30-110mm VR @ 40mm Corner Frame
49) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR vs Nikon 1 30-110mm VR @ 60mm Center Frame
50) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR vs Nikon 1 30-110mm VR @ 60mm Corner Frame
51) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR vs Nikon 1 30-110mm VR @ 80mm Center Frame
52) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR vs Nikon 1 30-110mm VR @ 80mm Corner Frame
53) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 100mm vs Nikon 1 30-110mm VR @ 110mm Center Frame
54) Nikon 1 10-100mm VR vs Nikon 1 30-110mm VR @ 100mm Corner Frame
55) Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 30-110mm VR Conclusion
As you can see from the above image crops, the Nikon 30-110mm VR starts out sharper in the center and weaker in the corners, then catches up in the corners towards its longest focal length. Overall, I would say the differences are rather small when both lenses are stopped down to the same aperture, which is disappointing for the 30-110mm lens. I guess I just expected a little more out of a dedicated telephoto lens. At focal lengths below 60mm the Nikon 1 30-110mm has a 1 stop lead, but it also has a weaker corner performance. In terms of other optical performance differences, the Nikon 1 30-110mm has much less vignetting at f/5.6 throughout its focal range. The 30-110mm has more barrel distortion at 30mm, but less pincushion distortion above 60mm. Both lenses are equally allergic to flare and ghosting, which is why Nikon provided lens hoods. AF speed seems to be about the same on both lenses. As for lens build, the Nikon 1 30-110mm feels a little “plasticy” compared to the all-metal Nikon 1 10-100mm. Each lens has its advantages and disadvantages. The clear advantage of the 30-110mm is its compact size and light weight, while the 10-100mm is a much more versatile lens that almost packs the performance of both the 10-30mm kit and the 30-110mm telephoto lenses into one lens.
Summary and Image Samples
As I have shown in this review, the Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR has very impressive performance characteristics when compared to other Nikon 1 lenses. While it is rather slow with a maximum aperture of f/4.5 on the short end and lags behind the Nikon 10mm f/2.8 prime in the center frame, overall it is either on par or better than the Nikon 1 10-30mm VR and the Nikon 1 30-110mm VR lenses. If it was not for the aperture differences, you could say that the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR packs the performance of the 10-30mm and 30-110mm lenses into one lens body. However, this comes at a cost – the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR is more expensive than a Nikon 1 J1 kit with a 10-30mm lens and weighs almost twice more than the Nikon 1 10-30mm and Nikon 1 30-110mm lenses COMBINED. Sure it has very impressive physical and optical characteristics to make videographers and photographers happy, however, the size, the bulk and the weight of the lens offset all of its advantages, in my opinion. As I have already said it before, this lens defeats the purpose of a compact camera system. Even all current Sony NEX lenses are smaller and lighter than this lens and I am not even going to talk about Micro Four Thirds lenses. Unless you are into shooting videos and you really need silent zoom and focus capabilities this lens offers, I would skip it and stay with smaller lenses instead. The Nikon 1 cameras come with the 10-30mm kit lens anyway, so it would be much cheaper to get the 30-110mm zoom lens for your telephoto needs.
57) Where to buy and availability
The Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens is available in black color only from many local and online retailers including B&H. As of 12/20/2011, it retails for approximately $750 and can be purchased directly from this link.
58) More Image Samples
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