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.