Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10mm @ 10mm Center Frame
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 10-30mm VR lens – it is a fixed focal length lens, its maximum aperture is much larger at f/2.8 versus f/3.5 (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 10-30mm VR lens at 10mm.
Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10mm @ 10mm Corner Frame
Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10mm Conclusion
When comparing the Nikon 1 10-30mm 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 faster speed (larger maximum aperture), which is useful for low-light situations. The Nikon 1 10-30mm lens, on the other hand, is a general-purpose lens that offers the versatility of a zoom lens. If we are to talk purely about lens sharpness and performance, then both have their advantages and disadvantages. The Nikon 1 10mm offers superb wide open performance in the center, but suffers from rather heavy lateral chromatic aberration in the corners. The 10mm pancake also has a heavier amount of vignetting at its maximum aperture, although it seems to handle ghosting and flares a little better. AF performance seems to be about the same on both lenses.
Overall, the Nikon 1 10mm seems to offer only two advantages over the Nikon 1 10-30mm – compact size and larger maximum aperture. Performance-wise it is not better than the 10-30mm zoom (due to its rather high level of CA) and has one disadvantage – it lacks image stabilization.
Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 30-110mm VR @ 30mm Center Frame
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). Due to its much longer range, the only focal length I could compare was 30mm.
Sharpness difference is very apparent, especially when both lenses are stopped down to f/5.6:
Again, diffraction kicks in at f/8 and the image quality starts to degrade on both, although the 30-110mm still looks a world better:
Stopped down to f/11, both lenses perform rather poorly, but the 10-30mm looks much worse in comparison:
Again, I won’t be providing any f/16 crops, since image quality is very poor at the minimum aperture.
Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 30-110mm VR @ 30mm Corner Frame
At f/5.6 the Nikon 1 30-110mm looks better and sharper:
Stopped down further to f/8, the Nikon 1 30-110mm improves even more, reaching its sweet spot. Again, it looks better than the 10-30mm lens:
And the same is true for f/11, although diffraction definitely takes its toll:
Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 30-110mm VR Conclusion
Both the Nikon 1 10-30mm VR and the Nikon 1 30-110mm VR lenses are for two different needs and they are meant to compliment each other – the 10-30mm lens covers wider angles and mid-range, while the 30-110mm lens covers telephoto. As you can see from the above image crops, the Nikon 30-110mm VR is much sharper than the 10-30mm lens at 30mm in comparison. This is expected, because it is a specialized lens for telephoto needs and it should perform well at longer focal lengths. As for vignetting, the Nikon 10-30mm vignettes less at 30mm in comparison, especially in the extreme corners, but don’t forget that it is also at f/5.6 vs f/3.8. Ghosting and flares are not handled well by the 30-110mm VR due to the nature of telephoto lens optics. AF speed seems to be about the same on both lenses. As for physical differences, the Nikon 1 30-110mm is a much longer lens compared to the 10-30mm, especially when fully extended.
Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 10mm Center Frame
One interesting lens that Nikon introduced for the Nikon 1 mount is the Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR PD-ZOOM, also known as “1 NIKKOR VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM”. This superzoom is the most expensive Nikon CX lens and it is also the biggest/bulkiest of the four. Compared to the 10-30mm lens, the Nikon 1 10-100mm is equipped with a new “Voice Coil AF Motor” (VCM), which allows zooming in and out by using the power zoom switch on the lens. Its focal length is equivalent to a 27–270mm lens in 35mm format and it is also equipped with VR (plus a bunch of nice optical features from DSLR lenses). 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.
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:
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:
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:
Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 14mm Corner Frame
Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 18mm Center Frame
Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 18mm Corner Frame
Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 24mm Center Frame
Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 24mm Corner Frame
Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR @ 30mm Center Frame
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.
Nikon 1 10-30mm VR vs Nikon 1 10-100mm VR Conclusion
Without a doubt, the Nikon 1 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. However, the lens is too darn big! It is bigger and heavier than most Nikon DSLR kit lenses, which is ridiculous, in my opinion. It defeats the purpose of having a compact camera system like the Nikon 1. Walking around with the lens is not only inconvenient but also painful because it balances terribly with the V1/J1 cameras. The thin camera strap of the V1/J1 cameras quickly transferred the weight of the lens to my neck and it was a painful experience. While it may have some of the best optical designs out there with Vibration Reduction, High Refractive Index, Internal Focus, Super Integrated Coating, 2 Aspherical and 3 ED elements, it is very heavy and bulky for the Nikon 1 system. I definitely prefer the 10-30mm over the 10-100mm because of this.
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