First, let’s take a look at different sharpness comparisons from the center of the frame all the way to the edges. We will start with 18mm, with different aperture values:
Next, let’s take a look at the lens at 24mm:
From here, when zoomed in to 35mm:
And lastly, here is how the lens looks like at 55mm:
I will let you draw your own conclusions based on the above 100% crops. And now on to individual lens comparisons.
Nikon 18-55mm AF-P vs Nikon 18-55mm AF-S VR II
The one generation older iteration of this lens has almost identical design, yet displays a bit different curve of sharpness. The older AF-S version is better at 18mm wide open at f/3.5, both in the center and in the mid-range. Only the corners are equally sharp (or rather soft), AF-P has much more controlled aberration. The same holds for f/5.6 (at 18mm), the older generation lens is still a tad better. At f/8 I would call it a draw (AF-P has again better corners), which also holds true for smaller apertures. The older generation is also a bit sharper in the center at 24mm at f/5.6, but the situation changes at 35 and 55mm, where the AF-P version is better at all aperture values throughout the frame. In general, the AF-S has quite weak corners and suffers earlier from diffraction, there is also quite a noticeable amount of chromatic aberration. Only at the same values, the peak sharpness comes earlier (wider open) than with AF-P version.
Nikon 18-55mm AF-P vs Nikon 18-140mm AF-S VR
This is a much larger zoom and hence one could expect a bit worse resolution values, at least at some focal lengths. In general, this zoom is known for a very strong performance at 18mm even wide open (with rather weak corners though), and then with a deteriorating tendency at longer focal lengths. My copy of this lens displayed, however, a bit different behavior. The corners indeed proved to be soft until f/8, but even the central sharpness was not nearly close to Nikkor 18-55mm AF-P (or AF-S) lenses at 18mm. Surprisingly, the best result I could achieve with the 18-140mm lens was at 55mm – here I was expecting the smaller AF-P zoom to lead. So in general, the level of sharpness was with some rare exceptions worse (with chromatic aberration comparable to the AF-S version of the 18-55mm).
Nikon 18-55mm AF-P vs Nikon 18-105mm AF-S VR
I did not have this cheap kit zoom at my disposal while testing the 18-5mm AF-P lens, so I can only deduct indirectly, from inspecting photos in my archive. I assume the 18-55 is equally sharp at 18mm and slightly sharper at other focal lengths, with differences more visible in the corners.
Nikon 18-55mm AF-P vs Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX
Even if it is not very fair to compare a zoom lens with fixed prime lens, I still did this comparison very quickly for myself. After-all, the 35mm AF-S DX lens is also an entry-level lens. The comparison gives us a rough idea about how sharp the zoom is, because one can expect a lot of resolution from a fixed prime, especially at f/4 – f/5.6. With both lenses set at f/5.6, I was positively surprised that the Nikkor 18-55mm AF-P lens displayed only slightly lower resolution in all parts of the frame (and much better aberration control) – so the little zoom is really strong.
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