Nikon 1 Nikkor AW 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 Review

January 15, 2014 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


Optically, the Nikon 1 Nikkor 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 AW is a decent but not outstanding lens. Centre sharpness is adequate at all focal lengths, especially wide open. The edges are visibly softer, at least at the 11mm setting, but this isn't uncommon with kit lenses and won't be causing you headaches unless you wanted to make really big prints. At longer focal lengths, sharpness uniformity is noticeably better across the frame.

hromatic aberrations are very well controlled, and vignetting is a non-issue. Close-up performance is not exceptional but again, entirely adequate for a standard zoom. Bokeh is fine when you can throw the background sufficiently out of focus, but it's not always easy to do given the very short (actual) focal lengths and slow maximum apertures on offer.

The lens's trump card is of course the waterproofing. When used in combination with the Nikon 1 AW1 compact system camera, you can take it to depths of up to 15m without a special housing. While we did not have the opportunity to take the camera and lens on a scuba diving trip, we did shoot with the kit extensively in the rain. Both the camera and the lens survived and remained operational, but there were a number of occasions when condensation occurred on the inside of the protective glass at the very front of the lens. This was frustrating, as obviously we couldn't wipe it clean and had to stop shooting. Nikon says that the use of the optional AW 40.5 NC filter, which is specifically designed for this lens, reduces the risk of condensation so you should plan on buying one if you'd like to use your gear underwater or in rainy weather.

Auto-focus speeds with the lens mounted to the Nikon 1 AW1 are fast in good light, allowing you to photograph fast-moving subjects with ease. Due to factors inherent in the 1 System cameras' design, low-light focusing is a lot less spectacular, though.

Overall, the Nikon 1 Nikkor 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 AW lens is a good match for the Nikon 1 AW1 camera, and works surprisingly well as a general-purpose walk-around lens.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4