Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 Review

November 10, 2011 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 is a surprisingly good telephoto lens for the Nikon 1 system. Sharpness is very good to excellent, with only the extreme borders being somewhat soft at the 30mm setting. Due to the size of the sensor the lens has been designed for, diffraction kicks in at around f/8, so the 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm is typically at its best when used wide open – which isn't a bad thing. Chromatic aberrations are kept to an absolute minimum, and vignetting isn't much of an issue, either. Close-up performance isn't stellar, but the 30-110mm isn't claimed to be a macro lens, so it would be unfair to mark it down for that. Bokeh is nice and creamy when you can throw the background sufficiently out of focus, but it's not always easy to do given the relatively short [actual] focal lengths and slow maximum apertures on offer.

In terms of mechanical quality and features, the tiny lens is surprisingly well built for the price, and comes with Vibration Reduction on board. However, it's controlled via the camera menu and there's no focus mode switch or focus ring on the lens, either. The latter makes manual focusing an awkward exercise that you won't want to perform very often. We did like the collapsible barrel design and the fact that unlocking the lens powers on the camera as well, if needed.

Auto-focus speed with the lens mounted to the Nikon 1 V1 is sensational 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.

Available in various kits and priced at just $249 on its own, the Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 is great value and a no-brainer if you are a Nikon 1 System camera user and feel you might need some extra reach over what the standard kit zoom is able to provide.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 5