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I'd like to point out before starting this review that the spring deal located under the product heading is actually for a different lens - this product is the 18-135mm, whereas the one linked is the 18-55mm.
I originally acquired this lens in 2007 when I bought my first DSLR (a Nikon D80) and knew nothing about the infamous kit lens (ie. don't buy them, they're not good).
Things to note about this lens:
- It is a DX this means it is made for cropped sensor cameras (so not the D700, D3 etc.) You can still use it on a full frame camera, but the results will defeat the point of having a full frame camera in the first place.
- Plastic body
- Switch on the side of the lens for alternating between manual and automatic focus.
- Another note for those new to the world of DSLR's and photography - this is a Nikon lens which means it has been made to fit on Nikon bodies, it will not fit on a Canon etc.
- As with all lenses, this one comes with a lens cap. I have a habit of losing these but I am happy to report that replacements are widely available for just a couple of pounds.
- If you do buy this lens or any other you will need to protect the glass - consider doing this by using the lens hood provided (which also helps to get rid of sun glare) or invest in a UV filter which screws onto the front of the lens.
At this present moment in time (June 2010) the lens is available to buy from jessops for £309. Many of you may be thinking it's alot of money and yes it is, but not in the world of lenses. For a lens £309 is actually at the bottom end of the price range and it will soon become clear why this lens is the price it is.
The plastic body gives it a cheap feel and the lens doesn't look or feel very durable. In the (less than) 3 years that I've had it the zoom mechanism has gone a bit iffy - if I'm shooting looking down and take my hand off the barrel of the lens, the effect of gravity makes it zoom itself outwards and this shouldn't happen, but because it's a cheaply made lens, it wears very quickly.
Glass is all important in the construction of lenses - different glasses have different faults and lenses tend to use several different bits of glass to counteract each others faults, thus resulting in a better quality image. One major issue is that poor quality glass can cause something known as chromatic abberation - this is where you get coloured fringes around the edges of objects in a photograph (often purple/pink but can be blue etc.) This lens has chromatic abberation in abundance - almost every shot I take with it, if I zoom in close and have a proper look, will have fringing somewhere in the photo. Fringing does get worse/more apparant when there are extremes of contrast.
This lens is F3.5-5.6 which is pretty standard for a zoom lens ie. not particularly fast. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it will restrict certain useage for example it means it isn't really a suitable lens for shooting weddings (low light) or sports coverage.
I have to say it's not all bad though - this was my first lens and although I have others, this is still the most versatile one I own. It has taught me alot since I've had it(although mostly how it isn't a professional quality lens), making me a much better photographer. That said what it has taught me has made me come to hate it and I am looking forward to the day when I can afford to replace it with the Nikkor 24-70mm and leave so many issues with image quality behind me. When that day comes I will gladly sell this lens and not feel one bit of guilt about it.
Overall I would not recommend this lens - yes it's 18-135mm range means it's very versatile for shooting many different subjects, but the trade off with quality just isn't worth it. Save yourself money in the long run and buy a better lens - don't get sucked into the kit lens deal like I did. Always do your research before making a purchase like a lens or camera or there's a good chance you'll waste your money.
If you want a cheap but good quality Nikon lens consider the 50mm 1.8 - it's got a fixed focal length so much more restrictive in that sense, but it gives much higher image quality, is faster and less than £100 to buy new. It's the cheapest, best quality lens you'll ever buy.