I'm about to buy a Nikon D3100 and can't decide which kit lens I should pick. On the one hand there is the standard AF-S 18-55mm VR lens and on the other hand the AF-S 18-105mm VR. A bit more zoom than the 55mm lens would be nice, but is the 18-105mm lens as quite as good as the 18-55mm at the same focal-lengths or do I have much more distortion and quality loss in wide angle?


Both of these lenses are plenty good enough; sure, there are differences, but particularly as a beginner, you won't notice them.

I would recommend the 18-105 because the flexibility of a bit more length is of great value to beginners, because it helps you figure out what focal lengths you prefer.

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    Agreed. If you are truly just starting out then you have no idea what focal length will suit your individual needs. Over the course of the years I find I lean significantly to the longer side; the buddy I go out shooting with leans more to the wide end. It's interesting seeing our different takes on the same vistas. Get the 18-105 and find out what length suits you most often. Then you can upgrade to primes in that range of focal length. – Daveorama Jan 21 '11 at 16:58

I bought the 18-105 with my D90, and in retrospect, I wish I hadn't.

I got the 50mm f1.8 soon after, and the image quality is leaps and bounds above the 18-105. So now, whenever I am taking something serious (portraits, etc), I use it.

I then got the 35mm f2, which gives me a wider angle with better image quality. Now, whenever I need a wider angle than the 50, I use it.

I find myself not doing much at all at the 105mm end of the lens. It's not really long enough for most times when you really want a zoom.

As such: it now barely gets any use. And so I wish I spent the money on other stuff.

The 18-55 seems to be a really good focal length range; for "real zooming" I'd want something longer. In retrospect, I wish I'd gotten this lens instead... or simply gone without a kit lens entirely and gotten the 50 & the 35.

  • To my knowledge the D3100 doesn't normally sell the body only. – rfusca Jan 21 '11 at 15:09
  • Hmm... in that case I'd definitely recommend the cheaper option. Of course, this depends on the asker's overall budget and intents. If this was going to be the only lens, then I'd go with the one with the wider range. – Craig Walker Jan 21 '11 at 15:13
  • @Craig Walter, now I'm getting unsure what to buy :D My main area will be landscape and city trips while traveling. I can't really decide what's better for this purpose (35mm, 55mm, or zoom). I'm pretty sure I want to buy a prime lens sooner or later. But what's the right one to start with? Should be some kind of universal because I want to buy only one lens at first. @rfusca I've seen several shops offering the body only – apparat Jan 21 '11 at 15:23
  • Sounds like another question (though there are many similar ones). Short answer: for landscape, get the widest prime you can afford. The 35mm 1.8 DX lens is probably your best tradeoff if you're on a tight budget. – Craig Walker Jan 21 '11 at 15:36
  • Could be an alternative. The D3100 body + 35mm is almost the same price as the kit with 18-105mm ... hard desicion – apparat Jan 21 '11 at 15:42

Maybe you want to have a look here: http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikkor-aps-c-lens-tests/234-nikkor-af-s-18-55mm-f35-56-g-ed-dx-ii-review--test-report For the 18-55 but without VR (Don't know if the VR is much different to this one)

and here: http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikkor-aps-c-lens-tests/410-nikkor_18105_3556vr For the 18-200.

This should give you a good overview!

  • Thanks for the links. From the beginners point of view the differences are not that big in wide angle and I probably take the 18-105mm one. If I'm right the D3100 has automatic distortion (or was it vignetting?!) correction for some lenses. Does it work with these lenses and is it recommended to use this option? – apparat Jan 21 '11 at 10:53
  • Nikon keeps a suprisingly low profile on this feature o_O Didn't know that this even existed until you pointed it out! Also the D3100 has a automatic correction of chromatic abberations, but that was all I could find straight away :/ – m_sc Jan 21 '11 at 12:38
  • Nikon keeps a suprisingly low profile on this feature o_O Didn't know that this even existed until you pointed it out! Also the D3100 has a automatic correction of chromatic abberations, but that was all I could find straight away :/ On the Nikon homepage there are the features listed under "Image manipulation" so I think the lens is not important, but don't take my word too serious. Better ask some salesman at your photo-dealer ;) – m_sc Jan 21 '11 at 12:55
  • It seems that the D5000, D3100, and D7000 models are providing an automatic distortion correction feature. I'll try that once I've got my hands on it. – apparat Jan 21 '11 at 14:10

The quality of the optics on those two lens is fairly comparable and since, to my knowledge as a D3100 owner, you can't get a body only and a different lens - then get the longer focal length only if you think you need it. Otherwise, take the price difference and put it towards something that will produce a better picture for the kinds of shots you'll be doing. DSLRs are MUCH more fun when you have a better lens than the kit to play with.

If you're going to be doing portrait, look at something like a 50mm 1.4 or a SB-600 flash.

If you're going to be shooting indoors, but mostly "scene captures" or such - the 35mm 1.8 is VERY reasonably priced.

If you're going to be shooting landscape - a decent tripod, set of filters, or if you can spring for the 10-24mm lens.

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    Thanks for the tips. I think that I'll take the 18-105mm kit to experiment with the different focal lengths and get some experience. The 35mm prime lens has caught my attention already, but this is more like an option of addition after I learned how to use the dslr properly. As I will be using it mostly when travelling the ability to change focal length is more useful for me right now without having to buy 2 lenses at once. Seems like a plan – apparat Jan 21 '11 at 13:52
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    As a recent beginner myself, I can attest you'll learn a million times more using a higher quality lens with a wider aperture than something that has a bit more length to it. Though, for traveling, I do understand the choice. Best of luck. – rfusca Jan 21 '11 at 14:00
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    As a recent beginner myself, I can attest you'll learn a million times more using a lens with a bit more length to it, because you can find out easily which focal lengths are of interest to you. – Reid Jan 21 '11 at 14:05
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    @Reid - Point taken. I just had both (more length and then got a faster lens) and have learned way more from the prime. To each their own. – rfusca Jan 21 '11 at 14:07

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