Gem of a lens for the Nikon 1 system - Very good glass

Started Mar 23, 2015 | User reviews thread
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mmartel Contributing Member • Posts: 649
Gem of a lens for the Nikon 1 system - Very good glass
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I got my 30-110 along with the 10-30 when I purchased my J3 and shot with it for about 4 months now. I've used it for family portraits and distant sights in Hawaii, musical shows at Disneyland, and theatrical-style shows at an indoor sports stadium.

It is, IMO, a real gem of a lens and - in fact - the main reason I decided to keep my Nikon J3. With my copy, the optics really are outstanding.

The lens is very light, extremely compact (it's just a tad bigger than the 10-30mm kit lens!!) when in its closed/carry position, offers useful zoom reach, and has very, very good sharpness from edge to edge when it's wide open. Contrast and color are excellent. To my eyes, stills and video simply look better at any ISO/aperture (very noticeable so at 30mm where their ranges overlap) than with the 10-30mm lens. Distortion seems well under control, and I've noticed very little chromatic aberration. Kinda awesome.

But that's not all. This lens has good VR (Nikon's stabilization system), it focuses pretty quickly (although with fast moving subjects coming straight at you, even with PDAF, I find it may lag just a bit behind your subject) and it's utterly silent. The manual zoom ring is nicely geared (reasonable quick) and I find it on the stiff side of acceptable in terms of resistance (it's noticeable stiffer than the 10-30 kit lens but not annoyingly so). You won't get massive shallow depth of field with this lens (you're somewhat limited with a 1" sensor), but it's still sufficient to get a nice 3D feel to images and the bokeh quality is IMO quite good (or at least, not nervous/distracting).

It seems well made to me, although I'm not the person to ask about build quality since I generally take care of my equipment, and prefer something lighter and perhaps slightly less durable to something really heavy and made to survive a zombie apocalypse. I expect it will easily survive the 5 year factory warrantee period. I will also note that the lens comes with a reversible lens hood included, which works well and appears made of reasonably tough polycarbonate plastic, and IMO appears well built to withstand the bumps and accidental crushing it will inevitably endure protecting the end of the lens. It also does a nice job providing shade from direct sunlight.

IMO this makes an excellent portrait lens for the 1 system (though obviously not as good as the 32mm f1.2). In good light, I'd have no problem printing a 16x20" or even larger print. And I've shot family portraits at ISO 3200+ on my J3 in mediocre indoor light in RAW, and after processing, they're easily printed at 8x10" with good quality. Even though the aperture values are pretty mediocre, the overall sharpness of the lens seems to allow noise clean up in post so that you don't end up with horribly soft edges.

Sure, it doesn't have the reach of the 70-300, but really, it's a pretty marvelous lens for general shooting and doubly so at its price point. The lens is pretty much perfect for what it is. If you don't need more than 300mm equivalent reach, but you need something longer than the kit lens, and you don't require a power zoom feature (which is available for the Nikon 1 in the form of the much larger and heavier 10-100 PD zoom), I think you'll be as satisfied as I am with this lens.

I'm only holding back a half star because I'd love a little more zoom range, and a bit faster autofocus at the highest speed action & shooting angles. Of course, I realize these would entail tradeoffs that add a bit of size and noise. But for me personally, a 30-150 that could keep up with anything would score a perfect 5/5.

 mmartel's gear list:mmartel's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm F1.8 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 O.I.S +3 more
Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6
Telephoto zoom lens • Nikon 1 • 3312, 3319, 3378
Announced: Sep 21, 2011
mmartel's score
4.5
Average community score
4.2
Nikon 1 J3 Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6
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