Review Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8 – 5.6 VR (CX)


Nikon 30-110 mm has entered the market in September 2011, as 1 of the 4 lenses for the new Nikon 1 series. Within the range of lenses for the Nikon V1 and Nikon J1 cameras, the Nikon 30-110 mm, which is officially called NIKKOR 30-110mm f/3.8 – 5.6 VR, is the lens with the longest focal length. The Nikon 1 cameras have a CX sensor with a crop factor of 2.7, making the zoom range of the Nikon 30-110 equivalent to 80 to 300 mm of a lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor. For a 300 mm, this lens is very compact with a length of only 6 centimeters.

With the Nikon 1 product group, Nikon is aiming at users who want more than a compact camera, but who find an SLR too big, too heavy or too complicated. Nikon’s strategy differs from that of, for example, Sony or Panasonic, whose MILC cameras (“Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera”) are indeed an alternative to an SLR.

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Nikon 30-110 test,test Nikon 30-110, NIKKOR 30-110mm f/3.8 – 5.6 VR, Nikon 1 serie
Nikon 30-110 test,test Nikon 30-110, NIKKOR 30-110mm f/3.8 – 5.6 VR, Nikon 1 serie

The Nikon 30-110 mm has a 3.7 x zoom range, which is the equivalent to a 81-297 zoom lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor.

Construction and autofocus

The lens is solidly built and the AF runs virtually silent. The lens is compressed for transport by pressing the button on the lens, after which you can rotate further than 30 mm. When you turn on the camera, it warns you that you must first expand the lens, after which the lens is much less compact and especially when you also use the lens hood (as you can see on the right by holding your mouse over the lens).

Image stabilization

The camera has a built-in image stabilization (“vibration reduction”), which you can turn on or off via the menu, but unfortunately, it cannot be operated via a button on the lens. The image stabilization comes in 2 flavors: “normal” and “active” (in the picture on the right, it is labeled “VR high.”) Both are effective. You win at least 2 stops by turning on the image stabilization. The Imatest measurement results are plotted in a graph on the right.



The vignetting of jpg files is, at full aperture, less than 1 stop for all focal lengths. Above aperture 5.6, it is less than half a stop. Nikon corrects the jpg files for vignetting: at 30 mm, the vignetting is 1.1 stops (jpg) at full aperture vs. 0.9 (RAW) and at 110 mm, 0.2 stops (jpg) vs. 0.46 (RAW). In-camera correction of vignetting is a good idea for the target group of this lens, which probably does not want to correct the vignetting afterwards by editing. vignet

Only the furthest corners will be the places where you occasionally encounter vignetting at full aperture in practice.

Hold your mouse over this image of gray clouds for a shot where we have emphasized the vignetting for illustration purposes by increasing the contrast in Photoshop. This also happens a lot in practice: pictures with a low contrast are often edited with Levels or Curves in order to increase the contrast.


Distortion Nikon 30-110 mm

At 30 mm, the cushion distortion is so large, that it becomes clearly visible. At longer focal lengths, the distortion turns towards barrel distortion, but that has a much less disruptive presence.

 distortion Nikkor 30 110

Bokeh Nikon 30-110 mm


A camera with a small sensor has so much depth of field that you will not encounter Bokeh much in practice. But if you do encounter this with the Nikon 30-110 mm, the Bokeh is quiet. The image on the right was taken at 400 ISO, and some noise becomes visible too in the dark areas, which still looks very calm.

Hold your mouse over the image to view a 100% image cropping of the Bokeh under the red berries in the image.



The Nikon 30-110 mm has a complex design with 18 elements in 12 groups and is therefore susceptible to internal reflections. When testing on radiation we encountered light flare and ghosting in extreme backlit situations. More striking is that in such situations, you may encounter blooming of the sensor or purple fringing (below picture left). If there is too much light on a pixel, a portion of the signal is leaking to neighboring pixels, causing purple stains.

glare Nikon 30-110
fringe glare

Resolution Nikon 30-110 mm


The sharpness of this lens remains pretty constant from the center to the corners. If you compare the resolution of the Nikon 30-110 mm to lenses on SLRs compare with an APS-C sensor, this lens performs averagely. That is a good achievement for such a small and inexpensive lens. The highest resolution is already attained at full aperture, to decrease from aperture 5.6 on as a result of diffraction. At the longest focal length, the Nikon 30-110 mm clearly loses resolution, but that applies to most cheap telephoto zoom lenses.

Click on the chart to also view the graphs of other focal lengths.

resolutie Nikkor 30 110

30mm Nikkor 30 110

30mmf4 Nikkor 30 110
Hold your mouse over the image to compare the resolution at full aperture at 30 mm and 110 mm.  Hold your mouse over the image to view the loss of resolution caused by diffraction.

Chromatic aberration Nikon 30-110 mm

The chromatic aberration is very sufficiently controlled in the jpg files, which we have analyzed. We have not encountered chromatic aberration in practice either.

Click on the little chart to view the with Imatest measured chromatic aberration at the other focal lengths.

CA Nikkor 30 110

Conclusion NIKKOR 30-110 mm f/3.8 – 5.6 VR  review


Use the Lens Comparison or look in our list of reviewed lenses to compare this lens with other lenses.

WYSIWYG score: More and more often when designing a lens, distortion, color separation and vignetting are consciously not optimally corrected. As a result, fewer expensive lens elements or exotic glass types need to be used, which ultimately results in a more attractive selling price. The lens manufacturer relies on automatic correction of these characteristics in the camera or in photo editing software. The “jpg-score” gives you for a lens/test camera combination, “What you see is what you get” when all available lens corrections are applied in the camera. 

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  • good optical performances
  • compact, especially in transport mode
  • integrated, effective image stabilization


  • visible distortion, especially at 30 mm
  • vignetting at full aperture
  • less resolution at the longest focal length

With its compact dimensions, low weight, low price and decent performances, this lens will certainly appeal to the target audience. The sharpness of this lens remains pretty constant from the center to the corners. If you compare the resolution of the Nikon 30-110 mm to lenses on SLRs with an APSC sensor, this lens performs averagely. This is a good achievement for such a small and inexpensive lens.

The disadvantages of this lens, distortion at 30 mm and vignetting at full aperture can be properly corrected in a photo editing program afterwards. But the question is whether the target group of this lens will do so. The falling sharpness at the longest focal length, you will find in most cheap telephoto zoom lenses. You cannot have it all.


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