Review Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8 (Nikon 1 / CX)


The Nikon 1 18.5 mm f/1.8 is the Nikon 1 equivalent of the universal standard lens. The 50 mm standard lens is popular with many owners of SLR cameras, partly because of the attractive price/quality ratio. And because the field of view of a standard lens approximately matches what we see. The Nikon 1 18.5 mm f/1.8 is an adorably small and light (70 grams) lens, with an attractive purchase price. What about the image quality of this charming piece of optics?



Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8 & Nikon V2

All manufacturers of compact system cameras do their best to offer a complete lens package as soon as possible after the introduction of the system. The Nikon 1 18.8 mm f/1.8 was introduced in September 2012 to complement the previously released zoom lenses like the Nikon 10-30 mm, Nikon 30-110 mm, or the Nikon 10-100 mm. This is the first Nikon 1 lens with a fixed focal point. Now there’s an even brighter lens with a fixed focus, the Nikon 32 mm f/1.2, which has been added to the Nikon 1 series.

Construction and auto focus


The build quality of the Nikon 18 mm f/1.8 is like that of the other Nikon 1 lenses we’re used to: it’s all well put together and is beautifully designed. The Nikon 1 18.5 mm has a maximum magnification ratio of 0.12. (Taking into account the crop factor, you have the same field of view as a 50 mm with a magnification ratio of 0.33.)

This lens does not have built-in image stabilization. In view of the high brightness that’s not so bad.

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In terms of vignetting, the Nikon 18.5 mm performs just as well as most standard lenses on an SLR camera. At maximum aperture, vignetting can sometimes be visible, but in jpg files it will almost never be disruptive. In RAW files that is certainly the case, but then vignetting is simple to correct with software. In Photoshop and Lightroom, there are good lens correction profiles, which also correct for distortion. After just 1 aperture stop, so from f/2.8, the vignetting is negligible.



Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8 @ f/5, 1/1600, 200 ISO


Most Nikon 1 photographers probably choose jpg files. Then you will never in practice be bothered by distortion. In the design of the Nikon 18.5 mm, Nikon has given a lower priority to preventing distortion, because the camera corrects this quite well in jpg files, and modern RAW converters can correct distortion easily. That seems to me the right choice. Many other manufacturers of compact system cameras, such as Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic and Samsung, are opting for the same strategy.





Compared to many 50 mm standard lenses for SLRs, flare is a relatively weak point of the Nikon 1 System. As long as there is no strong light source in the picture, you have no problem with flare. Only when taking night shots with a street light in the image or shooting straight into the sun, there may be clearly visible ghosts.





Starting at full aperture, this standard lens delivers high sharpness, even in comparison with standard lenses on SLR cameras.
That the sharpness at maximum aperture already high, is great, because this makes the usable range of this lens relatively large compared to the other Nikon 1 lenses. For the Nikon 1 system, the Nikon 1 18.5 mm, after the Nikon 32 mm F1.2, is the best choice if you want to play with background blur. But don’t expect miracles, because the total focal depth at maximum aperture is half a meter if you focus at a distance of 2 meters. This corresponds with f/4 with a 50 mm lens on a camera with a full frame sensor.
Starting from diaframa 11, the sharpness dops off visibly, due to diffraction. No problem: because the depth of field of the Nikon 1 system is large, you don’t have to stop down any further than f/8.



Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8 @ f/4, 1/320, 400 ISO

Chromatic aberration


Chromatic aberration in practice will not be a problem. In jpg files you will never encounter visible chromatic aberration; in RAW files in the extreme corners you can find a very small purple edge, but that is simple to remove if you want to make a blowup.

In jpg files, chromatic aberration is corrected by the camera. On the right, you see a 100% partial enlargement of the worst case that we encountered in terms of chromatic aberration during the test.


Move your mouse over the image.



The quality of the background blur (nicely smooth vs noisy) is determined by a combination of the lens design and depth of field. For focal depth: the larger the sensor, the smaller the depth of field, the more beautiful the bokeh. In terms of depth of field this lens is equivalent to a 50 mm f/4 lens on a camera with a full frame sensor. So don’t expect miracles.
However, the Nikon 18.5 mm is certainly one of the best lenses from the Nikon 1 assortment if you want to play with background blur. Only the – much more expensive – Nikon 32 mm f/1.2 beats the Nikon 18.5 mm in terms of bokeh.

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Conclusion Nikon 18.5mm f/1.8 and Nikon V2 review


See our list of tested lenses or the lenses with a Nikon mount tested by us to compare the performance of this lens to other lenses.



ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you store the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: “What you see is what you get”. {insertgrid ID = 308}
ECPure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. {insertgrid ID = 309}


  • High image quality: comparable to a standard lens on an SLR camera
  • Compact size
  • High brightness
  • Nice bokeh


  • Sensitive to flare
The Nikon 1 system offers a nearly complete range of associated lenses, among which the Nikon 18 mm can be one of the assets that convinces the advanced photographer to switch from a compact camera to a Nikon 1. In terms of build quality, field of view and image quality (sharpness, distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration), the Nikon 18.5 mm is comparable to a standard lens on an SLR camera with an APS-C sensor. Choose an aperture between f/1.8 and f/5.6 and go nuts. You’re guaranteed to come home, thanks in part to the fast AF of Nikon 1 cameras, with beautiful pictures.


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