Review Nikon 1 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom VR

In March 2014, the Nikon 1 VR 10–30 mm f/3.5–5.6 PD-ZOOM lens was introduced as the successor to the Nikon 1 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 VR. The successor offer the same broadly applicable field of view (from wide angle to telephoto: 27-81 mm 35-mm equivalent), but it is extra flat, has a motor-driven zoom and a built-in lens cap. If you are accustomed to a smartphone, then it takes some getting used to that lenses for system cameras almost always have a separate lens cap. Before you know it, you’ve lost it. With a Nikon 1 10-30 mm PD zoom, that isn’t going to happen to you.
The Nikon 1 VR 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM is available in black and has a list price of € 309. It is also the kit lens for the Nikon 1 V3. If you do not buy a black Nikon 1 camera, then this kit lens is also available in the same color as your camera.


Nikon 1 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom VR

Nikon1030sampleimageNikon 1 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom VR + Nikon 1 V3, @ 17.6 mm, f/7.1, 1/30 s, 3200 ISO
This lens, with 3x zoom, is perfect for diverse kinds of shots, from distant subjects to close-ups—ideal for photos and videos on vacation or for everyday events.

Build and auto focus

This lens is really remarkably small. The compact construction has a robust, yet stylish/luxurious, metallic exterior. Nikon has applied a couple of great tricks in order to make a high-quality lens that is so light and small. First, this is a lens that retracts after use, so that it is even more compact during transport. Second, the lens cap is built in. Third, it is—for a standard kit lens—a relatively complex design, with 4 aspherical lens elements and a lens element of ED glass applied.
This lens has no ring in order to focus manually. Nikon makes a clear choice for an electric, motor-driven 3x optical zoom, which zooms quickly and smoothly. That is handy for photography and video. You will not accidentally turn the focus ring when you want to zoom (or the other way around). Auto focus is accurate and lightning fast.

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Have you ever wanted to take a picture, just to find out—embarrassingly—that the lens cap was still on? I have.

This flat lens is fitted with a retractable lens mechanism and electronic lens protection instead of a lens cap. Turn the camera on and the protection will be opened, while the lens extends. You lose no, sometimes valuable, time because you still have to remove the lens cap. Turn the camera off and the lens will be retracted, so that the camera fits easily in a bag, while the lens is still on it.


You will not have any trouble with vignetting. Today, practically all manufacturers assume in the design of lenses that a part of the lens flaws will be corrected with software. It thus becomes possible to design light, compact and attractively priced lenses—in comparison with analog lenses. If you want to prevent all the vignetting in the design, then a lens quickly becomes too large and heavy. If you photograph in jpg, or you apply lens corrections with the lens correction profile of this lens, then vignetting at all focal lengths and apertures is negligible.


Distortion Nikon 1 10-30 mm VR

For distortion, the same applies as for vignetting: if you open your RAW files without lens corrections, then the distortion runs as you would expect for this kind of zoom lens from visible barrel-shaped at the shortest focal length to visible pincushion-shaped at the longest focal length. If you photograph in jpg, then the distortion is completely irrelevant at both the shortest and the longest focal length.


PantoffelheldHenpecked man, Nikon 1 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom VR + Nikon V3


The Nikon 1 10-30 mm PD-Zoom achieves, expressed in line pairs per mm, astronomically high resolutions when you compare it with lenses for full-frame SLR cameras.

It is true that the sharpness in the corners, as it appears from our Imatest measurements, is a bit lower than in the center, but in practice, you will have little trouble from it because the sharpness in the corners practically always remains above 1500 lines per image height (jpg file with standard sharpening).

Only at the longest focal lengths was the sharpness in the corners visibly less than in the center. When you realize how close the pixels are to each other on a 1-inch sensor with 20 megapixels or more, then it is immediately clear that this is a good performance.


Nikon 1 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom VR + Nikon 1 V3, @ 30 mm, f/5.6, 1/200 s, 400 ISO

Chromatic aberration

The 1 NIKKOR VR 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM lens is fitted with four aspherical lens elements and one element of ED glass that corrects undesired aberrations and skewing for images with outstanding resolution and contrast. Even so, this lens is not entirely free of chromatic aberration, as it appears when you look at sharp contrast transitions in the corners of uncorrected RAW files. Then, red and blue edges are visible, as you can see in the extreme enlargement of a practice shot to the right. This is pretty normal for a lens costing a few hundred euros. The Nikon V3 effectively corrects for chromatic aberration, so that you will not find any visible chromatic aberration in the jpgs. With lens correction profiles from Adobe, it is also simple to remove chromatic aberration from the RAW files. RAWCA

Bokeh Nikon 1 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom VR

If you want to switch from a smartphone or compact camera to a system camera with interchangeable lenses, because you are namely charmed by photos with a beautiful background blur, consider the switch to a Nikon D3200 or Nikon D3300 instead of a switch to Nikon 1. Of the Nikon 1 lenses, the Nikon 32.5 mm f/1.2 is the bokeh king. And there’s a whole different price tag on it than on a Nikon 1 10-30 mm lens. Only with the relatively expensive Nikon 1 32.5 mm f/1.2 do you, with a Nikon 1, approach the bokeh of a Nikon D3300 with a 35 mm/50 mm f/1.8 lens.
On the other hand, the Nikon 1 10-30 mm PD-Zoom VR offers a lot of focal depth. See, for example, the practice shot made in Bilbao: at f/5.6 and the longest focal length, not only the subject is sharp, but the bridge and houses in the background are also clearly recognizable.


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Conclusion Nikon 1 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom VR review with Nikon V3


Look in our list of reviewed lenses or in our list of reviewed micro-43 lenses in order to compare the performance of this lens with other lenses.


Test camera: Nikon V3

ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the file 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”.

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ECPure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens if the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you make use of Photoshop or Lightroom for the conversion of RAW files, then the RAW scores are the same as the jpg scores. {insertgrid ID = 309}


  • Compact and robust
  • Practical lens cap
  • Good image quality
  • Built-in image stabilization


  • Visible chromatic aberration in RAW files
  • No ring for manual focusing
  • Use of filters is not possible

TL/DR? Nikon 1 10-30 mm PD VR offers a surprisingly high image quality for a super-small, super-light lens.

The Nikon 1 10-30 mm PD Zoom VR scores higher in our review than its predecessor, the Nikon 1 10-30 mm VR. Even so, we think that the two lenses differ little from each other in terms of image quality, and that score difference is primarily thanks to the higher resolution of the Nikon V3 in comparison with the Nikon V1 that we used in the previous review. Distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting are corrected well. Both kit lenses really deliver surprisingly high build and image quality, even in comparison with more expensive and larger kit lenses from other brands. The Nikon 1 10-30 mm PD-Zoom achieves, expressed in line pairs per mm, astronomically high resolution if you compare it with lenses for full-frame SLR cameras. You never have to look for the built-in lens cap, you never forget to remove it before taking a shot, and it is refreshing to work with.


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