September 21, 2011 Nikon announced the Nikon 10-100 mm VR Nikkor zoom lens. This lens is equipped with a CX mount and fits only on the Nikon 1 cameras: Nikon Nikon V1 and Nikon J1. The unique feature of the Nikon 10-100 mm zoom lens compared to the other Nikon 1 lenses, the Nikon 10 mm, Nikon 10-30 mm and the Nikon 30-100 mm, are the huge zoom range and built in zoom motor. That makes this lens ideal for videographers. We tested the optical quality of this lens: how does the image quality of the Nikon 10-100 mm relate the other Nikon 1 lenses?
The Nikon 10-100 mm has a huge 10 x zoom range, which corresponds to the zoom range of a 27-270 mm zoom lens on a camera with a full frame sensor.
Construction and autofocus Nikon 10-100 mm
The Nikon 10-100 mm lens is the largest and heaviest lens of the Nikon 1 series. The Nikon J1 body is small in size compared to this lens. Not everyone will be charmed by the look and feel of such a couple.
When you turn on the camera, the lens extends. The zoom lens has a Power button and a Lock button, which locks the lens in the shortest configuration during transport.
Auto focus is fast. The zoom lens is controlled by a switch on the lens and zooming is silent. There’s no zoom ring on the lens to manually adjust the focal length. However, you can adjust the focal length of the lens from the camera body, which is – in my opinion – less pleasant than using the power zoom on the lens.
Image Stabilization Nikon 10-100 mm
The Nikon 10-100 mm zoom lens has an effective built-in image stabilization. SLR gear came to the conclusion that at a focal length of 10 mm you could could win 2 stops by using the image stabilization and 3.5 stops at a focal length of 100 mm. We tested the effectiveness of the image stabilization at a focal distance of 27 mm (equivalent to ~ 75 mm on a camera with a full-frame sensor). Interestingly enough, the image stabilization leads to sharper images even at a shutter speed of 1/100 second. With longer exposure times the gain is about 3 stops. That is very good. In testing the image stabilization of the Nikon 10-30 mm and Nikon 30-110 mm , we realized a gain of 2 stops.
Vignetting Nikon 10-100 mm
Over the entire zoom range, the degree of vignetting is in reasonable order. Still, at all focal lengths using the largest aperture, you will encounter sporadic vignetting in clear blue skies. At a focal distance of 10 mm, the amount of vignetting is almost two times as large in comparison with the other focal lengths we tested. Fortunately, vignetting is simple to correct with software, though we wonder whether the targeted customers of the Nikon 1 series will. Better would have been if the vignetting would be corrected in the camera by Nikon.
Jpg files stored in the camera show a clearly visible barrel distortion at a focal length of 10 mm. At a focal length of 30 mm or more, we observed 1% pincushion distortion.
These are not very good results, especially when you know that the Nikon camera already corrects for distortion. We have tested some NEF files on distortion, and Imatest measured 1.5 percent distortion for the NEF files.
Cameras with small sensors are not very suitable for obtaining a beautiful bokeh. Yet it can be quite nice bokeh if you choose a longer focal length. Images made at a focal length of 100 mm yield, as shown, nice and round bokeh.
In the center, the maximum resolution is already at full aperture. The further you stop down this lens, the less sharp the images will become. You get the best results by choosing an aperture greater than 11. With a focal length above 75 mm the corners are less sharp than the center. But for the other focal lengths, the resolution in the center and in the corners are equal.
To our surprise, Nikon has not opted to correct chromatic aberration in the camera. As with the other a Nikon 1 lenses, chromatic aberration is relatively high. In practice you will, remarkably especially at longer focal lengths, sometimes observe green and purple edges in sharp contrast transitions. This is easily corrected by photo eaditing software.
Conclusion Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom VR review
- Large, 10x zoom range
- Good optical quality, especially vignetting and resolution
- Effective image stabilization
- Fast and quiet motorized zooming and focussing for video
- This lens is huge in comparison with a Nikon J1 or Nikon V1 body
- More expensive than the other Nikon 1 lenses
Usually the conclusion of a lens-with-an-extreme-zoom-range-reviews will be that the image quality is a compromise due to the extreme zoom range. But the image quality of the Nikon 10-100 mm is actually pretty good, as our review shows. This lens is so large that it better fits a SLR in stead of a Nikon or a Nikon J1 V1.
Therefore, as a photographer I prefer the combination of the Nikon 10-30 mm and the Nikon 30-110 mm , both already reviewed earlier. Not only are these lenses just as good and cheaper than the Nikon 10-100 mm. My main consideration is that the size of these two lenses is much more compatible with a Nikon J1 or a Nikon V1 body. But the videographer already attached to his Nikon V1 or Nikon J1, will not bother about these concerns and will enjoy the image quality and ease of use of the quiet Nikon 10-100 mm zoom.