Not all kit lenses are cre­ated equal...

NPhoto - - Gear Zone -

Of­ten over­looked when choos­ing your first D-SLR, a kit lens can have a big im­pact on cam­era us­abil­ity, per­for­mance and im­age qual­ity. Nikon’s AF-P 18-55mm op­tic is the stan­dard kit lens bun­dled with the D3400, and while it doesn’t of­fer any­thing new in terms of fo­cal­length range or max­i­mum aper­ture, Nikon has con­cen­trated on im­prov­ing aut­o­fo­cus. This has been achieved through the use of a step­ping motor, which moves in dis­crete steps to achieve more pre­cise ro­ta­tional con­trol than a con­ven­tional motor. The re­sult is faster, more ac­cu­rate aut­o­fo­cus­ing, de­spite the D3400’s age­ing 11-point AF mod­ule. Another ad­van­tage of Nikon’s step­ping motor over its older Silent Wave AF sys­tem is its abil­ity to pro­duce smoother, qui­eter fo­cus tran­si­tions when shoot­ing videos.

De­spite this cut­ting-edge AF tech, Nikon’s en­gi­neers have made the AF-P 18-55mm lens ex­tremely com­pact. Its re­tractable lens bar­rel con­trib­utes to an im­pres­sively com­pact 63mm closed length, and even with Vi­bra­tion Re­duc­tion the lens only tips the scales at 205g.

It all makes for a no­tice­able im­prove­ment in us­abil­ity and per­for­mance over pre­vi­ous­gen­er­a­tion AF-S 18-55mm kit lenses, which are best avoided if in­cluded in cheap pack­age deals. Nikon of­fers the AF-P 18-55mm kit lens with or with­out Vi­bra­tion Re­duc­tion, but the neg­li­gi­ble cost and weight sav­ings gained by cut­ting VR aren’t enough to com­pen­sate for the com­pro­mised per­for­mance in low-light and ac­tion pho­tog­ra­phy.

Which­ever AF-P 18-55mm vari­ant you go for, you can be as­sured of ex­cel­lent op­ti­cal qual­ity for the money. Its de­sign in­cludes two as­pher­i­cal el­e­ments that min­imise aber­ra­tions and dis­tor­tion, while Nikon’s Su­per In­te­grated Coat­ing is em­ployed to re­duce ghost­ing and flare.

This new kit lens is im­pres­sively com­pact and light­weight, and is an af­ford­able op­tion when bought bun­dled with the D3400

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