Review Nikon 11-27.5mm (N CX)
Nikon 1 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 Nikkor & Nikon J2 Review (N CX)
Nikon continues to expand the Nikon 1 system, not only with the introduction of the Nikon J2 and Nikon V2 cameras, but also with the expansion of the Nikon 1 lens family. The Nikon J2 is available as kit with a new Nikon 11-27.5 mm lens. The 2.5x zoom range of the Nikon 11-27.5 mm covers most everyday situations, while the very flat lens can simply stay on the camera when you put it in your pocket. Optional accessories available for the Nikon 1 11-27.5 mm include a lens hood, filters and a lens pouch. Should a Nikon 1 owner choose a Nikon 10-30 mm lens or this newer, even more compact Nikon 1 11-27.5 mm?
Field of view Nikkor 11-27 @ 11mm
Nikkor 11-27mm @ 27 mm
The zoom range of this Nikkor 11-27.5 mm lens corresponds to the field of view of a 30-74 mm lens on a camera with a full frame sensor. It is more a standard lens than a wide-angle lens, portrait lens or telephoto lens. Yet the 2.5 zoom range delivers, as you can see in the pictures above, very different images, which nevertheless are taken from the same position.
Construction and autofocus
The Nikkor 11-27 mm is sold separately in black or white. The combination of a Nikon J2 camera with this lens is also made in a number of striking colors, such as the one pictured here. Taste is a personal thing...
The Nikon 11-27.5 mm can be folded to a very small lens during transport, as shown here. For use, you press the button on the left side of the lens (in the picture) and turn the zoom ring, after which the lens is almost twice as long and ready for use. If you want to turn off the camera, pull in the lens the same way.
Auto focus is quick and silent with this lens. The Nikon 11-27 has a motor controlled focus. If you want to focus manually, you do so by using the buttons on the camera body and not by rotating a ring on the lens, as SLR users are accustomed to.
The Nikon 11-27.5 mm has no built-in image stabilization. I think the audience for this camera will not be too disappointed, and find other things like the panorama function of the Nikon J2 more important: At a focal length of 11 mm (so you will get as much as possible on your panorama), this is a nice lens to create a panoramic picture with the Nikon J2. You make a movie as it were, by rotating the camera. Without cares, the movie is turned into a panorama.
Vignetting Nikon 11-27.5 mm
Vignetting is low at all focal lengths from full aperture. These are simply outstanding performances for a zoom lens. Only at an 11 m focal length, you may occasionally encounter visible vignetting in practice, if you are to photograph a clear blue sky for example.
Move your mouse over the image for a practice image of an evenly illuminated square at a focal length of 11 mm, aperture 3.5.
Distortion Nikon 11-27.5 mm
As usual with zoom lenses with a wide field of view, the Nikon 11-27.5 mm shows a visible barrel distortion at short focal lengths. If the horizon is not placed in the center in a landscape shot, or if you take a picture with many vertical lines (skyscrapers), you will recognize that distortion. Distortion can be corrected well afterwards using software, but I wonder if the target audience for this lens (photographers who want to switch from a compact camera to a more versatile camera with interchangeable lenses) will do that. It would be better if Nikon builds in automatic lens correction in the future Nikon J3 or Nikon V3, as is already the case for SLR cameras like the Nikon D3200.
A standard lens on a camera with a small sensor delivers so much depth of field that it is actually not possible anymore to isolate a subject from the background. For comparison you should take a look at an image of the same subject, but taken with the Nikon 24-85 mm VR lens on a camera with a full frame sensor (Nikon D600).
Despite the small number of lens elements used in the design of this Nikon 11-27.5 mm lens, this lens is prone to flare and ghosting. So you have to be careful with light shining directly into the lens. At this point, the Nikon 10-30 mm lens did better.
Resolution Nikkor 11-27 mm
According to Nikon, the design of the Nikon 11-27.5 mm uses elements of expensive (ED) glass and specially designed (aspherical) lens elements to realize a very high resolution and excellent contrast. At this point the Nikon 11-27.5 mm scores very well indeed: the resolution and contrast are indeed high and there is no less resolution in the center or at the edges at maximum aperture, as you often encounter in larger and more expensive lenses intended for an SLR. In terms of resolution, you can photograph carefree with this lens: it is always good from center to the outer corners.
The Nikon 1 series cameras and lenses are small, but that does not mean that the performances are less than of larger and more expensive SLRs. To illustrate the high edge resolution, here is a magnified image crop of a small piece in the farthest corner of a test image. Both images were shot with the aperture wide open (f/1.8 for SLR and f/3.5 for Nikon 1). Using the same aperture would yield the same image sharpness for both lenses, but a much higher deptyh of field for the Nikon 1 lens.
Click on the image for a comparison with a 100% image cropping taken with a 50 mm lens on an SLR.
Chromatic aberration Nikon 11-27.5 mm
Chromatic aberration of the Nikon 11-27.5 mm is so low at all focal lengths in jpg files that you will have no problems even at large magnifications. Even in RAW files, the chromatic aberration is virtually absent. A good performance of this little Nikon lens.
Click on the image for the other Imatest results for chromatic aberration of the Nikon 11-27.
Nikon 10-30 mm vs. Nikon 11-17.5 mm
The lens in our Nikon 11-17.5 mm review resembles the Nikon 10-30 mm in terms of focal length. It may seem odd that Nikon offers 2 zoom lenses with nearly the same focal length range. But folded, the Nikon 11-27.5 mm is 1 cm or 33% shorter than the Nikon 10-30 mm . In our review, the 11-27.5 Nikkor lens on a Nikon J2 draws slightly sharper than the Nikon 10-30 mm , which we have tested on a Nikon J1. With the naked eye, you will not detect differences in quality between the two lenses.
I would still like to favor one point for the Nikon 10-30 mm : 10% more field of view in the wide-angle range ensures that you get much more in the photo and even the biggest focal length of the 10-30 mm delivers portraits, in which your model has a shorter nose. Especially when you are used to taking pictures with an SLR, this might be a more important consideration than the difference between compact (Nikkor 10-30 mm) and super compact (Nikkor 11-27.5 mm).
Conclusion Nikon 1 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 review
The Nikon 11-27.5mm is a light and very compact lens with a versatile zoom range. In terms of image quality, it does not remain behind on an SLR lens. The lens delivers sharp images at all apertures from center to the outer corners, while lenses for an SLR are usually less sharp in the corners than in the center at full aperture. Compared to the Nikon 10-30 mm , the Nikkor 11-27.5mm lens is 1 cm or 33% shorter than the Nikon 10-30 mm lens. In our Nikkor 11-27.5 review, this lens draws slightly sharper than the Nikon 10-30 mm on a Nikon J2, which we have tested on a Nikon J1. Nevertheless, with the naked eye, you will not detect differences in quality between the two lenses. Are you switching from a compact camera to a Nikon 1 camera? Choose the Nikkor 11-27.5 mm due to its small size. If you normally take pictures with an SLR and you would like a Nikon 1 as a second camera, the Nikon 10-30 mm lens is a good choice due to the larger zoom range and the lower sensitivity to flare.
The Nikon 11-27.5mm is a light and very compact lens with a versatile zoom range. In terms of image quality, it does not remain behind on an SLR lens. The lens delivers sharp images at all apertures from center to the outer corners, while lenses for an SLR are usually less sharp in the corners than in the center at full aperture. Compared to the Nikon 10-30 mm , the Nikkor 11-27.5mm lens is 1 cm or 33% shorter than the Nikon 10-30 mm lens. In our Nikkor 11-27.5 review, this lens draws slightly sharper than the Nikon 10-30 mm on a Nikon J2, which we have tested on a Nikon J1. Nevertheless, with the naked eye, you will not detect differences in quality between the two lenses.
Are you switching from a compact camera to a Nikon 1 camera? Choose the Nikkor 11-27.5 mm due to its small size. If you normally take pictures with an SLR and you would like a Nikon 1 as a second camera, the Nikon 10-30 mm lens is a good choice due to the larger zoom range and the lower sensitivity to flare.