Nikon introduced recently the Nikon V1 and J1 Nikon camera's and simultaneously with them a complete set of lenses: the Nikon 10-30 mm , Nikon 10-100 mm (especially for video), the Nikon 30-110 mm and a Nikon 10 mm pancake. You can find the other Nikon 1 lens reviews in our overview of tested lenses or our overview of tested lenses with a Nikon mount.This time we'll review the Nikon 10 mm pancake in combination with the Nikon J1. The Nikon 10 mm pancake lens is the most compact lens of the Nikon 1 series, with a length of just over 2 cm and a weight of 77 grams, which makes it an interesting offer.
The Nikon 10 mm is a wide angle lens, which makes it a suitable lens for landscapes (or indoor parties). The field of view of this lens corresponds to the field of view of a lens with a focal length of 27 mm on a camera with a full-frame sensor.
Construction and autofocus
The Nikon 1 series can be considered a competitor of the micro-43 system from Olympus and Panasonic and the Sony NEX cameras. Small and compact is hip, nowadays. Canon recently introduced a pancake lens for its SLR cameras, Canon 40 mm 2.8. Will it prove to be a prelude to a mirrorless camera by Canon?
The Nikon 10 mm lens is the smallest lens in the Nikon lens range. Both AF and manual focusing is done from the camera body and not using a ring on the lens. With such a small lens that works very nice. Autofocusing the Nikon 10 mm lens with a Nikon J1 goes very fast and is very quiet. See our Nikon J1 or Nikon V1 reviews.
The Nikkor 10 mm has no built-in image stabilization. In view of the large aperture, and the short focal distance, this will usually not be a problem. Those who really love to shoot images in the dark, will use an SLR camera with a larger sensor.
Vignetting is, despite the compact design of this lens, nicely restrained. In practice, at any aperture you don't have to worry about vignetting. Only when you make a picture of a clear blue sky at f/2.8 you might observe a little vignetting.
Just over 1% barrel distortion makes that you sometimes will be able to identify distortion in the images you made. In those cases where you find the distortion disturbing, it can easily be corrected using software like Capture NX, Lightroom or PTLens.
With a wide angle lens on a camera with a small sensor, the depth of field is so large that you will not see real nice background blur. In the image to the right, the red berries and the lights in the background are clearly recognizable, while the plant in the foreground is in focus. For SLR cameras with a full-frame sensor there would be a nice background blur / bokeh.
The resolution of the Nikon 10 mm pancake lens is good across the aperture range. The resolution of the Nikon 10 mm equals the performance of a lens on a camera with an APS-C sensor with an approximately equal number of megapixels as the Nikon J1 or Nikon V1. The resolution in the corners is slightly lower than in the center. With the naked eye this difference is not perceptible. The resolution is highest at aperture 4 and the lowest in aperture 11. At even smaller apertures, the sharpness decreases still further due to diffraction.
The Nikon 10 mm pancake lens is the sharpest Nikon 1 lens we have tested so far ( Nikon 10-30 mm , 30-110 mm Nikon and Nikon 10-100 mm). But the difference in sharpness with other Nikon 1 lenses 1 is very small.
"There's no such thing as a free lunch". Chromatic aberration in the corners is less good than we're used from Nikon lenses. In sharp contrast transitions you can see green and purple edges. We wonder why Nikon did not choose to have this corrected in-camera. Because Nikon already successfully applied that technique in SLR camera's and the targeted customers for the Nikon 1 series will be less likely to correct chromatic aberration afterwards using photo-editing software.
WYSIWYG 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".
Good image quality (resolution, vignetting)
Visible chromatic aberration
The Nikon 10 mm equals the performance of a lens on a camera with an 10-15 megapixel APS-C sensor. The Nikon Nikon V1 and J1 are fine cameras to make the transition from a compact camera to a camera with interchangeable lenses. In terms of image quality, all Nikon 1 lenses are almost of equal quality. For those who prefer a fast or a small lens, this pancake lens is the best Nikon choice at the moment. Those who prefer a wide angle zoom lens, better choose the Nikon 10-30 mm . When you prefer pictures with a telephoto lens, then the Nikon 30-110 mm is a more obvious choice. Within a few weeks we will publish a review of the last Nikon 1 lens: the Nikon 10-100 mm.
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.