As an increasing number of competitors add sensor-shift image stabilization to their consumer dSLRs--Olympus and Pentax, to name but two--OIS diehards Nikon and Canon have to keep up by moving lens-based stabilizers farther down their product lines. Earlier this year, Canon updated its staple f3.5-5.6 18-55mm kit-optimized lens with the IS moniker and technology, and now it's Nikon's turn to follow suit with its AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5.6G VR lens.
For those of you who lack the Nikon lens-speak decoder ring (though there seems to be an e-version on bythom.com), the lens features run as follows:
- AF = Autofocus
- S = Silent Wave Motor, dubbed USM (Ultrasonic Motor) by Canon and SWM (Silent Wave Motor) by Olympus
- DX = designed specifically to match Nikon's APS-sized sensors.
- G = no aperture ring
- VR = Vibration Reduction
I consider the slow 18-55mm lenses the kittiest of kit lenses. And by that, I mean they're perfect for the work I do--photographing cats in cages--where I don't have a lot of latitude on distance, and where the relatively narrow maximum aperture won't accidentally widen--I shoot shutter priority--and deliver a rather disturbing depth-of-field. (I love the fast lenses, but I end up with shots of a sharp eyeball and the rest out of focus.) The moral: Sometimes the cheap solution is the appropriate one. And cheap certainly applies in this case--it'll cost a mere $199 when it ships in December. A nice little gift for your favorite D40x shooter, perhaps?