Lens review

Nikon Nikkor AF-P DX 10-20 mm f/4.5-5.6G VR

20 July 2018
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality and image stabilization

The following chart presents a comparison between the parameters of the tested lens and other such devices, including the more expensive, faster Nikkor with a superior build quality. The new Nikkor lens sticks out with its low weight and small physical dimensions. It’s even lighter than the Canon, despite having a wider focal range and a bigger filter diameter.

In the photo below the Nikkor AF-P 10-20 mm VR is positioned between the Nikkor AF-S 85 mm f/1.8G and the Sigma A 35 mm f/1.4 DG HSM.

Nikon Nikkor AF-P DX 10-20 mm f/4.5-5.6G VR - Build quality and image stabilization

The tested lens starts with a mount made of plastics with embedded contacts and a 17x13mm frame. Inside that frame you see a rear element, 15 mm in diameter. It is situated on the same level as the mount at 10 mm and, after passing to 20 mm, it hides inside the tube about 16 mm deep. The movement of the element reveals a gree electronic plate so you cannot speak about a proper blackening and sealing of the lens.

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Nikon Nikkor AF-P DX 10-20 mm f/4.5-5.6G VR - Build quality and image stabilization

An immobile ring with the name and basic parameters of the lens is the first part of the proper barrel; it also features a white dot, making an alignment with a camera easier, the device’s serial number and an inscription MADE IN THAILAND.

The next part is a zoom ring, 32 mm wide, most of its surface covered by a textured rubber ribbing. Under the ribs you see painted focal length markings at 10, 12, 14, 16 and 20 mm. The ring works with proper but sometimes uneven resistance (a bit more pronounced in the middle of the range than on both edges).

Further on you find a small, ribbed manual focus ring, just 7 mm wide. It is a focus-by-wire construction, independent from the AF/MF mode set by the camera menu. There is no switch on the lens’s barrel which might control the focusing mechanism mode. There is also no distance or depth of field scale.

Nikon Nikkor AF-P DX 10-20 mm f/4.5-5.6G VR - Build quality and image stabilization

The front element is slightly convex, with a diameter of 45 mm, surrounded by the name and parameters of the lens, a non-rotating filter thread, 72 mm in diameter, and a hood mount.

The whole front element system moves in and out, extending on a plastic, homogenous tube. The lens reaches its maximum length at 10mm and is the shortest at 18 mm.

Nikon Nikkor AF-P DX 10-20 mm f/4.5-5.6G VR - Build quality and image stabilization

When it comes to optical construction you deal here with 14 elements positioned in 11 groups. There are three aspherical elements among them but the producer don’t mention any low dispersion elements. Inside there is also an aperture with seven blades which can be closed down to a value from f/22 to f/29, depending on the focal length.

Buyers get in the box a snap-on LC-72 front cap, 72 mm in diameter, a rear LF-4 cap, a hood with a HB-81 mount and a soft lens case CL-1015.

Nikon Nikkor AF-P DX 10-20 mm f/4.5-5.6G VR - Build quality and image stabilization

Optical stabilization

First, it should be mentioned that, as a part of the economizing scheme, you won’t find any stabilization switch on the barrel of the lens. You can control it only in the camera menu. Apart from the autofocus, it is another reason why the lens doesn’t cooperate with older Nikon cameras; their menus don’t feature any stabilization control option.

Of course you can always discuss the usefulness of stabilization in an ultra wide angle lens. I’ve never tried to hide the fact that for me personally it is an unnecessary complication. It only raises the price of the lens, without providing any real gains. A decision to stabilize the Nikkor 10-20 mm is rather strange: after all such a cheap lens is supposed to encourage amateur photographers to buy a device a bit more interesting than the one you get with a camera. In my opinion the encouragement would work even better if the price was lower; if you remove a stabilization switch from the barrel in order to save money you might as well skip the whole stabilization altogether and sell a cheaper lens as a result. I bet the number of its users would be much higher.

As the stabilization system is included we of course had to test it and find out whether it is as efficient as 3.5 stops of shutter speed the producer claims. In order to do so we set the lens at 20 mm and took several dozen photos with exposure times ranging from 1/30 to 1 second and the stabilization switched on and off. For every set of photos we determined a percentage of out-of-focus shots; then we presented it in a form of a graph of exposure time which was expressed in EV (with 0 EV being an equivalent of 1/25 of a second).

Nikon Nikkor AF-P DX 10-20 mm f/4.5-5.6G VR - Build quality and image stabilization

As you see, the maximum distance between both curves reaches about 2.7 EV and so we assess the efficiency of the tested Nikkor’s vibration reduction unit. It is a result below the declarations of the producer, quite average for contemporary standards, but still higher than the result of the Canon 10-18 mm IS STM.