Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 vs. Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6: Zooming Into the Perfect Lens for Your Photography Needs

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Are you a photography enthusiast looking to upgrade your kit lens or perhaps considering investing in a versatile lens for your Nikon APS-C / DX format camera? You might find yourself torn between the popular Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and the versatile Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6.

Both lenses have earned their reputation for their affordability, decent performance, and suitability for various photography styles, from landscape to portraits and even casual travel photography.

In this comprehensive comparison, we’ll dive deep into the key features, strengths, and weaknesses of these two lenses to help you make an informed decision.

Whether you prioritize portability, image quality, or versatility in your photography, our detailed analysis will provide valuable insights to guide you toward the lens that best matches your creative vision.

So, let’s embark on this exciting journey and discover which of these two Nikon lenses is the perfect fit for your photography needs!


Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VRNikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR
Max ApertureF3.5-5.6F3.5-5.6
Aperture TypeVariableVariable
Focal Range (mm)18-5518-105
Mount TypeNikon F (DX)Nikon F (DX)
Max FormatAPS-C / DXAPS-C / DX
Zoom Ratio (X)3.15.8

The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 both have variable apertures of f/3.5-5.6 and are designed for Nikon F (DX) mount with an APS-C / DX format. The primary difference between the two lenses is their focal range and zoom ratio. The 18-55mm lens has a focal range of 18-55mm and a zoom ratio of 3.1x, while the 18-105mm lens has a wider focal range of 18-105mm and a zoom ratio of 5.8x.

In terms of aperture, both lenses share the same maximum aperture values, which means they perform similarly in low light conditions and depth of field control. However, the 18-105mm lens offers greater versatility due to its wider focal range, allowing for more creative possibilities in various shooting scenarios.

Design and Ease of Use

Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VRNikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR
Diameter x Length (mm)⌀64.5×62.5mm⌀76×89mm
Weight (gr)205420
Filter Thread (mm)5567
Weather SealingNoNo
Zoom MethodRotary (extending)Rotary (extending)
Distance ScaleNoNo
DoF ScaleNoNo
Hood SuppliedNoYes
Hood CodeHB-N106HB-32

The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is a more compact and lightweight option, with dimensions of ⌀64.5×62.5mm and a weight of 205 grams. On the other hand, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 is larger and heavier, with dimensions of ⌀76×89mm and a weight of 420 grams. Both lenses utilize a rotary (extending) zoom method.

The smaller size and lighter weight of the 18-55mm lens offer advantages in terms of portability, balance, discreetness, storage, and ease of lens swapping. A more compact lens like the 18-55mm is easier to carry around and less tiring during extended shoots. Additionally, it takes up less space in your camera bag and is generally easier to handle when swapping lenses.

The 18-105mm lens, while larger and heavier, provides a more extended zoom range, which could be beneficial for various shooting scenarios. However, its size and weight may result in a front-heavy camera setup, making it more challenging to handle during longer shoots.

Both lenses use an extending rotary zoom method, which is simpler in design and can result in lower prices and increased durability. However, this design may make it more difficult to achieve effective weather sealing and might require more effort to maintain stability during shooting due to the changing balance as the lens extends and retracts.

In conclusion, if portability and ease of handling are your top priorities, the 18-55mm lens is the superior choice. However, if you need a wider zoom range for more versatile shooting scenarios, the 18-105mm lens could be more suitable. Ultimately, your choice will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

Lens Mount and Barrel

The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 features a plastic lens mount and barrel, with eight metal contacts on the mount providing an interface between the lens and camera. There is no rubber gasket around the mount, indicating that the lens is not weather-sealed.

Its plastic barrel has a retractable design, which reduces its size when not in use. When zooming, the lens changes its physical size, with the shortest length at around 35mm and the longest length at the two extreme ends of the zoom range.

On the other hand, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 has a lens mount made of hard plastic instead of metal, also without a rubber gasket around the lens mount, meaning it is not weather-sealed either. Its lens barrel is predominantly plastic, featuring a textured finish to match Nikon camera bodies.

The industrial polycarbonate used for the barrel and mounting plate, as well as the filter thread, is of high quality. Due to its non-internal zoom action, the lens extends almost 2 extra inches at the 105mm end.

Weather Sealing

The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is not weather-sealed, which means it lacks gaskets at the lens mount and internal seals at the rings, switches, and front of the barrel. Additionally, there is no fluorine coating on the front element to protect it from the elements.

In contrast, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 is also not weather-sealed, lacking internal seals at the rings, switches, and front of the barrel, as well as a gasket at the lens mount. Similar to the 18-55mm lens, the 18-105mm lens does not have a fluorine coating on the front element.

Weather sealing involves protective measures such as gaskets, seals, and special coatings to prevent dust, moisture, and light water splashes from entering a lens, ensuring durability and performance in various weather conditions. Fully weather-sealed lenses offer better protection, durability, and performance in adverse conditions compared to non-sealed lenses, but they can also be more expensive.

In conclusion, there is no superior weather sealing between the 18-55mm and 18-105mm lenses, as both lack this protective feature. If you often shoot outdoor or in unpredictable weather conditions, it’s essential to consider other lenses with weather sealing to provide valuable protection for your gear.

However, if you primarily shoot indoors or in controlled settings, the lack of weather sealing may not be a significant concern, and your choice can be based on other factors like focal length, image quality, and price.


The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 features a zoom ring with markings for 18mm, 24mm, 35mm, 45mm, and 55mm, and a rubber grip for comfortable handling. The zoom ring rotates smoothly, providing a good enough tactile experience for most users. The focus ring is narrow and located at the front of the barrel, but manual focusing is not this lens’ strong point. There is no windowed distance scale, depth-of-field indicator, or extension lock switch on the zoom ring.

In contrast, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 has two rings: a wide, ribbed rubber-textured zoom ring positioned towards the front of the barrel, and a thinner focus ring behind it with a ridged rubber coating. The zoom ring travels roughly 80 degrees with a nice resistance, while the focus ring offers around 100 degrees of travel, which is not ideal for manual focus control. Both rings move smoothly and positively. Like the 18-55mm lens, the 18-105mm lens lacks a windowed distance scale, depth-of-field indicator, and zoom lock. The tactile experience of both rings is decent, without any ergonomic bevels.

When comparing the rings of the two lenses, the 18-105mm lens offers a better design in terms of ergonomics and overall handling, thanks to its wider, ribbed rubber-textured zoom ring and smoother rotation. However, neither lens excels in manual focusing due to the limited travel of their focus rings and the absence of a windowed distance scale or depth-of-field indicator.

In conclusion, the rings of the 18-105mm lens are superior to those of the 18-55mm lens in terms of ergonomics, handling, and tactile experience. While both lenses could benefit from improvements in manual focus control, the 18-105mm lens offers a more comfortable and precise experience when adjusting the focus or zooming, making it a better choice if the design and functionality of the rings are important factors for you.


The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 features a minimal design with no physical switches or buttons on the barrel, except for a small lock button used for retracting and extending the lens. To switch between auto and manual focus or engage/disengage image stabilization, users must navigate the camera’s menu system.

The lens release button on the outer barrel must be pressed while rotating the zoom ring to unlock the lens and extend it to the shooting position. When collapsing the lens, the button must be held in while rotating the zoom ring, reducing the lens’s overall length by approximately 30mm.

On the other hand, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 has two control switches on its left side: one for enabling or disabling autofocus (A or M) and one for enabling or disabling vibration reduction (ON or OFF). These switches provide a more convenient and quicker way to adjust settings compared to navigating through the camera’s menu system. However, there are no other switches or buttons provided on the lens.

In conclusion, the 18-105mm lens offers a superior experience in terms of switches/buttons compared to the 18-55mm lens. Having dedicated switches for autofocus and vibration reduction on the lens barrel allows for quicker adjustments and a more user-friendly experience.

Although the 18-55mm lens has a more minimalistic design, the lack of physical switches/buttons may be less convenient for some users who prefer direct access to these settings on the lens itself.

Filter Thread

The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 features a plastic 55mm filter thread, which is a fairly common size, making it easy to find filters. The front element does not rotate during focus, making it convenient for using circular polarizing filters without any issues. However, the front element does rotate when zooming, which may make using a polarizer slightly cumbersome in certain situations. Despite this, the lens remains relatively easy to use with filters.

On the other hand, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 has a 67mm plastic filter thread. This larger size may offer more filter options, but could also be slightly more expensive. The 67mm filter thread does not rotate during focus or zooming, making it easy to use with polarizers and ND graduated filters.

In conclusion, the 18-105mm lens offers a superior filter thread experience compared to the 18-55mm lens. The larger, non-rotating 67mm filter thread provides greater convenience and compatibility with various filters, especially polarizers and ND graduated filters.

While the 18-55mm lens has a more common 55mm filter thread size, its rotating front element during zooming may make using certain filters slightly more cumbersome.

Lens Hood

The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 does not include a lens hood in the package, and users need to purchase the optional HB-N106 bayonet hood separately. This plastic hood has a matte finish and an ergonomic bevel designed to fit snugly onto the lens, effectively blocking unwanted light and reducing lens flare and ghosting. The hood can be smoothly rotated to adjust its direction based on the light source, making it a useful accessory for outdoor photography.

In contrast, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 includes a petal-shaped plastic lens hood in the box, which attaches via a bayonet mount. The hood adds an additional 1.25 inches to the overall length of the lens. Although it isn’t flocked on the inside, it does a decent job shielding the front element from sunlight coming in at oblique angles. The hood can also be reversed for storage.

In conclusion, the 18-105mm lens has a superior lens hood experience, as it comes with a petal-shaped hood in the package, while the 18-55mm lens requires a separate purchase. The included lens hood on the 18-105mm lens provides good protection against lens flare and ghosting and can be easily reversed for storage.

However, the separately purchased hood for the 18-55mm lens also offers good protection and easy adjustability, but its absence from the package makes the 18-105mm lens a more convenient option in terms of lens hoods.

Focusing and Optical Stabilization

Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VRNikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR
AF MotorStepper motorSilent Wave Motor
Rotating Front ElementYesDoes not rotate on focusing
Min Focus Distance0.25m0.45m
Max Magnification (X)0.380.2
Full-Time Manual FocusYesYes
Focus MethodInternalInternal

Focusing Performance

The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 offers a quick and near-silent autofocus system, ideal for shooting videos without distracting noise. Focusing is smooth and responsive, with an estimated 30% faster focus speed compared to older models. The lens performs reliably in low-light situations and can focus accurately.

The AF-P version enables instant manual focus override, providing ease of use without having to switch between autofocus and manual focus modes. The lens has an internally focusing design, maintaining a constant length regardless of focus and zoom settings. With minimal focus breathing, the 18-55mm lens is suitable for various photography and videography applications.

On the other hand, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 features a Silent Wave Motor drive, offering quick and virtually silent autofocus operation. While not as fast as higher-grade AF-S lenses, it works accurately and reasonably quickly.

Autofocus can be overridden at any time by simply turning the focus ring, and the manual focus action is easy to operate. The lens has an internally focusing design, so its length remains constant regardless of focus and zoom settings. Autofocus performance is adequate for most purposes but may slow down noticeably in low-light situations, especially at the longer end of the zoom.

In conclusion, both lenses offer good focusing performance, but the 18-55mm lens has a slight edge due to its faster focus speed. The 18-105mm lens still provides adequate focusing performance, but it may struggle more in low-light situations.

Optical Stabilization

The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 features a 4-stop optical image stabilization system, effectively reducing camera shake and allowing for sharper photos even at slower shutter speeds. The VR technology works well, and in field tests, it was possible to shoot at shutter speeds as slow as 1/5 second with acceptable sharpness.

The VR system operates silently and has only one mode of stabilization, which proves effective in a range of shooting conditions. Actual results for shutter speeds will vary depending on the photographer’s technique and shooting conditions.

Conversely, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 comes with Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization system, providing up to 3 stops of stabilization and allowing sharp shots at slower shutter speeds. It only has one stabilization mode and lacks the VR Active mode found in some higher-grade VR lenses.

The VR system is effective, quiet, and can be toggled via a switch on the lens barrel. At 50mm, the lens can be handheld at shutter speeds as slow as 1/8 second, and at 70mm, it’s possible to achieve sharp images at 1/13 second.

In conclusion, both lenses offer effective optical stabilization, but the 18-55mm lens has a slight advantage with its 4-stop stabilization compared to the 3-stop stabilization of the 18-105mm lens. This difference allows the 18-55mm lens to maintain sharpness at slower shutter speeds, providing an edge in low-light situations and handheld shooting. However, both lenses offer valuable stabilization features that will benefit photographers in various conditions.

Image Quality

Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VRNikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR
Special ElementsTwo aspherical elements + super integrated coatingED glass element and aspherical lens element
Diaphragm Blades77
Circular ApertureYesYes


The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 demonstrates a controlled amount of lateral chromatic aberration, particularly in the corners and the center of the frame, showcasing a noticeable improvement compared to the AF-S VR II version. However, some purple and yellow chromatic aberrations can be observed in the corners of the frame, though they can be easily corrected in-camera or with post-processing software.

On the other hand, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 exhibits some evidence of chromatic aberration, especially at its widest focal length of 18mm, but the level is generally acceptable unless producing very large prints. Chromatic aberration is well-controlled across all focal lengths, with the choice of aperture having minimal influence. The borders may experience some chromatic aberration and light fall-off when used wide open, but they become quite sharp in the f/5.6-f/11 range.

In conclusion, both lenses exhibit some degree of chromatic aberration, but the 18-55mm lens appears to have a slightly better control over it, particularly in the center of the frame. However, both lenses deliver acceptable performance in terms of chromatic aberration, and any issues can be addressed in post-processing.


The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 showcases good sharpness, particularly in the center, throughout its focal range. Center sharpness is particularly impressive when stopped down to f/8 or f/11. Corner sharpness is generally softer, particularly at wide open apertures, but improves significantly when stopping down.

The sharpest aperture tends to be around f/8 to f/11, depending on the focal length. At 18mm, the lens is incredibly sharp wide open, while at 55mm, it remains sharp across the frame. Stopping down enhances sharpness and contrast, and at focal lengths like 35mm, the lens becomes sharp enough for various applications.

Conversely, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 demonstrates consistent sharpness performance throughout the zoom range, with excellent performance at all focal lengths. Wide open apertures can result in some chromatic aberration and light fall-off, but sharpness improves rapidly upon stopping down, reaching peak performance at f/11. At f/16, the edges are still very sharp, and even f/22 is sharper than wide open aperture.

Corner softness is noticeable in some cases but can be improved by stopping down the lens. The level of sharpness should be largely acceptable for producing prints, except for cases where the lens is stopped down beyond f/16 at 105mm.

In conclusion, both lenses offer good sharpness performance, but the 18-55mm lens has a slight edge in center sharpness, while the 18-105mm lens provides more consistent sharpness across its entire zoom range.

Bokeh Quality

The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 produces bokeh that is subjective in quality, with highlights rendering as septagonal shapes but with some outlines. While not expected to deliver a smooth and silky bokeh, shallow depth-of-field photos can be achieved when zoomed in to 55mm and shooting objects at the closest possible distance of 25 cm. The quality of bokeh this lens produces is considered satisfactory.

On the other hand, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 employs an iris diaphragm with 7 rounded blades, which results in a pleasing rendering of out-of-focus areas and soft, attractive bokeh. The bokeh changes shape due to light distribution in the center, creating beautiful bokeh around the frame. In the corners, the bokeh takes the form of a cat’s eye. Overall, the efforts to render pleasing out-of-focus areas have been largely successful with this lens.

In conclusion, while bokeh quality is not typically a primary concern for every circumstances, it can add a creative touch in certain situations. Between the two lenses, the 18-105mm lens offers superior bokeh quality, delivering more pleasing and softer out-of-focus areas compared to the 18-55mm lens. If bokeh quality is important for your photography needs, the 18-105mm lens would be the better choice.


The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 exhibits remarkable control over flare and ghosting, largely due to the Super Integrated Coating that effectively minimizes these issues. When shooting directly into the sun, it can handle bright light with minimal loss of micro-contrast. Nonetheless, the lens may produce circular shapes and outlining when bright highlights are in the background.

On the other hand, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 is quite resistant to flare and ghosting when light sources are within the frame. However, it can be sensitive to backlight, causing some ghosting and flare to appear in certain situations. To counter this, the lens includes a petal-shaped hood that efficiently shields the front element from unwanted light outside of the image frame.

In conclusion, while both lenses perform admirably in controlling flare and ghosting, the 18-55mm lens has a slight edge in handling bright light sources, thanks to the Super Integrated Coating.


The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 exhibits vignetting, especially at the widest aperture of f/3.5 and the shortest focal length of 18mm, where the corners appear darker by approximately 2.5EV. Vignetting is also present at the mid-range focal length of around 35mm, but it is least visible at 55mm. By stopping down to f/5.6 or higher, the darkening effect is significantly reduced. Although vignetting is noticeable in this lens, it is not a major concern and can be easily corrected using post-processing software.

In contrast, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 displays some corner shading, particularly at wider apertures and focal lengths. At 18mm and f/3.5, the corners are around 1.85 stops darker than the image center, and at 105mm and f/5.6, they are about 2.47 stops darker.

However, stopping down to f/11 results in visually uniform illumination across the image. Some users may not consider the vignetting to be a significant issue, especially when using a camera body with built-in vignetting control.

In conclusion, both lenses exhibit vignetting to varying degrees, with the 18-55mm lens having slightly more pronounced darkening in the corners. However, this effect can be reduced by stopping down the aperture or using post-processing software.


The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 displays varying levels of distortion at different focal lengths. At 18mm, it exhibits noticeable barrel distortion, which can be corrected using software or in-camera correction. Distortion is nearly eliminated by 35mm and remains minimal until 55mm, where slight pincushion distortion may be observed but does not typically impact shots in most situations. Overall, distortion in the 18-55mm lens can be corrected and does not significantly affect its performance.

In contrast, the Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 shows some form of distortion at almost all focal lengths. At 18mm, it presents a noticeable barrel distortion that can be corrected in post-processing software. From 24mm onwards, the lens displays a complex distortion profile with pincushion-style distortion at the edges and barrel distortion at the center, creating a “moustache” effect where straight lines bend in different directions.

Distortion is less pronounced at 35-50mm focal lengths but is still present. No focal length setting in the 18-105mm lens produces a distortion-free image, and its non-linear and complex nature makes it challenging to correct in-camera or in post-processing.

In conclusion, the 18-55mm lens has a superior distortion performance compared to the 18-105mm lens, as its distortion is less complex and can be more easily corrected. The 18-105mm lens exhibits a challenging distortion profile that may require more effort to correct, particularly at certain focal lengths.

Final Verdict

After comparing the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 across various factors, it’s clear that each lens has its own set of strengths and weaknesses.

The 18-55mm lens offers faster focusing, superior optical stabilization, better control of chromatic aberration, and easier distortion correction.

On the other hand, the 18-105mm lens provides greater versatility with its wider zoom range, dedicated switches for autofocus and vibration reduction, more consistent sharpness across the entire zoom range, and superior bokeh quality.

If you value portability, faster focusing, better stabilization, and easier distortion correction, the 18-55mm lens would be an excellent choice.

However, if you need a more versatile lens with a wider zoom range, superior bokeh, and more user-friendly controls, the 18-105mm lens would be a better option.

Meet the Author

Wei Mao

Wei was a cruise photographer who worked at Disney Cruise Line. He is a lucky traveler who has been to more than 20 countries with his camera while working on an around-the-world cruise. Photography has changed his view of the world forever. Now he wants more people to benefit from photography through his blog.

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