Nikon 1 Nikkor 18.5 mm f/1.8 lens (50mm equivalent Fast Prime Lens)

October 7, 2012

In this article I’ll introduce to you most of the things you need to know about the 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 lens.  As for the time of writing this article, Nikon introduced six lenses in its 1 Nikkor lens lineup, four zooms and two prime lenses. The 18.5mm f/1.8 is one of them, the second one is the 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8. It’s nice to see another prime lens and I hope that we’ll see more high quality prime lenses in the near future.

The 18.5mm f/1.8 is the fastest lens in 1 Nikkor lens lineup at the moment. due to the fact that Nikon 1 camera have a 2.7x crop factor, this means that the 18.5mm lens is equivalent to 50mm on 35mm camera. The 1 Nikkor 18.5mm is also the lightest lens in the 1 NIKKOR lineup, weighting only 70 grams. The f/1.8 fast aperture allows you to shoot photos with shallow depth of field and also enjoy low-light shooting without the need to utilize high ISO settings.  The 18.5mm lens has to be in the bag of every Nikon 1 photographers like a 50mm f/1.8 (or f/1.4) lens as with DSLR photographers.

Nikon 18.5mm lens mounted on Nikon J2 pink camera

Nikon 18.5mm lens mounted on Nikon J2 pink camera


Size & Construction

The 18.5 weights just 70 g, that’s even lighter than the 10mm f/2.8 (77 g), and the 10mm has much slimmer profile. The lens size is 36 mm (diameter) x 56 mm (length) so it’s not as short as the 10mm, but not big either. The NIKKOR VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 is a bit longer and wider than this lens.

1 nikkor lens size comparison

10mm (left), 18.5mm (center) and 10-30mm (right)

1 Nikkor 18.5 mm f/1.8 Optics are designed to deliver ultra sharp images with great clarity and color definition. The lens is compatible with Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras (e.g. Nikon 1 J1 and V1) and the CX sensor. The lens is constructed with eight elements in six groups, has rear focusing and has a 7 rounded diaphragm blades to deliver smooth defocused background.

Nikon 1 18.5mm f1.8 lens MFT chart

Nikon 1 18.5mm f1.8 lens MFT chart

The lens has an elegant design and metal texture and it’s available in three different colors (black, white, silver). The design of this lens reminds me the Canon 50mm F1/.8 (the plastic fantastic).

The 18.5mm f/1.8 prime lens doesn’t come equipped with Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR) mechanism, but I forgive Nikon for that, because with that focal length and fast aperture, it’s not that necessary.


What Can You Shoot With this Lens?

Generally speaking, you can shoot everything, but this lens will suit best for portraits, street photography, night / low-light shots but also for landscapes, although most photographers will prefer a wide-angle lens for that. The most obvious advantage of such lens is the ability to greatly blur the background and make the subject pop out. This separation greatly increases the ability to tell the subject from distracting background elements and it has many uses.

A nifty-fifty (50mm) is not an alternative to a walk-around lens, but works best as an additional lens that will help you get those type of shots that you just can’t achieve with a slower lens. However, it’s not only because of the ability to blur the background that you want this lens. The 18.5mm allows you to shoot in very dim light, because it allows almost three times more light to pass through the lens compared to walk-around lenses that offer this focal length. this is especially useful when shooting hand-held (without a tripod) where you need to use a relatively fast shutter speed to keep the image sharp. By utilizing the fast f/1.8 aperture, you will be able to get a well-exposed image when shooting at relatively faster shutter speeds.

This is also the prefect lens to shoot a newborn baby, with that creamy smooth Bokeh that surrounds the subject or shooting in dim light without the need to use a flash to light up the scene. Most Kit lenses have 50mm in it, but the f/1.8 aperture is the feature that makes all the difference in the world.  It’s also a great lens to shoot in winter where sometimes available light is just not enough.

Usually fast prime lenses are very expensive, whether you buy a Canon or Nikon camera for example, but almost every company that I know have an affordable 50mm f/1.8 lens, and it’s among the most popular lenses, one lens that you can found in every photographer’s camera bag – so it’s time for Nikon 1 to have this kind of lens too. For around $190 it’s not the cheapest lens out there, but you really get a very high quality lens for this price.


Prime or Zoom Lens?

Some of you probably asking yourself why get the 18.5mm if you already have this focal length with either the 11-27.5mm, 10-30mm VR or the 10-100mm lenses? – This question was partially answered in the previous paragraph. The main selling point of this lens is its fast aperture, in comparison:


Prime lenses will result, in almost all cases, with sharper image, this due to the complexity of the lens. A Canon 50mm f/1.8 is a cheap lens, but it can shoot very sharp images. So it’s not only because of the ability to shoot in low-light or have better blurred background that people buy prime lenses, it’s also because the image quality. Prime lenses will result in high contrast and very sharp image. The 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 was designed to deliver exceptionally sharp image, also in the corners. Not all prime lenses are the same, but most of them have their sweet spot and perform best at apertures 1 to 1.5 stop higher than the maximum aperture.

So the question is not whether you should get a walk-around zoom lens instead of the 18.5mm prime lens, the question if you need it or when you are going to buy it. It’s not a lens for everyone, especially for those who don’t like changing lenses and going for only one lens. It’s a lens that is dedicated to advanced photographers who learned to appreciate the results that can achieve with such lenses, and don’t want the lens to be a barrier between them and the result that can be achieved by using those type of lenses.

I’ve shot with Canon and Nikon 50mm f/1.8 and f/1.4 lenses in the past quit a lot, I can just tell you that you will get photos that you wouldn’t think possible to take. The ability to blur the background with such degree will change everything you think about photography. With the right technique, you will be able to achieve photos that will look like a professional photographer took them. You will understand why so many photographers are shooting with prime lenses. The shallow depth-of-field effect is a must for many type of shots, it’s a difference between a boring shot and a winning shot, one that can simulate affections without saying a single word.



The early sample images of this lens looks really amazing and we are all still waiting for more of those to make up our final conclusion. Still, this is the fastest lens on the Nikkor lineup and with a very popular 50mm equivalent focal length. This lens will find itself at the hands of many Nikon photographers who learned to understand the significant of such lens and what what can be achieved with it. It’s a whole new class lens, a lens that will open up new regions in your creative thinking as a photographer and artist. You cannot imagine how many great shots can be achieved with such a lens. Even if was weighting 50 g more, who cares – It’s all about image quality, low-light performance and Shallow DOF that can be achieved with it. A must have lens for anyone who is serious in taking its photography to a whole new level, whether a beginner or more experienced photographers. This is a lens that won’t disappoint you, you will thank me for getting this one.

The lens will start shipping at November 1, 2012. You can pre-order it from Amazon or B&H.



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