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Photography, Wildlife

Using the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II as a magnifying glass

The AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5/6G VR II is a standard kit lens for many Nikon’s DSLR cameras.


Pic.1 Nikkor AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm as a basic kit e.g. for the Nikon D5300.

It contains 11 optical elements in 8 groups and 7 rounbded diephgram blades. The lens is also equipped with a Silent Vawe Motor, which provides smooth and quiet auto-focus, and a minimum focus to distance of 25cm. This attitude makes the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5/6G VR II sort of digital magnifying glass. When you are using this lens to image some small insect or elements you can easily magnify the size. Basically this little lens allow you to magnify the image exactly 2.7x, although once you crop the picture you can receive much more higher magnification. This small operation relies on adjustment the whole picture into your specific shape, showing your object desired. The only downside is the output image may be a little bit noisy, especially when the original picture has been taken in the bad light. Remember! All pictures need do be done in full size!


Pic.2 Bricks with dust and Polytrichum Communee between, 24mm, distance 25cm.


Pic.3 Bricks with dust and Polytrichum Communee between, 35mm, distance 35mm.


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magnifying glass1 porceillo scaber 17mm

Pic. 4-6 Cropping picture to receive a magnifaying glass effect: 4 – Porceillo Scaber (17mm length) crossing the Polytrichum commune “field” between the bricks, 55mm, distance 25cm; 5 – A, cropped picture, 6 – cropped picture, see noisy effect due to poor light.


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Pic.7-9 Cropping picture to receive a magnifying glass effect: 7 – Mosquito, 55mm, distance 25cm; 8 – A cropped picture; 9 – B cropped picture, sharper due to using flash in the poor light.


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Pic.10-12 Cropping picture to receive a magnifying glass effect: 10- lawn grass, 55mm, distance 25mm; 11 – A cropped picture; 12 – B cropped picture, low sharpness because of the poor light.


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Pic.13-14 Quick magnifying glass effect: 13- Ryanair seatbelt instructions, 55mm, distance 25cm; 14 – Cropped picture.


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Pic.15-16 Quick magnifying glass effect: 15 – Ducks together, 55mm, distance 60cm; 16 – Duck’s head in the cropped picture.

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Pic.17-18 Quick magnifying glass effect: 17 – Pink flowers, 18 – Cropped picture


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Pic.19-20 Quick magnifying glass effect: 19 – Musca domestica, 55mm, distance 25cm; 20 – Cropped picture, poor light.


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Pic. 21-22 Quick magnyfying glass effect: 11 – Dead mosquito, 55mm, distance 25cm; 12- Cropped picture, flash used.


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Pic.23-24 Quick magnifying glass effect: 23 – Arachnida, 55mm, distance 25cm; 24 Cropped picture, flash used.


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Pic. 25-26 Quick magnifying glass effect: 25 – Arachnida, 55mm, distance 25cm; 26 – Cropped pisture, flash used.


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Pic. 27-28 Quick magnifying glass effect: 27 – Spider Zigella X-notata (Orb web spider), height 7mm; 55mm, distance 25cm, 28 – Cropped picture, flash used


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Pic. 29-30 Quick magnifying glass effect: 29 – Moth Euplagia quadripunctar (Jersey Tiger), wingspan up to 52mm; 30 – Jersey Tiger’s head, flash used.


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Pic. 31-32 Quick magnifying glass effect: 31 – Moth Euplagia Quadripunctar (Jersey Tiger) with max 52mm wingspan; 32 – Cropped picture, flash used.


Pic. 33 Tree Laburnum Anagyroides during ripening, Aylesbury; 18mm, distance 50cm.


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Pic. 34-35 Quick magnifying glass effect: 34 – Tree Laburnum Anagyroides pod, 55mm, distance 25cm; 35 Cropped picture, poor light.

The AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5/6G VR II is an excellent starter lens for casual photographers and other shooters, who are buying their first DSLR like me. It’s sharp throughout its zoom range, but it does exhibit a good deal of distorsion at its widest angle. The best option is to get this lens bundled with a new camera. This lens makes a really good photos, however it has some issues, like chromatic aberration, typical seen as blue or purple fringes along contrasty edges (read about it more here) and light fall-of, which probably is much more annoying. Light fall-off defect appears, when AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5/6G VR II is wide open, then you can see diminished luminance in the corners and along the frame edges (pic.35-36).  When you are taking photos with 55mm you need also remember, that sharpness is worse on the edges (see pictures above).


Pic.36 The light-fall effect example, cloudy evening, poor light. Follow the red arrows, which shows you a little bit darker corners; Aylesbury, Exchange Street.


Pic.37 The light-fall effect example, winter evening, after twilight with city light glow beyond. Follow the red arrows, which shows you a little bit darker corners. Dotted red arrow shows a light-fall effect alongside the edge of image; Odrzykoń, Nadbrzeżna street, Poland.

The last thing to mention is the bokeh. Bokeh is an aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out of focus part of the image produced by lens. Bokeh may be considerated like the way to renders out-of-focus point of lights. Bokeh is more often visible around small background higlights. One of the most important thing in Bokeh is a depth of field. You can adjust your out-of-focus region to be more prominent using a shallow-focus technique (pic.38).


Pic.38 The Bokeh with a shallow-focus technique with small depth of field. One plane of the image is in focus while the rest is out of focus. The man with elephant is in focus, a river bank and house is quite prominent and out-of-focus, Khao river, Khao Sok National Park, Thailand.

I can strong recommend the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5/6G VR II for people who like to do nature-watching and capture a small wildlife. Due to the -S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5/6G VR II facilities you will be able to magnify your desired object.

See also another examples of AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5/6G VR II photos below.


Pic.39 Pheasant, 55mm, distance 150cm; Odrzykoń, Nadbrzeżna street, Poland.


Pic.40 Pheasant’s eggs, 55mm, distance 50cm; Odrzykoń, Nadbrzeżna street, Poland.

Mariusz Krukar


  1. Kopelow G., 1998, How to photograph buildings and interiors (2nd edition), Princeton Architectural Press, New York, pp. 118-119.
  2. Mammer B., 2013, Film production technique: Creating and accomplished image, Cengage Learning, Boston, pp. 19-20.


Nikkor AF-S DX 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 G II overview

All about the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 GII

Nikkor AF-S DX 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 GII review

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