This is about as cheap the lens sells for used! Good price. This is one of Nikon's better consumer-grade lenses. Great as a general purpose walkabout lens, with a decent range without sacrificing image quality. If you're not spending $500+ on a midrange lens, then this is the one to have. It's a worthwhile upgrade for you 18-55mm users, if you don't mind the size increase, and you want the additional range built in to your midrange zoom.
How does this compare to the 18-135 non-VR in terms of image quality? Sorry, I am too busy today to search the forums for this info.
Optically, they're about the same, the 18-105mm maybe a little better in the corners on the wide end. The 18-135mm is super sharp. If you, like me, can live without image stabilization, keep your current lens. But if you listen to the Best Buy marketing and think that VR is the sole reason whether to buy a lens or not, then you might want to upgrade.
The way I see it, the only real upgrade to the 18-135mm lens is if Nikon remakes the 16-85mm, and makes it constant aperture f/4. I feel that the 16-85mm is too expensive now, considering that it's f/3.5-5.6, even if it's good optically. They need to take a page from Sony's book, because they have a great lens lineup for us DX users.
How does this compare to the 18-55 kits lens in terms of build quality an Image quality
About the same, on both counts. The reason to upgrade is that this lens has a real ultrasonic motor, instead of the faux-AFS of the 18-55mm, and the extra range. You will need to upgrade to something like the Nikon 16-85mm or Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 if you want to see real image quality increase.
Complete noob question: would this fit on the Sony NEX 5 I just bought for my daughter as a present? Or do the companies use proprietary lens attachments?
No, you need Sony E-mount lenses. Do you have any lenses right now? If not, then get her the Sony NEX 18-55mm. You may also consider some other fun lenses, like the 50mm, or Sigma 19mm and/or 30mm. The 19mm is the same field of view as most cell phones, so a nice wide angle, and the 30mm is pretty approximately the perspective that the human eye has.
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