Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5 - 5.6 G ED
This lens is best summed up in one word: "cheap."
This lens sells used for $100(US) or under and isn't available new any more. There is a nearly equally as poor Version II out. Why make a sequel of such a bad lens? For the same reason Hollywood makes bad sequels: lots of people bought the first one.
Don't waste your time, don't even read this review, just go back to the lens reviews.
So, I didn't scare you off with all the warnings.
You must be here for a reason. Okay, I'll keep going.
This lens is comprised of 7 elements in 5 groups and is a very light 7 ounces.
Minimum Aperture: f/3.5 to f/5.6 - This is terribly slow. At 55mm this lens is f/5.6, are you kidding me? For $100(US) you could buy the great 50mm f/1.8D which is f/1.8 at 50mm. Come on!
Maximum Aperture: f/22 to f/38 (18mm to 55mm)
Manual Focus: A joke, right? You have to turn this slim ring at the front of the lens. Very annoying.
Build: Cheap, plasticy, and cheap.
Filter Thread: 52mm. Here's the first thing half-way right about this lens: it uses one of the major two sizes of Nikon filters.
Zooming: Weird Action - When you zoom from 18mm out the lens pulls in, until you get halfway, then it pulls out again. This is difficult to get used to if you're attempting to use the manual focus.
For what it is, this lens does an almost half-way decent job. Okay, maybe I'm being too harsh, the lens can take nice photos, but be sure you have lots of light since it is so slow what with being f/5.6 at merely 55mm which is barely a "zoom."
Because the lens is so cheap, if you affix it to a more professional, and therefore heavier, camera then I suggest that you not pick it up by the lens as it may break. Yes, I'm being serious, it is that cheap.
Everything is an alternative to this lens.
If you're on a budget, the previously mentioned 50mm f/1.8D is a great buy at $100(US) and if you just zoom with your feet you'll be fine.
If you want a real zoom, consider the 18-135mm which is also a popular "kit lens" sold with many Nikon bodies. This lens has a longer zoom and is faster through the same zoom range (18-55mm).
The distortion isn't that bad, and there's no real issues with light fall-off or other optical complaints. If you can get past how build-quality and mechanics of the lens, you will find it does render a nice image.
But, if you want to step up to real professional performance, then you have to give great consideration to the mighty 17-55mm f/2.8 lens. While this lens is a lot more expensive, the images you get from it are phenomenal. If you're an amateur photographer (there's nothing wrong with that) then you might not be able to fully appreciate the features that comes with the cost of the 17-55mm f/2.8 lens. I admit to being highly envious of the ability to afford the lesser photo quality of the 18-55 reviewed here, but sadly my work requires me to invest in the more expensive gear.
Following are some sample photos to demonstrate the power of this type of lens and some general uses which will likely yield good results. If you shoot things like these, then this lens may be a good one to think about adding to your camera bag.
This shot was done with several close-up filters attached to the front of the lens (using a step ring) so that better macro photography could be done.