Nikon AF-S DX 16-85mm f3.5-5.6 G ED VR lens
Manufacturer: Nikon Inc. Part number: 2178
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CNET editors' review
price range: $559.00 - $699.99
- Reviewed by: Matthew Fitzgerald
- Edited by: Lori Grunin
- Reviewed on: 06/10/2008
- Released on: 02/08/2008
The good: Solidly built; Vibration Reduction image stabilization; strong manual focus capabilities.
The bad: On the heavy side; price on the heavy side as well.
The bottom line: A tough, full-featured, well-built medium zoom lens, the Nikon AF-S DX 16-85mm f3.5-5.6 G ED VR's relatively high price tag may nevertheless make you want to consider other options.
CNET review misses the point of this lens
by GB in HK on July 13, 2008
Pros: Gives Nikon digital users well-priced 16mm option
Cons: Could stand to be a bit faster than f3.5
Summary: I've had this lens (with a D300) for about a month and it's proven to be an excellent choice as a general lens. The distortion referred to in ...
Summary: I've had this lens (with a D300) for about a month and it's proven to be an excellent choice as a general lens. The distortion referred to in the CNET review is not beyond what one might expect in a mid-range lens. What's more, I've found the auto-focus speed to be very quick in just about every situation. Like the review, I would love it if it were faster than f3.5, but given the "film speed" range of the Nikon DX camera line, it's not been a particularly serious hardship.
The key for me, after considering the DX VR 18-200 IF-ED Nikor option, was the additional 2mm on the wide angle end. In my film shooting days, a 24mm prime was always part of my kit, so a DX general zoom that goes only as far as 18mm felt inadequate. I bought this lens, along with Nikon's VR 70-300mm and have been extremely pleased with the range the two lenses provide in concert.
I'd like to see the CNET reviewer reconsider the uniquely wider angle of this lens in an update; to have not focused on it in the original review feels like a serious oversight.
2 out of 2 users found this user opinion helpful.
CNET's Review is well off base and technically flawed
by LanceTJ on January 25, 2009
Pros: Outstanding Sharpness & lack of Chromatic aberration, as good as Nikkor lenses costing 2x as much. Latest VR II vibration reduction adds 2.5 f-stops. Minor distortion at full wide angle is better than how other Nikkor zoom lenses perform.
Cons: None really. If the lens was faster, it would be bigger and heavier, and thus not a good general purpose lens. This lens only weighs 2.2 oz more than the Nikon 18-70mm Yet lens performance is much superior, despite it having a wider zoom range.
Summary: This is a great new lens in the Nikon lineup, and the CNET review does not do it proper justice. As far as size and weight go, this lens is ...
Summary: This is a great new lens in the Nikon lineup, and the CNET review does not do it proper justice. As far as size and weight go, this lens is heavier than other kit lenses. It would not be a good match for smaller Nikon SLR models. But it matches up very well with the larger D80 and D90, as well as the even bigger D200 and D300. Owners of these camera should take a strong look at this lens. And anyone buying one of these cameras would be well served to forgo buying it with a kit lens, and instead just get the camera body, together with this lens.Note that I did a typo when I was comparing the lens to the Professional Nikkor AF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 lens. The first reference to the lens was correct, but I then accidentally type 15 instead of 17 in the second reference to it.
For an excellent technical review of this lens with actual laboratory test data, checkout this informative web page:
If you compare the test data of this lens against the other zoom lenses in the Nikon lineup, you will begin to appreciate just what a great lens this is. Sharpness and resolution of this lens tested very high, equal or even superior to professional grade Nikon Zoom lenses that cost over twice as much money. In addition, chromatic aberration was also quite low, compared to other zoom lenses.
The CNET review's complaint that the lens has excessive distortion at full wide angle is a most inaccurate and exaggerated statement. Photozone measured distortion in this lens to be quite small at every focal length except full wide angle. However, even then, the measured distortion was only 2.5% This figure is actually lower than almost all of the other Nikon zoom lenses. The less expensive 18-70mm AF-S Nikkor zoom has a measured distortion of 3.5% at full wide angle, despite having a smaller zoom range, and being only 2 oz lighter. It also lacks Vibration Reduction.
When one looks at the Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm lens that CNET instead recommends that users buy, one finds that its distortion at full wide angle is easily the worst yet, at 4.1% Just check the lab test results on the photozone.de website, and you will see these lab test result numbers listed there.
So this CNET review has a made a big mistake. It has criticized a lens for having excessive distortion, when it actually does not in reality. And at the same time, recommended that folks buy a lens that actually has much worse distortion.
Now there are Nikon zoom lenses that do offer lower distortion, but they are professional grade lenses that are:
1) Far more expensive
2) Weight much, much more, and thus not good for everyday normal use
The best example is the 17-55mm Nikkor AF-S It only offers 2.2% distortion at full wide angle, compared to the 2.5% of this Nikkor 16-85mm AF-S VR But consider this:
The Nikkor 15-55mm AF-S:
1) Does not have as wide and versatile of a zoom range
2) It weighs way much more at 26 oz, compared to only 17 oz for the 16-85mm
3) It does not offer any vibration reduction at all, while the 16-85mm has the latest VR II
3) costs more than double the price of the 16-85mm, with a typical street price of $1,200
The only advantage the 17-55mm AF-S Nikkor has is that it is a much faster lens, with a constant max aperture of f/2.8 across its range.
So when CNET says in their review that this lens is not a great value, and the price is high, they could not be more completely wrong. This lens is a great value, when one considers all of the outstanding features it has, and the fantastic performance that it delivers.
Here are links to a couple of recent photos that I took with my Nikkor AF-S 16-85mm VR II. First, here is one at full wide angle:
Tell me, does distortion appear to be at all excessive in this photo? Of course not, because it simply isn't.
And here is another photo, showing the great sharpness and clarity of the lens:
Very few camera lenses deserve a 5 star rating. But this is one of those very few that clears deserves it. If you are buying a Nikon D90 or D300, this is the zoom lens to get to use with your camera. You won't regret it.
Updated on Jan 26, 2009
Again, I want to emphasis that BOTH of the lenses that CNET recommended as alternatives to this lens ( the 18-70mm and 18-200mm ) have far WORSE distortion than this lens. Respectively, they have 3.5% and 4.1% wide angle distortion, compared to only 2.5% on the 16-85mm.
The Nikon Kit lenses also have worse distortion, with the 18-105mm kit lens having 3.5% distortion at full wide angle, and the 18-55mm DX 2.7% distortion at full wide angle.
The simple fact is that all zoom lenses exhibit some distortion. And the Nikon AF-S DX 16-85mm VR II lens does a better job at minimizing distortion than the vast majority of zoom lenses.
Updated on Feb 22, 2009Update: Support for this lens was just recently added to DxO Optics Pro. So for any distortion freaks, the minor distortion that this zoom lens has can now be totally eliminated using DxO In fact, I cannot recommend DxO Optics Pro more highly to fellow camera owners. They added support for the D90 a few months ago, and they now support all of the Nikon kit lenses, some of their most popular Pro lenses, and now this lens too. So the much worse distortion on the kit 18-105mm or 18-200mm Nikon lens can be fixed with DxO also.
DxO also offers advanced lighting correction, very similar to Nikon's D-Lighting. And it also includes great correction tools for both noise and Chromatic Aberration. And it supports the Nikon Raw Image format.
In any event, for just $100, this software is really a good additional editing tool to get, in my opinion.
Updated on Apr 1, 2009Well known Nikon Expert Thom Hogan has now written a detailed review of the the Nikon AF-S DX 16-85mm f3.5-5.6 ED VR lens.
He has confirmed that this lens is exceptionally sharp, rivaling Nikon's Pro lenses. For a zoom lens with such an exceptional range, this is really great performance.
Read Thom's review, and you will agree with both he and I that this is the best all around lens for Nikon DX cameras like the D90, instead of going with either the kit lens, or the 18-200mm
Updated on Apr 21, 2009Here are active hotlinks to the two other reviews of this lens that I mentioned earlier:
1 out of 1 users found this user opinion helpful.
by jrhurren on April 15, 2010
Pros: Quite sharp, nice range (especially on the wide side), fast AF
Cons: Could be priced more competitively
Summary: I love this lens for an everyday walkaround. Many people have compared it to the 18-200 but without the range. I have to say that, trying both, I like the ...
Summary: I love this lens for an everyday walkaround. Many people have compared it to the 18-200 but without the range. I have to say that, trying both, I like the 16-85 better. It's wider end makes a noticeable difference and the long end provides good reach. I would say the *slightly* better optical quality compensates for the shorter focal length. I got the lens about a year ago and have made about 2500 shots with it. It is all that I could have asked for - very sharp, great color, easy to live with. For others looking at the 18-200 I would encourage you to look back at old photos and see how many of them are actually >85mm. For me, it was an exceedingly small #. Of course, it would be nice if it went to f2.4 or something of the like, but that's not realistic in this price range. I highly recommend this lens. Good luck on your purchase decision.
IMPORTANT NOTE: After ~7 months of use and ~1500 shots, the zoom mechanism on this lens broke. I definitely do take good care of my equipment so abuse was not a contributing factor. It was covered under warranty, but Nikon's service dept is terrible (they lost my lens for 2 weeks) which has taken some of the luster off of my fondness for this product.
A great consumer-oriented lens--sharp and contrasty
by davidgarth on February 28, 2010
Pros: Slightly sharper and much lighter weight than the 17-55mm pro zoom I own. A great travel or "carry around" lens. The VR almost makes up for the slower maximum aperture. The AFS is fast focusing, color rendition is excellent and the zoom is smooth.
Cons: The mostly plastic construction doesn't appear to be a rugged as a pro-oriented lens. In telephoto it extends to an obscene degree and looks especially vulnerable to knocks and bumps. I always retract to wide angle before I carry it around.
Summary: I'm a part-time pro who's getting long in the tooth and tired of carrying around lots of heavy gear, so I've been trying to find lighter lenses ...
Summary: I'm a part-time pro who's getting long in the tooth and tired of carrying around lots of heavy gear, so I've been trying to find lighter lenses that still provide excellent image quality. This is now my favorite lens for its versatility, handling and sharpness. 16 to 85 range is perfect for many situations on a DX camera. I take good care of my equipment and don't bang it around so I expect several years of good performance.
Most well-balanced package in terms of IQ & features.
by mtcy09 on February 19, 2010
Pros: Versatile focal lengths (particularly the wide end at 16mm, or 24mm on DX format DSLRs), incredibly reliable VR plus exceptional IQ to rival "professional grade" lenses selling for over 100% more.
Cons: Not really.
Summary: One of the most under-rated lenses in the Nikkor line-up. Often criticized for not being fast enough without taking into account the need to balance features, size and weight. This ...
Summary: One of the most under-rated lenses in the Nikkor line-up. Often criticized for not being fast enough without taking into account the need to balance features, size and weight. This lens is criticized by some as "expensive". Imagine what they would say if it were a fast lens (e.g., being fixed at f2.8)! Comments on its distortion figure (2.5% is far from high for such a wide lens) and wide-open performance (see the impressive MTF figure for 16mm at f3.5 listed on photozone.com) are nit-picking, if not misleading. Just goes to show detractors' biased attempt to ignore the full picture and single out aspects naturally prone to relatively undesiralbe results (e.g., plastic construction typical of DX lenses, or higher distortion figure for wide angle lenses, which are in fact present in similar designs across brands). All things considered, a truly outstanding lens -- period. The fact is, with its impressive feature set, light weight and extremely useful focal lengths, and at this price point, you can't get any better than this gem of a DX lens.
- Manufacturer: Nikon Inc.
- Part number: 2178
- Description: This compact and highly versatile 5.3x zoom includes Nikon's VR image stabilization technology and delivers incredible optical performance.
- Packaged Quantity 1
- Length 3 in
- Diameter 2.8 in
- Weight 17.1 oz
- Lens System Zoom lens
- Special Functions Zoom
- Intended For Digital SLR,
- Focal Length 16 mm - 85 mm
- Lens Aperture F/3.5-5.6
- Minimum Aperture F/22 - f/36
- Optical Zoom 5.3 x
- Magnification 1 / 4.6
- Min Focus Distance 15 in
- Focus Adjustment Manual,
- Zoom Adjustment Manual
- Max View Angle 83 degrees
- Min View Angle 18.8 degrees
- Lens Construction 11 group(s) / 17 element(s)
- Filter Size 67 mm
- Diaphragm Blades 7
- Lens Coating Nikon Super Integrated Coating
- Mounting Type Nikon F
- Features Internal focusing system ,
VR (Vibration Reduction) ,
Silent Wave Motor (SWM) ,
Aspherical lens ,
- Included Accessories Dust cap,