Sat 27-Oct-12 02:01 PM | edited Sat 27-Oct-12 02:11 PM by jamesvoortman
As far as I can tell the VRI lenses have the red "VR" and the VRII have the gold "VR" paint This certainly seems true for the 18-200 versions sold in South Africa. why would Nikon list the older 18-200 as a VR and the newer model with lock switch as VRII. I remember because I wondered at the time if it was worth "upgrading".
Since you already have the 70-300 range well covered with a known good lens I think the 16-85 VR is going to offer you more. the extra 2mm at the wide end is significant (24mm as opposed to 28mm equivalent) and the lens is reportedly sharper than the 18-200 throughout.
I have used my 18-200 extensively for years and I love the versatility but it is not nearly as sharp at the long end as your 70-300. In fact I often have to work hard at sharpening in post processing pics taken at any focal length with this lens. It's lack of sharpness frustrated me when a wild baby vicuna walked right up to me on the slopes of Huascaran in Peru (once in a lifetime experience) and again when doing some sunrise landscapes at Elim on the edge of the Namib Desert. the pics are perfectly useable on screen but not enough detail for big prints.
If anything, I'm guessing the 18-300 is likely sharper at 200 than the 18-200, but it is bigger and heavier too. Also check filter sizes of the different options as this can also affect your final cost.