I finally decided that this was the right choice for me, and it has arrived. It will replace my 18-70. First impressions:
- very similar in size and weight to the 12-24, at least until you zoom.
- zoom ring is nice and firm, no creep. (I used to have the old 24-120 and that didn't just creep, it would shoot in and out at the slightest opportunity)
- with a D300 and using the built-in flash you MUST take the lens hood off unless you are zoomed in to about 28mm. The flash doesn't reach the corners at 16mm, zoom in to 18 to 20.
- the VR works. I know Nikon claim 4 stops, for the quality I expect I would say 2 stops to be safe. A quick test shows good results handheld at 1/8 sec at 16mm and 1/30 at 85mm with the VR on. Without VR I need 1/30 at 16mm and 1/125 at 85mm.
- Focus works fine, very fast.
- It is marvellous to get the extra at the wide end. 16mm to me is far better than 18mm. It means that when I go out with just one lens, I won't miss the 12-24 so much.
- I had a worrying blob in the same place on several photos, with was worse when the aperture was smaller. It was larger than normal sensor dust, and I was worried. Until I looked at the front of the lens, where a large black speck had landed. This has alerted me to the extra need for care keeping the lens surface clean when using very wide angles.
- This isn't a scientific test, but I'm very happy with it so far.
Finally, for anyone in the UK, I got it for a total of £399 including delivery from www.ajpurdy.co.uk which was the best price I could find. This was one time when a local supplier was cheaper than getting it from Hong Kong.
My 18-70 will soon be sold on eBay. It isn't worth much - I will be lucky to get £90.
I've now been able to do a few tests myself. There have been various comments about the vignetting. The photozone review at: http://www.photozone.de/Reviews/46-nikon--nikkor-aps-c/377-nikkor_1685_3556vr shows that it is only at 16mm and f/3.5 that it is significant. So I did some tests, and I agree. It isn't that bad but one certainly needs to watch out for it at 16mm f/3.5 if the subject means that it shows up. By either stopping down to 16mm 5.6 or zooming to 18mm f/3.8 it is no longer visible to me.
But then I tried something which is baffling and seems impossible. I've had problems in the past with filters on very wide angle lenses causing vignetting. So I set the lens to 16mm and f/3.5 and put on my Hoya super Pro 1 circular polariser. I took a picture with it and without. The one without, I can see the vignetting as described above. The one with the filter, the vignetting has vanished!!!
Please can someone else who has this lens, and a polarising filter, try it please. 16mm, f/3.5, with and without polariser. I can't believe the evidence of my own eyes.
If I get time I will try the test for you. I have the same filter but have not put it on the lens yet.
So far, this lens is way past my expectations. Way past. I was comparing some 100% crops of my dog on the driveway taken with the 16-85 at 82mm f/8 and my 70-200mm VR at about the same 82mm at f/8...and every time I pick the 16-85's pics out as sharper with better color rendition.
>I've had problems in the past with filters on very >wide angle lenses causing vignetting. So I set the lens to >16mm and f/3.5 and put on my Hoya super Pro 1 circular >polariser. I took a picture with it and without. The one >without, I can see the vignetting as described above. The one >with the filter, the vignetting has vanished!!! > >Please can someone else who has this lens, and a polarising >filter, try it please. 16mm, f/3.5, with and without >polariser. I can't believe the evidence of my own eyes. >
I have noticed on the 18-200 sometimes you'll see vignetting on one corner or in the top corners, ie it isn't even, I think this is the VR in operation, it never really worried me so I havn't tested it but I think it's a side effect of the VR element moving closer to one side or another of the image circle.
I repeated my test at 16mm f/3.5 with and without the polariser this morning in better light. The anomoly has gone. It was hard to see yesterday because of moving clouds (I did say my tests were not scientific!).
Also the vignetting isn't that bad anyway. Oddly it is easier to see on a thumbnail image than on a full screen image. Perhaps because the eyes have to move to see all the picture.
Conclusion: adding the polarising filter makes no difference to the vignetting at 16mm f3.5. That is good news.
the photozone people go strange ways lately how come they've tested bokeh at 50mm f/5.6 alone and found it's bad? do they test each and every lens at 50mm to see the bokeh? don't think so. seems to me like they're not unbiased anymore towards brands. well... there's another review here http://www.lemondedelaphoto.com/Introduction,1023.html
I am thinking of this lens to replace my 18-200. I really don't like the zoom creep and IMO at least my copy, it is not as sharp as the 18-10 which I used early on with my D70. Can we see some real samples from the early owners, thanks.
I owned a 18-200. Sold it before the 16-85 was announced. After it was announced I figured I'd try it as a walk around lens. I have a 24-70 and 14-24 too and while those are much better lenses, they are a lot more $$$ to drag around on a motorcycle or for just walking around candidly.
I figured if the 16-85 didn't work out, I'd sell it too. Nope. This one stays.
I'm not a picture poster, which might run against the grain for many on the forum, but I have my reasons. I do have space on flickr and if time permits, I'll see if I can load something up there. No promises.
I'm in the same boat...kept my 18-70 after I unloaded my D70. Picked up a 18-200 last year based on all of the reviews, but have been disappointed with it as compared to the sharpness and compactness of the 18-70...I really miss that lens (gave it to my wife for her D40).
So now, I'm in the awkward position of wanting to 'upgrade' to the 16-85 to regain some of that magic, and from the reviews I'm seeing, it sounds like it bests both of the aforementioned lenses.
I'm interested in anyone else's experience moving from the 18-200 to the 16-85. If I get it, I would likely sell the 18-200 and stick with my 180mm f/2.8 for the long end as needed...
>the photozone people go strange ways lately >how come they've tested bokeh at 50mm f/5.6 alone and found >it's bad? >do they test each and every lens at 50mm to see the bokeh? >don't think so.
seems Klaus was responding to the "amazing bokeh" 16-85 samples around the place, the review states the normally he wouldn't have tested it but for the hype. As for 50mm I think thats just where he found it was worst, perhaps a little unfair comapred to other photozone reviews but prospective buyers might want the balance against the great bokeh threads etc.
The photozone review sample is very sharp and the 2mm etxra width vs other consumer zooms certainly make this a desireable lightweight lens, although like the 18-200 pretty expensive also.
i too have just bought a 17-55 but i do not regret the great results i'm seeing at f2.8. I hear the 16-85's bokeh isn't all that good, so for me, the 17-55 and it's f2.8 is a winner...Just did some wedding shots for a friend and i'm more then happy with the results.
I may consider the 16-85 over my 18-135 as a smaller walk around, but that said, i actually like the heavier weight of the 17-55 and have no problems carrying it around all day.
You are so lucky to be able to get equipment so cheaply - just $650! I bought mine for £400 which is $800.
There are quite a few second hand 17-55s on eBay here for only a third more. Some sellers say that they are selling because of the weight. I rejected it because of size and weight. Also because it looks impressive, and I want to look invisible. (I would hate to be outside with a D3 and 14-24 for the same reason).
I am very happy with my choice:
- Some say it is sharper than the 17-55. - Some say it is sharper than the 70-200. - Some say it is sharper than the 18-200. - It is smaller and lighter than any of them. - It has VR. - It complements my 70-300VR and 12-24. - It takes good pictures, and I think I now have the perfect general purpose lens for my D300.
I now intend to stop buying anything for some years to come and concentrate on taking photos! (Long ago I went for 20 years buying nothing - except film - I had a Nikon F2A, 28 f2.8, 50 f1.4, 105 f2.5, all manual.)
Just a note to inform those who got the 10% discount coupon
from eBay - I got my 16-85 VR from 17th Street Photo for $536
shipped. Here's how - they list it at $579, take 10% off and
pay about $10-12 for shipping - there you go!
Roberts Imaging. They had the lens for $619 when I got on the waiting list. When it came in they called, I asked how much and was told $609. I looked at the website and yep, thats the price or was. I haven't been out there in some weeks so I don't know what it is now.
I posted the price, both before and after purchase prices, here a few times.
I think 16-85 is over-priced now. I do belive its price will go down until around $400, although it may take couple years!!.That's which it should be.
"- Some say it is sharper than the 17-55. - Some say it is sharper than the 70-200. - Some say it is sharper than the 18-200. - It is smaller and lighter than any of them. - It has VR. - It complements my 70-300VR and 12-24. - It takes good pictures, and I think I now have the perfect general purpose lens for my D300."
If 16-85 is sharper than 17-55 and 70-200 2.8 ,I will be very happy to wait to get these two fast lenses because everyone will sell them to get 16-85 !!!!!
I paid $580 from my local dealer. I know he was good to me but in the last few months I've spend $$$$$ with him. I have both the 16-85 and 17-55 and though I find the 16-85 quite sharp it does not surpass the 17-55, least forget that lens is an f/2.8. What's very appealing with the 16-85 is it's form factor and extended reach over the 17-55. I enjoy using this lens as a general walk around lens on both my D300 and D60. It keeps my kit much lighter and I feel that when the opportunity to take a shot presents itself that I've a very decent tool to make that capture. On the other hand when I'm out on a "shot" or project and I'm using a DX body the 17-55 is the lens of choice. When traveling the 16-85VR and 70-300VR along with an SB 400 will make a terrific kit. Light, high performance and very portable.
I got it this afternoon but it's quite late to do some test shots. I did but ISO is already at 1200 above and shooting from inside my car. Will do some real shots this next 2 days and will certainly post some samples. From the initial shots I did, I think it is sharp looking at the LCD but 17-55 will still be way up there I think. We'll see I have a 4 day holiday to try this lens out.
Thu 20-Mar-08 12:09 AM | edited Thu 20-Mar-08 12:34 AM by intrepid24
>snip >I have both the 16-85 and 17-55 and though I find the 16-85 quite >sharp it does not surpass the 17-55, least forget that lens is >an f/2.8. What's very appealing with the 16-85 is it's form >factor and extended reach over the 17-55. I enjoy using this >lens as a general walk around lens on both my D300 and D60. >It keeps my kit much lighter and I feel that when the >opportunity to take a shot presents itself that I've a very >decent tool to make that capture. On the other hand when I'm >out on a "shot" or project and I'm using a DX body >the 17-55 is the lens of choice. When traveling the 16-85VR >and 70-300VR along with an SB 400 will make a terrific kit. >Light, high performance and very portable.
Nikon's lens releases recently have edged the State-Of-The-Art higher at every level. The 14-24mm & 24-70mm, and Long FixedFL AFS VR lenses. The new 24mm PC and 60mm Micro lenses.
And now the 16-85mm DX VR, whose optical performance rivals - and surpasses - any competitor's offering at a similar FL range/aperture(s).
IMO, Nikon's 17-55mm f/2.8 DX is their own 16-85mm DX's only competitor.
Thu 20-Mar-08 04:23 AM | edited Thu 20-Mar-08 04:25 AM by aerobat
I've had the 16-85 VR on my D50 to replace the 18-200 VR. The 16-85 VR is sharper and better built. Since a week I've updgraded to a D300. The 16-85 VR does a great job on a hires DSLR as well. This photo was taken at 85mm - F5,6 - 1/250.
It says "All-in-all an obvious choice but not flawless ... which is why I had to agonize a while about the optical rating but I believe that the lens is somewhat more desirable than the AF-S 17-55mm f/2.8G ED although it's a bit like comparing apples and oranges here."
And "Despite some shortcomings the Nikkor AF-S 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR DX is probably still the best DX standard zoom lens in Nikon mount to date. It is very sharp throughout the range although there could be a little less field curvature (curved focus field) at 16mm. The level of distortions and lateral CAs is comparatively moderate for such a lens (still a bit high in absolute terms). Vignetting is generally well controlled except at 16mm @ f/3.5."
I just pointed out that some people say it is better.... I realise that all the people who have the 17-55 hate the idea that this lens is better, and I'm not trying to upset them. If you want a superb f/2.8 lens get the 17-55 and enjoy it.
My decision to get the 16-85 wasn't based on the cost - money wasn't the issue. I would be happy to pay MORE to get a really good smaller lighter lens. Instead I have been able to pay LESS to get a smaller lighter lens, which appears to have comparable or even perhaps better quality images.
I'm very pleased with Nikon - I think they are doing all the right things.
The 16-85VR works indoors very well for static subjects using the VR feature.
As far as versatility goes, I think the new VR wins as compared to the 17-55.... but this shouldn't be a surprise as the new consumer is designed to be versatile. The 17-55 is a pro-calibre lens and designed for more specific applications, many of which would be ill addressed if using a 16-85VR.
I'm not sure why we feel compelled to pit these two lenses against each other when they are just not designed or marketed as such.
I have both and Holme's aboslutely correct, each has it's own use and IQ wise yes they are almost similar IMO. The 17-55 paired with D300 will be an aboslute advantage in available light shots like weddings.
Has anyone who now owns this lens tried it with a polarizer? Which one do you own? I am really interested in using this lens at the wide end, so I want to know whether you notice any vignetting at 16mm. I am going to buy this lens and don't own a 67mm polarizer, which one?
Thu 20-Mar-08 11:21 AM | edited Thu 20-Mar-08 11:22 AM by rbeal
Yes, I have tested it carefully with a polariser. If you read the other messages earlier in this topic you will see.
I can confirm that even at 16mm I had no increased vignetting when using a polariser. Good news, as I like my polariser.
My polariser is called Hoya Super Pro 1 67mm PL-CIR. I've had it for some time and used it with other lenses. It works very well. I think they do a cheap one as well - this is the better model.
(To recap my findings on vignetting generally. There is some at 16mm and f/3.5, but if you stop down to 5.6 it goes away. Or if you zoom in to 18mm it goes away. It isn't that bad anyway and could easily be corrected in Photoshop if required.)
I think the lens is terrific! Very sharp and more range than the 18-55 that came with my D40x. Even though the price is about the same as the 18-200, I just read too many bad reviews of that lens, especially with regards to distortion and softness. I already own the 55-200 VR lens but find I rarely use it. The extra reach of the 85 over the 55 will be welcome though.
Before buying the lens, I'd been concerned about its ability to take close-ups compared to the 18-55. I don't need a macro lens, but I do a lot of close-up work. From what I've seen so far, it's going to work very well for me for most of the close-up work I do. In any case, I'll keep my 18-55, which can get a bit closer when necessary. I posted a couple of close-up photos on the site above.
K.R. posted a comparison of the 16-85 vs. the 18-200 and shows a clear bias towards the 18-200. I think he misses the point though as there are a number of differences between these lenses that will be more or less important based on the type of shooting you do.
For me, the small form factor and extra 2mm on the wide end seal the deal. I spent some time with the 16-85 today and eas impressed by the build quality, size and VR performance. The IQ also seemed very high on the D300.
I will be picking one of these up, and will *probably* sell my 18-200. Haven't decided yet on that though...
Thu 26-Jun-08 12:01 AM | edited Thu 26-Jun-08 12:02 AM by pcspecialist
Hey, if KR is biased towards the 18-200 then I'll consider the 16-85. Way back when I used to value what he said I was very disappointed with every purchase I made as a result of reading his review on said items including the 18-200 which I disliked almost as much as I disliked the D70 - hated both.
I have a bunch of lenses to unload that will probably cover the cost of the 16-85 and then some.
While I found the 16-85 VR to be a very good lens, it's not perfect by any means. As I've discovered over years of testing lenses for my own use, there is no one "silver bullet" lens. Besides trade-offs for different applications, construction restraints, and price points, there's the increasingly common sample variations that may eliminate any potential advantages anticipated. When considering a recent sample of this lens I compared to three others, although not an exhaustive test, it clearly demonstrates the lens performed well overall, but wasn't the best at all focal lengths. In fact, they all had there strengths, and the 18-200 VR was better than the 16-85 VR in some comparisons, providing surprisingly good overall results. Here's the link:
PS: In spite of the often obvious bias from Ken Rockwell, he does provide some valuable insights into a variety of photographic areas and equipment. I'd suggest considering him as one of many voices to use to evaluate your decision process.
OldPhotos "If everyone possesses some measure of this intangible quality called creativity, photography is unprecedented as an outlet for its expression." - Ansel Adams
My sense is that they both can take good pictures, but that it takes much more effort with the 18-200. That is, once you get beyond 100mm, you need to make sure you close up the aperature to 8 at the most, or images will be too soft (for me, at least.). Its a very seductive lense due to its range, but I've had more disappointments when I blow up beyond 4 by 6 with it then I would like.
The 16-85, on the other hand, is effortless sharp at almost all aper.On the other hand, it only goes to 85, so if you need more reach you need another lense.
Been following this thread with interest in having purchased the 16-85 some 3 months back and using on a D300. I think it is a great lens and fully endorse the many favourable comments, particularly its sharpness.
From this thread at least, it seems many agonise over the the choice of the 16-85 or the 17-55/2.8, lenses obviously designed for different and specific purposes. My advice would be, purchase the 16-85 for travel and/or walkaround and if you have a need for a fast 17-55, purchase the Tamron 17-50/2.8 (which I also have). You will then have both uses covered and will still have a few dollars left compared with purchasing the Nikkor 17-55.
My own reasoning to this issue, but one I have been very satisfied with the approach.
>From this thread at least, it seems many agonise over the the >choice of the 16-85 or the 17-55/2.8, lenses obviously >designed for different and specific purposes. My advice would >be, purchase the 16-85 for travel and/or walkaround and if you >have a need for a fast 17-55, purchase the Tamron 17-50/2.8 >(which I also have). You will then have both uses covered and >will still have a few dollars left compared with purchasing >the Nikkor 17-55.
I was originally going to take this approach as well, but I decided that a fast prime is faster than a f/2.8 zoom, so I have held off after buying the 16-85. Now I spent my saved pennies on a D300. I am very happy and not feeling the need for any additional lenses at this time.
If you are worried about the speed you will give up getting the 16-85mm vs. the 17-55mm you could just add some primes to your kit. I currently carry around a 35mm f2, a 50mm f1.4 and an 85mm f1.8. All of these are at least on stop faster than the pro 17-55mm and stopped down to f2.8 they are amazingly sharp. Oh...practically no distortion either. Also, they are small so they don't draw a lot of attention if that is a concern. If I want to go really light I will use a zoom combined with my 50mm f1.8. Super light weight fast kit. I rarely hear anyone suggest this as an option, but it is a great alternative to the big expensive pro zooms.
I had both the 16-85 and the 18-200. I eventually sold the 18-200, not because it is a "bad" lens, but because it is a contradictory lens. As someone said earlier, its quite possible to take good pictures with it, but one has to "work" at it more, especially beyond 150 mm.
So what is the contradiction. The whole idea behind the 18-200 is that it is a "do everything" lens. One wants to put it on and not have to worry about things. Instead, I found that if one was not constantly attentive to stopping down (especially at the higher focal lengths) it is far to easy to take soft pictures, even for 4 by 6 pictures. I found this "easy" lens to require way too much effort.
On the other hand, the 16-85 takes requires very little effort to take at least good pictures. Sharp is rarely an issue. Since the focal length is shorter, I do find myself bringing along another lens or two...often a prime....and my reward for this is much better pictures, at the cost of having to "think" about what lens would best suit my purpose for what situation.
Basically, the 18-200 made me lazy. Why carry another lens if the focal length is so great? Unfortunately, the results were far too many unsharp pictures. Some may be able to live with that trade-off,but for me there are now too many missed opportunities....