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16-35VR verses 24-85mmVR - Unexpected outcome


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Billsnature Registered since 22nd Apr 2012
Sat 15-Sep-12 04:20 AM

Last week I ordered a Nikon 16-35mm f4 VR from Roberts camera and a Nikon 24-85mm VR from Best Buy. Both arrived last Friday and allowed me to do a hand held shoot out.

My initial plan was to keep both lenses. I would use my 24-70mm f2.8 for any serious landscape work off of a tripod, and use the 16-35mm VR as a 20-26mm lens on tripod where is is expected to be wider or lower distortion than the 24-26mm portion of the 24-70mm. The 24-85mm VR was just purchased as a very light walk around lens or a pocket lens when out on animal photography trips with long lenses.

Well either I got the best copy of the 24-85mm VR ever made, or a sub par copy of the 16-35 VR, but in just about every head to head image test in the 24-35mm range the 24-85 looked significantly better.

The tests were not distortion sensitive (trees, rocks and leafs on stream bed)so that was not part of the test. But for color, contrast, edge sharpness and corner sharpness the 24-85mm VR looked much better than the 16-35, and in reality quite stunning.

So... I returned the 16-35mm VR. I am a strong advocate of the 24-85mmVR at least for a light weight ccenics lens in distortion insensitive environmental shots, and I am left with the delemia of how to meet my 20mm image needs.

I have owned the 21mm Zeiss (ZE previously) and may go that route again, but was hoping for a more flexible solution like the 16-35mm VR.

Anyone compare the 16-35mm with the 20mm AFD? I would be especially interested in comments about color and contrast between the two. I have to decide if I want to try a second copy of 16-35mmVR or move to a prime.