16-35 f/4 vs. 18-35 f/3.5-4.5

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by raczoliver, Feb 26, 2018.

  1. Hi all!

    I would like to turn to those who have experience with either the 16-35 f/4 or the 18-35 f/3.5-4.5G lens about a couple of things before I purchase one of them.

    I know the specifications and have read several reviews of both, I am sure optically either one will be fine for me. I am more interested in their build quality, specifically the damping on the zoom and focus rings, whether there is a play in them, and how well the VR works on the 16-35. How does the build quality of these two compare to other AF-S zoom lenses? (I own the 24-120 f/4G and 70-200 f/4G as a reference, with the 70-200 being better built and much more pleasurable to use in my opinion.) Is the 16-35 much better built than the 18-35, or is the difference fairly subtle?

    Thank you!
  2. I've owned both, and I sold the 18-35. I've been very happy with the 16-35. I really wanted the VR, and the guy selling it made me a screaming good deal. In fairness, the 18-35 may be a tad sharper, but I tested both at similar focal lengths but couldn't tell a great deal of difference in the images. I'm sure there will be others along soon who will extol one over the other.
  3. I wanted wide but stil a lens that could take a normal filter, so I got the 16-35/4 VR. Since I never looked at the 18-35G, I will not comment further on it than I prefer 16 mm to 18 mm.

    Build quality is better than the 24-120/4 VR since it is an internal zoom mechanism. VR is nice to have and does a fine job. Personally, I do not value VR that high on such short focal lenghts as I do on tele photo lenses. I have used it on the D610, D800 and D800E and I find it produces good results.

    Admittedly, I have looked at the 14-24/2.8 but its front element and shorter zoom range makes me content with what I have.
  4. Don't neglect the Nikkor AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED lens... especially if you can find a clean used version. Photozone.de has detailed reviews for the 17-35 and the two lenses you referenced as well. While an older design, (1996 but still in production) optically it is as good or better than the other two. And because it is an older design the build quality is SUPERB... the way Nikon used to build lenses. I bought mine shortly after it was introduced and it remains my most used lens.
    erik_christensen|3 likes this.
  5. Another happy user of the 16-35/4 VR. Main reasons for the purchase were the option to attach normal filters, the range going to 16mm, and VR. At the time I purchased mine, the 18-35G was not available (and wouldn't have made the cut even if it had been) and I never seriously considered the 17-35/2.8 (no need for f/2.8 and there's no VR). Zoom ring on the 16-35 is well damped, the focus ring seems to have some play before the mechanism catches - not important to me at all; can't remember when I last (if ever) focused that lens manually.

    Lots of distortion at the short end and rather weak optical performance towards the long end for the 16-35.

    Nowadays, I might consider the Tamron 15-30/2.8 VC - despite the fact that f/2.8 isn't needed and that the bulbous front element precludes the use of normal filters; I would need to convince myself though that the reportedly better optical performance is worth the compromises.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  6. I have the 16-35, 24-120, and 70-200 f4 zooms and I would say the 16-35 and 70-200 are the most similar when it comes to build and optical quality. Both are very sharp lenses corner to corner and the zoom/focus are very smooth. The 24-120 is a step down from those lenses in optical performance and build in my opinion.
  7. Thank you all so far. The reason I am leaning more towards the 18-35 is because size and weight are somewhat important for me, as I am basically constantly on work trips where the primary purpose of my travel is not for photography, I can't even bring a dedicated camera bag, but I still want to take pictures (mostly in cities). Currently, I generally have a single 24-120 lens with me on these trips, occasionally I will also pack the 70-200 (like now), but that is really pushing it. At other times I just bring a 40mm prime, or a 40 and 85 combo.

    The 18-35 seems attractive because I could pair that with either an 85mm prime lens, or even the 70-200, and would still be lighter and somewhat more versatile than my current combo of the 24-120 and 70-200. If I buy the 16-35, I would probably not want to pair that with the 70-200. In my case the small size and light weight of the 18-35 are very tempting, but most people seem to prefer the 16-35.
  8. In the past I remember quite a few positive comments from a photo.netter that used a Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 with a D700. Don't know how it would do on newer FX cameras, though. I used to have a Nikon 17-35mm and also have the Tamron; I don't have FX digital but on 35mm film I see no difference.

    Eric Sande
  9. Another option could be something like a 20mm f/2.8 to compliment the 24-120.
  10. I am planning to eventually get a large aperture wide angle prime as well, which will probably be the 20/1.8G or 24/1.8G, however, for these trips ideally I would need something smaller and lighter than the 24-120, but more versatile than a prime lens. The idea would be to leave the 24-120 at home for these work trips when I can't pack a whole bunch of gear.

    The more I think about it the more it seems like the 18-35 f/3.5-4.5G is the most suitable lens for my current needs, even though there may be other options that are (marginally) better optically.
  11. I have the 18-35 f/3.5-4.5 G. I'm using it on a D750. It's sharp, light, and built well enough for Moose Peterson. It's not built like the "old tanks" but it does have the dust/moisture seal around the mounting plate. I don't go bushwhacking, or out in extreme weather, so it's built fine for me. I mostly use a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. Now that's a tank!

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