16-85 VR and 18-55 VR

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by shuo_zhao, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. Hi everyone, I recently got a 16-85 VR for my D300 (mainly for to its 16mm wideangle and VR). So far, it has performed
    very well optically; and the VR has made it very useful in challenging situations. But after doing some research online, I
    started to realize that the new 18-55 VR could possibly do the 16-85 VR's job almost just as well at a much cheaper price.
    Since I paid quite a hefty price for the 16-85 ($590 at B&H), I start to think that although I got a good lens, it's probably not
    worth its price.

    Obviously if the 18-55 VR is "excellent as many (including KR) claim", I will probably be better off returning the 16-85 VR.
    I'm thinking about returning it, because the amount of money saved is quite significant.

    Please let me know what you think about these two lenses, and what should I do.

  2. I don't know anything about the 18-55, except that it has a plastic mount and barrels. About a month ago, my D80/16-85
    combo, somehow, after an hr. on the tripod, separated from the quick release plate on onto the rocks! Lens hood and filter
    were shattered, plus the on/off switch and shutter release of the D80 destroyed. Back to Nikon. The 16-85, with its metal
    barrels, and mount, was intact. The only thing Nikon Service had to do was to calibrate and run some tests on the lens.
    I'm thinking plastic barrels/lens mount would have been a total loss.
  3. Hi Shuo, I have had both lenses and there is not comparison. As Gene pointed out, the 18-55 VR is plastic and the mount also is plastic. Sooner or later, dust and light will start getting right between the contact of the lens and the camera because it did happen to me. On the other hand, the 16-85 VR is a metal mount, more robustic, better built and more angle and range. Both lenses are sharp, and according to some pros, both have the same optical quality, but I will always prefer the 16-85 VR. With this lens, you can shoot wide and go upto 85 mm for portrait, something that you can not do with the other lens. I do believe you are better off with the 16-85, but again, it is a matter of choice. I did buy this lens because it is perfect for a walk-around and do-it-all lens for me and stay in my camera all the time. Considering that there is the Tokina 11-16 mm f/2.8 available now and also the Nikon 70-300 VR II, choosing the Nikon 16-85 VR is the right decision to cover all distances from 11 to 300. Probably this coming Monday, I will get my Tokina and I will be done buying lenses for a while because I already have the 70-300 VR. Also I do have the Nikon 50 mm f/1.8 which is my lens for portrait and special low light ocassions. Very inexpensive, very fast and sharp as a knife. Good luck and happy shooting !!
  4. You'll have to check the reviews for the specifics on these two lenses, but I can say that the 16-85mm range is FAR more useful than a lens that tops out at 55mm. On the shorter zoom you will always have to tote along a longer lens for many purposes, while the longer zoom range covers the entire traditional focal lengths from an equivalent of 24mm to almost a 135mm (well, 128mm). Until well into the 60s, the majority of 35mm photographers had only this range covered in their lens bag, and even today it still can do most things that you would want while you're walking around Old Town in San Juan, or whereever.
  5. You will take the chance and likely lose money on the sale of the 16-85 vr and lose 2mm at the wide end. which is not inconsiderable, probably almost as useful as the 30mm at the long end.

    The 16-85 vr is $590 at B&H, the 18-55 is $200. So maybe by the time you get through sales, taxes, shipping, etc., you've got perhaps $300 or a little more to deal with. I don't think I'd do it.

    Of course, it kind of depends on what other lenses you have that approach or overlap that range and what your interests are.
  6. JDM, I already realize that this lens is a very nice vacation/travel lens. It essentially does everything I want it to do. I just feel that at $590, the lens is a bit too expensive for a f/3.5-5.6 lens DX lens.

    Mauricio, The 16-85 VR is obviously a much better lens than the 18-55 VR. But once we factor in the price of the 18-55 VR along with the things I could've got with the money saved, the situation become much trickier. The "money saved" is enough to get a SB-800, or a 70-300 VR, or a 85 1.8. So it's really a matter of "price-performance ratio" instead of a matter of "relative measure of performance".

    >> "You will take the chance and likely lose money on the sale of the 16-85 vr"

    It's still "new enough" to be returned.

    Craig, I already have a 55-200 VR, 50 1.8, and a 24-70 2.8. So the 16-85 essentially allows me to extend the coverage down to 16mm (I tried a Sigma 10-20 and returned it). (Of course the lens seems to be almost as sharp as the 24-70 at f/8, and the VR makes it a more suitable lens than the 24-70 2.8 for shooting static scenes in low light with a stepped down aparture).
  7. Shuo,

    Are you looking to save money or do you want a more functional lens? I bought the 18-55 VR when I had a D50 and I use it a lot on my D300. It's pretty much my main lens due to its light weight, compactness, and versatility. I have not had any issues with the plastic lens mount or any dust issues. Then again, I never had any dust issues on my D50 or any of my lenses for that matter: 18-55VR, AF-D 35/2, 70-300VR, Tokina 11-16, Sigma 150/2.8.

    A lot of people don't like that plastic construction but that is what makes it so light. I've never heard of anyone having a worn plastic or metal lens mount. As far as internal dust-proofness goes in terms of construction, I have never taken either apart, but I bought the 18-55VR shortly after it was available and still no dust issues. When it comes to a drop test of your camera and lens that survival rate will be pretty low to begin with. Either the lens or the body will take the brunt of it, or, both. I'd rather see my plastic lens rip off then my D300 get damaged.

    The difference on the wide end, 16mm vs 18m, is quite minimal. However, the 30mm difference on the long end can be pretty significant depending on what/how you like to shoot. I can definitely see how the 85mm would be great for portraits. But, how often do you shoot portraits? Some people shoot alot as they have a lot of close family and related children.

    If it were me and you want a more multi-functional lens I'd return the 16-85 VR for the 18-200 VR. Only a minor difference in weight and you have even more focal length for when you need it. Or, if it were me and I wanted to maximize my money, I'd return the 16-85 VR and get the 18-55 VR and use the saved money to buy another lens like the Tokina 11-16 or a dedicated macro lens. ;)

    Ritz might have one and you can try it there or maybe a local camera store. You could also try a BestBuy or CircuitCity and see if they have a D60 with the 18-55 VR on it and see if you like the zoom range.

  8. >> "Are you looking to save money or do you want a more functional lens?"

    I'm trying to find a good compromise, balance things out.

    >> "If it were me and you want a more multi-functional lens I'd return the 16-85 VR for the 18-200 VR."

    I purposely avoided that lens because of its distortion.

    Thanks Yuri...I'll think about it.
  9. not sure i understand your issue, shuo.
    the 16-85 is the better of the two lenses, optically speaking. it's also more expensive. is it overpriced for what it
    does? probably.

    but you have one now, which is what counts.
    and you'll still have this lens years after the 18-55 will have needed to be replaced.

    if you're upset about the price of the 16-85, you shouldnt have spent it in the first place. and probably you should
    have got the sb-800 instead of a lens in the first place if you need one so bad.

    IMO it doesnt make a whole lot of sense to downsize to a cheaper, plastic, optically inferior model which is just as
    slow and has less range for a savings of about $300, plus or minus ground shipping.

    now if you were asking whether it makes more sense to get an overpriced nikon VR lens with slow variable
    aperture vs. a more inexpensive but optically stellar constant aperture 3rd party zoom, i would have said go with the
  10. I do not have the 16-85mm VR lens. But I have the 18-55 vr kit lens. I'm not happy with it. I've purchased a couple of prime lens to cover part of it's range. A 28mm 3.5 AI, 55mm Micro-Nikkor AIS, and I have a 50mm 1.8 on the way. If your 16-85mm VR matches these prime lenses. I'd say that you may want to keep it, because I do not think you'd be happy ether with the 18-55mm VR. KR says alot of medium quality lenses are good. Check out what he says about the 28-80mm 3.3 lens. These go for $30-$50 on ebay.
  11. Sounds like the 18-55 VR is not as good as some claim (including KR).

    Eric, I already have a 24-70 2.8. The got the 16-85 to have a wider coverage (24mm vs. 36 mm equivalent), and VR for low light shooting with a stepped down aparture. Obviously I brought it in the first place because it is a reasonably appealing choice, now I'm only thinking about returning/exchanging it because I want to get the most out of my money, and I'm not sure whether the 16-85 VR is the "best value". It's tough to weigh in all the factors and see the same situation from different perspectives.
  12. Shuo... I don't have either one of those lenses but I would take the 16-85 over the 18-55 even if it is 3 times its price. Since
    the beginning I thought that lens was a bit pricy but in your case I can see where you are coming from. You are cover with
    top class glass from 24 to 70 which means you are not really getting much for your money. Maybe the answer is not the
    16-85 or 18-55 but some other glass that would cover what you are missing. That's why I don't even think about the 24-70, you get stock in
    the middle of everything unless you have an FX. Rene'
  13. Things are getting very interesting.

    Rene, you see as of now I essentially use both the 24-70 2.8 and the 16-85 VR, but for very different purposes.

    The 24-70 2.8 (as proved by my experience with it) is an extremely good event lens (good for low light shots of persumably moving objects). It's also very good for portraits, has good bokeh, yet still allow good general indoor shots with deep enough DOF at f/2.8 if I don't need focus on a object close to me. But as for travel/architectural (casual)/ landscape shots, the lens becomes quite uninteresting and burdensome. It's not exactly long, and it's definitely not wide enough (lacking the wide-angle perspective I often seek when taking landscape shots).

    The 16-85 VR is actually a really good lens to cover all my "other normal zoom" needs. The 16mm wideangle is seemingly perfect for many situations (anything wider seems to be only useful under relatively special certain situations). The extra 15mm on the long end actually help a lot, especially with what some people called the "compressed landscape" shots. The VR helps a lot when the lighting is poor (or when I'm shooting from a moving platform), and I'm shooting at f/8 or f/11 to ensure enough DOF (this is why expensive pro zooms' f/2.8 aparture actually don't help). I know many dislike this lens because of it's a f/3.5-5.6 lens, but I'm ok with that since I got the 24-70 2.8 and the 50 1.8. (I don't really need a f/2.8 lens at wider than 24mm on DX yet)

    My only real problem with it is its high price (and persumably low future resale value); and that's not a easily understandable issue to people with more budget (and perhaps owns many pro glasses).

    Thanks to you all
  14. "I just feel that at $590, the lens is a bit too expensive for a f/3.5-5.6 lens DX lens." Yes, I agree, it is too much. But the
    market is bearing it, and the actual handling of this lens is so far beyond the 18-55 it's worth the price difference ALONE.
    The 18-55 is not worth using for manual focus ever. The 55 - 85 range is something you will miss a lot.

    If you can afford to keep this lens, do it. As far as the 18-200 distortion goes, I have really HAD to "correct" only one image
    out of about 10,000 shots with it. One. The distortion looks horrible with a brick wall, but I don't photograph them. In regular
    photography, you won't have much of any problem with any of these lenses.
  15. Of course the 18-55 is better value, it only costs $200. But what you get is a $200 plastic zoom and no matter what KR says, you're not going to get top quality with that. The 16-85 still costs a lot since it's new, I wouldn't be surprised if the price went down $100 next year. If you can afford it, then it is surely a better lens. If you can't afford it, you shouldn't have bought it.
  16. You have a short window of opportunity to return it. Do so if you want. Get the 18-55 if you want. Then stop sending lenses back and forth and go take a lot of pictures. That's what is going to tell you what lenses you need.

    You will probably find out that the 24-70, as good as it is, isn't wide enough. You will likely also determine that there are times that 16, 17 or 18-xx lenses also aren't wide enough.

    Taking the pictures will also tell you if your style "needs" 2.8 or you can live with vr instead. Sometimes the added handholding provided with a slow lens combined with the need to stop down to maximize quality works out. Sometimes the shooter is dealing with a lot of subject motion and needs to keep shutter speeds up. Then 2.8 buys you something that vr can't. If flash and smaller apertures suit your style, then maybe neither 2.8 nor vr are entirely necessary.

    You may find that you are constantly (or it seems like it) having to swap lenses because you move past 55 going up and need to swap to the 55-200 or 24-70, or need to swap out of them to move back to the wider than 24 or 55 ranges. If 16-85 is a sweet range for you, maybe it is the most convenient.
  17. a-ah! now it becomes clear... i have to admit i didnt completely understand your dilemma at first, shuo. but now that you've told us you have the 24-70 it becomes a little more apparent what your situation is. however, with that lens the wide end will contiue to be a problem until you upgrade to FX and can use the 24-70 as it was intended. i'd really forget about the 18-55 if i were you. it's not as good as the 16-85, much less the 24-70. i doubt you'll be happy "trading down," and then you will be stuck with it. the question is, are you OK with the relative tradeoffs of your two current zooms, i.e., 2.8 vs. VR? there's considerable overlap, in focal length, so if you really only use the 16-85 for the wide end, that seems like a waste of money. however, if that combo works for you for different purposes as you hinted, then take a deep breath, smile, and continue using them. the other option i'd consider is an ultrawide to complement the 24-70. there will certainly be times when 16mm isn't going to be wide enough, so having more wiggle room could be a boon for travel, landscapes, and wide group shots. the nikkor 12-24 would obviously require considerable extra monetary outlay. but the tokina 12-24 and sigma 10-20 are fairly affordable (around $500 new) and in wide usage by many photographers. havent used the 10-20, so i cant comment other than lots of folks have that in their bags. i will say that the 12-24 tokina is pretty sweet -- great build, great IQ, great price. until the introduction of the 11-16, it was widely considered to be tokina's best lens. it's particularly good at 18-24mm, and the D300's auto-correct CA ability makes it shine even brighter. there's a bit of distortion at 12mm, but that's correctable in post-, and not really a big deal if you're shooting outdoorsy stuff...IMO the biggest differences between that and the 10-20 is that 10-20 owners seem to use the wide end more than the long end. the 12-24, while obviously not as wide, is more versatile, plus it has a constant aperture. at f/5.6-f/8 it's quite sharp. but only you can determine whether the 16-85 fits your shooting style more than an ultrawide would. it sounds to me like you like everything about that lens except its cost.
  18. The 18-55 won't do you much good if you want to go out to 16mm without changing lenses.

    Whether this is worth it to you is a different question.
  19. If I have more financial reserve, this issue wouldn't even exist in the first place.

    To be honest, I don't find any flaws in the 16-85 VR other than its price.

    Craig, looks like you didn't read everything in this thread. I understand what f/2.8 and VR offers: they are useful in different situations; and I actually need both, that's why now I have both lenses.

    I should probably try to overlook the 16-85 VR's high price, because it does get me very good results.
  20. I read it. I also read that you don't know what lenses to choose. Do you really "need" both lenses? If so, that is your answer. If you really need the $300, that is your answer. If you don't know what you really need, just what the different "things" will do, you need to stop looking for tools until you are clear on the "job" or what it is that you really need and not just what you think you need. That will come from experience. If budget is an issue, stop spending.
  21. Craig, I do know what I really need. But that's not really the issue, the issue is how to get the most out of the $$.

    Anyway, thanks for your help.
  22. I'm buying a 16-85 VR this next week or two for travel and trekking in the Himalayas. It will replace a 12-24/4 Tokina and a 35-70/2.8 Nikkor. I will get the 90% plus usage of the effective 'wide enough' 24mm to more than 120mm, for a weight of 485 grams and useful and light 67mm filters; the two going out weigh 560 grams and 700 grams respectively, so I save almost a kilo(!), enough weight to feel much better about taking my Mamiya 7 with its 65mm lens.

    Few people have much experience with the 16-85 and most comments against it revolve around the price. Leaving the price aside for a moment, it is a fine performer measured against the up market 17-55/2.8, with the great benefit for travellers of VR and the benefits of a sub 1500 gram body/lens combination, with a small shortish lens, easy for stuffing in front pouch bags. Best at f5.6 and f8, but open is fine for mid to far end focal lengths. Decent build quality, and more reach than either the el cheapo 18-55 or the heavy, not so good 17-55. It looks like good value to me for my use. With a new low noise sensor like the D300, all you give up at say 400iso, is dof control (read, very wide apertures); and this is a much over-rated characteristic especially for travel, but some guys also like V8 cars, so tastes obviously vary.

    I cannot think of anything worse than taking either: a real cheap kit lens and what that entails, or a set of two or three giant zooms - and you do need three because the 24-70 is a silly fit for a crop sensor (eq 36-105mm), so add a 12-24 in too. Medium format is so great, light and easy compared to all the boat anchor DSLR lenses! I need the reach though, and the quick reaction of VR, so this 16-85 will go with a 70-300 VR, which I already know is an amazing piece of gear for off-the-cuff shots, stand off portraits, distant subjects and animals. I don't care about the 'lost' 1-2 stops given the great advantages of these mid-range VR lenses, and a D300 has such good noise control, who really cares, except maybe unreconstructed pixel inspectors who perhaps need to get out and shoot more images. best, philip.
  23. You made a good point Philip.
  24. Sounds like buyers remorse.
    If you wanted to save money perhaps photography was the wrong hobby to choose. ;)
    Send the 16-85 VR back and buy the 18-55 VR - put $390 in the wallet and be happy. Over the life of the 18-55 VR you will have saved $1.50 a week. Have a beer every fortnight and congratulate yourself on your wisdom.....
  25. I have both lenses, and in all honesty the images don't look any different between the two lenses at comparable focal lengths and apertures. I prefer the 16-85 because of the extra 2mm at the wide end.
    As pointed out, the 16-85 has the better build, but it's not like the 18-55 is going to fall apart in your hands.
  26. I recently bought a D5000 with an 18-55 VR lens on it. I LOVE the fact that this lens has a good overall range and focuses close, but I wish I had bought the 16-85 VR instead. I plan to "trade up" to that lens. Why? I HATE the fact that I don't have good control of manual focus with my 18-55 VR. Not only do I have to switch to manual to focus manually, because the focus ring/barrel won't turn if I don't, but the focus is very touchy when focusing close to infinity. I also don't like the fact that the lens turns, when I focus. I don't use filters, but I still don't like the front element of my lens turning and moving backward or forward, when I focus it. It feels "weird" to me for some reason. Maybe that's just because I'm so used to shooting with an IF lens on my old Canon. I plan to get a 70-300 VR lens, so the 16-85 will be a perfect match, and most-likely I will rarely need to switch to the longer lens. I also plan to get a wider lens, but I think I'll just get the 10-17mm fish-eye, because the 16mm will go wide enough that I don't think I'll need anything between the 17mm end of the fish-eye and the 16mm end of the standard zoom lens. This will allow me to carry a 3-lens kit, rather than 4 lenses. I'll have all high-quality lenses too.
  27. I have used both the 16-85 VR and 18-55 VR lenses. Optically both lenses are fine performers. There is not much difference there in real life. Both lenses have interesting qualities. The 16-85 VR focuses a little faster, has a little more wide angle and tele, has a dust seal, is build better, can easily be focused manually and has VR II. The 18-55 VR is lighter and a little smaller, focuses a lot closer, has a smaller (cheaper) filter size, has less (and easier to correct) distortion and is just dirt cheap. I bought the 16-85 VR to see if it was an upgrade, but I quickly found out that for me it wasn't. The extra reach on both ends is not very impressive. Nothing a few footsteps can achieve. The bokeh of the 16-85 VR is ugly. It has zoom creep. Optically the 18-55 VR is just as good in a smaller and lighter package. If you don't need manual control like Scott Kennelly, skip this lens and keep or buy a cheap 18-55 VR. You will not regret it and neither will your wallet.

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