18-70 AFS ED DX or 16-85 AFS ED VR DX?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by nigel_farmer, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. Hi All
    I am awaiting delivery of a D90. I decided against the 18-105 VR kit lens , and instead am looking at either the 18-70 or 16-85, probably second hand. I can't decide and would appreciate some advice.FYI - I dont have any DX lenses as yet, but have a 50mm 1.8 AFD, Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX Macro, and 28-100& 70-300 AFG kit lensed I got with my old F75. The 28-100 will probably go when I get rid of the camera, so its this that Im looking for a higher quality replacement.
    Thanks in advance
  2. I would go for the lens with VR. Easy choice for me.
    Kent in SD
  3. Never understood why Nikon didn't make that a 16-70/4 VR - anyway, get the 16-85.
  4. If you can afford the 16-85, it's the more useful tool. That 18-70 is, as non-VR kit lenses go, a very nice one for the price. But if you're going to get general-purpose, somewhat slower (aperture-wise) walk-around lens, then you might as well enjoy the considerable benefits of the VR. Also, that extra 2mm on the wide end is a lot more of a difference than you might expect.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I always feel that the 16-85 is very overpriced, since it is a fairly slow f5.6 lens on the long (85mm) end. You do have the advantage of VR and the extra 2mm on the wide end is non-trivial.
    The 18-70 DX is just a little more than half the price for the 16-85 and remains as a bargain. The distortion on the 18mm end is fairly serious but is largely a non-issue unless you have straight lines near the edge of the frame.
  6. If money is no object between the two, my vote goes to the 16-85. If it is, the 18-70 is a fine lens, specially for the price. There is a steep incline to diminishing returns in lens design (as with most things), so the improvements you get for the extra money are never proportionate.
  7. I used to own a 18-70, now own a 16-85VR. The 16-85 is a better lens in nearly all aspects: better built, sharper allround, the 16mm is a huge advantage and it is especially much sharper wide open. But it is worse in 2 quite serious aspects: it's slow on the long end, and quite expensive for what it is. So what Shun said, in short.
    Does any of this make the 18-70 a bad lens? Far from it. It's great bang for the bucks. But to me, the real sweet deal is the lens you dismissed: 18-105VR is very sharp and a lot of performance for relatively little money. I'd seriously reconsider that one.
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The problem with the 18-105 VR is construction quality. Like all other Nikon lenses with a plastic mount, the overall build is rather poor although the mount itself is not necessarily the problem. However, if you want to save money, you have to make some compromises.
  9. I'd get the plastic 18-105. 16-85 is buggy and 18-70 has no VR. And both are shorter.
  10. honestly? i'd get a tamron 17-50. IMO constant 2.8 is a bigger boon than VR at that focal length, especially when you consider the two stops you save at 5.6 get you to the equivalent of 2.8, with a brighter VF.
    i have to agree with shun on the 16-85--the reviews and sample images look nice, but it's just too slow. nikon probably didnt want to cut into 17-55 sales but by not making it at least a f/4, the 3rd party alternatives become attractive.
    i have the 18-70 and while it's not a wowsers! lens, it's decent for what it is--a compact, plastic zoom with AF-S and ok IQ if you stop it down. the fact that it has dust gaskets and is f/4.5 on the long end makes it a good travel lens. as long as you dont have unrealistic expectations from it, it can deliver good results.
    if i could only choose between the 18-70 and 16-85, i'd probably get the 16-85 which has less distortion, VR, and a longer overall range. some of it depends on the application-- for landscapes and daytime walkarounds, 16-85 would be the best choice; for available-light candids, that slow aperture on the long end would be bothersome. if i had to get a 35/1.8 too just for low-light stuff, might as well just get a 2.8 from jump.
  11. I've owned the 16-85 VR since it was introduced and it is noticeably better than the 18-70 in terms of sharpness and distortion. It has VR which I find I use often when shooting at 1/30 or below. I've owned three different 18-70 lenses and all were equally as good, a true bargain kit lens. But the 16-85 for me has a much more useful wide angle and VR is worth having as well. A true one-lens solution for travel. Overpriced? I don't think so considering the zoom range. Frankly I rarely shoot at 85mm but when I do the quality is still outstanding even at f5.6.
  12. 16-85 is buggy​
    What does that mean?
  13. What a shame you opted out for the 18-105! I had the 16-85 and the 18-70, but I prefer the 18-105. It's very sharp and just about as good as the 16-85; I can't tell the difference after having used both for 6 + months. The 18-70 is over rated and out dated.
  14. The 16-18mm range is way more useful than the 70-85, to me. But if you aren't a super-wide angle guy you might not notice.
    I'd get the 16-85 if it were me.
    It's buggy? What the heck does that mean? I haven't heard that.
  15. >> I prefer the 18-105. It's very sharp and just about as good as the 16-85; I can't tell the difference <<

    Yes I can.

    I did an informal experiment before I sold my 18-105. On a D90, I took 2 pictures of the same object at infinity (object was
    about 1 km away) using 18-105 at 105mm f/11 and using 16-85 at 85 f/11. Two stops down should give the best resolution,
    heuristically. I then cropped the latter image to match the field of view of the former. I found the latter to have more visible
    details than the former.
  16. Hi Nigel.
    In this order:
    Nikkor 17-55/2.8
    Tamron 17-50/2.8 VC
    Nikkor 16-85 VR
    Nikkor 18-70
    Nikkor 18-105 VR
    Good luck!
    Personaly I experiment all this lenses. But I prefer something else for Dx zone.
    Tokina 12-24/4 and Nikkor 50/1.4 (or 50/1.8) ... or Nikkor 17-55/2.8.
  17. The 2 biggies against the 16-85 are it's long end speed and price. Aside from that, it is a wonderful lens.
    The VR functions allows shooting stills at 1/15 and and it even does light duty as a close-up lens. You can get casual flower shots with 1:4 mag and I have no qualms with it's sharpness.
    For packing small, the 16mm allows me to leave the ultra-wide at home. It is an almost perfect walk-around lens on my D5000.
  18. Thanks for all the responses. Tending towards the 16-85, If I can afford it.
  19. It depends more on your needs then mine. I had a 18-70mm with my old D200. It delivered good results for travel. I prefer speed over range and now use a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 with my D700 when not using primes. Its bigger than I prefer but not to heavy. If I where using DX I would look closely at the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8. I have not used VR yet so I can not comment. IMHO an 85mm f5.6 has little value accept for landscape.
  20. Lenses outdated? Provided the price is right, lenses don't get outdated, at least not as badly as DSLRs. Some of my most-used lenses are more than 25 years old and these give better results than any modern Nikon zoom in their respective focal length.
    But, the 18-70. It was, and still is, a fine lens for what it is. I used to have one, but I hate zooms so I sold off mine. Optically there is little to fault, except the distortion and vignetting at its wide end. Build is not so good; the lens mount has a rubber seal to prevent dust and moisture ingress but due to the significant extension when zooming in, the 18-70 pumps quite a bit of air which sooner or later will lead to problems with dust. That's true for all consumer zooms though.

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