Considering getting this : Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Lens to replace another

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by aj_bonomo, May 8, 2016.

  1. Hello,
    I currently use a Nikon 17-55 f/2.8 DX lens, (a beautiful lens IMO), and have both DX and FX camera bodies. This lens lends itself to beautiful images on both bodies in various capacities, but on the FX body, depending on what crop factor I use, there is minor vignetting that I have to treat manually, depending on the settings, and so I'm considering replacing it with this :
    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Lens
    While perusing this forum, it became obvious to me that many of you are knowledgeable. Therefore, I see this as a good place to start a conversation. I'm looking for opinions in either direction, particularly advice relating to your experience with the 16-35, especially but not exclusively when directly comparing the 17-55. At the moment, the only practical option for me is to keep the one I have, or sell the one to buy the other..
    The DX lens is a more expensive, a pro build, heavier lens, but I can only use it down to an equivalent of 24mm at 30% of the megapixels on my FX camera in 1.2x crop mode (it is about 26mm equivalent on my DX body) - so on the FX body, I can shoot basically 24-55mm in FX mode (and in DX mode, the equivalent of the 1.5x crop on the 55mm = approx 82mm)
    If I replace that one with the 16-35mm f/4, I lose a bit of bokeh when compared shooting each wide open at their individual max aperture (f/2.8 vs f/4), but I'd be buying the 16-35 (in part) for landscapes, so I'd be shooting more at f/8-f/11 anyway, and I'd have a useable 16-35mm range, more the landscape range, with 35 still useable for general purpose photos (esp if I switch to a crop mode, equivalent to 52mm at 1.5x). I also have a 50mm f/1.4 prime, and I have a 70-300 to cover the longer focal ranges.
    I'd be giving up some build quality, higher max aperture, fabulous bokeh (not sure how great the bokeh is on the 16-35, even at f4), and the 17-55 is weather sealed, if I recall correctly, and I'm not sure if the 16-35 is weather sealed, but it is a gold ring.
    On the other hand, with the 16-35, I'd be gaining a lot on the wide end, being able to shoot from 16mm to 35mm at full FX resolution (using the entire sensor) instead of the 24mm equivalent at 30% max resolution (in the cropped mode when using the 17-55mm DX lens), and it is a bit lighter, though that's really not a major factor, it might be noticeable on a long hike/walk/trek.. I'd also be rid of the vignetting situation I'm experiencing on the 17-55 on the FX body. I use Lightroom, but because I'm not running in auto crop mode, the camera profile gets loaded, but doesn't completely correct for the vignette while in FX mode, and I have to manually correct vignetting on everything photo shot at 35mm and wider. I've been creating presets depending on which settings I use, but it would be nice to not even have to think about correcting a problem.
    While I think I would miss the 2.8 max aperture on occasion, I also imagine how many more images I could capture at the extra 16-24 range in full resolution that just aren't possible now, and continuing up to 35mm and switching to the 50mm f/1.4 FX lens when needed.
    I'm torn because I have no experience with the 16-35, though I'm perusing images on Flickr, and reading reviews, those are almost always biased in one direction or another...
    The 17-55DX is awesome for what it does. I'd love it if the 16-35FX was also awesome for what it does - I am concerned that the image quality might not meet my expectations... That's my biggest concern - IQ on the 16-35, will it be similar, or not even close, or ? I've read some people claim it is one of the sharpest lenses ever made by Nikon, though I'm skeptical, maybe it is true?
    Maybe I should just go try one out?
    :p
    Thoughts? Comments? Questions?
     
  2. As nice as the DX lens may be, it's to me silliness to pay good money for a FX sensor, to next use a DX lens (no matter how good it is) on it. The corners of the DX lens will never quite have the performance a FX lens will give. As a temporary measure, sure a DX lens will work fine, but I've got little doubt you can improve on it.
    But whether I'd choose the 16-35VR at this point? Probably not - I think there are more interesting contenders. The AF-S 18-35 f/3.5-4.5 is a lot cheaper and optical about as good. Tamron 15-30 f/2.8 VC has good reviews, and costs about the same as the 16-35VR. Another option could be a 24-85VR and a 20 f/1.8G to cover the widest end, for a bit more flexibility and range.
     
  3. i would agree with Wouter that a 17-55 on FX is an imperfect solution. would a 16-35 make sense on DX as well as FX? maybe. it's basically a 24-50/4 on APS-C, so you're losing quite a bit of range on the long end on DX, as well as giving back the stop of aperture you gain from FX. Honestly, wide-angle lenses aren't known for great bokeh, so i wouldnt expect much in this area. i think you need to think about this from a slightly different perspective, too, since the 17-55 is a performance-oriented standard zoom, and the 16-35 is more of a landscape-oriented FX wide-angle. In other words, they are two entirely different lenses, optimized for different purposes and (different sensor formats). So, very much apples and oranges.
    The problem with using hybrid formats concurrently is the lack of equivalence, which really comes into play with wide-angle lenses. An FX wide-angle is merely standard or normal on DX. With telephoto lenses, the 1.5x crop can be used to your advantage in terms of affording more reach, but it unfortunately doesn't work the other way around. If the 17-55 is your only lens, and you can only afford to swap it for another lens, you have a real dilemma. There's no lens you can buy which is really going to solve this issue for both formats without compromising in one way or the other. So, the question becomes, do you want to compromise DX or FX performance? It sounds to me like you are considering leaning more toward FX, which seems rational, as you are not currently getting all the benefit from that format by using a DX lens.
    If you really want to shoot wide on your FX body, a dedicated wide-angle lens makes sense. But is the 16-35 the best choice? Some say it's sharp, but one of the sharpest Nikkors ever? That seems like hyperbole. A more practical concern is that the 16-35 has a lot of distortion at the wide end, and that has been enough to scare some people off. Looking at the Photozone review, it seems to reach its best performance at 5.6-f/8, but the corner performance at 35mm leaves a lot to be desired. To be fair, similar performance can be expected from a lot of wide-angle lenses. The Tamron 15-30 OTOH is worth considering if: you find 2.8 and stabilization useful, but with the caveat that it doesnt accept filters, a potential dealbreaker for landscape use, where polarizers and ND filters often come with the territory.
    Looking over the other options, 24-85+20/1.8 would be a little pricier than just a 16-35 or 15-30 on its own. 20mm is useful on both DX and FX, but isn't exactly ultrawide, and you'd have to use that focal length a lot to make it worthwhile to purchase over the two UWA zooms. 24-85 is competent for landscape use on FX, but not terribly exciting. it would be even less exciting on DX, compared to the 17-55, as you give up both wideness and aperture. The 18-35 is kind of a sleeper, as its performance is actually quite good, especially stopped down. You give up some reach on the long end and VR compared to the 16-35 and the same as well as the loss of constant 2.8 compared to the 15-30. So, again, we have a competent but not terribly exciting FX wide angle. You'd save a few hundred dollars over the 16-35 and 15-30, but IMO the 18-35 isn't exactly bargain-priced.
    If it were me, i'd probably jump on the 15-30 unless... you use filters for outdoor work, in which case, one of the other options would be better. I'd also consider looking into a sigma 17-50/2.8 OS for the DX body, which gives the same IQ as a 17-55 at lighter weight and cost, with the benefit of stabilization. But if it's not clear by now, there's simply no perfect solution for your quandry. You can either optimize for FX or DX, but not both. Or you can compromise somewhat, and learn to live with it.
     
  4. In the past, Nikon reserved their best efforts for f/2.8 zoom lenses. Somewhat late in the game, they have produced some professional quality, constant aperture f/4 FX zooms with similar ranges. If they meet your expectations in as many reliable reviews as you can find, you can save a lot of money, size and weight. I doubt you would miss that last stop, I don't, but with a Sony camera and FE lenses. I have no direct experience with Nikon f/4 zooms.
     
  5. I can shoot basically 24-55mm in FX mode​
    I have always been under the impression that the 17-55 is only usable on FX in the range 28-55mm (at most) and reasonably only between 35 and 55mm. You mention 1.2x crop mode and a 24mm setting - which would actually be the FOV of a 29mm FX lens (which is more consistent with what I recall). So we are not comparing a 24-55 with a 16-35 but de facto at best a 29-55. Maybe I am misunderstanding on what you wrote - but I would be rather surprised if the 17-55 can be used at 24mm in FX mode (and not at all if used in the 1.2x crop mode).

    I replaced the 17-55 with the 16-35 when still shooting DX exclusively. I later added an FX body to make better use of the 16-35. As already mentioned comparing the 17-55DX and 16-35 VR is apples to oranges (and I think Eric did a great job at pointing out the issues). The 17-55 is an (indoor) event lens optimized for intermediate distances (and actually not all that great at infinity). The 16-35 is a landscape lens - with two caveats: large distortion at the short end and a bit of drop in IQ towards the long end.

    Tamron 15-30: personally, I don't purchase any lens with a bulbous front element that I can't use mount a protective filter on easily. The Nikon 18-35 is an alternative if you don't mind giving up the VR and 2mm on the short end.
    As for using the 16-35 on DX - there are better options: the 16-85/3.5-5.6 VR and the new 16-80/2.8-4 VR.
    Maybe I should just go try one out?​
    Seems like the best possible solution.
     
  6. I am not a lens expert but I wish I would have bought the Nikon 16-35 f4 years ago. It's a great lens for the price and tough as nails.
     
  7. If you have a full frame Nikon body and like taking wide angle landscape photographs using ND Grad filters etc then the 16-35mm is a very good option. That's the lens that I ended up buying just over a year ago and it gives superb results on my D800. There are always other options but with an exposed front element the Tamron 15-30mm is going to give the same issues as the Nikon 14-24mm, i.e. you can buy adapters and get over sized filters to use with them, but you will need pretty deep pockets if you go that route and you will be carrying possibly two filter systems with you which can add to weight.
    The only thing about the 16-35mm lens is that online reviews seem to suggest a certain amount of sample variation with it, the copy that I have seems to be extremely sharp with my camera and I really can't fault it at all, even though I do tend to prefer prime lenses and as others have said the 18-35mm lens is a good option too if you don't need as wide as 16mm plus it is lighter and cheaper too. Remember too that your 17-55mm lens was only giving you the equivalent of about 25mm on full frame, so 16mm is far, far wider, so the 24-85mm VR lens already suggested is a much nearer match to that lens, so the suggestion of that lens with the new 20mm lens is actually a pretty good one.
     
  8. another option i didnt mention which actually does work somewhat on both FX and DX is the 17-35/2.8. that's also a Gold Ring Nikkor, and a bit forgotten in this modern age, but it was a classic photojournalist lens before the 14-24's release. there are tons of them on the auction site, with prices ranging from $500-$1500+. might be worth looking into if you want to retain 2.8 and also be able to use filters. Photozone rates it as wicked sharp in the center with very good corners when stopped down at all focal lengths, as tested on a D3x.
     
  9. personally, I don't purchase any lens with a bulbous front element that I can't use mount a protective filter on easily.​
    idk, i have an older sigma 15-30/3.5-4.5 i got used for less than $200. it's got the bulbous front element, and of course, i dont use filters on it. but it's pretty wide, and pretty wide can be pretty awesome. i dont use it all the time, but i've gotten great shots with it. if i was mainly concerned about IQ/sharpness in a FF UWA, and/or wanted something for low-light, i would definitely check out the tamron 15-30. 2.8 just makes it more versatile than a f/4 or a f/3.5-4.5, and more suited for interiors/indoors shots, even though it appears to do best between 5.6 and f/8. for me personally, that would add to my photographic capabilities more than getting a slower lens that takes filters. if i was just concentrating on outdoor landscapes, im not sure i wouldnt just get the 18-35 and skip the 16-35 altogether. i think the OP kind of has a tougher decision because he's replacing a 2.8 DX lens, so anything less than 2.8 is gonna be slow, and some of the more landscape-oriented choices arent terrific wide open. also he wants to be able to use the new lens on DX. so, tamron 15-30, nikon 17-35, both of those can be performance lenses on DX and FX. anything slower, not so much, but possibly better for landscapes, depending. YMMV, as always.
     
  10. 17-35/2.8. that's also a Gold Ring Nikkor​
    I've seen actual image comparison between that one and the 16-35 (on FX) - and anywhere outside the center the 17-35 was less sharp than the 16-35 - even when stopped down one stop more than the 16-35. Sample variation seems to be an issue with either lens though - claims on the internet which one is sharper are all over the place.
    get the 18-35 and skip the 16-35 altogether​
    To me, VR is important as there are many occasions where a tripod is not possible - and f/4 with VR in that case beats f/2.8 without handily (except, as always, when fast shutter speeds are needed to freeze motion).
    OP kind of has a tougher decision because he's replacing a 2.8 DX lens​
    Only if he actually needs f/2.8 (he doesn't mention in his post what he uses the 17-55 mostly for). On DX, I went from f/4 lenses to f/2.8 - to gain that essential stop when shooting inside (static subjects) but giving up DOF in the process (and adding quite a bit of weight to the camera bag).
    15-30. 2.8 just makes it more versatile than a f/4 or a f/3.5-4.5​
    Certainly does - it also makes it a pound heavier than the 16-35 and a pound-and-a-half more than the 18-35. As always, what one shoots should determine whether or not a fast lens is needed (and I don't actually consider f/2.8 "fast" but it's all there is (aside from the Sigma 24-35/2 for FX and the Sigma 18-35/1.8 for DX).
    At the moment, the only practical option for me is to keep the one I have, or sell the one to buy the other.​
    Then the decision should be based on what's more important - a lens better suited for FX and landscape shooting or a mid-range f/2.8 DX zoom. Anything mentioned so far makes for a better FX solution - and more of a compromise on DX.
    If it turns out that the mid-range f/2.8 DX usage is of higher importance - then maybe a 24-70/2.8 would be the better choice than the 16-35, 15-30 or 17-35.
     
  11. I use the 16-36 f4 vr for those times I am shooting in museums, churches where no flash or tripod is allowed. Shooting at 20 mm with the vr on and braced against a wall, pillar or pew, I can hand hold at 1/2 second. In 3 shot bursts at 1 second and 16 mm, the second shot is usually sharp. It is lighter and wider than a 24-70 and enables me to get shots on vacation that would be unlikely even wide open which I usually don't want on architecture. The distortion is correctable in post.
     
  12. I haven't read all the replies yet, I'm only part way down, but I wanted to confirm your correction, Dieter. I wrote the wrong numbers - all the time I spent crafting my post and still got the numbers wrong!

    The D810 has 4 sensor modes. In my practical experience and testing (which I consider to be be fairly extensive)
    In full frame mode (36x24), the 17-55 lens will shoot without vignetting at 28-55mm settings, at 36mp.
    In 5x4 mode (30x24), it shoots at the 24-55mm settings without vignetting
    DX mode, of course, works across the entire range of 17-55...
    In 1.2x crop mode (30x20), it will shoot at the 20-55mm settings at 25mp ; equivalent to 24-66mm
    NB. - During testing, I've found that the vignetting is not always there at the 20mm setting, and I believe it is more likely a focus mechanism issue (not a perfectly accurate focus ring, depending which way it is turned), combined with a software reporting issue (the camera tells me it is 20mm but maybe is really 21) - so to be safe, I set the focus ring to 21mm, and that eliminates vignetting for sure, so we're talking 25mm instead of 24 equivalent. That makes sense at 25mm, since on a DX body, 17mm is equivalent to 25+ (it makes sense the FX sensor would not be able to physically see beyond that width)
    So, the real sacrifice is going from 36mp to 25mp when going into the widest useable setting, but 25mp is nothing to sneeze at - though I know, I'm not using the full sensor - that's why I'm writing this ! It is still better than nothing ... At the moment, I can't afford to buy a new lens. My choice was to either sell the one and get the other, or keep the one and live with the limitations.
    I'm starting to think I should just keep the 17-55 for now, and save it to use on the D7000 later, and get a 14-24/2.8 for the D810 later, or maybe by the time I can afford that, Nikon will have come out with yet another, though I like the idea of the 17-55 on the DX, and maybe the 16-35 on the FX, at least for now - I will continue reading the replies, though I'm a slow reader, and there are many, so I appreciate your patience! :)
    If money was no object, this post would have never been written. I have much to consider, and I am reading the rest of the thread (I had not gotten past Dieter's post at the time of this writing, so I have a lot left to read)
     
  13. What am I looking for, you ask? I want it all. I know - there is no such lens.
    I think what was lost in my verbose OP was that I have two other lenses to fit other needs.
    I have the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G and the AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED
    If I add a wide angle FX lens, I end up having most of the useable ranges covered.
    I want to be able to take handheld shots in museums, concerts and at indoor family gatherings. I want to be able to take photos at weddings and receptions and so on. I want to be able to take landscape shots that will stand up to my expectations when I decide to put my tripod to use.
    I know the 70-300 is not a fast lens, but it does produce excellent images outdoors, and even does okay indoors if the lighting is sufficient, at least for those images where I don't mind pushing the ISO on the D810.. If/when I can afford to do so, I'll be replacing it, not sure with what - considering a 70-200/2.8 with a 1.4TCE but that's a completely different topic. I only mentioned this lens because one of the reasons I chose the D810 was because I want to be able to print large prints at max resolution. Granted, I can create some fine panoramas, but it is nice to be able to shoot 36mp at FF right in camera, which I can do at 35mm without issue, and even lower, without vignetting, and can still produce 25mp images at the 21mm setting as mentioned earlier, producing the equivalent of 25mm FL (and 25mp at 25mm is better than the 16mp I get from the D7000 at 17mm (which is 25mm equivalent))
    If I absolutely need low light shooting, I put on the 50mm, and the biggest problem is solved by converting to B&W (chromatic aberrations can be corrected in Lightroom but at f/1.4, they can get pretty bad, depending on the subject). With the 50mm lens at 36MP in low light, I have enough resolution that I can crop if I have to, and really, if I'm shooting at 1.4 in very low light, the plan is not to print door sized posters from those. That type of print will be reserved for the tripod shots, so, I need a lens for those times I put the D810 on the tripod to create landscape photos to be printed at crazy resolution - and the 17-55 can perform that trick, easily if I shoot at 35mm, and even down to 25mp at 25mm equiv, but .. I guess I don't really have a preference, and I like to keep my options open, to be able to shoot whatever FL, and I don't mind carrying multiple lenses and both cameras.
    I am a Nikon guy, and I prefer keeping to their lenses, so while others may be ok, (the Tamron 15-30 might have been in the running, based on a review I watched a while ago, if not for the filter issue) I would plan on looking at Nikon options - I feel they are the best.
    My 3 real options are the 16-35/4, the 17-35/2.8 and the 14-24/2.8, and I think I'm going to just keep the 17-55, and eventually move it to the D7000, and when I can afford it, get one of the above - and I guess testing will be my best choice - take some photos with each and see what works..
    I had to ask - I do appreciate the advice and suggestions - and it gives me something to think about while I try to find a way to make money with the gear I already have, so I can buy more. :)
     
  14. ... sell the one to buy the other ...
    ... going to just keep the 17-55 ...​
    Given that the 17-55 has a rather low resale value (for its quite exorbitant asking price when new and probably to no small effect caused by the much more reasonably priced third party alternatives), and considering the fact that you like it, there's good enough reasons to keep it.
     
  15. Note that the 14-24 is really a different beast than the 16-35 and 17-35; it's much more of a specialised lens while the other two are reasonably allround. 24mm is still plenty wide, and the difference between 14 and 16 mm are much larger than you might expect. Sure, the 14-24 is an excellent performer, but I think for most people, it's actually not a brilliant choice, and making good effective use of a lens as wide as this one isn't all that easy. Plus, if you feel the Tamron 15-30 has a filter issue - the front element of the 14-24 is the exact same thing.
     
  16. Good points - about the filter esp, I forgot about that for the 14-24..
    I already have a 77mm CPL for the 17-55 and a GND filter drop in set for use with that lens (and an adapter to use on the 50mm, but that never happens) so the 16-35 and 17-35 get points as a 'buy that one next' because they both have 77mm threads..
    Guess I'll have to wait until I get some $, and then test both (if testing the 17-35 is an option - might have a hard time finding a store that has it locally, and may by default test the 16-35 and fall in love, but that wouldn't be so bad, I suppose..)
    I think those two really are the best options - thank you for all your advice and opinions, and for taking the time to read and respond. Your attention to my questions have helped me decide to keep the 17-55 for the D7000 and save for a new lens, either of the two I mentioned above.
     

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