Nikkor 16-85: what do you know/think?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by robert_wayt, Sep 28, 2010.

  1. Greetings, everyone. I hope to be able to rent a Nikkor 16-85 from a local store to try it out myself but would appreciate hearing from any of you who have had experience with it. Shun indicated that he's heard some good things about it, but I'm not finding as much useful info about it on the Web as I thought I would.
    Primary use would be for landscapes and other wide to short tele work. I have a D200 along with a Nikkor 12-24 and 18-200; I'm strongly considering splitting out the 18-200 into the 16-85 (or alternative) and a 70-300. I love the 70-200, but it's probably just too big, heavy and expensive for me to justify. For what it's worth, I'm looking at replacing the D200 soon, likely with the D7000 once I start hearing from the users in this forum.
    It only seems to make sense to go with a 16-85 if it is a definite step up from the 18-200 in the comparable focal range. If you have opinions on that, fire away. Thanks.
  2. My 2 cents: I am very pleased with the 70-300 (I don't usually use it in low light situations). A very good quality lens at a great price. I used the 18-200 on my old D70 for awhile and when I switched to the Tamron 17-50/Nikkor 70-300 combination it was a definite upgrade in image quality. (That, and a tripod). The 18-200 is OK for walk-around, travel, can-only-have-one-lens type situations, but (at least with my copy of it) it wasn't as sharp as what I have now. BTW, I don't seem to miss the 50-70mm range I lack. As to the 16-85, I have no experience, so I'll defer to others who may comment on cost/weight vs. image quality...???
  3. I've never liked the 16-85. Don't get me wrong, it's a fine lens, but what it is is a variable aperture with VR kit zoom optics in an improved build quality at twice the price. It's not the price/performance winner.
    Compare to other lenses in the same performance class:
    -Nikon 18-105 costs half as much and has equal optics, but less build quality
    -Sigma 17-70 OS performs a bit better optically and is almost as well built - overall it's either a wash or a win for the Sigma - and the Sigma costs $150-200 less and adds value with close focus capabilities.
    So the 16-85 loses on price. Compared to lenses in the same price class (Tamron 17-50/2.8 VC is pretty compelling) it loses on performance. So while in a vacuum I'd recommend the 16-85, in a market where it competes with those three lenses I can't.
  4. I love this lens. The quality of the photos are superb. I think it is right up there with "one of the best" Nikon lenses made. Very sharp and color is wonderful.
  5. Dan: Would you mind posting a couple photos you think makes the 16-85 stand out? Thanks.
  6. It's a fantastic zoom lens. I used the 18-70mm for a while and thought that one was pretty good. That was until I bought the 16-85mm, which blew the 18-70mm away! I also owned the 18-200mm for a short time, and was not at all impressed.
    The 16-85mm is the perfect travel lens. It has a fantastic zoom range (24-120mm in 35mm terms) and VR for those times when ISO 3200 won't cut it. I traveled to London two years ago with it and took 90% of the photos with it. I'll never let it go as long as I shoot DX format, which is probably going to be for a pretty long time!
  7. My 2cents: I own the Nikon 16-85 and 70-300 VR, I had before the Nikon 18-105.
    I think that the 16-85 is an extremely good lens all in purpose for what you are shooting.
    It works great in the daylight and in the evening if you can push up the ISO to 800 it is just fine.
    The 70-300 VR is very impressing, I got it refurbished from B&H for only 390USD and I'm very pleased with the results. If you don't shoot portraits and in low light the 16-85&70-300 combo is perfect for you. For portraits the 16-85 is abit "flat" and the bokeh is very poor. IMHO, there is not even comparison between the 18-105 and the 16-85 as contrast, sharpness and distorsion. After that I bought the 16-85 I would never come back to the 18-105.
    An alternative that you might consider is the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 but the built quality is definitely not the same.
  8. I also have the 16-85 and think it a great all-purpose/travel lens. If you only want to take one lens around it covers a great range, and also pairs up well with the 70-300. VR is great also. For Portraits I will use my 50 1.8 AFD which is small enough and light enough to fit in any back so the 'slowness' of the 16-85 is not a problem in that area. My Sigma 10-20 stays at home unless I know I will definitely need it as the 16-85 does a good job at wide end also.
  9. Excellent sharpness and contrast. Not a dedicated portrait lens but will do in a pinch if you don´t mind the background. I´ve used mine a lot, no serious complaints. Simply THE walkaround lens for DX if you look for versatility and good quality optics in a reasonably light, well put together and compact package.
    You can get it used at a considerably lower price, check the VR works though and there´s no quality glitch in that particular sample (seems there are no great sample variations that I heard of, though).
  10. Hi Robert,
    I do own and use the 16-85 , and very happely so.
    That said, and owning a 12-24 also, I would be inclined to also at leats have a look at the new 28-300 VRII as discussed in this topic ( which also points to some reviews..), and "forgate "about the 24 - 28 mm gap.
    This way the 28-300 it would "replace" the 16-85 and 70 - 300 with one lens ( for a few bucks more that is, depending on local prices...). and eliminate the "overlap"with the 12-24 ....
  11. I own the 16-85 and leave it on my D90 most of the time. It very sharp but the bokeh is also "sharp"
    and just won't make the main subject pop out. At 85mm, it's sharpest at f/11 and at the same time a
    busy background. For indoor use, sometimes I use a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 since objects are not too distant. I'm
    thinking of selling the Tamron and getting a used 85mm f/1.8...
  12. I also use the 16-85 lens & find my copy to be very good. I use it along side of a 70-300 VR lens. A few days ago, I did some test shots comparing it to a Nikon 35-70/2.8D AF. While the 16-85 appears as sharp, the 35-70 renders shadow details better thus telling me that the 35-70 shows better contrast. The test was done using a tripod mounted D200, mirror lockup set, both lenses at f11 & shutter tripped with a cable release. The VR was turned off on the 16-85. I also must confess that the 35-70 also has a small chip dead center on the front element. I am thinking of sending it to Nikon to have the front element replaced & a CLA. Except for the unfortunate chipped glass, this lens is like new. I fell on it & destroyed the UVA filter which caused the chip, but the filter took the beating instead of the lens. The ring was dented in & the glass shattered.
  13. I replaced my 18-200 with the 16-85 and have found it to be significantly sharper and with better contrast and colour. I also have the 18-70 and it outperforms that too. Optimum sharpness on my D300 is f5.6 at the wide end and f8 at the long end. It is fully usable wide open at all focal lengths. VR is good for 2 to 3 stops. There is very little 'wobble' when the lens is extended and also no zoom creep. Oddly, the 16-85 gave sharper images on my D50 than the 18-70 on my D300 when I was making some shots for a talk to my camera club.
  14. I bought the 16-85mm in Feb 2010 and use it on a D 300. It repalced my 18-70mm DX lens. It outperforms that lens. I use it with my 70-200mm f 2.8 VR, and my 35mm f 1.8 DX. As far I am concerned, it takes just as good pictures as those other two lenses. It makes for a great travel/everyday lens. Joe Smith
  15. I have a 16-85mm lens and I have to agree with many of the posters here: it's a great lens that's tack sharp even at some of its wider apertures. I use it on my D90 for pretty much everything except for taking portraits outdoors. I find using a 50mm 1.4 is a much better option in this case for background separation. It replaced an 18-200mm lens, which I thought was rather soft. The 18-200mm also had that awful zoom creep problem. I couple it with a 70-300mm from time to time when I travel. Along with a fast prime it's a great travel set (but admittedly not as convenient as the 18-200mm).
    I've thought about getting a lens that's a little faster to replace this one (namely that Nikon 17-55mm 2.8 lens), but I don't do very much indoor event photography to justify. For what I was doing, I didn't see appreciable differences between the 16-85mm and the 17-55mm (the 50mm usually fits the bill in low light). However, if indoor event photography is something you plan to do, I would definitely recommend a faster lens (Nikon or third-party).
  16. I love this lens. You can see a number of pictures in my portfolio that were taken with this lens.
    I've had two copies of this lens. Both were excellent. My only complaint is that the first copy didn't survive when I fell on it and smashed it into many pieces. :)
  17. I own a lot of Nikkor glass and I can say without qualification that the 16-85 is the best walk around lens I have ever owned. It is obviously not as fast as my 17-55/ 2.8 but it compares in sharpness at almost all focal lengths and is every bit as sharp. The VR is excellent and the lens is a reasonable weight. I love the 17-55 but it is a tank so the 16-85 gets a ton of use. This lens is worth every penny of its cost.
  18. I own a lot of Nikkor glass and I can say without qualification that the 16-85 is the best walk around lens I have ever owned. It is obviously not as fast as my 17-55/ 2.8 but it compares in sharpness at almost all focal lengths and is every bit as sharp. The VR is excellent and the lens is a reasonable weight. I love the 17-55 but it is a tank so the 16-85 gets a ton of use. This lens is worth every penny of its cost.
  19. Another vote for the 16-85VR, if you understand what you get (which you seem to be well aware off). Yes, it's a variable aperture, slowish lens with a rather steep price (the usual complaints). With a very versatile and useful range, decent build quality and the VR works very well. A good allrounder. Some distortion at 16mm (but less than the 18-70 at 18mm), and otherwise, I find it hard to flaw. Sharpness wide open is very good (certainly better than the 18-70 I used to own). Not an exciting lens, but very competent and versatile.
    I would, however, add a fast prime for low light and small DoF.
    If you want to see more sample photos, I have quite a few in my portofolio here and they are tagged with the lens.
  20. Perfect travel lens. I pair this with the 70-300VR, though the longer telezoom doesn't usually get much use when on vacation. I actually shoot alot of indoor events (iso @ hi1 - plus the fact I'm not a pro) I go to using this lens - though I have one folder where I shot beach volley ball with it.
    Mine is used so often that the zoom grip came off and the lettering mostly gone :p
    Get it.
  21. at 16 mm. f8 1/90 ISO 400
  22. 85 mm. f8 1/80. ISO 400
  23. The Nikkor AF-S 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6 is a great little walk around/vacation lens. It can do almost anything and it does it very well. It's sharp, has good colors and contrast and the VR works really great. It would have been perfect if it was a constant f/4 lens, but then it would have been more expensive and probably also a little bigger and heavier. Luckily now a days you can use higher ISO's on your camera to compensate for the relatively slow aperture. ISO 400 or 800 are no longer a big quality problem. And of course there's the VR function. It does not help to stop action like a higher shutter speed can, but it does help to capture static objects at longer shutter speeds. When you don't need VR, just turn it off, easy. If there's enough light you can just set the aperture to f/5.6 and shoot and zoom away. It's perfectly sharp. No, subject isolation is not easy with it's apertures, but I think this lens is a very nice compromise. Zooming is smooth and rather precise, I have not had any zoom creep yet and the zoom ring is conveniently positioned at the front of the lens. Zooming is perfectly spaced. Auto focus is accurate and reasonably fast. I had a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8, which is great, but too often it missed the target and sometimes it would not respond at all. I don't think you will need/want another walk around lens when you have this one. Oh, I tried it and it's great on a D7000 too! A nice relatively small and lightweight package.

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