Nikon 16-35/f4 G VR VS 17-35mm f/2.8

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by shineofleo, May 23, 2010.

  1. When I had the chance, to buy one of these lense for D3, it was a tough choice. Simply enough: a new 16-35 = a nice used 17-35. I picked the former one due to the weight I think, and some rumour sayingthat 16-35 is sharper than 17-35 because it is quite new, which is reasonable. There is some distortion, but I don't care since it can be subtle and fixed anyway.
    I used 16-35 today to shoot outdoor buildings and indoor events (very dark!), as well as some night scene. I think it is quite handy! As an extra, I think it can focus very closely to the object, which is very useful if there are lots of people walking around you. The VR I think help a lot when you are in dark/night situation, when you need a wide angle. Since I was not looking for shallow DOF, F4 is completely fine.
    I am processing the pictures now, so I am wondering if the quality/sharpness of the outputs is good enough in real world, compared with 17-35. Since this 16-35 is quite new, out of curiosity, I want to ask this A VS B question to see how it is accepted. (As for the application, for me, as I mentioned, indoor/outdoor/macro discussion is appreciated.)
  2. I shoot at night a lot, and myself I won't buy a lens that's slower than f2.8. As for "sharp," I've come to think that many people who are asking if "A" lens is sharper than "B" lens don't even use a tripod, so the answer is moot.
    Kent in SD
  3. I had the same dilemma some months ago. I decided to buy a new 16-35/4VR Nikkor. I think it was a good decision. I've seen some samples of 17-35/2.8 Nikkors with defect AF on ebay. So I decided to buy a new lens. You can never know what happened with such a pro grade used lens.
    I made a quick sharpness test and my 16-35/4VR is a bit sharper than my 24-70/2.8 Nikkor, a very sharp lens (shot with both lenses wide open). VR is a nice feature and gives you some extra f-stops. The 16-35/4VR is a member of my "holy trinity" version (16-35/4VR, 24-70/2.8, 70-200/2.8VRII).
    I don't have any experience with 17-35/2.8 Nikkor. It should be an excellent lens.
  4. Kent, why would not using a tripod be a reason not to care about sharpness?
  5. "is a bit sharper than ... a very sharp lens (shot with both lenses wide open)." - so you shoot one lens at F=4, and another lens at F=2.8, and draw conclusion about sharpness form that ?
  6. Sorry I didn't mean to bring any debate about sharpness. As Benjamin mentioned, you will keep this lens if you like it, generally.
    I would like a lens: A, it is convenient to use; B, the IQ is good/all right. And it is! Actually the distortion IS quite serious at 16mm...
  7. If you aren't using a tripod, basically what you are testing is your ability to handhold steadily. Using a tripod gets rid of that variable.
    Kent in SD
  8. Between the 2 lens, I would go for 16-35 f/4, but I am considering if I should try the 24 f1.4 prime instead. Can't make up my mind.
  9. Would you say the VR is a real benefit?
    Imagine a situation where you`re shooting film inside e.g. a gothic, badly illuminated church. Your idea is to get a wide view (24mm) at an optimal aperture, say f8... does the VR let you to shoot handheld at extremely low speeds such 1/2 second... (what about 1 second?) Think that in this scenario a 17-35 at f2.8 could ask for 1/15"...
  10. "I am processing the pictures now, so I am wondering if the quality/sharpness of the outputs is good enough in real world,..."
    Leon it takes only a few minutes to process your images. You could look at your images and decide if the IQ is good enough for you :)
    If you post examples we could see if VR helped you to take good shots. Of course your tremor will be different from my tremor ^^.
  11. I use my 16-35 for outdoor work WITH tripod. Very pleased.
    This photo made May 19 w/D700 & PF.
  12. Example of dark "badly illuminated" church. (Just a snapshot)
    Shot using a D3+24-70mm f2.8 Nikon zoom lens, hand-held (going wider with a wider zoom would actually allow a bit longer exposure).
    ISO 3200 1/60s f3.5. The image is actually exposed very light to have less noise in the dark areas. Not a real challenge is it?
    Just simple processing for this demo.
    Some people need VR some do not. I shot many very dark churches in Tenerife and got good results. If true free-standing handheld does not work there usually is some support available, you could lean on or press your camera against it. Of course one can always shoot a large number and hope for one good shake-free image :) My personal take is practice gives better results than VR :)
  13. 100% crop
  14. Walter S just posted a shot of a dark church @ ISO 3200, 1/60th, f/3.5 using his D3+24-70mm f2.8. It's not the 17-35/2.8 that we were talking about, but a fine lens that overlaps the FL range of the other two lenses.
    For comparison, here's the closest "dark church" (snap)shot I could find using the 16-35 f4 VR at a FL that all three lenses can cover, 30 mm. The other settings were: ISO 1600, 1/20th, f/4 using my D700 + 16-35/f4 at about 30 mm, ie, nearly equivalent light levels, focal lengths, and very similar apertures, but I probably shake quite a bit more than most people, so the VR helped me hold things still at 1/20th, no tripod, not braced. The only sharpening is my usual sharpening for the web after downsizing.
    Attached is the uncropped version, the next message will show a crop from the upper RH corner.
    My take on all three of these lenses is that all will do an admirable job (if used properly), and the differences are likely to be minimal.
    Tom M.
  15. Crop of the upper RH corner...
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The thing is that if you are using a tripod (assuming it is allowed at that location), you would be using the base ISO, e.g. ISO 200 for the D3, instead of ISO 3200. You can get decent results shooting the D3 @ ISO 3200, but ISO 200 is still much better.
    If you are picky about your final results as I do, you want to get as close to your base ISO as you can, without compromising too much on camera shake issues. A tripod is your best solution, followed by VR. For still subjects, you can capture mutliple samples and pick the one with the least amount of vibration.
  17. Thanks for the reply guys. Since I have to be out of home for another week, I can not process these pictures recently. Also, I was a bit confused how Lightroom process the picture in Library mode (It seems that it doesn't apply any sharp setting to the picture in Lib mode, or I was wrong). Anyway, I will look into this software.
    Your replies are very valuable. 16-35 is cheaper than 17-35 or 24-70, which means 'the difference is minial (if used properly)' may indicate a good way to save some money..
  18. Shun Cheung - "... You can get decent results shooting the D3 @ ISO 3200, but ISO 200 is still much better. ..."
    Absolutely! But since the conversation had drifted into a discussion of hand-holding a faster fixed aperture lens vs hand-holding a slower VR lens, I fished around for the shot I posted, ie, a typical hand-held tourist shot, as similar as possible to the one Walter posted. (We had guests in town, so I was showing them around and I was playing "Mr. Tourist").
    Obviously, if people were moving around in the image, the VR wouldn't help much, nor would a 1 stop improvement over f/4. Then I would want a 1.4 lens.
    Tom M
  19. Leon,
    I had a 17-35mm and 70-200 with a D700. They all were great. Then bought a 24-70 and it was markedly better than the 17-35 in the 24-35 range at 2.8. Not a huge difference, but clearly one was better. I basically stopped using the 17-35 and later sold it because I do not use the wide end that much and simply cannot carry those 3 lenses...
    Got the 16-35mm when it came out and I am really pleased witht he weight and the IQ. But it will not replace the 2.8 24-70 for me. If I did not have the 24-70, I would stay with the 2.8 17-35mm.
    FYI, I shoot low light, action, usually. I think at > f5.6 those lenses are hard to tell apart...
  20. There are lots of places where tripods are impractical, forbidden, or both. When I shoot in these places I still want sharp images. VR can be quite helpful under the right conditions. So can monopods, "low pods," bean bags, and just proping the camera body against something solid, but of all of these non-tripod options, I find VR to be the most adaptable and flexible when used properly.
  21. Frank,
    wide open = wide open.
  22. Benjamin, how is that a relevant comparison? The depth of field will be different and the exposure will be different. Comparisons of image quality make only sense if you use the same settings. Why? Because if you have light for f/4, you can use f/4 on either lens. You use f/2.8 only if you want shallower depth of field or if you don't have enough light to shoot at f/4.
  23. Ok, now I see what the point of the comparison was; because the 16-35 has VR it would then justify comparison to an f/2.8 lens without VR used at f/2.8 to get a higher shutter speed. The way I see this is that the widest apertures are normally only used to photograph subjects that can move. If you shoot a cathedral interior with a wide angle, for example, I would stop down to f/5.6 at least to get adequate depth of field and edge-to-edge sharpnes. With a lens that doesn't have VR, I would then either use a tripod (if possible) or increase the ISO sufficiently to get the shutter speed up while maintaining the f/5.6 or f/8 aperture. Dynamic range is compromised but you get the depth of field. By using a lens with VR, I would still use the same aperture, but I could use a lower ISO and longer exposure time, resulting in richer tones and lower noise in the shadows. IMO a wide aperture is not among the tools of choice for this kind of a shot, but others may disagree. In reality I do these kinds of shots with the 24 PC-E and because of coverage reasons I would need to stop down to f/8 to get the best quality across the frame. I then do whatever is necessary to get there. Don't get me wrong - I like fast lenses but I use them to photograph subjects like people - for images of space I prefer wide DOF.
  24. Ikka,
    for my test the DOF wasn't significant (it was a flat subject: my bookshelf) and at 28mm FL DOF is relative long. I tested both lenses at 28mm FL. I put the camera on the tripod.
    So you would compare the shapness of 70-200/2.8VRII and 70-300/4.5-5.6VR lenses both at f/4.5 (at 70mm FL)? I would compare them wide open. Wide open means for me the ultimate quality of a lens.
    When I pay 2100EUR for a lens, I expect that it is shaper at f/2.8 than a 500EUR lens at f/4.5. So I would test them both wide open and the f/2.8 lens should be sharper. Maybe I'll test them. I have both of them.
    It's just my opinion.
  25. Most reviews only compare sharpness, some claim about distortion... that`s ok.
    But the real difference is about VR. If you compare the 17-35 to the 16-35VR, is clear that the 17-35 can do everything the 16-35VR do... with only one exception: supposedly, with the 16-35VR we can shoot handheld using slower shutter speeds.
    What does it mean? As Shun said above, you could shoot slower speeds without using a tripod; if you don`t mind to raise the ISO to infinity, and/or you don`t need to use smaller apertures than f2.8, I don`t find a reason to choose the 16-35VR (price apart).
    What I`d like to know is about the effectiveness and limits of the VR system in this lens, given its peculiarity (extreme to wide angle zoom). IMHO, it should have an advantage of at least two stops to be considered an interesting choice (price apart).
  26. I don't like tripods. For me VR is a nice feature.
    I can use 1sec. shutter speed with that lens.
  27. Exactly. Thanks. That`s what I`m looking for. If results are consistent at such speeds, I`d say this lens is a wonder. A real Noct-Nikkor.
  28. (The Noct-Nikkor is actually an ultra fast lens... What about "Night-Nikkor"?)
  29. I have to apologize. I can remember now, I used my tripod shooting that photo. It was some months ago and I forgot it.
  30. ...... Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!! Too much nice to be true!
    Could anybody tell me if that`s possible... ? (e.g. consistent results @ 1sec. handheld with the 16-35VR, -even at 16mm-?)
  31. Jose you may gain two stops with VR. Now for a gain of three I would like to see the statistics ^^.
    You know how steady your hand is :p
    I used to be able to shoot 1/8 with my 28mm on the F2 in a dark church (one out of say 5). Today my heartbeat is faster - blood pressure higher but then my total mass is less affected by outside factors ^^.
    But this was on film - pixel peeping at 100% with a simple mouse click changed a lot of our views.
    Guess what: I recently bought a carbon fiber Gitzo series 5 :) That lets me shoot at 1s ^^.
  32. Thanks Walter. My consistent limit with a wide angle is also 1/8 sec...
  33. I agree with Ilkka. I have the 16-35 and rarely use it for shallow dof so I too usually shoot it at 5.6 or 8. I purchased it for travel in particular for areas that prohibit tripods and weight and a $500 savings was nice, weight difference being a more minor consideration when compared with my overall load. I rarely shoot movement with it. I am usually no lower than 18 or 20 mm and can hand hold it braced 2-3 stops lower. If necessary, I shoot in 3 shot bursts with the middle shot the most likely steady since no finger movement there. If necessary, will bump iso to 400 or 800 for totally acceptable results with a d700. As for distortion, have been shooting with an 8mm full frame fisheye almost exclusively for a month, so 16-35 distortion certainly doesnt bother me. With iso capability and vr, I havent missed the one stop difference. Would I miss stops on my 70-200 or 50 1.4, you bet. Those are regularly used with shallow dof in mind.
  34. The same shot at 1/2 sec, this time without tripod.
  35. A 100% crop.
  36. I am glad there are so many 16-35 users! Anyway it is new and I hope it is good!
  37. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    To Benjamin Majcen: a more interesting test is to hand hold the D700 with the 16-35mm/f4 at 1/2 sec for 10 consecutive images, with no image selection allowed. Post 100% crops for all 10 images and check the results.

    Otherwise, as far as I am concerned, those samples are fairly meaningless if one gets to pick the best image with the least amount of vibration among many many samples. For example, if you can only get such resutls in 1 out of 10 times on the average, the implications are going to be very different.

    Another issues is that if you have people in those images, subject movement becomes a major issue at 1/15 sec or perhaps even 1/30 sec. Regardless of how good VR or even your tripod may be, the limiting factor lies elsewhere.
  38. To Shun Cheung: I made many shots and most of them are quite acceptable. I'm not a pixel peeper, I shoot photos for fun. IQ is important for me, but it isn't my obsession.
    Based on my tests and my experience (I'm using this lens since february) and experience of some members with their 17-35/2.8 Nikkors (they can shoot at 1/8 sec.), I can say that the new 16-35/4VR Nikkor rivals the nonexisting 16-35/1.4 non VR Nikkor. I think it is amazing. We are talking about shooting static objects.
    I hate tripods (including Gitzo) and I love my 16-35/4VR because it sets new limits in my photography for 60% price of 17-35/2.8 Nikkor.
  39. Finally I am back to home and continued with the pictures..

    This is an indoor picture and it seems fine, the VR + D3 can handle it quite well.
    However the distortion may be need more work, which is typical for wide angle lens:
    By the way, this is the UK pavilion, inside and outside. Quite interesting stuff! Each spike contains a seed at the end:
    so the spiky house is named as 'Seed Cathedral' lol. Above picture was taken by this lens at a close distance.
  40. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    To Shun Cheung: I made many shots and most of them are quite acceptable. I'm not a pixel peeper, I shoot photos for fun. IQ is important for me, but it isn't my obsession.

    I hate tripods (including Gitzo) and I love my 16-35/4VR because it sets new limits in my photography for 60% price of 17-35/2.8 Nikkor.​
    Acceptable to one is not necessarily acceptable to someone else. If you hate tripods, I am glad that you are not that demanding on image quality and hopefully you can mostly shoot stuffs with high shutter speeds.
  41. Dear Shun, that was a bit insulting.
    If someone gets acceptable (for him) results with an f/4VR lens at 1/2 sec. and you can't do it with your f/2.8 non VR lens, it doesn't mean that this person has lower demanding on IQ than you.

Share This Page