Review: Nikon 16-85mm f3.5 – 5.6 VR Lens

Not long ago Nikon release the perfect lens for those who are fortunate enough to be shooting with a full-frame DSLR. The Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 lens is the one I’m talking about. But what about those of use with a DX format sensor in our camera? Nikon didn’t want to leave us out either. Enter the Nikon 16-85mm f3.5-5.6 VR Lens.

This little piece of glass is a great choice for photographers who shoot with a DX format body (like the D40, D60, D80, D90, D200, and D300). When I received mine and took it out of the box I immediately knew I was going to be happy with it. It felt heavy and solid in my hands, a characteristic of a pro-quality lens. The included case and lens hood are great accessories for protecting your investment.

Using the 16-85mm lens is a real treat. The zoom is firm, yet smooth and the auto focus is fast and quiet thanks to the Silent Wave motor. Optics are very sharp and clear and it renders colors very faithfully and vividly. I had heard a few people complain about vignetting with this lens, but I only experienced that problem when I had a Tiffen 67mm UV lens filter installed. Without the filter there are no problems with vignetting that I have noticed. This means that you would probably need a thin filter to avoid the vignetting problem if you want to use a UV filter.

The VR (Vibration Reduction) feature is really handy. VR helps you shoot a lower shutter speeds and still maintain image sharpness. VR slightly reduces camera battery life but it’s more than worth it. I only use VR when I need it. When light gets low enough that my shutter speed is getting lower than 1/40th (or if I’m not using a flash) I will turn it on. I never use VR when I’m shooting on a tripod. You should avoid using VR on a tripod because it will continually search for vibration even when there is none which will prevent your images from being tack sharp. VR should only be used when hand-holding the camera.

The zoom range of 16-85mm is really ideal and I wish Nikon would offer a lens in that zoom range with a constant aperture of f2.8. 16mm lets you get really wide and 85mm is a good focal length for shooting portraits which makes this lens a great choice if you need to add a zoom lens to your bag. The lens doesn’t distort that bad, either barrel or pincushion.

All-in-all, this is a great zoom lens to have in your glass arsenal. I’m really happy with mine and I know that most photographers would be too. At $570.00 this lens is more expensive than most zooms like it, but the optics and performance are the justification for the higher price. With a great zoom range and VR to boot, it’s going to be really hard to beat this lens.


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