Is the 16-85 and 70-300vr the ultimate DX setup?

Started Jun 16, 2012 | Discussions
Shunda77
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Is the 16-85 and 70-300vr the ultimate DX setup?
Jun 16, 2012

I've had my D5100 & 18-55 + 55-200 kit for a while now, and while I love it, I am finding the focal length cut offs with these lenses more and more irritating.

I am not sure if that is due to my use of superzoom bridge cams in the past, or simply what I like to shoot (landscapes/nature, usually at short notice and in a "walk around" context).

The 'all in one' 18-200 zooms are not really an option for me as they aren't quite wide enough (I am used to at least 24mm equivalent and use it frequently) and I am concerned about image quality compromises to some extent.

It seems one compelling option would be the 16-85vr as a good walk around landscapes/nature lens, and then the 70-300vr for telephoto.

I know the 70-300 wasn't designed for the D5100, but does this really matter? are there any problems with using this lens on the budget Nikon bodies?

I would be really interested in any advice or experience others may have had with these lenses.

I am glad I went with a DSLR, but I feel the experience isn't quite where I want it to be just yet and I am stating to miss my bridge cam!

Any help or comment would be much appreciated.

Nikon D5100
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Barry Fitzgerald
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Re: Is the 16-85 and 70-300vr the ultimate DX setup?
In reply to Shunda77, Jun 16, 2012

I don't think they're a bad choice at all you get 2 decent lenses and good coverage across the range. All you will lack is lens speed, which may or may not be an issue.

You could beef things up with a 35/50/85mm fast prime and that covers that angle for you.

If you do a lot of low light my choice would be different, for general purpose use hard to argue. Neither lens is cheap, but then they're not horribly expensive either.

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kay4401
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Re: Is the 16-85 and 70-300vr the ultimate DX setup?
In reply to Shunda77, Jun 16, 2012

Excellent setup. I have the 16-85 and 70-300 for my D7000. I sometimes found myself wanting a couple faster lenses, so I got a 24mm prime (Nikon f/2.8D) and a 50mm prime (Sigma, f/1.4) to augment. Works great for me.

 kay4401's gear list:kay4401's gear list
Nikon D7000 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Nikon AF-Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D ED
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drifit
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nope
In reply to Shunda77, Jun 16, 2012

i would say it is not ultimate setup. a good setup within average budget, i would say.
ultimate? how about Afs 17-55mm f/2.8 + Afs 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII?

with your planning on 16-85 & 70-300, these will keep you handy most of the time.
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Shunda77
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Re: Is the 16-85 and 70-300vr the ultimate DX setup?
In reply to Barry Fitzgerald, Jun 16, 2012

Barry Fitzgerald wrote:

I don't think they're a bad choice at all you get 2 decent lenses and good coverage across the range. All you will lack is lens speed, which may or may not be an issue.

I guess for landscapes there won't be a problem, birding perhaps there is? but then, I could go crazy with cost at the long end which I can't afford to do any way.

You could beef things up with a 35/50/85mm fast prime and that covers that angle for you.

I am certainly thinking a few primes could be added down the track a bit, but for now, I think a good zoom lens solution is what I'm after.

If you do a lot of low light my choice would be different, for general purpose use hard to argue. Neither lens is cheap, but then they're not horribly expensive either.

That's kinda what I was thinking and it is reassuring that others seem to agree. I guess I could also look at the 55-300vr to save cost a bit, but I assume this lens is quite inferior to the 70-300, certainly the build and focus ring appear to be a good deal better on the 70-300.

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Shunda77
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Re: Is the 16-85 and 70-300vr the ultimate DX setup?
In reply to kay4401, Jun 16, 2012

kay4401 wrote:

Excellent setup. I have the 16-85 and 70-300 for my D7000. I sometimes found myself wanting a couple faster lenses, so I got a 24mm prime (Nikon f/2.8D) and a 50mm prime (Sigma, f/1.4) to augment. Works great for me.

Sounds good.

It seems like I might be on the right track and I will probably develop a kit similar to yours over time, thanks for posting.

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gear1box
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Re: Is the 16-85 and 70-300vr the ultimate DX setup?
In reply to Shunda77, Jun 16, 2012

I have shot Nikon for almost four decades and possess a closet shelf or so of Nikkor lenses of various vintages.

But those two lenses, a beat-up sb800, and a 67mm Hoya SMC polarizer are my go-to kit for my D7000. The sensor in the D7k and D5100 is more than fast enough to compensate for their slowness.

Shoot aperture priority at f5.6 or 8 with either lens at any focal length less than 200mm and you will get as good a resolution as any Nikkor lens. The tele falls apart a bit beyond that, but still isn't bad and can do passable work up to 12x18

I am lazy, so i process in DXO and let them worry about distortion, CAs, sensor noise, etc. Life is good. I would have died for such a setup in the 70s.

-- hide signature --

gary ray

PS i bought both lenses within six months of introduction, so paid a premium. I have no regrets.
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Semi-professional in early 1970s; just a putzer since then. interests: historical sites, virginia, motorcycle racing. A nikon user more by habit than choice; still, nikon seems to work well for me.

 gear1box's gear list:gear1box's gear list
Canon PowerShot G1 X Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 Nikon D600 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm F4-5.6 OIS +7 more
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Shunda77
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Re: nope
In reply to drifit, Jun 16, 2012

drifit wrote:

i would say it is not ultimate setup. a good setup within average budget, i would say.

Yeah, that would be a fairer comment and is actually what I really meant.

ultimate? how about Afs 17-55mm f/2.8 + Afs 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII?

I think the 17-55 would still be a bit short for my liking, but sure, that would still be a nice set up!

with your planning on 16-85 & 70-300, these will keep you handy most of the time.

It sounds like this could be the plan I stick to, now which lens to get first!

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westerner
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Maybe, but not my choices...
In reply to drifit, Jun 16, 2012

Here's mine for my D7000:

Tokina 11-16 f2.8, Sigma 17-70 f2.8-4 OS, Tamron 70-300 Di VC USD

Here's why: The Tokina is unreal in sharpness and also works at 15-16mm on my D700... and covers the extreme wide end of the spectrum. The Sigma is faster than the 16-85, and is practically as sharp as my 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 VRII in the center, with only the corners lacking the sharpness of the pro lenses. The Tamron has the best image quality of any of the 70-300 class lenses, and also is stellar on my D700. It is the best lens at 300mm, which seems to be the weak spot on most of the others, including the Nikon. Image stabilization is the only thing that the Nikon does better, but only by a whisker (Tamron VC is a bit more "jerky" and not as smooth, and acts a lot like the older original Nikon VR that was rated at 3 stops improvement).

Your picks are good, and may be sufficient for your needs, but for the reasons above, I chose differently..."to each, his own"

Oh, and the Sigma and Tamron are a bit cheaper, too. The Tokina is not cheap, however, but is something that could be added later, if you felt you needed an ultra-wide.
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 westerner's gear list:westerner's gear list
Nikon D700 Nikon D7100 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II +5 more
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Shunda77
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Re: Is the 16-85 and 70-300vr the ultimate DX setup?
In reply to gear1box, Jun 16, 2012

gear1box wrote:

But those two lenses, a beat-up sb800, and a 67mm Hoya SMC polarizer are my go-to kit for my D7000. The sensor in the D7k and D5100 is more than fast enough to compensate for their slowness.

Shoot aperture priority at f5.6 or 8 with either lens at any focal length less than 200mm and you will get as good a resolution as any Nikkor lens. The tele falls apart a bit beyond that, but still isn't bad and can do passable work up to 12x18

I am lazy, so i process in DXO and let them worry about distortion, CAs, sensor noise, etc. Life is good. I would have died for such a setup in the 70s.

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gary ray

Thank you for your comment Gary, your experience demands I listen.

It sounds as though there are quite a few people with this set up and quite happy with it.

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Fotoloco
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Re: Is the 16-85 and 70-300vr the ultimate DX setup?
In reply to Shunda77, Jun 16, 2012

I use:

12-24 DX
35 DX
85 1.8G
180 2.8D

Very happy with this set-up.

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Shunda77
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please tell me more about this Tamron
In reply to westerner, Jun 16, 2012

westerner wrote:

The Tamron has the best image quality of any of the 70-300 class lenses, and also is stellar on my D700. It is the best lens at 300mm, which seems to be the weak spot on most of the others, including the Nikon. Image stabilization is the only thing that the Nikon does better, but only by a whisker (Tamron VC is a bit more "jerky" and not as smooth, and acts a lot like the older original Nikon VR that was rated at 3 stops improvement).

This lens is available for a very good price in NZ, is it really better than the Nikon? I didn't even know it existed until now.

Are there any drawbacks to using third party lenses? I guess the Nikon distortion/CA control won't work?

I've been searching through all sorts of lens reviews and google searches and quite frankly, there are just so many similar products around that it gets a bit overwhelming!

Thanks for your input.

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nfpotter
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I determined early on...
In reply to Shunda77, Jun 16, 2012

...that there IS no "ultimate" set-up, unless you only shoot a small variety of subjects.

I have 3 bodies (D80, D300, and D7000), 11-12 lenses, and gobs of filters, accessories, etc. I've only been doing this "photography" thing for a little over 2 years.

I started out with the D80, 18-55 VR, and then quickly bought the 55-200 VR. Needed more reach, bought the 70-300 VR. Needed more reach, bought the Bigma. In between, I bought (in random order) a Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 D, a 35mm f/1.8 G, a 50mm f/1.8 D, a Tokina 12-24mm, a Sigma 105mm macro, and a 300mm Nikkor f/4.5 AI lens. Plus 2 SB-600's, and tons on "stuff". Also ended up with a 18-105 VR that came with my D7K.

I would love to eventually own the "big" full-frame stuff, from the fast short zooms, to the 600mm VR. Not gonna happen anytime soon, lol. I AM planning on buying a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 soon. Some of the gear I'm keeping to teach my son with. I would actually like to own the 16-85mm VR, to replace my 18-105, but I don't feel it's a priority at all.

I carry one of two set-ups: a small bag, with one body, 4-5 lenses (not counting the Bigma), a flash, and some accessories, OR, my GIANT backpack, with 1 or 2 bodies, 1 or 2 flashes, 7-8 lenses (always including the Bigma), and a TON of "stuff". Most would think I'm crazy for hiking with that much gear. It's NOT light.

The "ultimate" set-up is whatever you need to get the job done, OR, to be PREPARED to get the job done.

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bocajrs
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Re: please tell me more about this Tamron
In reply to Shunda77, Jun 16, 2012

My bag:

D7K
18-70 (2) 1 Primary, 1 Backup
70-300MM VR

I may upgrade to 16-85 F4 after reviews are out on this one...

 bocajrs's gear list:bocajrs's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR +1 more
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Camnu
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Re: Is the 16-85 and 70-300vr the ultimate DX setup?
In reply to Shunda77, Jun 16, 2012

In terms of sharpness, who will win between those two lenses: Nikon 16-85 vs Sigma 17-70 ?

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westerner
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Re: please tell me more about this Tamron
In reply to Shunda77, Jun 16, 2012

Shunda77 wrote:

westerner wrote:

The Tamron has the best image quality of any of the 70-300 class lenses, and also is stellar on my D700. It is the best lens at 300mm, which seems to be the weak spot on most of the others, including the Nikon. Image stabilization is the only thing that the Nikon does better, but only by a whisker (Tamron VC is a bit more "jerky" and not as smooth, and acts a lot like the older original Nikon VR that was rated at 3 stops improvement).

This lens is available for a very good price in NZ, is it really better than the Nikon? I didn't even know it existed until now.

Are there any drawbacks to using third party lenses? I guess the Nikon distortion/CA control won't work?

I've been searching through all sorts of lens reviews and google searches and quite frankly, there are just so many similar products around that it gets a bit overwhelming!

Thanks for your input.

The Tamron does indeed have the best sharpness throughout the range. I have shot the Nikon 70-300 VR and owned the Nikon 55-300 VR and Sigma 70-300 OS. These all have their strong points and weaknesses: Nikon 70-300 is pretty sharp at most focal lengths, but goes a little soft at certain settings, and is noticeably softer at 300mm. The 55-300 is actually sharper at 55-150, but goes worse that the 70-300 after that. The Sigma was a different beast. It was OK, but displayed aberrations that gave the image a strange look when looked at closely, and images looked underexposed. When you raised the exposure to brighten, you were left with an image with too little contrast. The OS was very, very good, however.

The Tamron is not perfect, but works extremely well for me. As mentioned earlier, the VC (stabilization) is not as good as Nikon VR or Sigma OS, but still does the job well enough. My only other complaint is with the AF/MF and OS switches...they are moved very easily by taking the camera in and out of your camera bag, so you have to check those to make sure they have not moved from your previous setting. Some do not like the long lens hood, which, when stored in the reverse position, covers the zoom ring, so you cannot zoom the lens with the hood in storage position. I have a simple work around - use the lens as a push-pull zoom by holding the hood and pulling the zoom out and pushing it back in. A simple and effective solution. The lens is big, but so is the Nikon. The Tamron is lighter, though.

If you shoot RAW, Lightroom has a lens profile that works with this lens, but I have found no need to correct anything but a bit of fringing in very contrasty scenes once in a while...usually only when shooting wide open. You can do that with one click of the "defringe all edges" selection.

Don't let the many choices and opinions confuse you. If you can try one out, you may want to do that. I am extremely happy with mine, but ultimately you must see if it is a good fit for you vs. the others. Choice is good!! It's why I have what I have, since I have tried and owned (and sold) quite a few lenses. Good luck in your search for the right one for you

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K.B.

 westerner's gear list:westerner's gear list
Nikon D700 Nikon D7100 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II +5 more
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westerner
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Re: Is the 16-85 and 70-300vr the ultimate DX setup?
In reply to Camnu, Jun 16, 2012

Camnu wrote:

In terms of sharpness, who will win between those two lenses: Nikon 16-85 vs Sigma 17-70 ?

The 16-85 is really a great lens. It is tough to beat. The image will be more consistent from edge-to-edge than the Sigma. However, in my comparisons, the 17-70's center is honestly as sharp as my pro grade lenses (24-70 and 70-200 VRII), even shot wide open. AF is nearly perfect (tied with my Tokina for keeper rate on the D7000). Stabilization is arguably as good or better than the best Nikon VR lens. And the biggest reason I wanted it, was for the speed. I personally need fast lenses, and find the extra low-light ability to be what ultimately puts the Sigma over the slower Nikon for my shooting. You only sacrifice a little bit of range for the wider aperture - an easily accepted trade-off in my case (I have the full range from 11-300mm covered anyway). And a big bonus with the Sigma is the fact that it does macro, too. You can literally touch your subject to the end of the lens at 70mm and shoot a perfectly focused shot!! I love it!!

Some may prefer the Nikon, and I would agree that it is a great lens to own. The Sigma just has the features and does more of the things that I want in a lens in this range.

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K.B.

 westerner's gear list:westerner's gear list
Nikon D700 Nikon D7100 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II +5 more
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Steve Bingham
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Now add the Nikon 10-24
In reply to Shunda77, Jun 16, 2012

A cheap, but highly competent, trio. The 16-85 VR can out perform most who use it. F8 and be there! Remember to consider corner sharpness at all f stops. There are lenses that can equal, and maybe even sneak above, the 16-85 at center resolution . . . but not corner to corner at the full range. If I ever find one I will BUY it!!! Study the lens tests.
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 Steve Bingham's gear list:Steve Bingham's gear list
Nikon D300 Fujifilm X-E2 Nikon D5300 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G +10 more
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HVenkat
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Re: Is the 16-85 and 70-300vr the ultimate DX setup?
In reply to Shunda77, Jun 16, 2012

Hi, I have the same setup on my D7000.

Somehow I found the 70 - 300 gives much sharper images at overlapping focal lengths, also the bokeh is quite decent. On the maximum end also the 70-300 provides fairly sharp pictures if there is good light and the object is not too far, eg. you are shooting a bird at about 3 - 5 meters, however if you are shooting an animal at say 100 meters or so, then it tends to get softer, cant explain this but this has been my experience.

On 16-85 with group photographs you have be very careful with people standing at the very edge of the frame at the wide end (16 mm), it has significant distortion and sometimes it cannot be entirely corrected either in camera or in LR, it would always be better to pull the people in.

Again the above has been my experience and I am no expert as I have just started about 7 - 8 months back.

The basic catch with both the lenses is that you need good amount of light on the subject (slow lenses!), otherwise the pictures don't tend to be sharp or quite a bit of noise creeps in.

Attaching a bird photo at the maximum end on the 70-300

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David Lal
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Two consumer zooms?
In reply to Shunda77, Jun 16, 2012

Ultimate setup? I hardly think so.

Of course, it depends on one's definition of ultimate.

David

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