Is the Nikkor 16-85mm overrated?

Started Mar 2, 2013 | Discussions
DigitalPhilosopher
Contributing MemberPosts: 794
Like?
Is the Nikkor 16-85mm overrated?
Mar 2, 2013

As a disclaimer, I have to emphasize I'm a "prime lens"-believer. I try to avoid zooms. I have used the 16-85mm, and I do admit I found it a bit better than, say, the 18-105mm. Having said that, I certainly wasn't impressed to the point I would justify its price. In addition, seeing some photos of the 16-85mm DPreview members post from time to time, I even notice flaws (mostly corner softness) I hadn't even noticed with my own copy.

16-85mm users, could you give some honest opinions about your personal experience with this lens?

-- hide signature --

Check my blog for reviews, tips & tutorials:
Amateur Nikon
Follow me on Twitter:
@amateurnikon

Vera Cognome
Regular MemberPosts: 150
Like?
Re: Is the Nikkor 16-85mm overrated?
In reply to DigitalPhilosopher, Mar 2, 2013

DigitalPhilosopher wrote:

As a disclaimer, I have to emphasize I'm a "prime lens"-believer. I try to avoid zooms. I have used the 16-85mm, and I do admit I found it a bit better than, say, the 18-105mm. Having said that, I certainly wasn't impressed to the point I would justify its price. In addition, seeing some photos of the 16-85mm DPreview members post from time to time, I even notice flaws (mostly corner softness) I hadn't even noticed with my own copy.

You found *gasp* ​corner softness​ in other people's shots with a 5:1 zoom???  Horrors!  Schedule a press conference immediately.

As far as I can tell the "rep" on the 16-85mm is exactly what you've found.  "Nice lens, but doesn't offer enough value over the later kit lenses," which may be why rumors of a replacement have been circulating for over a year now.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
DigitalPhilosopher
Contributing MemberPosts: 794
Like?
Re: Is the Nikkor 16-85mm overrated?
In reply to Vera Cognome, Mar 2, 2013

Vera Cognome wrote:

You found *gasp* ​corner softness​ in other people's shots with a 5:1 zoom??? Horrors! Schedule a press conference immediately.

As far as I can tell the "rep" on the 16-85mm is exactly what you've found. "Nice lens, but doesn't offer enough value over the later kit lenses," which may be why rumors of a replacement have been circulating for over a year now.

Which will probably be even more expensive - touching (surpassing?!) the used price of a 17-55 f/2.8.

-- hide signature --

Check my blog for reviews, tips & tutorials:
Amateur Nikon
Follow me on Twitter:
@amateurnikon

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
jhinkey
Senior MemberPosts: 2,379Gear list
Like?
Re: Is the Nikkor 16-85mm overrated?
In reply to DigitalPhilosopher, Mar 2, 2013

It's the one lens that I miss after going to FX.  I compared it to my 24-85AFS while I briefly had both and the 16-85 was noticeably better in all regards even though it can be just a tad soft in the far corners.  There is no equivalent FX lens that has the same IQ (no, not even the 24-120/4).

John

 jhinkey's gear list:jhinkey's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 Nikon D800 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 +19 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
HSway
Senior MemberPosts: 2,724
Like?
Re: Is the Nikkor 16-85mm overrated?
In reply to DigitalPhilosopher, Mar 2, 2013

The values here are decent distortions, good CA control and very good border (and corner) sharpness plus quite flat field at landscape distances. And those 16mm of uwa capability. One just has to control the dof well for corner sharpness.

Its VR ll works well, the build is good, quite a compact lens for what it is. And it’s capable of good sharpness in 16-40mm range and is decent in 50-85mm. Quite a workhorse, gets the job done. Nothing much overrated I could see even on the gear forums. Just a good, useful lens.

A time ago, I thought the dx is in a developing phase and I saw probable that Nikon will improve this design with added speed or f4 constant, better bokeh, and a bit of sharpness, especially in the 40-85mm range. I am sure Nikon can do better and can make lens of a better design that is more versatile and interesting.

Not sure where Nikon is heading with the dx though for me to be talking about lenses. Also rather confidently presented information about high-end dx compact coming soon pops out over at NR site. Though again, something odd about the way it is presented. But that as a side note.

17-55. There are great differences between their designs I think and similar with the dimensions and build. Different ranges. VR. I’d prefer 16-85 largely for landscape type and the 17-55 more as an event lens and for a use with flash. I don’t think 16-85 successor would be expensive, among others because Sigma offers the fast new and good 17-70 OS and 17-50 OS lenses.

-- hide signature --
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
HSway
Senior MemberPosts: 2,724
Like?
Re: Is the Nikkor 16-85mm overrated?
In reply to jhinkey, Mar 2, 2013

I would say this is a bit like the 16-85 overrated. 24-120/4 is the better lens on 12 and 16mp dx format. And at 50-85mm the dx zoom can’t hold a candle to it as it were. Between the formats, considering the resolution and other differences, difficult to say generally. On d600 you get clearly superior results with 24-120/4 to those on 12 or 16mp with 16-85, there just is no comparison imo. I will be selling the 24-120/4 as it was never intended to be used on fx for my purposes but the lens does better than I thought on fx.

-- hide signature --
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Mike Cialowicz
Regular MemberPosts: 236Gear list
Like?
It was my favorite DX lens.
In reply to DigitalPhilosopher, Mar 2, 2013

The 16-85 VR was my favorite DX lens... great range, damn sharp, convenient, light - a perfect travel companion. I was really happy with it on 12 and 16 MP sensors. I'm not sure how it'd fare on the new 24 MP stuff. I really loved the 16mm wide-angle... it was considerably wider than the 18-XX zooms. 24 is the new 28 - in my opinion, the 17-55 or 16-85 replacement must be 16 on the wide end.

In short, it's the one lens that I miss since I've moved to FX.

Some samples:

Cheers,

Mike

 Mike Cialowicz's gear list:Mike Cialowicz's gear list
Sony RX100 Nikon D800 Olympus PEN E-PM1 Nikon D90 Sony a6000 +14 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Leonard Migliore
Forum ProPosts: 10,396Gear list
Like?
Overrated? No. Overpriced? Maybe
In reply to DigitalPhilosopher, Mar 2, 2013

I got my D300 with a 16-85 and the lens has performed superbly ever since. The sharpness and contrast is excellent while distortion's not a problem. The only downside is that it's slow, but I have primes for those situations.

The 16-85 is generally described as a very high quality lens with a usable zoom range. My experience is consistent with that, so I'd never say the lens was overrated.

-- hide signature --

Leonard Migliore

 Leonard Migliore's gear list:Leonard Migliore's gear list
Canon PowerShot G12 Nikon D300 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 10-24mm f/3-5-4.5G ED Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G +9 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
labalaba
Regular MemberPosts: 212
Like?
Re: Is the Nikkor 16-85mm overrated?
In reply to DigitalPhilosopher, Mar 2, 2013

I think it is a nice lens and might even buy it again one day.  The thing is that the 18-55VR and 18-105VR kit lenses are quite decent and the question is whether the 16-85 is worth the premium.  Obviously this is personal choice and depends on your usage and on the other glass you have available; still, some people get quite upset if you suggest that one of the kit lenses might be more appropriate.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
emax
Senior MemberPosts: 1,905
Like?
Re: Overpriced? Maybe
In reply to Leonard Migliore, Mar 3, 2013

I agree with Leonard's assessment.  Lately, I've seen a number of used 16-85 VR's showing up on Craigslist for $350-400.  Mind you, now you can get a used 18-105 VR for under $200, or a used 18-55 VR for under $100.

My 16-85 VR is a great performer.  I prefer it over the 17-55 f/2.8 for most of my shooting.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
GlennW
Senior MemberPosts: 1,393Gear list
Like?
Re: Overpriced? Maybe
In reply to emax, Mar 3, 2013

emax wrote:

I agree with Leonard's assessment. Lately, I've seen a number of used 16-85 VR's showing up on Craigslist for $350-400. Mind you, now you can get a used 18-105 VR for under $200, or a used 18-55 VR for under $100.

My 16-85 VR is a great performer. I prefer it over the 17-55 f/2.8 for most of my shooting.

THe $100 sale price helps a lot. Could be a signal Nikon needs the old model off the shelf to make room for something new. Price ends in a few hours?

For the price/ size some may still prefer the 18-105.

-- hide signature --

I Shoot RAW

 GlennW's gear list:GlennW's gear list
Nikon D5100 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR +4 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Reivilos
Regular MemberPosts: 259Gear list
Like?
Re: Overrated? No. Overpriced? Maybe
In reply to Leonard Migliore, Mar 3, 2013

Leonard Migliore wrote:

I got my D300 with a 16-85 and the lens has performed superbly ever since. The sharpness and contrast is excellent while distortion's not a problem. The only downside is that it's slow, but I have primes for those situations.

The 16-85 is generally described as a very high quality lens with a usable zoom range. My experience is consistent with that, so I'd never say the lens was overrated.

I agree. I'd say for a 5x zoom, Nikon have made a very balanced set of compromises. The real weakness of that lens has always been its price point.

 Reivilos's gear list:Reivilos's gear list
Nikon D300S Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D +6 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Fred Mueller
Senior MemberPosts: 2,346Gear list
Like?
nice shooting mike ...
In reply to Mike Cialowicz, Mar 3, 2013

16-85 is a fine lens ...

 Fred Mueller's gear list:Fred Mueller's gear list
Nikon D600
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
bflood
Contributing MemberPosts: 581
Like?
Re: Is the Nikkor 16-85mm overrated?
In reply to DigitalPhilosopher, Mar 3, 2013

If you are looking for excellent sharpness in the corners of a 20x30 or 24x36 print, you probably shouldn't be shooting DX in the first place.

The max aperture of the 16-85 isn't the best for the shallow depth of field one likes for portrait use, but the buyer should understand that before buying.

I have the 18-70, and I believe I was lucky to get a particularly good copy.  Optically, my 16-85 is the equal of my 18-70, but I wanted the 16-85 for 2 important characteristics.  First, I wanted the wider field of view, equivalent to 24 mm on film instead of 28 mm.  Second, I wanted, actually needed, the VR (arthritis).  For scenic use and closeups the 16-85 has been everything I wanted.  I have 16x20 prints that look very good at close range, and that's all I can ask of the lens.

Sorry, no personal experience with the 18-105.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
mistermejia
Senior MemberPosts: 2,912Gear list
Like?
I Don't Think Is Overrated.
In reply to labalaba, Mar 3, 2013

labalaba wrote:

I think it is a nice lens and might even buy it again one day. The thing is that the 18-55VR and 18-105VR kit lenses are quite decent and the question is whether the 16-85 is worth the premium. Obviously this is personal choice and depends on your usage and on the other glass you have available; still, some people get quite upset if you suggest that one of the kit lenses might be more appropriate.

I agree. the kit lenses have excellent glass in them and unless you are pixle peeping you will see the differences. I had the 18-55 but sold it for the 16-85, but what i never did was actually compare them before i sold the 18-55. About two weeks ago or so i went to Samy's Camera and shot with the 18-55 and honestly regarding IQ there is not much difference. HONESTLY. What i did notice was the big difference coverage at the wide angle 18mm vs. 16mm. I know is only "two" mm difference, but you CAN TELL the difference and i preffer the wider angle. I almost sold my 16-85 for personal reasons, but i still have not sold it and i might just keep it for now.

The bottom line is what you want the lens for. I chose the 16-85 over tamron or sigma 2.8, i just don't like them. Some people consider this 16-85 too expensive, but when i meditate on what i have i don't think is "overrated" (excellent optics, wide flexible range, little distortion, good VR, high built quality). Just because is not giving you a 2.8 it doesn't mean is not better than a 2.8, again, depends what you need it for. I got mine on Craigslist for $440 dollars, for that price i did not think twice about getting it.

 mistermejia's gear list:mistermejia's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro Fujifilm X-E1 Rokinon 85mm F1.4 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS +4 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
tamasine
Forum MemberPosts: 56
Like?
Is the Nikkor 16-85mm overrated? - No, not IMO anyway
In reply to DigitalPhilosopher, Mar 4, 2013

I was always a primes user and had 3 very good primes (50mm f1.8, 35mm f1.8 + AIS 24mm f2.8) before I bought the 16-85.  What impressed me the most were the colours, contrast, and overall quality.  I could tell from the first few photos I took that I would love this lens...and I did.  I've taken it to other countries and it's performed better than I could have wished for.

This lens is the main reason I am stalling on going to FF.  I don't believe there is a comparable FF zoom as good on FF as this is on DX.  If anyone believes the 24-85 or 24-120 is as good or better then I would be interested in hearing about this.

So, my answer is no - the 16-85 is worth every penny (in my opinion, anyway ;-))

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Keith Aitken
Veteran MemberPosts: 6,564
Like?
Re: Is the Nikkor 16-85mm overrated?
In reply to DigitalPhilosopher, Mar 4, 2013

Digital/P

My pref is also for fast primes . . . But love the 16-85 for its convenience, compact size, wide 16mm, and consistent IQ.

The only-average bokeh is a disappointment, as is the price ( new ), the slowness and the slightly limited range, but then you know stuff like this before handing over the cash

On balance, it is a great travel lens in cities and for a quick-grab one-lens kit, but I now mostly use the Tamron 18-270mm PZD which equals 16-85mm IQ, has a much more useable range and creates a more appealing bokeh/OOF.

Keith

-- hide signature --

. . .

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Steve Bingham
Forum ProPosts: 20,690Gear list
Like?
Waiting for a better lens. For now the 16-85 wins.
In reply to DigitalPhilosopher, Mar 6, 2013

Waiting for a better lens. For now the 16-85 wins

-- hide signature --

Steve Bingham
www.dustylens.com
www.ghost-town-photography.com

 Steve Bingham's gear list:Steve Bingham's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon D5300 Nikon D610 Nikon D7100 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G +21 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
martinch
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,054
Like?
Re: Overrated? No. Overpriced? Maybe
In reply to Leonard Migliore, Mar 7, 2013

Leonard Migliore wrote:

I got my D300 with a 16-85 and the lens has performed superbly ever since. The sharpness and contrast is excellent while distortion's not a problem. The only downside is that it's slow, but I have primes for those situations.

The 16-85 is generally described as a very high quality lens with a usable zoom range. My experience is consistent with that, so I'd never say the lens was overrated.

-- hide signature --

Leonard Migliore

Agree entirely.

It might be a little soft in the extreme corners wide open, but that clears up quickly, and isn't an issue for my use anyway.  I'm really happy with mine, and think it compares well to the 17-55mm's I've tried, in terms of sharpness (which, admittedly, have a very different character).  Personally, I think the extra expense over the 18-105mm is justified by the better build quality ...

-- hide signature --

My gallery of so-so nature photos: http://martinch.zenfolio.com/

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
DavidPonting
Regular MemberPosts: 268Gear list
Like?
Re: Is the Nikkor 16-85mm overrated?
In reply to DigitalPhilosopher, Mar 7, 2013

Definitely not!

By choice I'm a prime shooter in that range, yet somehow I've taken as many shots with the 16-85 as I have with the primes that it overlaps with...

It's sharp, light and a useful range for a single lens. If I want tele it pairs perfectly with the 70-200/4 (or the 70-300 if you don't mind that lens's issues at 300mm).

If you want prime-class low-light behaviour or DoF, then obviously it doesn't do it, but you can see that from the specs... I'm not too worried about the bokeh either, because you don't normally shoot f/5.6 for bokeh!

As to whether it's over-priced, that's a different question! I have a feeling that a lot of the cost over say the 18-105 is the extra complexity of getting to 16mm, so maybe the price is inevitable.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads