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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm 1:4G ED VR review

July 2010 | By Andy Westlake
Buy on From $996.95

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm 1:4G ED VR, announced in February 2010, has the distinction of being the world's first ultra-wideangle lens to feature optical image stabilization. It's designed primarily for use on full-frame DSLRs, as a less-expensive alternative to the likes of the 17-35mm 1:2.8D or the 14-24mm 1:2.8G, but is also fully compatible with DX bodies on which it offers a 24-50mm equivalent range. It can be seen as an answer to Canon's EF 17-40mm F4 L USM, which has long been popular as a (relatively) inexpensive, compact, lightweight yet high quality wide zoom; indeed we suspect many Nikon fans will be hoping it's the first in a series of F4 premium zooms. However a quick glance at the spec sheet shows that the addition of optical stabilization has resulted in a lens that's distinctly larger than the Canon, at the best part of five inches in length and a pound and a half in weight.

The addition of stabilization also means a more complex optical formula than is usual for a relatively slow wide zoom. The 16-35mm makes use of 17 elements on 12 groups including a liberal sprinkling of exotic elements to address aberrations, of which three are aspherical and two made from Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass. Nano Crystal coating is also employed to combat flare. The stabilization system meets Nikon's 'VR II' specification, promising sharp images hand-held at shutter speeds up to four stops slower than would usually be possible. Focusing uses a ring-type AF-S motor for speed and silence, and full-time override of the focus distance is available.

These goodies are rounded off with high standard of build quality, including protection against dust and water. A nine-bladed circular aperture is also employed for the attractive rendition of background blur. All of this adds up to one of the most attractively-specified wideangle zooms available; the question is, does the reality live up to the specs?

Headline features

  • 16-35mm focal length range; F4 constant maximum aperture
  • Optical image stabilization – 4 stops claimed
  • Ring-type ultrasonic focusing with full-time manual override
  • F mount for Nikon and Fuji DX and FX format DSLRS

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the focal length range from wide to telephoto, on FX and DX camera bodies:

16mm (FX full frame) 35mm (FX full frame)
16mm (DX; 24mm equivalent) 35mm (DX; 53mm equivalent)

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm F4G ED VR specifications

Street price • US: $1160
• UK: £880
Date introduced February 2010
Maximum format size 35mm full frame
Focal length 16-35mm
35mm equivalent focal length
Diagonal Angle of view (FF) 107º - 63º
Diagonal Angle of view (DX) 83º - 44º
Maximum aperture F4
Minimum aperture F22
Lens Construction • 17 elements/12 groups
• 2 ED glass elements
• 3 aspherical elements
Number of diaphragm blades 9, rounded
Minimum focus 0.28m / 0.9ft
Maximum magnification 0.25x at 35mm
AF motor type • Ring-type ultrasonic
• Full-time manual focus - A/M and M/A modes
Focus method Internal
Zoom method Internal
Image stabilization • VR II, 4 stops claimed
Filter thread • 77mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories Front and rear caps
• HB-23 Hood
• CL-1120 Lens Pouch
Weight 685g (1.5 lb)
Dimensions 82.5mm diameter x 125mm length
(3.2 x 4.9 in)
Lens Mount Nikon F only
Other • Weather sealing
• Reports focus distance information to camera body

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

Foreword / notes

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read some of our Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / recommendation / ratings are based on the opinion of the author, we recommend that you read the entire review before making any decision. Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of them, click to display a larger image in a new window.

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Dpreview use calibrated monitors at the PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally also A, B and C.

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Total comments: 2

Can anyone help me to find a suitable lens for my Nikon camera? I use the camera mainly for video and looking for a wide angle lens which is good in low light with VR option and also which can cover wide area in focus. I already have a 18-105 lens.
Thanks in advance.

Alex Moscow

Nikon 16-35 is a very nicely working tool as long as you stay with the prints below A3 - at this and bigger format lateral areas are far from being called sharp. All other characteristics are fairly described in this post and some others tests. People who look for lanscape photografy of high quality/forrmat should consider a different lense - I mean some sort of a fix e.g. Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8G. Plus you'll get more light with such alternative.
Again, if you are happy with magnification up to A4 - no problem with this lense, no any at all.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
Total comments: 2