16-85 VR. How bad the bokeh?

Started Apr 30, 2009 | Discussions
Richard G T Senior Member • Posts: 1,673
16-85 VR. How bad the bokeh?

I've been giving serious thought to purchasing the 16-85VR lens. It has a good range, is sharp, is well constucted, etc., etc., etc. My biggest concern and what has kept me from pulling the trigger are the reports of poor bokeh. Just how bad is it?

I have other lenses in my bag for nice bokeh when needed but would rather not change lenses all that often. I was wondering if bokeh was a concern with owners of this lens. Is there any way to get decent bokeh out of this lens? Perhaps at the 85mm setting? Samples apprecaited.... Thanks.

Best wishes,
Richard
--
Equipment: 1 camera, 1 lens, 38 years
http://www.pbase.com/rgthompson

chris_my Forum Member • Posts: 89
Re: 16-85 VR. How bad the bokeh?

It's too slow to be able to throw things out of focus that much.

That said, what I mean is that if you're not going to use this lens to get shallow DOF (which you can't really do so), and use it for a walk around lens, it's not going to bother you that much.

It didn't bother me, at least.

Let me dig my archive a little... see if I can find anything.
--
Best regards,
Chris

chris_my Forum Member • Posts: 89
Samples @ 85mm wide open

I don't know if this is going to be good enough for you or not, but here it is:

Both shot wide open at 85mm f/5.6.

First picture is shot at subject about 1ft away from front lens element.

Second picture is shot almost as close as the lens can focus.

Softness to the picture is not the lens' fault, it's my fault of not looking for proper support (bending down, wobble a little)

Hope that helps. I think that's the most "bokeh" you can get out of this lens.
--
Best regards,
Chris

OP Richard G T Senior Member • Posts: 1,673
Re: Samples @ 85mm wide open

Thanks Chris. Your samples are very helpful. The quality of the bokeh is not the greatest I've seen but its far from the worst. I could live with that although I'd kept my 60mm 2.8 AF-S close at hand for security.

How tall is the figure in your shot? Six inches or so?

Thanks again.

Best wishes,
Richard
--
Equipment: 1 camera, 1 lens, 38 years
http://www.pbase.com/rgthompson

chris_my Forum Member • Posts: 89
Re: Samples @ 85mm wide open

Richard G T wrote:

How tall is the figure in your shot? Six inches or so?

About 7 to 8 inch, roughly. More like 7. Not that I bring a ruler around when I'm shooting

-- hide signature --

Best regards,
Chris

dan hardy Regular Member • Posts: 104
Re: Samples @ 85mm wide open

The bokeh made me initially unsure about purchasing this lens. I'm glad I got it! As you said you have other lens for good bokeh. At 85mm wide open and with close focus the bokeh imo is do-able. I don't use it for that purpose as many others do not as well.

However, it is awesomely sharp. I use this lens to gain maximum DOF.

At 50mm the bokeh is another story...it is just plain awful.

Just for giggles I took a shot just a little while ago to show you an example. Shot taken at 85mm F/5.6. Minor crop. NOTE: this pic has a very busy background

Other thoughts: this lens is fabulous for walking and when it's time to shoot macro, portraits, or somewhere I want dreamy backgrounds then it is prime time.

OP Richard G T Senior Member • Posts: 1,673
Re: Samples @ 85mm wide open

Thanks Dan for the photo. At 85mm (5.6) your photo proves the bokeh is not that bad but not that great either. If I do get this lens I will have to carry a fast prime with me.

It seems this lens is great as an all-around/walk-around lens as long as you don't need a creamy background in tight shots.

Thanks again Dan...
Richard
--
Equipment: 1 camera, 1 lens, 38 years
http://www.pbase.com/rgthompson

Hanzwillem Forum Member • Posts: 67
Re: 16-85 VR. How bad the bokeh?

Check http://www.pixel-peeper.com or a lens pool from Flickr directly for samples:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/639608@N20/pool/

myzel Senior Member • Posts: 2,075
it’s not bad

Richard G T wrote:

My biggest concern and what has kept me from pulling the trigger are the
reports of poor bokeh. Just how bad is it?

It’s not bad in most situations and most focal lengths.

The bokeh is more neutral and has nicely rounded highlights that have - that’s the bad part - a tendency to get brighter rims and as a side effect of that the lens has a tendency to get double lines at high contrast edges and closer distances.

The most problematic focal lengths is around 50 mm, but the 50 mm f/1.8 doesn’t have good bokeh in the same situations (many highlights in the background and short subject/background distance). I like the 16-85 better, because of the rounder highlights.

I like the bokeh of the 16-85 at 16 mm, at 85 mm it’s acceptable. I think the lens is ok for the wide open apertures it has. There are lenses that have better bokeh at the same aperture range, and there are lenses that have much worse bokeh.

 myzel's gear list:myzel's gear list
Nikon 1 V1 Nikon 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 Nikon 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 Nikon 1 Nikkor 32mm f/1.2
VRII Senior Member • Posts: 2,529
Re: 16-85 VR. How bad the bokeh?

I think it will be tough to decide this on the Bokeh basis, with walk around lenses you're basically choosing the best of the worst. i think the one that offers the most flexibility and convenience is usually the one that wins even if I'm not crazy about the bokeh. I just try to increase the background to subject distance to maximize the defocused area

eNo
eNo Forum Pro • Posts: 11,744
Check out my rough comparison

Nothing scientific given my struggle to get the frame and focusing distance exactly the same, but close enough to judge, I think. Let me know what you think.

http://www.esfotoclix.com/tech/afvsvr85

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Rule of Thirds is meant to be broken, but only 1/3 of the time.

D80/D90 photos: http://esfotoclix.com

gozmoo New Member • Posts: 18
Re: Samples @ 85mm wide open

Switch off VR. VR makes bad bokeh, because of alternated position of stabilized lens element.

Arree
Arree Senior Member • Posts: 1,539
Re: Samples @ 85mm wide open

gozmoo wrote:

Switch off VR. VR makes bad bokeh, because of alternated position of
stabilized lens element.

-- hide signature --

I assume your kidding right ?

Rgrds,

Arree

 Arree's gear list:Arree's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
gozmoo New Member • Posts: 18
Re: Samples @ 85mm wide open

Arree wrote:

I assume your kidding right ?

No. A stabilized lens element is moving at stabilization, what can makes additional abberrations in blurred image parts, depends on shutter speed, depends on momentary position of stab. elements, etc.

Poor bokeh wont be much better with VR off, but you can elimininate an important factor of bokeh, so you will get the bokeh of naked lens.

Make tests.

dan hardy Regular Member • Posts: 104
Re: Check out my rough comparison

eNo wrote:

Nothing scientific given my struggle to get the frame and focusing
distance exactly the same, but close enough to judge, I think. Let me
know what you think.

http://www.esfotoclix.com/tech/afvsvr85

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Rule of Thirds is meant to be broken, but only 1/3 of the time.

D80/D90 photos: http://esfotoclix.com

-- hide signature --

Great comparison thanks for your time!

glideslopes
glideslopes Senior Member • Posts: 1,026
85mm wide open...

-- hide signature --

Have a Nikon day. : )

OP Richard G T Senior Member • Posts: 1,673
Very helpful...

Terrific comparisons. Thanks very much. It looks like the bokeh of the 16-85 holds up well to the 24-85. Interesting. It is quite decent everywhere except I think in the mid range, ie. around 50mm.

I'm trying to reduce the mumber of lenses I have and thought I could replace my excellent Tokina 12-24 and also excellent 28-105 for the 16-85 VR. I'm not sure I'd miss the lost wider range of the Tokina but I would miss the very good bokeh of the 28-105. What to do...??? Decisions! Decisions!

Thanks again...
Richard
--
Equipment: 1 camera, 1 lens, 38 years
http://www.pbase.com/rgthompson

OP Richard G T Senior Member • Posts: 1,673
Re: 16-85 VR. How bad the bokeh?

Great link. Thanks very much.

Richard
--
Equipment: 1 camera, 1 lens, 38 years
http://www.pbase.com/rgthompson

OP Richard G T Senior Member • Posts: 1,673
thanks...

I been checking out the links sent to me this post and I must agree the bokeh (at some settings) is not as bad as some have reported.

Thanks for the reply,
Richard
--
Equipment: 1 camera, 1 lens, 38 years
http://www.pbase.com/rgthompson

OP Richard G T Senior Member • Posts: 1,673
THanks VRII

I agree. You should watch your backgrounds and distances (especially with this lens). Having said that I must say the bokeh I've seen recently with the 16-86 is not bad for the most part. Thanks fot the reply...

Richard
--
Equipment: 1 camera, 1 lens, 38 years
http://www.pbase.com/rgthompson

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