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Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm F/3.5-6.3 VR Lens Review

John Riley has been putting the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm F/3.5-6.3 VR lens to the test on the Nikon Z fc camera to find out if the shots captured are picture-perfect.


|  Nikon Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR in Interchangeable Lenses
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Nikon Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR
 

The existing full-frame Nikkor Z lenses have fully established an enviable reputation and are clearly showing Nikon at the top of their game. We now have a number of APS-C format Nikon Z cameras, and of course, some new lenses specifically designed for them. The Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR is available separately in black, or in silver as part of the Nikon Z fc SL kit, where it is coupled with the retro style Nikon Z fc camera body. It is with this 20MP body that we now look closely at what can only be described as a lens aspiring to be another “plastic fantastic”. Does it make the grade? Let's find out.

 

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Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR Handling and Features

Nikon Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR
 

We are looking separately at the Nikon Z fc body, but for now, the new lens in silver can be seen to be a perfect style match for that retro look. It is very compact, the lens having a retractable construction. It must be extended to the 16mm zoom position for use, and if we do not do so then the camera will remind us. Through the extensive use of plastics, the lens is also very light, weighing in at a minuscule 135g. There is no hood provided, but a clip-on hood HN-40 is available as an optional extra. It is always a pity to see the hood excluded as the protection afforded to the front of the lens is extremely valuable, as well as of course helping the resistance to flare. There is a standard 46mm filter thread, quite a small size and not all filter types will be readily available.

The zoom ring extends the lens and is smooth without being silky smooth. There are clear markings at 16mm, 24mm, 35mm and 50mm. These are the actual focal lengths, and the lens relates to a “35mm-equivalent” field of view of 24-75mm, a versatile range for general purpose shooting. The lens could be used on full-frame Z cameras, the mount is the same, but it would be in DX crop mode and the cameras give no choice on that.

There is also a slim control ring for manual focusing. It can also be programmed to alter aperture or exposure compensation. This is electronic and very smooth in operation, as would be expected.

 

Nikon Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR
 

 

Focusing is down to 0.2m, or 8 inches, for a maximum magnification of 0.25x, or 1:4. This close focusing adds considerably to the general usefulness. AF is driven by a stepping motor and is blisteringly fast. It is also extremely quiet and accurate. AF is switched on and off via the menus, so there is no AF/MF switch on the lens itself.

Optical construction is 9 elements in 7 groups, including 1 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) and 4 Aspherical. The diaphragm has 7 rounded blades, aimed at producing lovely, smooth bokeh.

VR (Vibration Reduction) is built-in, and this is switched on and off from within the camera menus. There are standard and sport settings available. It is claimed that 4 stops advantage is possible, and that can be confirmed.

 

Nikon Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR
 

The one regrettable omission is that there is no moisture or dust resistance, but on the other hand, the lens itself is absolutely brilliant to use. It's admittedly very plastic in its construction, and that even extends to the plastic lens mount, but it is well put together and the handling is just superb. Combined with the retro Z fc or perhaps with the Z50 it makes an ideal compact travelling companion.

 


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Comments


17 Sep 2021 3:37PM
Thanks for the nice review. Just a note: the graphs for 35mm and 50mm are repeated.
17 Sep 2021 4:15PM
Thanks, I'll look at that now.
17 Sep 2021 9:05PM
I am confused the editor choice for a lens that is fairly dark (50/6.3) and has a LW/PH just above 3000, which is something you would expect from a Micro Four Third lens, not a DX. Then what do we do with the Fuji 18-55 to which you gave four stars, yet it outperforms the this lens in all respect, and it costs about the same (even if it is a 2013 lens)? I am really confused ....
17 Sep 2021 11:05PM
I have just looked at the review of the Fujinon 18-55mm, which is, as you say, quite an old lens now and in fact it is one of our old style reviews, so the results are not totally comparable. As near as we can, but there are limitations. The current lens actually performs extremely well, in relation to the theoretical maximum that the camera body can resolve. I think you will find the review of the Z series 28mm f/2.8 interesting in this respect when it appears soon.

As regards ratings, there is much more considered than just sharpness, although that is obviously a significant part of it. Overall, it deserves to be an Editor's Choice, and if I were to buy this camera I would be buying this lens along with it. It is something of a bargain, although weather sealing would be nice.

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