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

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

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

At 16mm, central sharpness is outstanding from f/3.5 all the way through to f/11, excellent at f/16 and still very good at f/22. The edges are excellent from f/3.5 to f/8, very good at f/11, good at f/16 and fair at f/22.

At 24mm, central sharpness is excellent at f/4.2, outstanding at f/5.6 and f/8, excellent at f/11, very good at f/16 and f/22 and good at f/29. The edges are excellent from f/4.2 to f/11, very good at f/16 and fair at f/29.

At 35mm, central sharpness is excellent from f/5.3 to f/11, very good at f/16, good at f/22 and fair at f/32 and f/36. The edges are very good at f/5.3 and f/5.6, excellent at f/8 and f/11, very good at f/16, fair at f/32 and soft at f/36.

At 50mm, central sharpness is very good at f/6.3, excellent at f/8 and f/11, very good at f/16, good at f/22, fair at f/32 and soft at f/40. The edges are very good at f/6.3, excellent at f/8 and f/11, very good at f/16, good at f/22 and soft at f/32 and f/40.

 

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

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution and sharpness as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon Z fc camera body using Imatest. Want to know more about how we review lenses?

 

CA (Chromatic Aberration) is measured with any in-camera corrections switched off, as far as we can know anyway. Centrally, there is effectively no CA, but there is a small amount at the edges and especially as we zoom in. However, the figures are very low and for most subjects, this will not be particularly obvious. If further correction is needed, there are in-camera and software solutions.

 

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

 

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on Nikon Z fc camera body using Imatest.

 

Distortion is remarkably well-controlled, compared to any lens and not just zoom lenses. At 16mm there is -0.32% barrel distortion, an excellent result; this is reduced to -0.07% at 24mm. After that, pincushion distortion can just be measured, but at extremely low levels. At 35mm we have +0.09% and at 50mm +0.04%.

Bokeh is beautifully smooth, rendering out of focus areas in an image smoothly without any hint of harshness.

Despite the absence of a lens hood, it proves very difficult to induce any flare. Even in the most severe backlighting, the image is clean, without any sign of a reduction in contrast. It is possible to generate subdued artefacts if we really work at it, but otherwise, the lens seems flare-free.

Impressively, for such a compact lens, the vignetting figures are extremely low, better than many much more expensive zoom lenses.

 

Aperture 16mm 24mm 35mm 50mm
f/3.5 -2      
f/4 -1.7      
f/4.2   -1.4    
f/5.3     -1.2  
f/5.6 -1.1 -1.3 -1.2  
f/6.3       -0.6
f/8 -1.1 -1.3 -1.2 -0.4
f/11 -1.1 -1.2 -1.1 -0.4
f/16 -1.1 -1.2 -1.1 -0.4
f/22 -1 -1.2 -1.1 -0.4
f/29   -1.2    
f/32     -1.1 -0.4
f/36     -1.1  
f/40       -0.3

 

 

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

 

 

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

You can view additional images in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.


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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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