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Nikon Af-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR Interchangeable Lens Review

The lens many Nikon photographers have been waiting for, an ultra wide-angle professional quality zoom lens with a constant aperture of F/4, Nano-Crystal lens coatings and Vibration Reduction.

| Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR in Interchangeable Lenses
BUY NOW NIKON AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
Handling and features

Nikon Af-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR Interchangeable Lens Review: Nikon AF-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR

Being the first of its kind, Nikon's new 16-35mm f/4 ultra-wide zoom, selling for £879, has garnered quite a lot of interest, especially from those who wish to use filters for landscape work, as Nikon's current top-line ultra-wide, the 14-24mm F/2.8 can't accept filters. Nikon users have been crying out for lenses like this to rival Canon's range of f/4 aperture professional lenses for ages. Here we'll take a close look at how it performs.

This particular optic costs around £880 has a constant aperture of f/4, Nano-Crystal coatings to help reduce ghosting and flare and Vibration Reduction, which Nikon claim will allows sharp shots to be achieved at shutter speeds up to 4 stops slower than without. This lens can be used with Nikon's FX or DX sensor cameras. On a DX camera the lens will provide an angle of view equivalent to that of a 24-52.5mm lens on a full-frame camera.

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR: Handling and features
Typical of Nikon's professional grade lenses, the build quality is very good, but in this case the lens isn't overly large or heavy. At 125mm long, it's only a bit larger than Nikon's diminutive, but rather old 20-35mm f/2.8 and the weight of 685g makes it balance extremely well on my Nikon D700 with or without the optional MB-D10 grip.

High quality plastics have been employed for most of the construction which have a textured finish that shouldn't show marks easily. The lens accepts 77mm filters on the front of the lens, which will please a lot of photographers interested in shooting landscapes. The filter thread is plastic but I didn't have any issues with metal filters cross-threading during use. A petal shaped hood and soft lens case are provided in the box.

Zooming is controlled by the wide rubber grip closest to the camera body. There is plenty of resistance to ensure zoom creep isn't an issue and although the mechanism seems quite smooth on this sample, zooming the lens in and out makes quite an audible hollow noise. I didn't find this too disturbing in use though.

The lens doesn't extend during focus or zooming as the front element moves back and forth inside the lens body. I found autofocus to be very quick, accurate and virtually silent thanks to Nikon Silent Wave focusing motor. Manual focus adjustments can be made at any time, but this is a feature I would rarely use on a lens as wide as this.

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR: Performance
For this review, the lens was tested on a 12Mp Nikon D700 using Imatest.

Throughout the zoom range, this lens is capable of good to excellent resolution across the frame. Wide open at 16mm the lens performs very well in the centre with the corners being slightly less sharp, but still very good. Peak performance at 16mm is achieved at f/5.6, where the resolution is approaching excellent across the frame. This lens seems to suffer with softening due to diffraction a little more than similar lenses I've tested, with the resolution steadily dropping off as the lens is stopped down after f/5.6 although it is still performs well enough at f/16. f/22 shows a marked loss of contrast and resolution compared to other apertures.

At 24mm, the lens appears to be at its best, with excellent resolution being recorded between f/4 and f/8. Still the lens suffers in the same way as at 16mm with diffraction but is still good down to f/16.

By 35mm, the resolution drops off a little, especially towards the edges of the frame. At f/4, the sharpness in the centre of the image is very good, but edges of the frame are a fair bit softer. The quality towards the edges of the frame gradually improves as the lens is stopped down and peak quality across the frame is achieved between f/8 and f/11.

Resolution at 16mm Resolution at 24mm
Nikon Af-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR Interchangeable Lens Review: Resolution of Nikon AF-S 16-35mm F/4G VR lens at 16mm Nikon Af-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR Interchangeable Lens Review: Resolution of Nikon AF-S 16-35mm F/4G VR lens at 24mm
Resolution at 35mm  
Nikon Af-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR Interchangeable Lens Review: Resolution of Nikon AF-S 16-35mm F/4G VR lens at 35mm How to read our graphs
The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an inidication of image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens. Simple.

Colour aberrations are kept in check well by this optic. They are at their highest levels at 16mm and f/4, where fringing can cover up to 0.6 pixel widths. This will rarely be noticeable, even upon close inspection. As the lens is zoomed in, the levels of CA fall to very low levels indeed.

Chromatic Aberrations at 16mm Chromatic Aberrations at 24mm
Nikon Af-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR Interchangeable Lens Review: Chromatic Aberrations at 16mm Nikon Af-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR Interchangeable Lens Review: Chromatic Aberrations at 24mm
Chromatic Aberrations at 35mm  
Nikon Af-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR Interchangeable Lens Review: Chromatic Aberrations at 35mm How to read our graphs
Chromatic aberration is the lens' inabiity 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 to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

At 16mm and f/4, light falloff towards the corners of the image is quite pronounced. Here the corners are 2.2stops darker than the image centre, and the lens needs to be stopped all the way down to f/8 for visibly even illumination. At 35mm this optic fairs better as the corners of the image are only 1.24 stops darker than the centre at f/4. Stopping down to f/5.6 provides visibly even illumination.

Distortion at 16mm is quite pronounced and may cause issues to those requiring straight lines in their images. Imatest recorded barrel distortion of 7.57% at 16mm, luckily the distortion pattern is uniform, so it should be quite easy to correct in image editing software afterwards. By 35mm, distortion is controlled much better. Imatest recorded 0.6% pincushion here, which should pose few issues in normal use.

Click on the thumbnails for a high resolution image
Nikon Af-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR Interchangeable Lens Review: Nikon 16-35mm Test Shot Nikon Af-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR Interchangeable Lens Review: Nikon 16-35mm Test Shot
16mm on a full frame camera is plenty wide enough for capturing huge expanses of space. The image has great contrast and excellent sharpness at optimum apertures.

As with other lenses Nikon's Nano Crystal coating do a very good job of keeping flare to a minimum. Strong point sources of light in the frame may cause a little flare in extreme circumstances, but flare will not be an issue most of the time. Strong light sources just outside of the frame may cause a slight drop in contrast, but again this will only pose issues in extreme circumstances.

The VR system fitted to this lens promises to allow handheld photography at shutter speeds up to 4 stops slower than would be possible with the system switched off. At 16mm, I managed sharp shots about 3 times out of 4 at a quarter of a second, which is about two stops slower than the focal length should allow and the same consistency at an eighth of a second at 35mm. Even if I couldn't achieve the advertised four stops, such a slow shutter speed should make this lens suitable for photographing static subjects in very low light conditions without a support, which may come in handy for travel.

Nikon Af-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR Interchangeable Lens Review:
DxOMark provides objective, independent, RAW-based image quality performance data for lenses and digital cameras to help you select the best equipment to meet your photographic needs.

Visit the DxOMark website for tests performed on the Nikon AF-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR.

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR: Verdict
Overall this lens is a very good all round performer being capable of producing images of very good resolution, especially in the centre of the frame where the performance is excellent up to 24mm and very good thereafter. The performance in this respect isn't as stunning as the 14-24mm lens as I'd hoped, but is still very respectable indeed.

This lens' weaknesses are falloff and distortion. Distortion at 16mm is actually slightly stronger than I found on Nikon's 14-24mm at 14mm, which surprised me. If you can live with these foibles I wouldn't let this put you off this optic.

With this lens being able to accept filters, this lens should find a home in many Nikon-shooting landscape photographer's kit bags and the VR feature may open possibilities for those who wish to stop down for depth of field or take pictures in low light without a support.

This is the lens many Nikon shooters have been waiting for, and although it doesn't amaze me like the 14-24mm did, it is still a very capable professional quality lens.

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR: Pros
Good all-round resolution performance
Lighter than f/2.8 lenses
Accepts 77mm filters
Vibration Reduction

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR: Cons
Barrel distortion at 16mm
Vignetting at 16mm
Nikon Af-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR Interchangeable Lens Review:

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm F/4G ED VR: Lens specification
Price £879
Filter size 77mm
Format Full-frame
Construction 17 elements in 12 groups
Angle-of-view 107° - 63°
35mm equivalent focal length (on APS-C body) 24-52.5mm
Internal focusing Yes
Image stabilisation Yes
Minimum focus 0.28cm
Maximum aperture F/4
Minimum aperture F/22
Weight 685g
Size 125x82.5mm
In the box Lens Hood, Soft Case

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jken 16 1.7k 1 United Kingdom
9 Jun 2010 7:31PM
I've got this lens and it's superb, teamed with my D700 it's the mutts nuts.

I previously had a 5D with a 17-40L. The 16-35 is easily as good if not better IMHO.

stulam 17 3 United Kingdom
10 Jun 2010 4:55PM
I would have liked to have seen a comparison between this lens and the AFS17-35f2.8,
I would have thought that these two lenses were more closely related than the 14-24, many people (including myself) who have the 17-35 would maybe want to update to the new lens if it was a better performer and a comparison would have helped.
theorderingone 19 2.4k
14 Jun 2010 8:34PM
This is purely a review of the 16-35mm lens, the reason the 14-24mm crops up is because I've tested one before (I haven't the 17-35) and that's the other lens in the current range.

I couldn't rule out a comparison review in the future, the problem may be getting hold of a 17-35mm with it being largely discontinued. I own a 20-35mm, but doubt that would be a comparison many would be looking out for.
Dscarinci1 11 5 United States
22 Sep 2011 1:43PM
Does anyone remember when Nikon introduced this lens?
photofrenzy 16 424 2 United Kingdom
6 Aug 2012 9:14PM
Nikon Announced its release in 2010, As soon as i saw the release i put my Nikkor 14-24 up for sale on ebay. I pre ordered the lens from jacobs at the focus 2010 show at the NEC when it arrived i started shooting with it and first think that took me by surprise was the contrast this lens produces absolutely lovely almost velvia like.

when i uploaded the images to NX2 and pre processed the images with the exact same settings as usual i noticed how realy sharp the images were , I compared them to images taken on the 14-24 f2.8 and to be honest when looking between both of them the ones taken on the 16-35 were a tad sharper.

The one thing i did notice when comparing these two lenses was the barrel distortion, At thier widest end the 14-24 was producing straight vertical without tilting the camera which was very impressive, The 16-35 was severe barrel distortion on the verticles but can be easily corrected iether in NX2 or PHOTOSHOP.

The Nikkor 16-35 if a peach of a lens, ultra sharp, Gorgeous contrast. PS i have used this lens at 35mm for some portraits with careful compostion at the right distance its incredable allthough i use my Nikkor 105 2.8 vr for most portraits i had to give it a go . This lens is a must for the camera bag and i love using it No regrets at all selling the Nikkor 14-24.

The Nikkor 16-35 f4 VR is a quality bit of kit Wink

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