"CNET's Review is well off base and technically flawed"5.0 starson by LanceTJ
Pros: Outstanding Sharpness & lack of Chromatic aberration, as good as Nikkor lenses costing 2x as much. Latest VR II vibration reduction adds 2.5 f-stops. Minor distortion at full wide angle is better than how other Nikkor zoom lenses perform.
Cons: None really. If the lens was faster, it would be bigger and heavier, and thus not a good general purpose lens. This lens only weighs 2.2 oz more than the Nikon 18-70mm Yet lens performance is much superior, despite it having a wider zoom range.
Summary: This is a great new lens in the Nikon lineup, and the CNET review does not do it proper justice. As far as size and weight go, this lens is heavier than other kit lenses. It would not be a good match for smaller Nikon SLR models. But it matches up very well with the larger D80 and D90, as well as the even bigger D200 and D300. Owners of these camera should take a strong look at this lens. And anyone buying one of these cameras would be well served to forgo buying it with a kit lens, and instead just get the camera body, together with this lens.Note that I did a typo when I was comparing the lens to the Professional Nikkor AF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 lens. The first reference to the lens was correct, but I then accidentally type 15 instead of 17 in the second reference to it.
For an excellent technical review of this lens with actual laboratory test data, checkout this informative web page:
If you compare the test data of this lens against the other zoom lenses in the Nikon lineup, you will begin to appreciate just what a great lens this is. Sharpness and resolution of this lens tested very high, equal or even superior to professional grade Nikon Zoom lenses that cost over twice as much money. In addition, chromatic aberration was also quite low, compared to other zoom lenses.
The CNET review's complaint that the lens has excessive distortion at full wide angle is a most inaccurate and exaggerated statement. Photozone measured distortion in this lens to be quite small at every focal length except full wide angle. However, even then, the measured distortion was only 2.5% This figure is actually lower than almost all of the other Nikon zoom lenses. The less expensive 18-70mm AF-S Nikkor zoom has a measured distortion of 3.5% at full wide angle, despite having a smaller zoom range, and being only 2 oz lighter. It also lacks Vibration Reduction.
When one looks at the Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm lens that CNET instead recommends that users buy, one finds that its distortion at full wide angle is easily the worst yet, at 4.1% Just check the lab test results on the photozone.de website, and you will see these lab test result numbers listed there.
So this CNET review has a made a big mistake. It has criticized a lens for having excessive distortion, when it actually does not in reality. And at the same time, recommended that folks buy a lens that actually has much worse distortion.
Now there are Nikon zoom lenses that do offer lower distortion, but they are professional grade lenses that are:
1) Far more expensive
2) Weight much, much more, and thus not good for everyday normal use
The best example is the 17-55mm Nikkor AF-S It only offers 2.2% distortion at full wide angle, compared to the 2.5% of this Nikkor 16-85mm AF-S VR But consider this:
The Nikkor 15-55mm AF-S:
1) Does not have as wide and versatile of a zoom range
2) It weighs way much more at 26 oz, compared to only 17 oz for the 16-85mm
3) It does not offer any vibration reduction at all, while the 16-85mm has the latest VR II
3) costs more than double the price of the 16-85mm, with a typical street price of $1,200
The only advantage the 17-55mm AF-S Nikkor has is that it is a much faster lens, with a constant max aperture of f/2.8 across its range.
So when CNET says in their review that this lens is not a great value, and the price is high, they could not be more completely wrong. This lens is a great value, when one considers all of the outstanding features it has, and the fantastic performance that it delivers.
Here are links to a couple of recent photos that I took with my Nikkor AF-S 16-85mm VR II. First, here is one at full wide angle:
Tell me, does distortion appear to be at all excessive in this photo? Of course not, because it simply isn't.
And here is another photo, showing the great sharpness and clarity of the lens:
Very few camera lenses deserve a 5 star rating. But this is one of those very few that clears deserves it. If you are buying a Nikon D90 or D300, this is the zoom lens to get to use with your camera. You won't regret it.
Updated on Jan 26, 2009
Again, I want to emphasis that BOTH of the lenses that CNET recommended as alternatives to this lens ( the 18-70mm and 18-200mm ) have far WORSE distortion than this lens. Respectively, they have 3.5% and 4.1% wide angle distortion, compared to only 2.5% on the 16-85mm.
The Nikon Kit lenses also have worse distortion, with the 18-105mm kit lens having 3.5% distortion at full wide angle, and the 18-55mm DX 2.7% distortion at full wide angle.
The simple fact is that all zoom lenses exhibit some distortion. And the Nikon AF-S DX 16-85mm VR II lens does a better job at minimizing distortion than the vast majority of zoom lenses.
Updated on Feb 22, 2009Update: Support for this lens was just recently added to DxO Optics Pro. So for any distortion freaks, the minor distortion that this zoom lens has can now be totally eliminated using DxO In fact, I cannot recommend DxO Optics Pro more highly to fellow camera owners. They added support for the D90 a few months ago, and they now support all of the Nikon kit lenses, some of their most popular Pro lenses, and now this lens too. So the much worse distortion on the kit 18-105mm or 18-200mm Nikon lens can be fixed with DxO also.
DxO also offers advanced lighting correction, very similar to Nikon's D-Lighting. And it also includes great correction tools for both noise and Chromatic Aberration. And it supports the Nikon Raw Image format.
In any event, for just $100, this software is really a good additional editing tool to get, in my opinion.
Updated on Apr 1, 2009Well known Nikon Expert Thom Hogan has now written a detailed review of the the Nikon AF-S DX 16-85mm f3.5-5.6 ED VR lens.
He has confirmed that this lens is exceptionally sharp, rivaling Nikon's Pro lenses. For a zoom lens with such an exceptional range, this is really great performance.
Read Thom's review, and you will agree with both he and I that this is the best all around lens for Nikon DX cameras like the D90, instead of going with either the kit lens, or the 18-200mm
Updated on Apr 21, 2009Here are active hotlinks to the two other reviews of this lens that I mentioned earlier:
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