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on April 21, 2010
I am making this review of the Nikkor 16-35mm from the perspective of someone who also owns a Nikkor 17-35mm and a Nikkor 14-24mm. This review of this lens is made primarily with this lens mounted on a 12mp Nikon FX body, the Nikon D700.

I just got my copy of the Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G VR AF-S and did some back to back testing of this lens against the Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S. In almost all instances except when one needs to shoot at f/2.8 (but of course!), the Nikkor 16-35mm outperforms the 17-35mm handily. The improvements in acuity (sharpness), color and contrast are easily noticed. The improvement in corner-to-corner sharpness against the Nikkor 17-35mm is considerable.

How useful is the VR on this lens? This is best answered in the tests I made.

I conducted a back to back test of the 16-35mm vs the 17-35mm at night and observed that I can easily take good shots with this lens at 1/2 second at 35mm. My shots taken at the same shutter speed and focal length with the 17-35mm were not as sharp or were easily blurred. I needed to increase my shutter speed to 1/15 before I could get better results with the 17-35mm. Yet even then, the images taken with the 16-35mm were still sharper.

To raise the bar even higher, I installed the 16-35mm on my D300 where it has the equivalent field of view of 24-52mm. I shot the 16-35mm with the D300 at 35mm for an equivalent 52mm. I installed the 17-35mm on my D700 and shot at 17mm. Shooting the same scene at the same shutter speed and at the same aperture setting, I was able to get sharper images with the D300/16-35mm than I could with the D700/17-35mm despite the longer 52mm equivalent field of view vs. the 17mm of the D700/17-35mm. The images of the D700 were of course cleaner but not as sharp. The VR very clearly helped.

This result was most convincing and showed how well Nikon understood the importance of installing VR II even on an ultra-wide angle (UWA) lens such as this. As far as I am concerned, this settles for me any lingering doubt I had as to the usefulness of installing a VR on a UWA zoom or even a semi-wide to moderate telephoto zoom such as the Nikkor 24-70mm. If a VR II can do this much good with a 16-35mm zoom, it would do wonders if installed on the next iteration of the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom.

The usefulness and the effectiveness of the VR will not change my inclination for using a tripod whenever I can. But in those instances where setting up a tripod is difficult, not allowed or simply not possible, the VR on this lens will be very useful and appreciated.

I observed that there is indeed considerable distortion on this lens when shooting at 16mm. This improves somewhat at 17mm and becomes pretty good by 19mm. I noticed however that with careful placement, the distortion is nowhere as objectionable as I had feared. I also tried correcting the distortion during post-processing and it is fairly easy to do so. The 1mm wider coverage of the 16-35mm vs the 17-35mm is not a solid gain as one would need to be careful when shooting at 16mm but it is quite usable in certain conditions. My initial reluctance and anxiety about ever using this lens at 16mm has been calmed.

Compared to the Nikkor 14-24mm, a quick back-to-back test against of this lens against the 14-24mm shooting at 19mm f/4 showed that the 16-35mm is still no match to the Nikkor 14-24mm in corner to corner acuity. The 14-24mm is an exemplary wide-angle lens and remains unmatched till this day. The 14-24mm is also 2mm wider and faster. But the 16-35mm can accept filters and has VR. The 16-35mm is also lighter, less vulnerable as its front glass element can be filter-protected (when necessary in some instances), less expensive and is more useful for general use with its longer reach. Rather than consider one as a substitute for the other, I would consider the 16-35mm as a good complementary lens to the 14-24mm.

This UWA zoom is long and the lens itself without the hood is pretty close to the length of the 24-70mm. The box of the Nikkor 16-35mm is actually longer than the box of the Nikkor 24-70mm. This lens is considerably longer than the 17-35mm but is lighter. The 16-35mm uses the same hood as the 17-35mm. The 16-35mm is a bit more austere as it does not come with a padded case which is standard with the Nikkor 14-24-70-200mm f/2.8 lenses. But this helps to keep the cost low.

This lens uses a 77mm filter and thus interchangeable with the CPL and ND filters used with the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 and the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR/VR II.

I will provide more feedback as I use this lens for a longer time.

Edit: May 7, 2010

I cannot helped but be impressed by how good this lens is. It is a very sharp lens and when properly matched with the right subjects, produces very impressive results. Previously, most of the tests were made using VR where I consistently saw how useful VR is for travel and landscape photography. Since then, I have had more time to use this lens. My recent testing of this lens was with the VR shut off. Instead of VR, I used this lens with the Nikon D700, mounted on a tripod, shooting mirror lock and using a Nikon remote cable release. Using this setup, I would be able to test how good the optics of this lens really is.

For several nights, I shot mostly cityscapes at ISO 200 from f/6.3 to f/10 from 1/10th second, 1-30 seconds exposure (without filters), and as long as 5 minutes (with filters and Nikon MC-36). I compared it against the Nikkor 17-35mm and the Nikkor 14-24mm. Viewing the JPGs at 100% magnification on my notebook, I am amazed at the level of details and the rich colors that I normally could only get from RAW files after post-processing. The details, colors and contrast were top notch and the lens resisted flaring very well. Needless to say, the images I derived from RAW files were a notch even better than the already excellent JPGs.

In terms of optics, the Nikkor 14-24mm is still tops, the Nikkor 16-35mm a close second, and the Nikkor 17-35mm a far third. Shooting nightscapes where the corners are not as critical, the Nikkor 16-35mm is almost as good as the Nikkor 14-24mm. Using ND filters, the Nikkor 16-35mm can deliver images I could not get with the Nikkor 14-24mm. The Nikkor 16-35mm is now my first choice in ultra-wide angle zoom for Nikon's FX body when I need to shoot with filters. This lens, together with my Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G VR2, are now my favorite and most used lenses.

Using the Nikkor 16-35mm, I miss the ability of chucking the D700 in a small bag, something I could easily do with the Nikkor 17-35mm. Most often, I find myself reaching for a bigger bag when bringing the Nikkor 16-35mm. The Nikkor 14-24mm was never a small lens. In terms of length, the Nikkor 16-35mm is the longest of the three when the hood is installed. The longer length of the Nikkor 16-35mm gets in the way of packing it in a bag but its longer length makes for a better balance when handholding. The Nikkor 16-35mm also has the advantage of being lighter than both the 17-35mm and the 14-24mm.

Edit: May 13, 2010

Today, I sold my Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 and will use my Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 VR as my primary ultra-wide angle FX zoom lens when I need to use filters. I will keep and retain my Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8.

I should add that one reason why I sold my Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 is that I mainly use my Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G and not the Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 for shooting people and events (as this keeps the distortion of people to a minimum). If one needs an f/2.8 and filter-capabilities for FX, the Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 remains an excellent choice ... and really, the only choice if you want a Nikon made ultra-wide angle f/2.8 FX zoom lens that is filter-compatible.

My final verdict on the Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G VR? Highly recommended!

Edit: May 15, 2010

I am currently testing the Nikkor 16-35mm on DX and my initial impressions are as follows:

1. The 16-35mm on a DX effectively translates to a field of view of 24-52.5mm, Here, the lack
of an f/2.8 aperture is sorely felt since this focal length is very useful for taking photos
of people indoors.

2. The hood of the Nikkor 16-35mm is not as effective in shading this lens on a DX boy. This is
most apparent when used at its maximum focal length at 35mm outdoors in harsh sunlit conditions.
I believe that a longer hood for using this lens with DX bodies will provide better shading than
the current hood which has been designed primarily for FX. I tried installing the hood of the
Nikkor 24-70mm and it fits perfectly well on the 16-35mm lens. But this hood causes vignetting
from 16-24mm (effectively 24-36mm on DX) when the 24-70mm hood is used. It disappears after
24mm and is very effective in shading the 26-35mm focal range of this lens.

As a side note, the Nikkor 16-35mm and 24-70mm are almost of the same length. One can easily
pass off the 16-35mm as a 24-70mm by installing the 24-70mm hood on the 16-35mm. Just
what purpose this will serve however is another question.

The 16-35mm is considerably lighter than the 24-70mm. I noticed that the Nikkor 24-70mm at 35mm
is better than the Nikkor 16-35mm at 35mm.

3. The 16-35mm f/4 is incredibly sharp on a DX shooting wide-open pretty much from center all the way to
the corners except at 35mm where shooting at f/4.0 can get a bit soft at the corners. Stepping down
to f/5.6 onwards however corrects this. As also noted earlier, the colors and contrast are top-notch
though the colors on FX seems to be a bit more pleasing.

A DX owner planning to upgrade or add an FX body sometime in the near future should seriously consider
this lens. It would seem that under this circumstance, this Nikkor 16-35mm becomes a no-brainer choice
and purchase.

Comment: Why f/4.0 and not f/2.8?

I have read a lot of comments as to why this wide-angle lens has VR and why the aperture is only f/4.0 and not f/2.8. It would have been better, some have commented, for this lens to be f/2.8 and just dispense with the VR.

While it is easy for Nikon to design a Nikkor wide-angle zoom lens with f/2.8 as seen in the Nikkor 14-24mm and 17-35mm, the Nikkor 16-35mm is not really intended to follow in the footsteps of these 2 other Nikkor lenses. Nikkor already has the 14-24mm and 17-35mm for those who really need an f/2.8 aperture. Making this lens f/2.8 would have made it even bigger, much heavier and also more expensive.

Instead, given the f/4 and VR feature of this lens, it is best used not as a fast lens but as a landscape or travel lens by someone who will be shooting this handheld at apertures from f/5.6-11.0 at fairly slow shutter speeds. It is in landscape, cityscape and travel photography that this lens will shine most though it could also conceivably be used in other applications.

Making this lens f/2.8 (and thus bigger, heavier and more expensive) simply does not make sense if the user will be using this lens primarily in the f/5.6-f/11.0 range most of the time. An understanding of the primary use for which this lens is intended thus will minimize a mis-appreciation of this lens. This lens is very good for the use Nikon must have intended it for.
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on July 11, 2010
I have never owned the 14-24 or the 17-35, but wanted a great wide lens for scenics and just because wide is fun if used correctly. My problem was this. When looking at my scenics in Lightroom, I measured the focal length average for keepers over around 5 years. I converted crop to full frame and found that my sweet spot was 24mm. With the 14-24, I'd always be fighting that. I'd always be forced to swap lenses when I tried to go beyond that sweet spot. I need range on both sides of 24mm to be happy. Make sense? That left me with the 17-35 or a prime lens until the release of this new lens. I rented a 17-35 and tried the 20 f/2.8 and 24 f/2.8 and was just not convinced by any of them. I also wanted a pro-quality build. I had planned a trip to the Grand Tetons for June and was going to buy the 24 f/2.8 because I'd run out of ideas when Nikon released this 16-35 f/4.

Prior to this, I've never purchased any piece of equipment without reading everything and allowing the reviews to come out. This time I prepaid and ordered. With trepidation I awaited my new lens. Let me tell you. I should not have worried. This has been one of my best purchases since I switched to Nikon in 1968. I don't pixel peep and don't need to with my copy. It's razor sharp edge to edge at f/5.6 and beyond until around f/16. The only negatives for me are high purple fringing in the far corners at 16 f/4 which are easy to fix during processing. Nikon does it for you if you shoot JPeg, which I don't of course, but all software does it very easily. Mostly, I don't shoot quite that wide or wide open anyway.

This lens almost stayed glued to my D700 during my trip out west and I was extremely happy with its performance in all ways. We Nikon owners have been asking Nikon for constant aperture f/4 zooms with a pro-build like Canon's f/4 L glass for a long time. Nikon is finally answering. Let me tell you about the build of this lens. You've got a magnesium weather sealed body on the 16-35 f/4. The dampening of both the zoom ring and the focus ring feels like the old days or like my 85 f/1.4. I didn't mind shooting in the driving rain and sleet at over 10,000 feet. It was flawless. I don't use protective filters to degrade my images either.

Did I need f/2.8? No. With the clean low light performance of Nikon's full frame cameras and the fact that landscape photographers stop down anyway, one stop slower lens for $500 less money is a bargain, in my mind.

The color, contrast and acuity were perfect as well. There is some barrel distortion at 16mm, but I actually like that a little. Our eyes curve the horizon naturally, and it's not too bad. When I don't want it, both Capture NX and Photoshop CS5 remove barrel distortion almost automatically. Hold the lens parallel and it's pretty much gone at 17mm. I sometimes add a little in post when I like it. In fact, I own a 10.5 fisheye for my D300 and was thinking about a 16mm fish for FX, but this lens allows that look if I want it in post when I add extra distortion.

In use, many improperly use a wide lens like this. They buy it to "get everything in" the picture. That usually gives you fairly boring images. Properly used a wide lens allows you to climb right up into your subject and show depth and space from front to rear... uncompress the subject. It allows this with the depth of field that is needed for this kind of view. You have to make sure and get in tight so as not to have useless background in the image. Even when shooting landscapes, this holds true.

Finally, and this is subjective. There are a few lenses in my kit I consider magical in some way or another. My 60 f/2.8 G Micro, my 85 f/1.4 AFD, my old AI-converted 105 f/2.5, and my 300 f/2.8 AFS VR all fall into this magical category for me. The new 16-35 f/4 AFS VR, so far, is heading for that category in my kit. We will see.
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on March 22, 2010
I knew the moment I heard about this lens that I'd need to get one. The chief problem I have with every other FX/film-sized wide angle lens is that they are either immense, heavy and extremely expensive; or quite mediocre* and not as wide as I'd like (and a few lens-generations old by now, as well). I had no doubt, given the excellence of nearly every recent Nikon lens, that it would be superb in terms of color, sharpness and focus performance - and only really wondered, before I'd seen it in person, whether its size would be appropriate for my use as a casual amateur photographer.

It is, almost, perfect.

First, though, having shot with it a fair bit now on both FX and DX, I can see that to convey an understanding of this lens and how it fits into the Nikon lineup it's helpful to have some understanding of the difference between the design requirements of FX and DX lenses. This is something I've been writing about a bit in my recent reviews as I keep noticing the misperceptions implied by a lot of comments I'm noticing. I'm seeing comments already in reviews of this lens, for example, that it is bigger than it needs to be as a wide-angle f/4 zoom. I see comments in reviews of DX lenses that they should have been designed as FX lenses, so that they could work on both formats. And I see comments about nearly all zooms that they should have been designed with larger max apertures, even if it would have made the lens slightly more expensive.

All these comments reveal a lack of understanding about the inherent physics of optics and the design and manufacture of lenses.

For an FX lens to have exactly the same optics on FX as an equivalent DX lens would have on DX, the FX lens would need to be 3.4 TIMES BIGGER than the DX lens. This is because the FX format is 1.5 times larger in linear terms, meaning that the identical lens would need to be 3.4 (1.5^3) times larger in volume. If made of exactly the same materials it would weigh 3.4 times more than the DX lens and be 1.5 times larger in every dimension. This is a theoretical approximation: the lens mount itself would have to be the same size, and the two lenses would have to be built slightly differently for various reasons, but the general reality is that it would need to be approximately 3.4 times larger and heavier. Obviously, FX lenses aren't usually 3.4 times bigger than DX lenses. This is because the design of any lens is a careful compromise between many factors, most importantly sharpness, zoom range, max aperture, build quality, size and weight, price, and projected image size. By lessening the requirement for any one of these characteristics, the others can be improved; while increasing the requirement for any one characteristic will require compromise among the rest. DX lenses have a major inherent size advantage, which allows them to be made with broader zoom ranges while still retaining excellent optics and still being small in size and relatively inexpensive. FX lenses, on the other hand, are limited to narrower zoom ranges, must be relatively much larger, or must give up important aspects of performance: distortion control, sharpness, and so on. Alternatively they can be made with more complex optical formulas, using more expensive aspherical elements or very expensive low-distortion glass; and therefore be very expensive. In reality, design goals usually demand compromise among more than one area, so we wind up with FX lenses that are significantly larger and heavier than DX lenses, that have relatively narrower zoom ranges, and that still give up some degree of performance in other areas.

In the case of this 16-35mm f/4 VR, what we have is a lens that is optically excellent, with some compromise in terms of distortion control, a fairly narrow 2.2:1 zoom range, an unimpressive constant f/4 max aperture, and moderately large physical size - and unfortunately, still quite a high price.

It works beautifully, however. It is - a first in my opinion - a wide-angle FX lens that can be left on the camera nearly all the time one intends to shoot wide. It's not enormous like the 14-24/2.8 and 17.35/2.8 (actually not that much bigger, but so much larger in diameter that it FEELS huge), it is very sharp, it is stunningly contrasty, and it spans a very useful zoom range from an almost-ridiculous (until you need it) 16mm to a "normal-wide" 35mm. Its size is not dis-similar to the popular old 35-70mm f/2.8 Nikkor when that lens is fully extended, and its weight, on my scale, is within an ounce of that lens' weight. Other similar-sized lenses would be the mediocre 24-120mm VR (this lens is FAR better in the overlapping part of the range), the 70-300mm VR (another excellent lens and a great complement to this one) and the very nice 180mm f/2.8 AF or AF-D.

For the first time in the digital era, it is possible to carry an FX camera with a relatively compact, somewhat-affordable kit that spans the range from ultra-wide at 16mm to long telephoto at 300mm and to have excellent image quality throughout the range. I would suggest this lens, the 50mm f/1.4G and the 70-300 VR. Substitute the 35-70/2.8 or one of the 24-85mm zooms if you want zoom in the middle.

I am not going to go into great detail about this lens' specific performance capabilities. I test my lenses semi-formally, shoot them informally, and look closely enough at the results to see whether they are good enough for my purposes. I care more about whether a lens gives snappy color rendition than how sharp it is at the pixel level, but I still frequently run into lenses that I don't think are sharp enough. This is not one of them. It is VERY sharp, sharp enough that I will shoot it at any aperture, at any focal length, and not be at all concerned about whether the results will be satisfactory. I'll let other people nitpick corner sharpness at 16mm and f/4. Its only noticeable optical drawback in my opinion is distortion. This is unfortunate, as it is more than I would like to see, but it isn't enough to detract from my overall favorable view of the lens. For architectural subjects, especially interiors, where a very wide angle of view is typically necessary, you will need to either use another lens or correct the distortion using software. For most other subject matter the distortion is not really going to be a factor. In particular, for landscape and most other outdoor photography, which this lens seems ideally suited to, it shouldn't even be noticeable.

I find the lens very pleasant to use. It's large, but I don't find it overly conspicuous (I want to be able to move around inconspicuously when I photograph), and it fits easily into any normal compartment in a camera bag. It has a nice, well-positioned zoom ring and a focus ring out towards the front of the lens, where the lens widens, making it both easy to find and to use with the hand in the shooting position. I don't anticipate doing a lot of manual focus with this lens, though, and the lens lacks any depth-of-field markings at all, even the vestigial ones found on some similar designs. The focus gearing seems very fast, to me - probably a compromise in favor of AF function above manual function, and I won't complain about that in this case. Small tweaks, when needed, can be made easily.

Conclusion:

This lens becomes the obvious choice among Nikon's wide-angle lens options for the vast majority of amateur FX shooters. Pros will undoubtedly be able to use this lens as well, although the particular subject matter will determine whether the f/2.8 max aperture or better distortion control of some of the other lenses will necessitate their use instead. For event photography, the 17-35 may remain the better choice. The 14-24 is the obvious choice when its particular abilities are needed, but not without serious compromises (size, weight, cost, vulnerability of front element, incompatibility with filters). For everything else, this 16-35mm adds VR, gives surpassingly excellent image quality including outstanding, snappy color rendition, and is sized much more appropriately for any type of casual use. I call it a five-star lens.

Notes:

- f/4 vs f/2.8 Max Aperture: Some have commented that it's unfortunate this lens wasn't made as an f/2.8 lens. Aside from the fact that Nikon already has two f/2.8 ultra-wide FX zooms from which to choose, both larger and more expensive than this lens, just do the math: at f/4, this lens needs an 8.5mm effective light-transmissive opening (35mm/4). To max out at f/2.8 it would need a 12.5mm effective light-transmissive opening. Square those numbers to get area, and it's apparent that it would need over double the diaphragm area and over double the glass area at the front element. Any minor spherical aberration would be magnified, so it would need additional optical correction, as well; either in the form of a more complex optical formula or additional expensive aspherical elements. It's a safe guess that to retain the same optical quality it would need to be at least two times the weight and sell for at least two times the price, and that's probably a conservative guess on both counts. Suddenly the 14-24/2.8 looks small and reasonably priced! The compromise of an f/4 max aperture gives this lens a tremendous advantage that can be applied to every other area of performance. Keep in mind that as partial compensation for that smaller max aperture, it has:

- VR: VR is less important on a wide lens than on a telephoto. It's not just a matter of shutter speeds being less critical at wide angles: it's also a consequence of the time function of the normal vibrations a hand-held camera will encounter. At some point after the shutter opens, camera movement is going to exceed what any VR implementation can compensate for, and blur will result. In most cases, the practical limit to VR effectiveness seems to be somewhere between 1/8 and 1/2 second, regardless of focal length. That is tremendously useful in a telephoto but less useful at 16mm, where 1/8-1/30 might be a usable non-VR shutter speed, depending on the circumstances. Even so, it's a very significant improvement. At the margins, VR improves the sharpness of most photos: where shooting at 1/16 and 16mm will result in some blur in nearly every shot for most photographers, 1/16 with VR will give perfect sharpness almost every time. Anywhere near the range of marginal shutter speeds, VR will allow the camera to be held with slightly less care, allowing shots to be framed and taken more quickly, and allowing shots under imperfect conditions (camera held in awkward position such as above head, or in a moving vehicle, etc) to be much more likely to turn out sharp. And over a couple of stops of shutter speeds, VR will make shots possible that would not have been possible at all without it. Diminishing this range of substantial benefits into a simple "x-stop advantage" doesn't really give it full credit. I find VR to be a tremendously helpful tool in many types of photography, even at wide angles. If nothing else, VR does at least compensate for this lens' f/4 max aperture under most conditions. Why have a fast max aperture on a wide lens, anyway? -- Subject isolation? Better save up for the 24mm f/1.4 and 28mm f/1.4 lenses; you're not going to get much background blur at f/2.8. Stopping motion? -- What sports are you going to be shooting with this lens? Event photography, with a combination of moving subjects and low light, is about the only use I can think of in which the f/4 max aperture is a real disadvantage. For everything else, I'd rather have f/4 with VR than f/2.8 without it, but that's just me. Still, on any FX body, this lens will be an outstanding tool for low-light photography.

- For DX: All the careful compromises inherent in making this lens excellent on FX are wasted when using it for DX. While that is the case with every other FX lens as well, in many cases there is no good DX substitute and the FX lens remains the best choice. In this case there is a perfect substitute. The 16-85mm VR is smaller, lighter, much cheaper, and superb. The chief complaint with that lens - its slow f/5.6 max aperture at the long end - is moot in comparison to this lens, as they are equally fast or slow in the 16-35mm range. The 16-85mm VR has a tremendously versatile zoom range, an equally good VR implementation, and is to my eyes just as snappy and contrasty in terms of color rendition as this lens. The real surprise is that the 16-85, at least my copy, is just as sharp as the 16-35. A bit of informal testing on a D300S had me finding the 16-85 just barely sharper, in fact, at 16mm, 24mm and 35mm; either wide open or at f/5.6. The 16-85 is an exceedingly sharp lens, so perhaps that isn't all that surprising after all, but the point is that for shooting on DX the 16-35 is not the best tool for the job. The counter-argument might be that unlike many FX lenses, this 16-35 actually gives a reasonably useful focal range on DX: the equivalent of 24-53mm, or usefully-wide to normal. Really, though - who would buy a 24-53mm f/4 lens for thirteen hundred bucks? The 16-85 VR is an excellent lens that is a far better complement to a DX camera than this 16-35. If you must spend more money, or really just want to get a bigger lens, get the 17-55mm f/2.8. It's not any sharper and it doesn't have VR, but at least you'll get the f/2.8 max aperture.

* The "affordable" predecessor to the 16-35 is the old 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D, one of the less great Nikkors I've used. It's problem is consistency, rather than a lack of sharpness at all settings. At 18mm, for example, mine is excellent in the center - but it falls apart at 24mm, where I can't think of a lens that would not perform better. At 35mm it is, again, very good in the center, less so towards the edges. It is a perfectly serviceable FX ultra-wide zoom for most purposes, but today's digital cameras reveal its flaws just too easily. Is the 16-35 worth the extra $900 it will cost you? If that $900 is not a serious impediment then unequivocally I would say yes. On a tighter budget, I would suggest that a DX body with any of the better DX wide zooms would be the better choice. For what it's worth, the DX alternative is my personal preference.
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on April 9, 2013
Let me just say that I have compared this to the 14-24G lens having obtained the 16-35G first. I live in South America and set up a tripod with my D800E mounted to test both lenses. I took some shots of some Andean ridges and buildings from my 7th floor apartment balcony, and I can tell you that per the copies that I have, the 16-35 will match or beat the 14-24 in center sharpness from F5.6 upward until F11. Where the 14-24 shines is in extreme corner sharpness and I doubt any other lens can match its sharpness in the extremes of the FX frame.

The reason I mention the above is because after much field use, the 16-35 is the best and most practical wide angle in terms of weight, option for filter use and ruggedness. When you use the 16-35, stay away from anything less than 18mm due to rampant distortion, but apart from that, just shoot as wide as possible with the 16-35 and then crop out the border distortion in post production and you'll have shot comparable to or even exceeding the shapness and contrast offered by the 14-24.

Frankly, I was going to sell my 16-35 once I received the 14-24, but despite the rice and beans I'll have to eat for the next few months, I'll keep the 16-35 for the majority of my wide angle opportunities--my "walking around" lens so to speak. I'll keep the 14-24 for those special situation landscape and special event shots where I have time to use a tripod, cable release, MirrorUp and all other user precautions to maximize the full capability of the 14-24.

The 16-35 is a tremendous wide angle at a great price and when used with a little forethought and the post production work that you would do anyway with RAW files, you will not be able to discern any difference between it an the renouned 14-24. I highly recommend the Nikkor 16-35mm G lens.

Note: After I posted the above review, it occurred to me that I should have used the word "central" instead of "center" sharpness. I may have implied that only the very center of the frame was sharp. Actually, the ENTIRE frame is very sharp and comparable to the 14-24, expect for the borders and corners. This distinction is important because why would anyone favor buying this lens if only the "center" was sharp!
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on March 25, 2010
I am a Professional landscape photographer. All my testing was done using a D3x. I have owned this lens for almost a month. When it first arrived I tested it extensively with a D3x against my Nikkor AF-S 17-35 f2.8, this lens is quite a bit better. It is a lot sharper, much better micro-contrast all the way to f11, corners are sharper with far less CA and fringing. It has barrel distortion at 16mm but it is easily correctable in photoshop and generally doesn't create problems with landscape photography uncorrected. If you shoot architecture, the 14-24 would probably be the better choice since it has better corners and less distortion from 14-19mm. The corners of the 16-35 at the wide end are very good compared to any other wide zoom. After reading several independent reviews comparing the 16-35 and the 14-24, the 16-35 is the better lens after f4 between 20 and 24mm. If you are a landscape shooter and are thinking about the 17-35, the 16-35 is the better choice.

Over all, I would recommend this lens as a great Landscape lens.

Update: Nov. 15th 2010

All my previous testing was done on a D3x, 24.5 mega pixels. I sold my 17-35 f2.8 soon after using this lens. It has become my most used lens, rarely comes off my camera. For those comparing the 16-35 to the 14-24, it is the wrong comparison. The 14-24 is excellent from 14-19mm and from f2.8 to 5.6 but starts to lose micro contrast as you stop down further. The 16-35 gains micro contrast through f11 and is the better lens corner to corner from 20-24mm. Remember, we are talking zooms here, so all zoom ranges must be considered. I consider the 14-24 to be more of an architecture/event lens that can do landscape, the 16-35 a landscape lens best stopped down.

I have also found through a few months of using the 16-35, the barrel distortion at the wider end is never noticeable in my landscape shooting and I have never had to correct for it. One frustration is manual focusing for depth of field, I finally had to put permanent white dots on the focus ring for various distances as the lens is quite "touchy" and getting the proper hyper focal distance set is difficult.
22 comments| 40 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 13, 2012
Okay here's the truth because there's a lot of mix reviews with Ultrawide Lenses, one comparison is very common which is with the 14-24mm, I had the 14-24mm for a long time and I'm a wide angle shooter.

Use 14-24mm, if you shoot strictly interior arrchitecture. Sharpest aperture F2.8-5.6

Use 16-35mm, if you shoot outdoors, sharpest aperture is F8-11, has all filters compatible including Pro-Stop, Big Stopper and CPL. Distortion is so easy fix in LR4 and CS6.
0Comment| 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 25, 2010
This lens is AWESOME. If you love wide, it does wonders on a full frame camera. Before purchasing, I've debated between this lens and the legendary 17-35mm. In the end, I wound up buying this lens and am loving it; no regrets whatsoever.

A cool feature of this lens is its focusing distance. I practically use it as my macro lens. Of course it isn't better than any of the single-purpose macro-only lenses, but it keeps me from having to carry two (or more) lenses into the field.

As for image quality, it is superb and super super sharp! Don't let anyone fool you when they say it's soft in the corners, it's NOT. I'm sure some doof can find a way to use this lens to purposely shoot soft corners (i.e. shooting wide open into the sun--if this is your kind of photography, then don't bother with this lens). Otherwise, you won't be disappointed. It's also focuses fast and quiet.

One downside: This lens is so wide that it DOES blocks the on-camera flash at the wide end (you'll have a shadowy area at the bottom of your pictures). To avoid this, use a speedlight or some off-camera flash. This problem goes away after 20-ish mm.
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on September 20, 2010
Two words: FANTASTIC LENS! I bought this lens for my D700 as I did love my 17-55 F2.8 on my D300. This lens is phenomenal. No if ands or buts about it.

[...] reviewed it and loved it. I love it. I've shot with it now over five thousand images since mid-August and it's awesome. The VR works! The shot I posted here is one of several that were shot on very slow shutter speed. It was taken at 1/6th of a second. After enlarging it to 200% the image is tack sharp. Normally I whip out my tripod for landscapes, but this shot was literally on the side of a busy highway, at dusk.

Anyway if you are looking for a very, very sharp lens, that handles extremely well on the D700 get this one. On the D300 it's a tad overwhelmed by the size. The only downside is the cheap lenshood which doesn't seem to stay on. Other than that, Nikon threw a perfect game.
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0Comment| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 7, 2015
I own the 16-35 lens along with both the 14-24 and 17-35...each of them has characteristics and niche uses which makes them uniquely excellent performers.

The 14-24 is the gold standard of wide-zooms. It's beautifully sharp at any aperture, and while it has minor barrel distortion in the corners on the wide end (what ultra-wide doesn't?), it's well-moderated and acceptable in nature, and once you zoom past it, the images this lens produces are simply breathtaking. However, the 14-24 has its limitations...notably the inability to use standard circular filters.

The 17-35 is the pro's pro of wide lenses. While somewhat soft at 2.8 (especially in the corners), stop down a bit (past f/4) and you're rewarded with beautifully crystalized contrast and clarity. Given its ability to shoot at f/2.8, it's a bit heavier than the 16-35...but like it's lighter sister, it can accept standard 77mm filters, which puts it in a category altogether different than the 14-24, at least with respect to that one characteristic.

I consider the 16-35 more of a true "landscape" lens as opposed to the 17-35. The 16-35 is obviously slightly wider, and it's noticeably lighter thanks to being a stop slower (f/4 vs. f/2.8). It's my preference when backpacking or traveling given it's lighter body and slightly wider zoom.

That said, you have to be careful when using the 16-35 on it's wide end. Zoomed out to 16mm there is noticeable barrel distortion to the corners...significantly more than the 14 or 17. This distortion isn't a deal-breaker though...you just have to get used to it and know how to work with it.

The 16-35 has that true ultra-wide ability to "pull" a viewer right into the scene, just as the 14-24 is able to do on its wide end. The 17-35 doesn't quite have that capability, which is why I don't consider it a pure landscape lens. Once you zoom past its ultra-wide range, the 16-35 gives you truly classic Nikon crispness and clarity in its normal zoom range, as if you are looking through a window at the scene.

The fact that it's a stop slower than the 17-35 doesn't bother me in the slightest because it's extremely rare that I need the lens to operate at that aperture when shooting landscapes. I'm almost always on a tripod and stopped down to f/5.6 or slower.

The 16-35 accepts the ubiquitous 77mm filter size, which is a major plus for a landscape photographer who enjoys working with ND and graduated ND filters. The 14-24 requires the purchase of the expensive Lee SW150 filter holder, rendering it a quite different animal altogether if you wish to use filters with it.

The 16-35 doesn't have that battle-hardened composite metal body most Nikon pro lenses share. It's hewn from more plastic than the 17-35 or 14-24, which lends to its lighter nature. The 14-24 and 17-35 can survive head-on collisions with small automobiles...the 16-35 not so much.

If I had to pick between the 16-35 and the 17-35, I would probably choose the 16-35 because, as I said before, it is lighter and offers a slightly wider perspective. That's strictly my opinion as a landscape photographer...if you needed a lens for photojournalism or for a more normal perspective on a routine basis, I'd strongly consider the 17-35 instead.

Generally speaking...if you're looking for a wide to normal zoom lens...you won't find better quality than the 16-35.
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on September 25, 2010
I bought this lens after trying a few other wide angle lenses from Tamron and Tokina. I wasn't satisfied with the results that I got from those other lenses. They were too soft in the corners with too much light fall off and had to be stopped down too much for my liking, and even then they still were less than perfect. After using the Nikon 16-35 f/4 VR, all off the issues I had with those other lenses were gone. The lens rarely leaves my D700. It is great for landscape work, tight interior spaces and it has become my favorite lens for street photography. Images are sharp, with great contrast and excellent, accurate color rendition.

The lens is sharp from corner to corner with only minor corner softness at f/4 which disappears by f/5.6. There is minimal light fall off at f/4, but that is also gone when stopping the lens down to f/5.6. The VR works extremely well, I have gotten perfectly sharp images shooting hand held at 1/3 of a second shutter speed. That really comes in handy indoors at locations where tripods are prohibited. The lens is surprisingly large for a wide angle lens but it also weighs a lot less than you would think from it's size. It is well balanced on the D700 with the MB-D10 vertical battery grip. The lens seems to be best between f/5.6 to f/8. At f/16 diffraction starts to cause some very slight softness in image quality when the image is viewed at 100%.

I would definitely recommend this lens to someone who is looking for a good wide angle solution for a full frame camera and doesn't need the extra 2mm on the wide end, the constant f/2.8 aperture or the extra weight of the Nikon 14-24. The other thing that I like about the 16-35 vs. the 14-24 is that it is possible to use filters with the 16-35, while not being able to use them on the 14-24 due to the bulging front element.
0Comment| 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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