Support Cameralabs by shopping at my partner stores or buying me a coffee!
Buy me a coffee!

Follow my RSS feed at Camera Labs RSS Feed
  Latest camera reviews

Lumix G80 / G85
Olympus OMD EM1 II
Sony RX10 Mark III
Sony RX100 Mark V
Nikon COOLPIX B700
Sony A6500
Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500
Nikon COOLPIX B500
Lumix LX10 / LX15
Fujifilm XT2
Nikon D3400
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Ricoh GR II
Canon G7X Mark II
Canon SX720 HS
Canon EOS 80D
Olympus TG Tracker
Nikon D500 review
Canon EOS 1300D / T6
Lumix GX80 / GX85
Fujifilm X-Pro2
Fujifilm X70
Lumix TZ80 ZS60
Sony A6300
Canon PowerShot G5X
Lumix TZ100 ZS100
Sony A7s Mark II
Sony RX10 II
Lumix FZ330 / FZ300
Sony RX100 IV
Canon G9X
Fujifilm XT10
Nikon COOLPIX L840
Canon SX530 HS
Olympus OMD EM10 II
Canon SX410 IS
Panasonic Lumix GX8
Olympus TOUGH TG860
Sony A7r Mark II
Canon PowerShot D30
Olympus TOUGH TG4
Canon PowerShot G3X
Canon EOS 5Ds
Nikon COOLPIX S9900
Sony HX90V
Canon EOS T6s 760D
Panasonic Lumix G7
Panasonic Lumix SZ8
Canon EOS M3
Olympus EPL7
Samsung NX3000
Panasonic Lumix GM5
Nikon D5500
Panasonic Lumix GF7
Olympus OMD EM5 II
Nikon COOLPIX S9700
Canon SX710 HS
Panasonic TZ70 / ZS50
Sony Alpha A7 Mark II
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Fujifilm X100T
Nikon COOLPIX S3600
Sony Alpha A5100
Sigma DP1 Quattro
Sony Cyber-shot W830
Nikon COOLPIX L830
Nikon D750
Canon SX400 IS
Sony Cyber-shot H400
Panasonic Lumix LX100
Canon SX60 HS
Canon ELPH 340 IXUS 265
Canon G7X
Nikon COOLPIX P530
Canon SX520 HS
Canon G1 X Mark II
Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
Panasonic TZ60 / ZS40
Sony RX100 III review
Sony A3000 review
Canon EOS 1200D T5
Sony WX350
Nikon P600
Sony Alpha A5000
Sony Cyber-shot HX400V
Panasonic Lumix GH4
Panasonic TS5 FT5
Sony Alpha A6000
Canon SX700 HS
Canon SX600 HS
Olympus TOUGH TG2
Nikon AW1
Nikon D3300
Fujifilm XT1
Olympus STYLUS 1
Sony Cyber-shot RX10
Olympus OMD EM1
Panasonic Lumix GM1
Nikon D610
Sony Alpha A7
Nikon D5300
Canon PowerShot A2500
Sony Alpha A7r
Canon ELPH 130 IXUS 140
Nikon COOLPIX P520
Nikon COOLPIX L820
Canon PowerShot S120
Panasonic Lumix GX7
Canon SX510 HS
Canon PowerShot G16
Fujifilm X20
Panasonic FZ70 / FZ72
Canon EOS 70D
Sony RX100 II
Canon ELPH 330 IXUS 255
Panasonic Lumix GF6
Fujifilm XM1
Olympus EP5
Panasonic Lumix LF1
Panasonic TZ35 / ZS25
Olympus XZ2
Sony HX300
Panasonic Lumix G6
Sony HX50V
Fujifilm X100S
Canon SX280 HS
Canon EOS SL1 / 100D
Panasonic TZ40 / ZS30
Nikon D7100
Fujifilm X-E1
Canon EOS 6D
Nikon D5200
Panasonic Lumix GH3
Canon PowerShot S110
Panasonic Lumix G5
Sony NEX-6
Panasonic Lumix FZ200
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Nikon COOLPIX P7700
Olympus E-PL5
Canon EOS M
Panasonic TS20 / FT20
Canon PowerShot G15
Nikon D600
Nikon COOLPIX L810
Canon PowerShot D20
Sony RX100
Panasonic Lumix LX7
Canon SX500 IS
Fujifilm HS30 EXR
Sony HX200V
Panasonic FZ60 / FZ62
Canon 520HS / 500HS
Canon 110HS / 125HS
Nikon D800
Canon EOS T4i / 650D
Canon PowerShot A3400
Panasonic ZS15 / TZ25
Olympus E-M5
Nikon D3200
Fujifilm X-Pro1
Canon PowerShot A2300
Canon SX240 / SX260
Samsung NX200
Sony Alpha SLT-A77
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Panasonic ZS20 / TZ30
Canon PowerShot G1 X
Sony NEX-7
Panasonic GX1
Olympus E-PM1
Nikon V1
Sony NEX-5N
Canon EOS T3 / 1100D
Canon EOS 600D / T3i
Nikon D7000
Canon EOS 60D
Canon EOS 550D / T2i
Canon EOS 7D

All camera reviews
  Best Buys: our top models
  Best Canon lens
Best Nikon lens
Best Sony lens
Best budget DSLR
Best mid-range DSLR
Best semi-pro DSLR
Best point and shoot
Best superzoom
Best camera accessories

Camera Labs Forum

Any questions, comments or a great tip to share? Join my Camera forum and let everyone know!
  DSLR Tips

lens rental
Nikkor AF-S DX 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Gordon Laing, April 2009

Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR coverage

The Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR is designed as a general-purpose walk-around lens with a range that goes from decent wide-angle to short telephoto. With the 1.5x field-reduction of Nikon’s DX-format DSLRs, the DX 16-85mm VR delivers equivalent coverage of 24-128mm. To illustrate this range in practice we mounted the lens on a Nikon D90 body, attached it to a tripod and shot the same scene fully zoomed-out, then fully zoomed-in.

Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR coverage
DX 16-85mm VR at 16mm (24mm equivalent)
DX 16-85mm VR at 85mm (128mm equivalent)

The shots above illustrate the useful general-purpose range of the DX 16-85mm VR, capturing a large field-of-view when zoomed-out and delivering tighter detail when zoomed-in. If you're buying a Nikon body only, it's an ideal first lens, but the big question for owners of existing Nikkor general-purpose lenses is whether this range is more useful than what they already have.

The DX 16-85mm VR zooms both wider and longer than the DX 18-55mm VR kit lens supplied with the entry-level Nikon bodies, along with the earlier Nikkor DX 18-70mm. With these lenses, the coverage benefits of the DX 16-85mm VR are obvious, but compare it to Nikons other kit lenses and you’ll find both pros and cons to the range.

The D80 and D90 bodies were typically bundled with the DX 18-135mm and DX 18-105mm VR kit lenses, which may not zoom as wide as the DX 16-85mm VR, but both zoom-in noticeably further. This makes ‘upgrading’ from one of these to the DX 16-85mm VR a bitter-sweet experience which gains at the wide-end but loses out on the telephoto.

It should be clear by now the major differentiator between the DX 16-85mm VR and the other Nikkor general-purpose lenses (including the DX 18-200mm VR) is its wider-angle coverage of 24mm equivalent, so the question you have to ask yourself is just how much you want or need it – and if so, whether you’d be better off having it in a general-purpose lens, or an ultra-wide model like the Nikkor DX 12-24mm.

But what’s the big deal about 24mm coverage anyway? If you’ve not used a 24mm equivalent lens before, it may not sound a great deal different from 28mm, but in practice it actually delivers a comfortably wider field-of-view that’s preferred by many. Indeed the 24-120 (ish) mm range is considered by many to be perfect for a general-purpose walk-around lens, and you’ll find equivalent models for most brands, including the Sony 16-80mm (24-120mm equiv), Olympus 12-60mm (24-120mm equiv) and the Canon 24-105mm (equiv to 24-105mm on full-frame bodies only); interestingly Canon doesn’t yet have a 24-120mm equivalent range for its EF-S bodies. So the Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR may deliver ‘ideal’ coverage, but again the question is whether it’s sufficiently compelling compared to alternative Nikkor general-purpose lenses.

Support this site by shopping below


Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR stabilisation

The Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR is equipped with Vibration Reduction capabilities to counteract camera-shake. Like all of Nikkor’s VR lenses to date, this employs an optical system which means you see the stabilising effect while composing through the optical viewfinder. Seeing the image suddenly steady itself when you half-press the shutter release button is very reassuring, especially when you’re shooting at longer focal lengths. VR version II is implemented on this lens, which Nikon claims is good for up to four stops of compensation.

A switch on the side of the lens barrel allows you to set the VR on or off, while a second switches between Normal or Active modes. Active mode is designed for shooting from moving vehicles; we used Normal during our handheld tests. To put its effectiveness to the test we took a series of photos with the lens zoomed-into 85mm where it was working at an equivalent of 128mm and traditional photographic advice would recommend a shutter speed of at least 1/125 to eliminate camera shake.

Our sequence therefore started at 1/125 and reduced by one stop each time until 1/2. We performed this sequence twice, first without VR enabled, and secondly with VR enabled in Normal mode. Below are 100% crops taken from the non-VR and VR images at a shutter speed of 1/15.

Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR Vibration Reduction off / on (Normal mode)
100% crop, DX 16-85mm VR at 85mm, 1/15, VR off
100% crop, DX 16-85mm VR at 85mm, 1/15, VR on

Under the conditions of the day, the slowest shutter speed we could handhold the lens fully zoomed-in without any stabilisation was 1/125; anything slower resulted in visible camera-shake. With VR enabled though, we could match the sharpness under the same conditions at a shutter speed of 1/15. You can see examples taken at 1/15 with and without stabilisation above, and it’s clear how the version with VR is much steadier.

This corresponds to three stops in practice over our 1/125 shot. So while we didn’t quite achieve the claimed four stops in person, having three at your disposal is still very respectable and makes the DX 16-85mm VR usable in a variety of environments even when fully zoomed-in. Just remember though, Vibration Reduction cannot do anything about freezing a subject in motion – for that you’ll simply need a sufficiently quick shutter speed.

Now it’s time to see how the lens performs against alternative general purpose zooms in our Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR results pages.

If you found this review useful, please support us by shopping below!
All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

/ Best Cameras / Camera reviews / Supporting Camera Labs