Summary

Highly Recommended awardThe bottom line is if you’re looking for a quality general-purpose DX-format lens which zooms-out to an equivalent of 24mm, then the DX 16-85mm VR is the model to go for and easily comes Recommended. It misses out on our Highly Recommended award though due to a lack of really compelling advantages beyond existing models and the fact you can buy the DX 18-200mm VR for only a little extra. As such our advice is to think very carefully about what you really need from your general-purpose lens and how it might fit into a kit now and in the future.

Support Cameralabs!

Support me when you shop for anything at Amazon.com, B&H or Adorama. Or if you find this review useful, treat me to a coffee!

Nikkor AF-S DX 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

Real-life telephoto sharpness at 85mm - Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR

Real-life telephoto sharpness at 85mm – Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR

To compare real-life corner sharpness when zoomed-in, we shot this scene with the Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR on the Nikon D90 body. The DX 16-85mm VR was zoomed-into its longest 85mm focal length and tested at all aperture settings with VR disabled. The D90 was set to its base sensitivity of 200 ISO and into RAW mode to avoid in-camera JPEG corrections; all files were processed in Nikon Capture NX2 with lens corrections disabled.

The image left was taken with the Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR mounted on the Nikon D90 body. The lens was set to 85mm f8, and the D90 set to 200 ISO. The crops are taken from the lower left corner and the centre, and presented here at 100%.

With the DX 16-85mm VR zoomed-into its maximum focal length of 85mm, there’s a little softness in the extreme corners, but again it’s not bad at all. Stopping the aperture down to f8 slightly improves the situation, resolving finer detail in the extreme corners, and becoming well-corrected just a little further into the frame.

The crops taken from the centre of the image look fine here, although again there’s a small boost in ultimate fine detail with the aperture closed to f8. Scroll down to see how the DX 18-105mm VR kit lens compares when it’s also zoomed-in, or see how they measure-up in controlled conditions in our Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR studio resolution test page.

Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR with Nikon D90
Telephoto (85mm) corner
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR with Nikon D90
Telephoto (85mm) centre
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO

 

Real-life telephoto sharpness at 105mm – Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR

To compare real-life corner sharpness when zoomed-in, we shot this scene with the Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR on the Nikon D90 body. The DX 18-105mm VR was zoomed-into its longest 105mm focal length and tested at all aperture settings with VR disabled. The D90 was set to its base sensitivity of 200 ISO and into RAW mode to avoid in-camera JPEG corrections; all files were processed in Nikon Capture NX2 with lens corrections disabled.

The image above was taken with the Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR mounted on the Nikon D90 body. The lens was set to 105mm f8, and the D90 set to 200 ISO. The crops are taken from the lower left corner and the centre, and presented here at 100%.

With the DX 18-105mm VR kit lens zoomed-into its maximum focal length of 105mm, there’s again some softness in the extreme corners, although again impressively for its class, it’s not bad – certainly there’s little obvious benefit to the DX 16-85mm VR here.

Closing the aperture from f5.6 to f8 doesn’t improve the sharpness of the DX 18-105mm VR corner crops, although it does reduce the vignetting which in turn makes the f8 crop look a little brighter.

The crops taken from the centre of the image are both detailed, although stopping-down to f8 has slightly improved the contrast and is the preferred setting for this lens when zoomed-in.

Now let’s see how they compare under controlled conditions, in our Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR studio resolution page.

Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR with Nikon D90
Telephoto (105mm) corner
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR with Nikon D90
Telephoto (105mm) centre
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO

 

Buy Gordon a coffee to support cameralabs!

Like my reviews? Buy me a coffee!

Advertisement

Like my reviews? Buy me a coffee!

Follow Gordon Laing

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

Website design by Coolgrey