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

Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR Geometric distortion

Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR Geometric distortion

To measure the Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR’s geometric distortion, we photographed a chart consisting of a grid pattern with the lens set to its shortest and longest focal lengths at an aperture of f8. The images were shot in RAW mode to avoid any in-camera corrections, then analysed with Imatest using 5th Order line calculation, and the full areas presented here at a reduced resolution. Smaller percentages are better. Results for rival lenses are shown at the bottom of this page.

Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR distortion zoomed-out
Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR distortion zoomed-in
DX 16-85mm VR at 16mm f8
Distortion: 5.32% barrel
DX 16-85mm VR at 85mm f8
Distortion: 0.907% pincushion

With the Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR zoomed-out, barrel distortion was measured at 5.32%. This is roughly similar to the distortion measured on the DX 18-70mm, DX 18-105mm VR, DX 18-135mm and DX 18-200mm VR when all were zoomed-out, although the DX 18-55mm VR kit lens manages to get away with better figures. So far so similar, but remember the DX 16-85mm VR is zooming wider than the others mentioned here, which often results in greater geometric distortion – it’s good to see it’s no worse than most of the other Nikkor DX general-purpose lenses then.

When zoomed-into 85mm, the DX 16-85mm VR exhibited pincushion distortion at 0.907%. While you can visibly see the lines in the graph bend inwards in the image above, it’s actually to a lesser degree than many of the other lenses shown here including the DX 18-105mm VR, DX 18-135mm and DX 18-200mm VR, although the latter comes closer. Once again the DX 18-55mm VR kit lens performs best in the group in this test with just 0.17% pincushion distortion when zoomed-in, although to be fair it does also have the shortest optical range. The earlier DX 18-70mm also performs quite well in terms of low distortion with a figure of 0.59% when zoomed-in, although again it has a lower range than most of the others.

So if you were to switch to the DX 16-85mm VR from the DX 18-55mm VR kit lens or the DX 18-70mm, you may notice greater geometric distortion, especially when zoomed-in, but if you’re coming from the DX 18-105mm VR or DX 18-135mm you’ll enjoy a small benefit at longer focal lengths. The most impressive lens in terms of low distortion here is the DX 18-55mm VR kit lens, although again it has the smallest optical range.

Now let’s see how the lenses compare in terms of light fall-off in the corners in our Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR vignetting results.

Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR Geometric distortion compared to other lenses

(smaller percentages are better)

Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR f/3.5-5.6 distortion wide / tele
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR f/3.5-5.6 distortion wide / tele
DX 18-55mm VR at 18mm f8
Distortion: 3.43% barrel
DX 18-55mm VR at 55mm f8
Distortion: 0.17% pincushion
DX 18-105mm VR at 18mm f8
Distortion: 5.49% barrel
DX 18-105mm VR at 105mm f8
Distortion: 1.65% pincushion
Nikkor DX 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 distortion wide / tele
Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR f/3.5-5.6 distortion wide / tele
DX 18-135mm at 18mm f8
Distortion: 5.48% barrel
DX 18-135mm at 135mm f8
Distortion: 1.78% pincushion
DX 18-200mm VR at 18mm f8
Distortion: 5.26% barrel
DX 18-200mm VR at 200mm f8
Distortion: 1.22% pincushion
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