Review Nikon 16-85 mm (N APS-C)


Nikon AF-S DX 16-85 mm 3.5-5,6 G ED VR & Nikon D3200 (N APS-C)

The subject of this Nikon 16-85 mm review is an oldie: this lens, which is fully named Nikkor AF-S DX 16-85 mm 3.5-5.6 G ED VR, appeared in the spring of 2008. The Nikon 16-85 mm is a very compact zoom lens with built-in image stabilization. It is designed for use on an APS-C / DX-format Nikon SLR camera. It is an ideal all-purpose or walk around lens that has been introduced as a wider zoom range alternative for the cheaper Nikon 18-55 mm kit lens. The zoom range of the Nikon 16-85 mm is considerably larger, both as a wide-angle lens and as a telephoto lens. Competitors for the Nikon 16-85 mm are also the cheaper Nikon 18-105 mm and the more expensive Nikon 18-200 mm and Nikon 18-300 mm.Nikon-16-85-and-Nikon-d3200

Nikkor 16-85 mm bij16mm
Field of View Nikon 16-85 mm @16 mm


Nikkor 16-85 mm bij85mm
FOV Nikon 16-85 mm @85 mm
The Nikon DX 16-85 mm VR offers a more than 5x zoom range, with a field of view equivalent to that of a 24-128 mm lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor. Once you have this lens on your camera, it can stay there for a long time. It’s zoom range covers a wide range of popular focal lengths, which (translated to a lens on a camera with a full frame sensor) ranges from wide angle (24mm, 28mm), to standard (35mm, 50mm) to slightly telephoto (85mm, 135mm). The wider field of view of the Nikon 16-85 mm, when compared to the Nikon 18-105 mm, attracts us more than the extra telephoto range of the Nikon 18-105 mm, compared to the Nikon 16-85 mm.

Construction and autofocus Nikon 16-85 mm

The body of the Nikon DX 16-85 mm VR is made of plastic and it has a metal mount. The lens is remarkably small when it is set to a focal length of 16 mm. Zoomed in to 85 mm – and with the flower-shaped lens hood attached – the lens is twice as long. The Nikon 16-85 mm uses an internal AF system. While focusing, the filter on the Nikon 16-85mm dosn’t rotate. The focus ring and zoom ring rotate smoothly and the lens feels more solid than the Nikon 18-55 mm kit lens. The autofocus is driven by a Silent Wave Motor. The AF is almost silent, but not very fast. With a Nikon D7000 camera it focusses from 15 meters to 1.5 meters in 0.35 seconds. The AF-S system makes it possible to manually override AF, without having to use a switch. Even in low light, the AF is accurate.{insertgrid ID = 289}

Image stabilization Nikon 16-85 mm

The Nikon 16-85 mm lens incorporates Nikon’s second-generation system for Stabilization / Vibration Reduction (VRII). Given the limited maximum aperture of this lens, the built-in VR is a welcome extra. The effectiveness of Nikon 16-85 mm’s  integrated image stabilization is measured at a focal length of 85 mm. The effectiveness is about 3 stops. This is quite good.IS-Nikkor-16-85-mm

Vignetting Nikon 16-85 mm

The vignetting shown by the Nikon 16-85 mm is –  expressed in stops –  from f/3.5 to f/6.5 on the high side at a focal length of 16 and 85 mm. When you apply these apertures in practice you will, depending on the subject, encounter visible vignetting. At the other focal length / aperture combinations, vignetting is sufficiently low. Vignetting can easily be corrected in Lightroom or Photoshop.

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Distortion Nikon 16-85 mm

We tested the Nikon 16-85 mm on a Nikon D3200 camera, with the in-camera correction of distortion turned on. Despite the in-camera correction for distortion, at a foccal length of 16 mm still there’s still visible distortion in jpg images taken with the Nikon 16-85 mm VR.
Without in-camera correction, the distortion of the Nikon 16-85 mm is, expressed as a percentage, at all focal lengths bit on the high side. Distortion can also be corrected afterwards with software.distortion-Nikon-16-85-mm-D3200


The lens elements of the Nikon 16-85 mm feature Nikon Super Integrated Coating to reduce flare and ghosting. Yet we see both flare and ghosting in strong backlight.
In practice, you do have to take this into account. As an illustration you see in the image to the right red and green, aperture shaped, ghosting.Nikkor 16-85mm overstraling-in-de-praktijk


The Nikon 16-85 mm, like most zoom lenses on a camera with an APS-C sensor, shows an unattractive Bokeh. The bokeh is restless and has rings. With a point light source in the background, you can see that the aperture blades are not round, and the bokeh shows corners.

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Due to the 24 megapixel sensor and a slightly higher degree of in-camera sharpening of the jpg files, the Nikon 16-85 mm VR scores higher in terms resolution with a Nikon D3200 in comparison with a Nikon D7000. Using the Nikon D7000 as a test camera, there were no differences in resolution between the Nikon 16-85 mm and the cheaper Nikon 18-105. But on a Nikon D3200 , the Nikon 16-85 mm is slightly better than the Nikon 18-105mm.
Despite the high LW/PH numbers for the resolution of this camera, there is still some room for improvements: The center sharpness is highest at the focal lengths in the middle of the zoom range. The sharpness in the corners remain behind the sharpness in the center. Nevertheless, the resolution of the Nikon 16-85 mm VR on a Nikon D3200 in the extreme corners usually above 1000 LW / PH. This is less than the center sharpness, but certainly not bad.Resolutie-Nikon-16-85

Chromatic aberration

The Nikon 16-85 mm VR contains both aspheric and Extra Low Dispersion elements, which not only deliver a high resolution and contrast, but also minimize chromatic aberrations. The chromatic aberration of the Nikon 16-85 mm remains nicely low in all cases.


Conclusion Nikon AF-S DX 16-85 mm 3.5-5,6 G ED VR review


  • Practical zoom range
  • Low chromatic aberration
  • Compact and decent construction
  • Effective built-in image stabilization


  • Moderate optical performances in corners and at 85 mm in centre and corners
  • Large distortion @ 16mm
  • Sensitive to backlight
  • High recommended retail price

Partially because of in-camera correction of lens aberrations and the 24 megapixel senor of the Nikon D3200 , the Nikon 16-85 mm performs better in combination with the Nikon D3200 than with the Nikon D7000. The larger zoom range makes the Nikon AF-S DX 16-85 mm seem very interesting. The zoom range is 2 mm larger at the bottom, where every millimeter counts, than the zoom range of the Nikon 18-105 mm and the Nikon 18-55 mm. The Nikon 16-85 mm show a solid performance in our Nikon 16-85 mm review and feels more solid than the Nikon 18-55 mm and the Nikon 18-105 mm. But the purchase price is considerably higher. And the Nikon 18-300 mmNikon 18-200 mm are solid competitors for this lens, if you can afford their higher price .



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