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Lens review

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

2 October 2009
Szymon Starczewski

4. Image resolution

To begin with we would like to remind how the Nikkors 18-70 and 18-135 mm fared in this category, in order to have standards for comparison. In the frame centre both lenses had very good or excellent results at 18-35 mm. A slight worsening was observed at 50 mm and it became significant at longer focal lengths. Some reservations could be had for the performance at the maximum aperture and the shortest focal length. Both lenses on stopping down to f/5.6 produced very good and sharp images, reaching the level of 44-46 lpmm.

How the Nikkor 16-85 VR fares against such background can be assessed by looking at the graph below, showing its performance in the frame centre based on RAW files from a Nikon D200.

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

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The Nikkor 16-85 VR performs more evenly than its brothers. The differences between particular focal length and between the maximum aperture and higher aperture values are smaller. On the other hand, though, it has to pay for it with lower maximum resolution results. The effect is that for shorter focal lengths and higher apertures the lens fares a bit worse than the rest of Nikkors, and at longer focal lengths – a bit better. Such a behaviour is very similar to that of a Sony Zeiss 16-80 mm lens, designed for reflex cameras.

Neither in the case of the Nikkor 18-70 mm nor an 18-135 mm frame borders results were anything to be proud of. Here we notice a very nice improvement, though – as you see in the picture below the Nikkor 16-85 VR fares quite well.

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

Some serious reservations you can have concerning the maximum aperture at 16 mm but you can hardly expect a small lens with such light to perform better here. However, a Zeiss 16-80 mm and an Olympus 12-60 mm prove that if you really try you can achieve better results.

In general the maximum relative aperture at the frame edge of the Nikkor 16-85 VR leaves a lot to be wished for at all focal lengths because it never exceeds 30 lpmm , which we consider to be the decency level. Fortunately on stopping down we don’t have any reservations anymore in the range from 16-50 mm - the lens can generate very sharp pictures there. A bit worse situation we have at 85 mm focal length because there we can get only medium quality images.

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