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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

8. Vignetting

Universal Nikkor lenses, with focal lengths starting from 18 mm, had serious issues when it came to vignetting. An 18-70 mm model, for the most demanding combination of wide angle and maximum aperture, lost as much as 50% of light in the frame corners. An 18-135 mm fared a bit better because in its case the brightness loss amounted to 40% but the problem worsened at 135 mm where the vignetting level increased to 50% again.

The dimensions of the Nikkor 16-85 VR and its wide angle of view don’t indicate that the vignetting problems will disappear. Our fears were fully proven by the measurements taken. At 16 mm and by f/3.5 the light fall off in the frame corners is as much as 49% (-1.98 EV). Regrettably on stopping down the situation is improved only slightly and it is not totally satisfying. By f/4.0 we notice the level of 44%, by f/5.6 vignetting decreases to 29% and by f/8.0 it amounts to 22%. Even using f/11 or f/16 apertures doesn’t reduce the vignetting to the level under 20%…

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

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Fortunately the situation is significantly better, but still not ideal, for the middle of the range. At 30 mm and wide open the brightness loss in the frame corners is 29% (-0.98 EV). Applying f/5.6 makes this aberration decrease to the level of 19% but only by f/8.0 it becomes imperceptible (11%).

At 50 mm focal length the performance is a tad worse. The maximum aperture forces us to deal with the vignetting level of 32% (-1.11 EV) which decreases to 28% by f/5.6. Once again only f/8.0 aperture makes this problem disappear almost completely (12%).

At 85 mm the vignetting rises again. By f/5.6 the light fall-off in the corners amounts to as much as 37% (-1.35 EV). Luckily on stopping down to f/8.0 makes it decrease to 15% and it disappears completely by f/11 (8%).

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


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


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