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Lens review

Nikon Nikkor AF-S 16-35 mm f/4G ED VR

7 January 2014
Szymon Starczewski

11. Summary

Pros:
  • solid and compact casing,
  • good resolution in the frame centre,
  • negligible longitudinal chromatic aberration,
  • silent and efficient autofocus,
  • moderate vignetting for this class of equipment.

Cons:

  • weak image quality on the edge of the frame,
  • manual focus ring has some slacks,
  • very high distortion on wide angle,
  • badly corrected lateral chromatic aberration at shorter focal lengths,
  • noticeable spherical aberration,
  • distinct astigmatism,
  • coma in the corners of full frame should have been lower,
  • weak price/quality ratio.

The list of pros and cons resembles more that of a not especially fortunate device with a price tag of just several hundred PLN. It is difficult to believe it describes a lens costing 4,000 PLN, aimed at advanced if not downright professional photographers. The Nikkor AF-S 16–35 mm f/4G ED VR proved to be worse than such devices as the Tokina AT-X PRO FX SD 17–35 mm f/4 (IF) and the Nikkor AF-S 18–35 mm f/3.5–4.5G ED in almost every testing category. Mind you those two are almost twice cheaper. Its only advantage is the image stabilization; still its usefulness is truly debatable because with such a focal range you don’t really need it. If you compare the tested lens to the completely plastic Nikkor 18-35 mm you can also appreciate its build quality.

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To be honest I am very surprised that such a weak lens was launched on the market at all. The optics specialist, working on it, didn’t manage to correct properly one single optical aberration, apart from the vignetting. Such a weak project should have been rejected as early as the planning stage. The Nikon company not only launched it but also demands 4,000 PLN for it. It’s really no surprise we advise against buying it.

Anticipating arguments that we were just unfortunate enough to test a faulty specimen we must strongly emphasize the fact that we dealt with two instruments coming from two independent sources and, most likely, also from two completely different batches; still their test results were very similar to each other.