Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR DX AF-S Nikkor

 
Lens Reviews / Nikon Lenses i Not yet tested
16-80mm $1,067
average price
image of Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR DX AF-S Nikkor

(From Nikon lens literature) Nikon Inc. has announced the new AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR lens -- an amazingly versatile DX-format lens that is well suited for advanced and enthusiast photographers. The NIKKOR 16-80mm features a combination of the best Nikon lens technologies, some never before seen in a Nikon DX-format lens, including Nikon's legendary Nano Crystal Coat. The resulting lens gives a wide variety of photographers an all-purpose optic to help take their photography further and tell their story with clarity and precision.

"The NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4 is a very exciting addition to the NIKKOR DX-format lens lineup, and a new milestone in the NIKKOR legacy -- it combines the most advanced optical technologies with an extremely useful focal range to capture photos and HD video," said Masahiro Horie, Director of Marketing and Planning, Nikon Inc. "This new lens is a great companion for Nikon's high-performance, lightweight series of DX-format DSLR cameras."

DX-Format Versatility
Make no mistake, the new AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR is premium glass for those who desire a fast and highly capable wide-angle zoom lens. The lens features a popular, wide 24-120mm (FX-format equivalent) focal range, which makes it ideally suited for a variety of shooting disciplines. From wide-angle landscapes, tight portraits or for those looking for an all-in-one tool for travel, this lens does it all. The large f/2.8 - f/4 aperture lets photographers shoot in challenging light with ease, with the creative flexibility afforded by a shallow depth-of-field. Whether photographing friends' faces or a festive plate full of local flavor, the 16-80mm's fast aperture lets users blur the background to create that dramatic separation between subject and background that emphasizes and flatters a subject. For creative close-ups of everything from passion-projects to flowers, the lens has a very useful minimum focusing distance of merely 1.2 feet throughout the entire 5x zoom range.

To further enhance its low-light capability, the new NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4 lens also features Nikon's Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization technology, which provides up to 4 stops of image stabilization, helping to create sharp images while shooting handheld or in challenging light. As an added benefit to landscape and wildlife photographers, this lens features VR with automatic tripod detection, to counteract vibration when mounted on a tripod.

Latest Optical Technologies
The new AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm F/2.8-4E ED VR boasts some of the best optical innovations from Nikon, and is the first Nikon DX-format lens to wear the gold "N" emblem, to indicate the presence of Nikon's exclusive Nano Crystal Coat. This advanced optical coating significantly reduces instances of ghosting and flare for the highest quality images. The front and rear elements also integrate a fluorine coating to make it easier to remove dirt, moisture and smudges from the lens surface. This is also the first Nikon DX lens to feature an electromagnetic diaphragm; this innovation electronically adjusts the aperture within the lens, resulting in consistent exposure during high speed shooting.

The new NIKKOR 16-80mm lens features robust construction while retaining a lightweight and compact body. The lens features four Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) elements and three aspheric elements to further combat instances of ghost, flare and chromatic aberration. The lens is constructed of 17 elements in 13 groups, and features a seven-blade diaphragm to create a circular, natural bokeh for a pleasing out of focus area of the image. For fast, accurate and quiet AF performance, the 16-80mm also features Nikon's Silent Wave Motor (SWM) technology.

Price and Availability
The new Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR will be available in July for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $1,069.95.

Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR DX AF-S Nikkor User Reviews

9.3/10 average of 3 reviews Build Quality 9.0/10 Image Quality 9.7/10
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (2 reviews)
    The finest DX lens to date

    After doing careful testing with this lens I was very impressed. Using a large (2' x 3') ISO 12233 chart I found the resolution to be outstanding. Later testing at distant objects I was similarly impressed. The flare resistance is excellent (probably Nikon's new coating) and almost no CA. Amazing. I did note that at 16mm there was some barrel distortion and a touch of pin cushion distortion at 80mm. It should be noted that ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) now provides a lens profile for this lens which totally resolves the distortion problem - but it uses a small bit of cropping on the final image. Depending on the subject matter, this can be used or not used. Most scenics simply don't need it. To see the actual test results at 100% go to http://dustylens.com/lens_tests.htm and scroll to the bottom. To my amazement the lens resolution matched the now famous Sony 90mm f2.8 macro.

    In short, the finest DX lens I have tested to date! By the way, I also own the Nikon 18-140 and have tested it. Yes, it is excellent - but not in the same league as the Nikon 16-80 f2.8-4.

    reviewed October 20th, 2015 (purchased for $1,050)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (24 reviews)
    Instant autofocus and aperture setting for crisp, quick shooting, f/3.8 is useful.
    Overpriced, bad flare toward the sun, resolution softer at 80mm.

    My recommendation is with a caveat. Please read further.

    I compared this lens to my workhorse 18-140 on my D7100 to see if it's worth considering by someone, like me, who is happy with what he has. After shooting hundreds of identical images, I find that the two are essentially interchangeable, with the 16-80 perhaps incrementally better in certain ways. I certainly would not "upgrade" my 18-140 to this lens, as they are so similar in qualities that count, and the price of the 16-80 is still stuck at that introductory gotta-have-it level. Maybe in a year or two, when my 18-140 gets tired after several more thousand pictures and the price of a refurbished 16-80 drops to the "magic" $600 to $700 range, I might consider buying one.

    Here are the specifics of my comparison between the 18-140 and 16-80 with identically shot and cropped images.

    First, the mechanical aspects:

    The 16-80 has the 16-18mm range, which I don't care about, but others might. On the other hand, the 18-140 does have the 80-140 range, which I do care about and others might also. But I have a superb 70-300 VR lens for that "missing range."

    The 16-80 weight is so close to that of the 18-140 that I quickly didn't notice any difference during shooting. But it's shorter and fatter, which means that it fills my "non-clicking" hand better and makes the camera-lens combination feel more solid.

    Because of the latter, it takes odd-sized 72mm filters, which I happen to have, but most people would have to buy.

    The 16-80 has fancy gold rings, which make it look expensive. Some people might care about that, but I certainly don't.

    The focal length ring works more smoothly on the 16-80, but maybe that's because it's new and my 18-140 is a bit tired. But maybe smooth operation is endemic to Nikon's newest lenses.

    Now for the shooting and image comparisons:

    Flare when the camera is pointed near the sun is much worse in the 16-80. In those situations, a hood would be obligatory.

    Resolution at 80mm is softer with the 16-80, but not much, and that's to be expected when one compares the full extension of that zoom with the middling 80mm position of the 18-140. But there's really not much difference, and it's easily ignored.

    Resolution at all other focal lengths is virtually identical, as is contrast. I.e., the MTF charts are essentially correct. I might have seen slightly better contrast with the 16-80, but if it's there, it doesn't amount to much.

    Autofocus, with the 16-80, is amazingly fast, as, probably also, is aperture setting within the diaphragm. Shooting is very crisp and smooth, probably for those reasons. In those respects, the 18-140 is pretty good, but the 16-80 is clearly better.

    Both lenses work well with extension tubes for macro, and autofocus with extension tubes appears to work equally well, except that the 16-80, at 50mm and less so at 80mm, seems to search for focus. The 18-140 finds extension tube focus faster.

    Chromatic aberration seems pretty close. I'd like to say I saw a slight improvement in the 16-80, but that could very easily be my imagination. Anyhow, CA is seldom a problem with wide angle to midrange zooms, and I'm not bothered by it at those focal lengths.

    I only use spot focus, so I didn't test any of the Nikon focus modes with these lenses. Spot focus is very good with both of them, although, as I say, it's faster with the 16-80.

    I didn't compare the lenses with filters, but assume they're the same in all respects.

    At 50mm, maximum aperture with the 16-80 is f/3.8, whereas it's f/4.8 with the 18-140. That, of course, facilitates shooting in dim light. But it's less than a one stop difference, and I have a D610 with higher usable ISO for such situations. So it doesn't make much difference to me. But for one-camera DX people, that seemingly small aperture difference could be very helpful.

    I saw no difference between the two in respect to VR performance. They're both advertised as 4-stop improvement, and whatever it might really be, they held equally steady at slow exposure speeds.

    I didn't test for distortion, as the camera removes most of it automatically, and the rest is easy to remove post-processing. I'm quite sure Nikon will soon release a firmware update to cover its new group of lenses, including the 16-80.

    Vignetting at 18mm is equally faint, hardly noticeable.

    Here's the bottom line: If you have a good Nikon DX camera, like a D7100 or D7200, or perhaps a D7000, and you are looking for a very good wide-angle-to-mid-range zoom, and can afford the stiff price of the 16-80 or can wait until it drops out of the stratosphere, I'd recommend it. But if you want to save some serious money, the 18-140 offers much better bang for the buck. I have no present plan to buy a 16-80, but if my 18-140 falls off a cliff...which is not beyond the realm of possibility, in the kind of shooting I do...and I can find a refurbished 16-80 in the $600-$700 range, yes, I'd buy one. I can always use my excellent 70-300 VR for that 80-140 range the 16-80 lacks.

    reviewed August 22nd, 2015
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (6 reviews)
    Very Sharp with exellent contrast
    Distortion (both barrel and pincushion)

    I purchased this lens to go with my D7200. I have mostly been an FX user the last 4 years and currently also own a D750 and D800. My interest in going back to the DX camera and lenses started with using the D7200 as a way to get extra reach for my telephoto lenses such as the Nikkor 80-400mm VR and the newest Nikkor 300mmF4 VR.

    I was enjoying how well the D7200 worked with these lenses but I no longer had any wide angle "walk around lens" to use with this camera.

    I did have the Nikkor 24-120mmF4 VR and the 24-85mmF3.5/5.6 VR but those lenses are best suited for the FX format.

    I purchased the 16-80mmF2.8/4 VR on a whim. Having previously owned the 16-85 version, I hoped that this lens would have the improvements necessary to make it a "keeper".

    After a few days of testing and comparisons, I must admit that I will definitely keep this lens!

    My first test was to compare the 16-80 on my D7200 to the 24-120 on my D750. This is an easy test to do as the equivalent zoom ranges and apertures are the same (except for the ability of the 16-80 to go to F2.8).

    The result of this test amazed me. The 16-80 was sharper at all apertures from F4 through F16. It did not matter what focal length I was at. In addition, the 16-80 was better at contrast. Dark areas were darker, yet had more detail. A side benefit was the lack of any vignetting when a filter was attached to the 16-80 lens. This is not the case with the 24-120 when at 24mm focal length.

    I then compared the 16-80 (set to 34mm on my D7200) with the Nikkor 50mF1.8 mounted on my D750. Again, I was surprised that the 16-80 actually looked better at all apertures but F4, where the 50mm was slightly better in the extreme corners. Again, contrast was noticeably better on the 16-80. This was the first time any lens I owned outperformed this 50mm prime.

    I also own the Nikkor 20mmF1.8. Testing this lens directly with the 16-80 on my D7200 did show the superior performance of the 20mm lens, but the differences went away by F8. Both these lenses show the excellent contrast that comes with Nikon's latest coatings.

    The Nikkor 16-80mmF2.8/4 VR is slightly lighter than the 16-85 but otherwise about the same size. The focus speed seems similar to the 24-120, and the VR seems to work as advertised.

    At 80mm, I compared the 16-80 to my Nikkor 70-200F4 VR. The first test was done with the 16-80 on the D7200 (set for 80mm) and the 70-200 on the D750 (set to 120mm). The result of this test was almost a dead heat with maybe a slight edge to the 70-200.

    I did a second test where both lenses were mounted on the D7200 (at 80mm). In this test the 70-200 clearly won. This is not surprising in that the FX format puts real demands on the corner performance of FX lenses whereas the DX format does not. in addition, the D750 has an anti-alias filter. The D7200 does not, allowing for better overall resolution if the lens can pull it off.(and the 70-200 certainly can!)

    I would go on a hike with the 16-80 on a D7200 and feel confident that I would get as good or better photos than if I carried the 24-120 with the D750. In low light or the need to have limited DOF, I might want the FX combo, but for most scenery shots, I want maximum DOF and high ISO's are generally not needed. Do remember that DX cameras have 1.5 times greater DOF than FX.

    This lens is pricey. If I could not afford it, I would be temped by the Sigma 17-70mmF2.8/4. It looks to have similar performance overall.

    The only caveat, is the distortion. At 16mm, this lens has lots of barrel distortion. Strangely, it goes away by 19mm and quickly becomes pincushion all the way to 80mm. Most zooms seem similar in this regard. Just beware that you will want to correct for this distortion if buildings or ocean etc. are predominant in your images.

    All in all, it is great to see such lenses come onto the market. The latest 24mp sensors are very demanding. This lens will hold up to those sensors.

    reviewed July 29th, 2015 (purchased for $1,066)