8 out of 10 points and recommendedGood solid build, VR is a bonusSoft at wider apertures
I am new to the Nikon system and this was my first "pro" quality purchase. Although it is a fine lens, I am disappointed with the performance at wide apertures. Here is my experience.reviewed April 6th, 2009 (purchased for $825)
I purchased this as a dual purpose lens. Obviously, as a macro but also as an interim portrait lens. Maybe I just got a lemon but the lens is unacceptablly soft at wide apertures. This is not much of an issue when shooting macro but leaves a lot to be desired for portrait. My lens requires stopping down to 5.6 to get the center in good shape. At first I thought it was my technique so I mounted my Tamron 90/2.8. The Tamron simply outperformed the Nikon across the board.
I sent the lens to Nikon to have it evaluated. When it was returned (good turnaround - 3 weeks), there was a list of adjustments / repairs they had performed (this is a brand new lens so makes me wonder about QC). The performance was improved but still falls short of the Tamron.
From what I have read on this and other forums since, unless you must have the VR, I would opt for the non-VR version or go for the Tamron for macro. For portrait, you are better off with one of the 85mm. The 85/1.8 stopped down to 2.8 is a better choice.
Reading through the other reviews, my comments will probably seem like heresy or maybe I just don't get "it". Yes the build is very nice but it is the performance that counts. In that regard, it is a beautiful lens that does not deliver at wider apertures.... at least not my sample.
9 out of 10 points and recommendedA bargain. Can serve as macro and portrait. Sharp wide open ... stop it down and it just gets better.Focus is slow but not unusual with macro lens. Build quailty is not top tier but good for price.
I continue to be amazed at the quality this lens can provide. It was one of the first I picked up when migrating to Nikon system. In addition to being an excellent macro lens, I have heard the Tamron 90/2.8 called the "poor man's portrait lens" and indeed it can wear two hats.reviewed July 23rd, 2010 (purchased for $325)
As a straight macro lens, it leaves little to be desired. Performance is good wide open and continues to improve until around f11 or so. I think the photographers technique will be the only limitation when using this lens.
The Tamron can also serve as a good portrait lens, though a little long on DX sensor. The only drawback is the focus can be a little slow and noisy compared to an AF-S lens but is to be expected considering the wide focusing radius on a macro lens.
To underscore how good this lens is, I later upgraded to the Nikon 105/2.8 AF-S VR. The Nikon is a fine lens and has its own unique advantages but I was surprised to find that the Tamron out performed the Nikon at every aperture regarding sharpness, especially wide open f2.8. I planned to sell the Tamron to cover the cost of the Nikon upgrade but after a year, I still have the Tamron. Considering how little I have in the lens, doubt that I will ever sell it. It is that good.
Very few downsides:
- the lens barrel extends out quite a bit when close focusing.
- build quality is a not professional grade but it doesn't cost $$$ so a fair trade-off.
- focusing is way under-damped. When disconnected from a camera body, the lens barrel will extend if held vertical.
I highly recommend this lens, especially if you are starting a a new system on a budget. Great lens!
10 out of 10 points and recommendedExcellent resolution and color rendition. Versatile range. Just a great lens!Wish it was 1 stop faster and that's all.
I have had this lens for nearly two years and my appreciation just continues to grow. This lens can deliver stunning images. It is sharp wide-open and becomes razor sharp after 1-2 stops. Color rendition is excellent.reviewed July 26th, 2010 (purchased for $420)
This is such a nice compact and useful range. It has earned the position of being the lens always mounted on my D300 unless I have a specific need for a different focal length or there is no substitute for speed. Otherwise, the 16-85 is my "go to" lens.
I also have the Nikon 18-200/VR (Type 1). Not talking the 18-200 down, but it is a lens of convenience and does not match the overall IQ of the 16-85mm.
I wish it was a little faster but then there are trade-offs there, too and it would probably cost a lot more. This is not an inexpensive lens but definitely worth the price.
6 out of 10 points and not recommendedFast and compactAF issues and usual Tamron QC
I have the newer version with built-in motor for Nikon mount.reviewed July 26th, 2010 (purchased for $375)
I have tried to like this lens but have finally decided to sell it and be done with it. My primary dissatisfaction is due to the slow noisy hit-or-miss (mostly miss) AF. Even cranking up to maximum AF adjustment on my D300, the lens consistently front focuses slightly. I mounted it on a D3000 and still front focuses though not as badly. The only remedy is to begin stopping down the lens to expand the DOF which completely defeats the purpose of buying the lens.
I sent it back to Tamron for adjustment and could not detect any change or improvement when it was returned. I know they did something because the D300 didn't recognize the "chip".
Perhaps if I didn't have "senior" vision, I would just switch to manual focus and could at least get some measure of utility from the lens. But as many have discovered when migrating to a DSLR, accurate AF is almost a necessity because the manufacturers no longer provide tools to assist accurate manual focusing.
If you read the other reviews, I must have gotten a bad sample. Still, that is consistent with the Tamron experience... When you get a good lens, it is a great value. And if you don't, it is nothing but frustration and a waste of money.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedSharp pleasing colors. Excellent build. Useful range.Non-removable tripod mount. Prone to some flare, CA.
I love this lens. This lens should be in everyone's bag if their camera uses an APS-C sensor. I do not believe there is a better quality lens in this zoom range and at this price point.reviewed August 6th, 2010 (purchased for $525)
The images it produces are simply stunning if the photographer does their part. Mine is sharp wide-open with very good color rendition. Excellent bokeh. The images just jump out at you...many would call the "3D effect".
Be aware with Nikon bodies, this does not have a built-in motor, relying on screw drive AF. I have a D300 so no issue but will not D40(X)-D60-D3000-D5000 body.
My only complaint is that you cannot remove the tripod mount. You may be able to remove it if you are willing to disassemble the mount but definitely not for the faint at heart. I have moved it to an "11 o'clock" position to get it out of the way so not too bad.
Use the hood if you are in contra light conditions because it is susceptible to some flare.
Build quality is excellent. This is a pro grade lens in every respect except for AF speed. If it had an HSM, it would be nearing perfection.