Nikkor AF-S 16-35mm f/4 G ED VR (DX) - Review / Lab Test Report - Analysis
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (APS-C)
Article Index
Introduction
Analysis

Distortion

In our FX review, the 16-35 VR showed a less than stellar distortion characteristic. It's typical for FX lenses to perform significantly better on smaller DX sensors in this regard, however the amount of improvement is surprising nonetheless.

At 16mm the lens shows barrel distortion of just above 1.1%. This can be visible in the field with certain subjects, but it's less than many other lenses in this focal range. At longer focal lengths, distortion switches over to the pincushion type, however it's low enough to not be really field-relevant.

Move the mouse cursor over the focal length text marks below to observe the respective distortion
16mm 24mm 35mm

The chart above has a real-world size of about 120x80cm.

Vignetting

Vignetting is usually not a significant problem of FX lenses on DX cameras. This is especially true for lenses with rather moderate maximum aperture settings. So, with light fall off values of clearly below 0.5 EV, vignetting is no issue at all with this lens.

MTF (resolution)

The lens shows very good to excellent center sharpness at all focal lengths, the borders and corners follow closely behind with very good sharpness at lower focal lengths. Only at 35mm the corners sharpness drops significantly wide open and the lens needs to be stopped down to f/8 to show very good sharpness across the frame at this focal length.

Below is a simplified summary of the formal findings. The chart shows line widths per picture height (LW/PH) which can be taken as a measure for sharpness. If you want to know more about the MTF50 figures you may check out the corresponding Imatest Explanations

Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)

Chromatic aberrations (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) are in the range of roughly 1 pixel at the image borders throughout most of the focal and aperture range. Only at 35mm the amount of CAs is a bit lower, reaching just above a half pixel stopped down to f/11 and even less with larger aperture.
CAs can easily be corrected in software or by the camera itself (most modern Nikon DSLRs remove CAs themselves if you shoot JPGs).

Sample Shots

Full size sample images are available in our FX review of this lens.

Verdict

On our 10 MP DX test camera, the Nikkor AF-S 16-35 VR is a very good wide-angle to normal zoom lens that shows excellent resolution in the center and very good border and corner sharpness at most focal length and aperture settings. Distortion is well under control, the same is true for vignetting and chromatic aberrations. The build quality is excellent and in line with other professional Nikkor lenses. So, in summary, it's a very attractive lens for DX shooters.

For DX only usage, however, it faces some serious competition by Nikon's own AF-S DX 16-85 VR lens. While the DX lens shows some more distortion and vignetting, it offers a lot larger focal range in a smaller package, even better sharpness in the overlapping range and comes at a significantly lower price. In summary, the 16-85mm lens will probably be the more attractive lens for many.

However, for anyone living in both worlds, FX and DX, the 16-35 VR is a nice dual-use option, that serves well on both formats.

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