Top positive review
36 people found this helpful
An excellent lens
on 10 February 2014
I spent a long time wondering if buying the Nikon 16-35mm was going to be a wise choice.
I had intended going for the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8, I already own the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 so it seemed at first to be a no brainer given the 14-24mm's reputation for image quality.
Then I did some online research, a whole day in the end, and the choice became increasingly less obvious. Opinion was pretty much divided, no one argued the quality of the 14-24mm but in other areas the choice was less clear cut.
I decided to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate how I would be using the lens.
The lens was for intended for landscape so the 16-35mm on an FX body was a good focal length for this.
I like to shoot in inclement weather, the Nikon 14-24mm's inability to accept filters so having the front element exposed to wind, sand, sea spray and rain without the protection of a UV filter would have been a major concern.
The 16-35mm is an f4, so down a stop on the 14-24mm, and unlike many landscape photographers I rarely use a tripod as I find it gets in the way. Photographing whilst standing on slippery wet boulders can be tricky enough without a tripod to send you flying, so I tend to opt for a monopod or hand hold. So the Vibration Reduction had appeal.
Also the for me focal length had an advantage, 16-35mm covers a good spectrum of wide angle use. I try to plan for the lens I need before I go out and shoot. Changing lenses in rough weather is not a good idea to me, not only the risk of unwanted debris entering the camera or rear of the lens, but also the risk of dropping it.
On this basis I opted for the 16-35mm f4. So how have I found performance?
I ran some tests as far as I was able against my Nikon 24-70 f2.8, I took some shots at 24mm and 35mm on both lenses at the same f-stops, f4 and f8 with my Nikon D800 mounted on a tripod. I then blew these up to 300% in PhotoshopCC on a 27 inch monitor. This way exceeded what I would require of the lens.
At 35mm the Nikon 24-70mm appeared to have the advantage in terms of edge to edge sharpness, also for some unknown reason the the 16-35mm seemed to loose colour saturation compared to the 24-70mm. At f8 the 16-35mm was better though not the colour. This was simply adjusted in Photoshop.
At 24mm the situation reversed and the results were very noticeably better than those from the 24-70mm at both f stops. The colour saturation problem also disappeared.
I also ran some tests at 16mm, though I could not make any direct comparisons, the shots were taken in a conservatory with white chairs that had a wicker pattern on them. At f4 there was no real detail on the chairs at the image edges, at f8 the image improved very dramatically with good detail across the entire frame. This improved still further at f11.
All images taken at on the Nikon 16-35mm at f8 and viewed at 100% in Photoshop were impeccable.
In the field.
If I was still having doubts about my choice these did disappear once out in the wilds. This is a lovely lens to use. At first I thought it felt bit light and plastic for a pro Nikon lens, but once on the D800 it felt very well balanced and a very comfortable weight. It is fully weather sealed and suffered no mishaps when shooting close up to water falls despite getting fairly wet.
The quality of the images has not disappointed in any way. I think what counts are the results you get in the field, and this lens really delivers, also I experienced no issues at 35mm.
Also there is a significant price difference between the 14-24mm and the 16-35mm, large enough in fact to buy another piece of kit.
Perhaps if I ever take up interior photography I will take another look at the 14-24mm.