Recently I’ve been experiencing one of those existential photo crises. Low motivation, cliché results, slumping Instagram likes. When I get bummed about my photography I do what any self-respecting unprofessional photographer would do – put on some soft jazz, pour myself a fine single malt, then pull out my favorite Zeiss lens chart results and pleasure myself. But even that didn’t make me feel better. What’s a listless soul-wrenched photographer to do? Ha, I know what will do the trick – no better way to demonstrate my photographic élan and self-assurance than to dis on a kit lens.
Kit lenses are generally known for their convenience, light weight, and optical inferiority. Because one lens replaces many, it’s a recipe to turn one into an slothful photographer. Not the kind of lens we like to talk about here at Photography Life, but as a matter of due diligence someone has to review them so I’m taking one for the team ;) Recently (well not that recently), Nikon released the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR. This is the DX equivalent of Nikon’s popular full frame 24-120mm f/4. Both sport an equivalent 5x zoom range – very convenient for all-around photography. The 16-80mm has been bundled with the D500 as a kit, albeit a high-end DX kit. By itself the 16-80mm boasts a MSRP of $1069.95. Ouch, for less than the 16-80mm alone you can currently pick up a D7100 with the 18-55mm kit lens plus the 55-300mm lens. The good news is that Nikon currently is giving $500 off the D500 + 16-80mm kit (regularly $3069.95, now $2569.95). I was in the market for a D500 so I took the bait. If I didn’t like lens, I’d just use it to pound out schnitzels.
1) Key Features
The 16-80mm sports the coveted “gold ring” at the end of the lens barrel. Unlike the magic ring that turns hobbits invisible, the Gold Ring brings attention to you and your camera, announcing you are pro material because you only shoot the best. Besides the hefty MSRP, what gives the 16-80mm this distinction? It pretty much has most of Nikon’s top end technologies – fluorine coating on the front and rear elements (makes it easier to clean with a dry lens cloth), Nano-coating to control flare, electromagnetic diaphragm for consistent results and stepless adjustment (good for video), 4-stop Vibration Reduction, extra-low dispersion glass, aspheric elements, silent wave focus motor, and Beyonce’s unlisted phone number (just checking to see if you’re still with me). But do these add up to good pictures?
Because I like to photograph nature, I’m a much bigger believer in actual field test results than in how well a lens shoots a flat target at a fixed distance in a lab somewhere. What you’re going to see in this review are shots from the field at a variety of focal lengths, apertures and distances. If you want MTF diagrams go here.
Below are the lens specifications.
2) Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR Specifications
|Lens Type||Zoom Lens|
|Mount Type||Nikon F|
|Format||APS-C / DX|
|Compatible Format(s)||APS-C / DX|
|Compatible with Teleconverters||No|
|Maximum Reproduction Ratio||0.22x|
|Vibration Reduction (Image Stabilization)||Yes|
|Maximum Angle of View (APS-C or smaller format)||83°|
|Minimum Angle of View (APS-C or smaller format)||20°|
|Extra-Low Dispersion Glass Elements||4|
|Nano Crystal Coat||Yes|
|Super Integrated Coat (SIC)||Yes|
|Built-in Focus Motor||Yes|
|Silent Wave Motor (SWM)||Yes|
|Minimum Focus Distance||1.15 ft. (0.35m)|
|Accepts Filter Type||Screw-on|
|Weather / Dust Sealing||No|
|Dimensions||3.1 in. (80 mm) x 3.3 in. (85.5 mm)|
|Weight||16.1 oz. (480 g)|
|Available in Colors||Black|