Nikon 16-85mm

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by pilotkid, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. pilotkid macrumors 6502a

    Aug 22, 2006
    Chandler, AZ/Chicago, IL
    Hey everyone. I just got my D7100 today and I bought the body only. Now I'm looking to buy a lens. The Nikon 16-85mm has caught my eye for its versatility and I'm wanting to gather opinions from those who have this lens or have used it. In addition to this lens I plan on purchasing the 70-300mm or 80-400mm shortly after for the far out stuff. I'm a big aviation buff and its good to have a long lens for capturing aircraft at air shows, etc. Lets hear your options on the 16-85mm!
  2. nneufeld macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2013
    Minnesota, United States
    Well, I'll be honest. I'm not familiar with that exact lens. However, I'd be happy to give you a bit of advice about lenses generally.

    Whatever you do, don't cheap out on the glass.

    Indeed, I don't expect you to make an initial foray into photography by dropping $10k on bodies and glass and the 16-85 appears to be a relatively good lens. When it comes to lenses though, much more than the zoom range is important to determine the quality of the lens. The "F number" is one of the easiest ways to tell if a lens is any good or not (not always true, of course). The lower the F number (numerical representation of the physical size of the iris), the more light that the lens lets through to the sensor.

    Because designing a lens with a larger iris is more difficult (read "more expensive"), this is generally a good indication of the overall quality of the construction of the lens. Further, a larger iris makes a lens more versatile, particularly in low-light situations.

    Unfortunately, the DX line of lenses are somewhat limited in this regard as they are geared toward hobbyists and amateurs. If I were to pick from the lineup, I'd go with the Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8.

    This does come at a much steeper price. Remember though, your glass will last much longer than your body if you take care of it properly. Glass is an investment, bodies are not.

    Keep in mind also that the DX cameras are able to mount FX lenses at a "crop factor" of 1.5. (a 70-200mm lens effectively becomes a 140-300mm).

    You may also want to look into prime (non zoom) lenses.

    And I like to answer questions so if anything here was helpful at all, I'd be happy to advise further.
  3. 88888888 macrumors 6502a

    May 28, 2008
    go with a used 17-55. can get a good one for 800~900. Only a few hundred more than new 16-85
  4. BJMRamage macrumors 68020


    Oct 2, 2007
    This is great advise!
  5. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    Not necessarily. Plenty of people can't tell the difference between the most expensive lenses and the less expensive lenses and/or don't care. So it would be bad advice for them. The truth is, most people don't need anything better than typical consumer lenses.
  6. ohbrilliance macrumors 6502a


    May 15, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    There are some good alternatives. Take a look at the Tamron 17-50/2.8 for one. I replaced my 18-70 kit lens (which should be comparable with the 16-85) with this, and found it a much better lens -- sharper wide-open and more flexible because of it.

    While you shouldn't cheap out on glass, it also doesn't pay to go overboard. You can't compensate for good technique.
  7. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    Whilst the Tamron 17-50 is a good mid range zoom, the variable quality is killer. Highly suggest you buy it locally that has a good exchange policy. My 1st copy was much softer wide open than it should've been. The 16-85 is a great/versatile travel lens for me before I went all FX. I usually paired it with the Nikon 35mm 1.8 DX lens for a lightweight very usable combo for family trips. Yes the 17-55 2.8 is better and sharper, but that lens is too long on the tooth and is way too bulky and lacks VR for it's size/price. Nikon has been neglecting DX shooters when it comes to lenses for far too long! A supposedly much better lens than the 17-55 for even cheaper is the upcoming Sigma 18-35 1.8 zoom looks to be stellar. Their recent Art line is really really good. My Sigma 35mm 1.4 spends plenty of time on my D800.
  8. BJMRamage macrumors 68020


    Oct 2, 2007
    I guess what I am saying is (as others pointed out) don't simply buy, buy, buy and think that will cut it. Look into the details, and see what makes the lenses cost more and realize that super zoom for $200 might seem great but the results wont be as crisp as you'd hope.

    Don't go out and buy many lenses thinking you've got a rocking setup. invest in lenses as they can transfer to future camera bodies. perhaps buy one lens and "master" that before buying the next.

    and with Aviation, I think of Air Shows where the planes are far away and fast. a cheap zoom wont stop the plane easily compared to a more expensive zoom. but thinking you might be 2-3 zooms in hope of having the right one on the camera to get teh shot and not isn't great. When i bought my latest camera it came with a decent lens. I used that and didn't take others simply because i didn't want to keep swapping out. I now have added a prime lens and so will only be taking one extra lens with me.
  9. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    All he has to do is bump up his ISO, which a 7100 should easily handle and still look good. For most people, there's no need for an expensive zoom in that situation.
  10. Cheese&Apple, Jul 16, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013

    Cheese&Apple macrumors 68000


    Jun 5, 2012
    I can't comment on the 16-85mm but if you're thinking that you may, at a later date, pick-up the 80-400mm there are rumours afloat that the new Nikon 300mm f/4 will be out this fall.

    The existing 300 f/4 with the 1.4 TC (420mm) is viewed by many as superior to the new 80-400mm. The only drawback to the 300 f/4 has been the lack of stabilization (VR). A new version with VR will, in all likelihood, be an awesome lens that is sharper, lighter and cheaper than the 80-400mm.

    A new 300mm with 1.4 TC would be about $500 less than the 80-400mm. This would allow you more purchasing room for a lens now if you can live without the zoom.

  11. MaxxTraxx macrumors 6502

    Jul 2, 2008
    The 16-85 is a good buy. I bought one for $270 used.
  12. deep diver macrumors 65816

    deep diver

    Jan 17, 2008
    Solon, OH
    I have not used the 16-85, but I do own the 80-400. I really like it. It is heavy and the focus is a little slow, but neither more so than expected. The reach on a DX camera (I have the D7000) is great and the pictures are very sharp. I would buy it again in a second. I am partial to Nikon glass, but Sigma and Tamron have excellent lenses that top out at 400 or 500.
  13. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I bought the 16-85 when I went to the D300s some years ago. I had been using the 18-70 as my "normal" zoom. I shoot primarily landscapes. I've got other zooms and primes as well.

    The big boon for me has been that I don't need to use a tripod in well lit conditions -- the VR is good enough for resolution to the pixel level without any blur at the base ISO. The extra 2mm at the wide end makes more of a difference than one might think, however there is noticeable distortion.

    I don't do air shows but I sure would think that if I did I'd put my money into the 70-200 f/2.8 and an extender and go cheap on the "normal" if I ended up cash strapped. The telephotos I use always end up on a tripod because of their small apertures and my aversion to high ISOs for my style of photography.
  14. wabbit42 macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2012
    For airshows I would say choose a lens that goes up to at least 300mm. I use a 55-200mm lens with my Sony Alpha and it falls short for getting decent shots of smaller planes such as fighters.
  15. mofunk macrumors 68020


    Aug 26, 2009
    Another option is to rent the lens before you buy. is one of the companies I use. If you are an occasional shooter then go with the basic kit lens. If you want more in your most said here... get good glass. Its almost like night and day. I've used some of those fast glass... 24-70 70-200mm lenses and OMG my camera takes some great photos. My images are great with my 50mm but when I use some fast glass, I can really see this DSLR at work! :cool:

    List what you are going to be shooting the most. And go from there. If your budget is limited, try looking at a used lens from a reputable dealer. i.e. or

    You could start with a 70-300 and get a cheaper kit lens used like 18-70mm or 18-105mm or 16-85mm. Or even go with a 50mm lens f/1.8
  16. dmax35 macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2012
    I've been photographing aircraft for over 30 yrs and my go to lens is a trusty 70-200mm 2.8. Allows you to get in close as needed and shoot far enough out to crop in post.
  17. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I use the same lens and agree. It is pricy, but a fantastic lens. Mine is the first generation of VR, which has since been replaced with VRII.

    Mine was $1700 or so when I bought it, and I think the new one is about $2400. I also have the dedicated 2x extender... which for me was a waste of money. I just don't use it at all.

  18. adversus macrumors regular


    Sep 11, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I'll second the 17-55 2.8 suggestion. I just rented one for a friend's wedding two weeks ago and loved it so much I'm thinking of buying one. I have a D7000 and got some stellar results with it:

    (don't have a local copy on this laptop, sorry!)
  19. danmanc macrumors newbie

    Nov 11, 2014

    I have a 16-85 and love it! My advice, stay away from Sigma lenses, I've noticed many times they don't focus so well. The 16-85 is an investment but it's a lens I use very often and well worth the cost.

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