This 5x standard zoom lens, sports a compact design, Vibration Reduction, and silent focusing. As well as this it also includes Nikon’s latest electromagnetic diaphragm, which promises to provide more consistent exposures, especially at high frame rates. Nano-Crystal anti-reflective coatings and a fluorine optical coating which helps to repel moisture and dirt. However, all these extra goodies aren’t free and the lens costs around £870 as a result. In this review, we’ll take a look at how it performs.
Build quality is typical of Nikon’s mid-range lenses, with high-quality plastics being used for most of the construction, apart from the lens bayonet, which is metal. The light weight of 480g and compact size make this lens the perfect companion for even compact Nikon DSLR bodies, and it balances well with the Nikon D300 used for testing.
Autofocus is powered by a silent wave motor, and autofocus speeds are decent for a mid-range zoom lens. Manual focus adjustments can be applied at any time via the narrow focusing ring closest to the camera body and it is well enough damped to make applying adjustments a pleasure.
Closest focus distance is 35cm which provides a maximum magnification of 0.22x at 80mm. A rectangular shaped hood is supplied, which attaches via a bayonet fitting on the front of the lens and the 72mm filter thread does not rotate, which should make this lens ideal for use with graduated filters and polarisers.
Nikon’s Vibration Reduction system promises to allow hand-held shots to be taken at shutter speeds up to four stops slower than would be possible without the technology. So long as the system is given time to kick in properly and images are shot with care, handheld shots at 1/8sec are quite possible at 80mm, which is around four stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would advise.
Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED DX VR Performance
At maximum aperture and 16mm, sharpness is excellent in the centre and is good towards the edges of the frame. Stopping down improves performance across the frame, with peak performance being achieved at f/5.6. Here clarity is excellent across the frame.
Zooming to 35mm results in a slight reduction of performance at maximum aperture. Sharpness is still excellent in the centre, and good towards the edges of the frame. Stopped down to between f/5.6 and f/8, performance at this focal length is much improved. Here sharpness is excellent across the frame.
Finally, at 80mm there is a further drop in performance at maximum aperture. Sharpness falls just short of very good levels in the centre of the frame and just shy of good levels towards the edges of the frame. Peak performance for this focal length falls between f/5.6 and f/8 again where clarity is excellent across the frame.