Nikkor AF-S DX 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (APS-C)

Review by Markus Stamm and Klaus Schroiff, published June 2011


In the days of film it was already quite common for standard zooms to start at 24mm at the wide end. Many years after the digital revolution started, only a few dedicated DX standard zoom lenses that offer a similar field of view are available.

One of these is Nikon's AF-S DX 16-85 VR. Ever since its introduction in 2008 it has been a very popular and highly regarded lens. In fact, many consider it to be one of the benchmark lenses in this segment.

In this review we will have a look at how the lens performs on our current DX test camera, the Nikon D7000.

The build quality of the lens is decent - the outer body is made of plastic whereas the inner tubes as well as the sealed mount are made of metal. The zoom action is quite stiff whereas the small focus ring operates pretty smooth.

As you can see below the lens extends considerably towards the long end of the zoom range. The inner tube uses a duo-cam design, however there are no signs of wobbling.

Thanks to an IF (Internal focusing) design the front does not rotate so using a polarizer is no problem.

The Nikkor features an AF-S motor (silent-wave (ultrasonic)) resulting in fast and near silent AF operations.. Thanks to AF-S, the lens is fully compatible with all current Nikon DSLRs, including the motorless entry-level models.

The lens features second generation optical stabilization (VR II) which Nikon claims allows for up to 3 stops slower shutter speeds. Actual results will vary depending on the photographer, of course. In our field tests up to three stops longer shutter times were easily possible (given a steady subject). The lens offers two VR modes - a "normal" mode for most situations inc. static scenes, object tracking as well as monopod-based shots whereas the 2nd "active" mode is meant to compensate more pronounced vibrations (e.g. shooting from a moving vehicle). The VR should be switched off when using the lens on a tripod.

Typical for all G lenses the Nikkor does not provide a dedicated aperture ring anymore.

Equiv. focal length24-127.5 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/5.3-f/8.4 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction17 elements in 11 groups inc. 3x aspherical and 2x ED elements
Number of aperture blades7 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.38 m (max. magnification ratio 1:4.6)
Dimensions72 x 85 mm
Weight485 g
Filter size67 mm (non-rotating)
HoodNikon HB-39, petal-shaped, bayonet mount (supplied)
Other featuresOptical stabilization (VR II), Silent-wave AF drive

Disclosure: When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network and Google Adsense.