Nikon’s latest standard zoom could be the lens DX-format users have been waiting for. Phil Hall puts it to the test to see if the wait has been worth it
Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm f2.8-4E ED VR – Build and handling
The exterior build of the Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8-4 shies away from a metal construction in favour of high-quality plastic that is finished with a dappled texture that complements the company’s DSLRs. However, there is a metal mount at the rear, and a nice touch is the inclusion of an O-ring seal around the mount to limit dust and water entering the camera. It’s worth noting, though, that the lens doesn’t pretend to be weather-sealed.
When you consider the 5x focal length packed into this lens, it is an incredibly compact model and weighs a modest 480g. When teamed up with a D7200, the balance of body and lens in the hand is good, although on smaller DX-format DSLRs it will probably feel quite front-heavy. The compact size of the lens means there’s little space for a large zoom ring, but the one that’s fitted is adequate, and its positioning towards the front of the lens means it falls to the hand nicely.
The slim manual-focus ring positioned further towards the camera body has a fine ribbed contour and rotates anti-clockwise from infinity to closest focus (0.35m), with a relatively smooth transition through the range. Between the zoom and manual-focus rings is a modest focus-distance-scale window, marked in both feet and metres.
On the side of the lens are three switches. The first is a switch that allows manual override of autofocus with minimal lag time and regardless of what AF mode you’re using. Then there’s the choice of switching the VR on or off, while the third lets you select between Normal and Active VR modes. These switches are clearly labelled, and the only issue that may arise is if you want to change one of these settings quickly with the camera raised to your eye because they are all identical.