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 – Image quality
With an extensive 5x focal range running from wideangle to telephoto, there’s a reasonable amount of strain put on the optics to deliver decent results, not only through the zoom range but also through the aperture range. Despite a few small issues, though, the AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR lens delivers a solid performance.
It’s worth bearing in mind that when shooting subjects with critical straight lines, barrel distortion is present at 16mm. This became apparent when shooting a coastal scene, and trying to level the scene became impossible thanks to the slight bow in the horizon that was visible in the viewfinder. If you are prepared to adjust for this when shooting and then correct it in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, then shooting at f/11, though not the sharpest aperture, still delivers nice results with decent edge-to-edge sharpness and virtually no signs of vignetting.
When shooting wide open at 16mm, image quality does suffer around the edges of the frame. While centre sharpness is good, there is noticeable vignetting right in the corners of the image. However, this may only really be the case at f/2.8, with things picking up as you stop down the lens.
Barrel distortion disappears as you move through the zoom range, to be replaced by only minor pincushion distortion, which is a lot better controlled. There are still issues with vignetting and edge sharpness when shooting wide open, but as I experienced at 16mm, if you stop the lens down by 1 or 2 stops things improve dramatically.