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 – Resolution, shading and curvilinear distortion
At 16mm and f/2.8, centre sharpness is good but edge sharpness does suffer. However, this improves somewhat as you stop the lens down, with around f/5.6-8 delivering the best results for centre and corner sharpness. Beyond that, diffraction starts to become an issue. At 80mm, edge sharpness at f/4 doesn’t match the centre of the frame, with f/5.6 delivering the sharpest results.
There’s severe vignetting when using the lens wide open at f/2.8 and 16mm, but it starts to disappear when stopped down a little at f/4 before being well controlled beyond that. At 80mm, vignetting is slightly better controlled at f/4, although there’s quite a drop-off at the edges of the frame. From f/8 onwards, though, things are controlled well.
At 16mm noticeable barrel distortion can be seen in our test results, with the straight lines of our chart bowing out towards the edge of the frame. This disappears as you move through the zoom range, replaced by pincushion distortion. This is noticeable in our charts at 35mm, although it doesn’t deteriorate too much after that.