Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-85mm DX f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

The light, well-built standard Nikon 16-85mm AF-S f/3.5-5.6G ED VR zoom lens is one of several options available to Nikon users looking to upgrade their existing kit lens.

Nikkor 16-85mm AF-S DX f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

Nikkor 16-85mm AF-S DX f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

The 16-85mm, which is only compatible with crop sensor bodies, is relatively light at 485g, and has an extremely slim barrel for comfortable handling. The lens comes with Nikon’s Vibration Reduction system for shooting handheld at slower shutter speeds, and unlike the other seven lenses, it boasts two different stabilisation modes. Normal mode is designed for general use, and will even detect a panning movement so that only vertical blur is reduced. Active mode is designed for more extreme situations such as shooting from a moving vehicle.

The 16-85mm has a large focal range, offering users around 30mm more reach than a kit lens, and has a slightly greater angle-of-view at the wide end. However, its aperture range of f/3.5-5.6 is identical to Nikon kit lenses, so the 16-85mm is no faster and there’s no difference in depth-of-field. Build quality is competitive, with a durable plastic body and metal lens mount. The zoom ring is rubberised for a comfortable grip, though the focus ring is all plastic.

The minimum focusing distance of this lens is particularly long at 38cm, so the Nikon 16-85mm isn’t particularly well-suited for close-up subjects. Image quality is disappointing too, especially at wider apertures where corners are very soft and chromatic aberration is fairly severe.


A light, neat lens, but we found its image quality to be poor.


  • Street price: £438
  • Max Aperture: f/3.5-5.6
  • Min aperture: f/22
  • Min focus distance: 38cm
  • Image stabilisation: Yes (normal and active)
  • Diaphragm blades: 7
  • Angle of view: 83-19º
  • No. of elements: 17, in 11 groups
  • Filter size: 67mm
  • Extending lens barrel: Yes
  • Available mounts: Nikon
  • Full frame compatible: No, APS-C only
  • Length: 85mm
  • Weight: 485g
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This review was first published in the November 2014 issue of Digital Photo - download back issues here.