Feedback on Nikon 16-35 f/4 VR vs 17-35 f/2.8?


voux

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Feb 10, 2006
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#1
Hi all, seeking advice from users of the above 2 lenses...

I'm planning to change to FF body so am looking for a wide angle zoom for event coverage (clubs, dinners, parties). Usually indoors with on-board flash, occasionally without. likely be using the 16-25 range regularly based on past experience...

Have narrowed it down to the Nikon 17-35 f/2.8 and the Nikon 16-35 f/4 VR. Seeking feedback from those who have PERSONALLY used these lenses before on FF cameras. Whats your personal experiences with them? Even better if you can offer feedback from using both of them - eg. comparisons of how they fare during your shoots? eg. vignetting, sharpness, AF, distortion, etc...

Thanks in advance!
 

daredevil123

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Staff member
Oct 25, 2005
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lil red dot
#2
Hi all, seeking advice from users of the above 2 lenses...

I'm planning to change to FF body so am looking for a wide angle zoom for event coverage (clubs, dinners, parties). Usually indoors with on-board flash, occasionally without. likely be using the 16-25 range regularly based on past experience...

Have narrowed it down to the Nikon 17-35 f/2.8 and the Nikon 16-35 f/4 VR. Seeking feedback from those who have PERSONALLY used these lenses before on FF cameras. Whats your personal experiences with them? Even better if you can offer feedback from using both of them - eg. comparisons of how they fare during your shoots? eg. vignetting, sharpness, AF, distortion, etc...

Thanks in advance!
Both are excellent lenses. When both are wide open the 16-35 is a little sharper. But both are pretty much the same at F4. VR on the 16-35 is definitely a plus. 17-35 gives you a very slight thinner DOF due to F2.8.
 

yyD70S

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Dec 25, 2005
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#3
I have used the AFS 17-35mm f2.8 on my F100 and D70S & currently D700, mainly for scapes and streets and anything up close and personal. Fact is, it's almost always the lens mounted to my DSLR by default.

The build is extremely good and it balances well on my D700. AF is fast (even on my D70S). Distortion is obvious (not much though) at its widest focal length, especially so if I place my horizon in the upper-third of the frame. It's almost perfect at its longest focal length and is distortion-free in between.

Except for the extreme corners at max apeture (if you zoom in at 100%), sharpness is very good on my D700 but vignetting is almost always present unless stopped down by 1-2f depending on the focal length in use. Handling of flare is good so I have no worries shooting into the sun (so to speak).

Beware though if you are getting a used copy as the lens is famous (or infamous) for its squeaky AFS motor. Do check with Nikon Japan (with your serial number) to confirm if your copy has the "newer AFS motor".

HOWEVER, if you are planning to purchase the D3X or D800/D800E and backward compatibility is not important to you, the AFS 16-35mm f4 VR may be a better buy if you can leave with the distortion at 16mm (from what I have seen from uncorrected pics) and can live without f2.8 (where, believe it or not, is sometimes very needed as I need it to freeze the moving branches from the wind blowing).

The AFS 16-35mm f4 VR with its "newer gizmos ~ Nano coating, etc" should be optically superior in almost every aspect.

Do consider the AFS 14-24mm f2.8 too if you think you can live with its limited focal range and can afford the expensive LEE filter holder (if need) and superior optics is your #1 priority.

If only Nikon give us f2.8 WITH VR & Nano coating on the AFS 16-35mm.
 

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bobofish

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May 12, 2006
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#4
Was contemplating between the 2 and bought the 16-35 in the end. The reason was according to NSC staff, D lens might not be fully compatable with newer cameras. D lens also cannot be calibrated. Had bad experience with my 50f1.4D. so i went for the G lens instead.
 

voux

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Feb 10, 2006
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#5
Both are excellent lenses. When both are wide open the 16-35 is a little sharper. But both are pretty much the same at F4. VR on the 16-35 is definitely a plus. 17-35 gives you a very slight thinner DOF due to F2.8.
yeah, i heard the 16-35 is sharper but more distorted on the wider range than the 17-35...


I have used the AFS 17-35mm f2.8 on my F100 and D70S & currently D700, mainly for scapes and streets and anything up close and personal. Fact is, it's almost always the lens mounted to my DSLR by default.

The build is extremely good and it balances well on my D700. AF is fast (even on my D70S). Distortion is obvious (not much though) at its widest focal length, especially so if I place my horizon in the upper-third of the frame. It's almost perfect at its longest focal length and is distortion-free in between.

Except for the extreme corners at max apeture (if you zoom in at 100%), sharpness is very good on my D700 but vignetting is almost always present unless stopped down by 1-2f depending on the focal length in use. Handling of flare is good so I have no worries shooting into the sun (so to speak).

Beware though if you are getting a used copy as the lens is famous (or infamous) for its squeaky AFS motor. Do check with Nikon Japan (with your serial number) to confirm if your copy has the "newer AFS motor".

HOWEVER, if you are planning to purchase the D3X or D800/D800E and backward compatibility is not important to you, the AFS 16-35mm f4 VR may be a better buy if you can leave with the distortion at 16mm (from what I have seen from uncorrected pics) and can live without f2.8 (where, believe it or not, is sometimes very needed as I need it to freeze the moving branches from the wind blowing).

The AFS 16-35mm f4 VR with its "newer gizmos ~ Nano coating, etc" should be optically superior in almost every aspect.

Do consider the AFS 14-24mm f2.8 too if you think you can live with its limited focal range and can afford the expensive LEE filter holder (if need) and superior optics is your #1 priority.

If only Nikon give us f2.8 WITH VR & Nano coating on the AFS 16-35mm.
ahhh the good ol' F100... i miss that camera!

anyway, it's really each having their own pros n cons... several 2nd hand 17-35s i checked out has the squeaky AF problem. as for the 16-35, i'm concerned with the stop difference & the distortion at 16-20mm range. not keen on 14-24 as i find it a big no-no in terms of safety since am unable to easily find/attach a filter on.


Was contemplating between the 2 and bought the 16-35 in the end. The reason was according to NSC staff, D lens might not be fully compatable with newer cameras. D lens also cannot be calibrated. Had bad experience with my 50f1.4D. so i went for the G lens instead.
hmm, that's a valid point that i've not considered before too. thanks for sharing :)
 

hkenh

New Member
Mar 7, 2011
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#6
I have the 16-35mm on my D700 and it's one of the sharpest lens I have. And the VR is fantastic, I could still use it to take shots when there's little ambient light and I got no tripod with me. It's sharp wide open and from f/5.6-8 it's like razor sharp edge to edge. Distortion is visible at the wider end but it's easily corrected in photoshop and there's lil bit of vignetting at f/4. But I shoot mostly f/5.6 above so vignetting is not a huge problem for me. Build quality and the weight feels great on the D700 body.

I don't have the 17-35, and I only shoot landscape with the 16-35 so I don't know how would it perform when shooting events. Shallower DOF might be great for events shooting to isolate your subject, you really do have to try it out yourself to see which do you prefer.

And another thing, the AF is fine, but definitely not great when tracking moving subjects coz it's an wide angle lens and also because the focus scale reaches infinity pretty quickly. But stopping down to around f/8 should be fine. The 16-35mm is really one of those lens I felt money worth it, really great for value!
 

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daredevil123

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Oct 25, 2005
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lil red dot
#8
yeah, i heard the 16-35 is sharper but more distorted on the wider range than the 17-35...
The distortion is more, but is also a very simple barrel distortion. One click in PS or LR will fix it instantly with no loss of viewing angle.
 

daredevil123

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Oct 25, 2005
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lil red dot
#9
Is the sharpness due to the F/4 and F/2.8 differences?
More than that. The 1635 is still sharper at F4 compared to 1735 stopped down to F4. But if you really want to talk about sharpness on UWA, my vote goes to the Samyang 14mm.
 

Cowseye

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Mar 7, 2010
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#10
daredevil123 said:
More than that. The 1635 is still sharper at F4 compared to 1735 stopped down to F4. But if you really want to talk about sharpness on UWA, my vote goes to the Samyang 14mm.
Contemplating to buy a 14mm Samyang for landscape for D800 ^^
 

yyD70S

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Dec 25, 2005
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#11
If sharpness is what you desire for your D800, instead of the Samyang, do consider the new Zeiss 15mm f2.8 (probably have to pre-order). Just joking. How to know sharpness when it's not even out :)

But seriously, do consider the Zeiss 21mm f2.8. It's great on the D700 and should hold its own on the new D800.
 

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Cowseye

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#12
yyD70S said:
If sharpness is what you desire for your D800, instead of the Samyang, do consider the new Zeiss 15mm f2.8 (probably have to pre-order). Just joking. How to know sharpness when it's not even out :)

But seriously, do consider the Zeiss 21mm f2.8. It's great on the D700 and should hold its own on the new D800.
That's why I was contemplating. But Samyang wins hands down in the price department.
 

voux

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Feb 10, 2006
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#13
hi, just an update to this old thread... in the end, decided to get a 2nd hand 16-35.

reason being that I encountered 2 separate cases of 17-35's squeaky AF issues. and the copy of 16-35 I got does seem sharper on the D700. losing 1 stop from f/2.8 to f/4 was difficult but sharpness over stop for me. have been compensating with higher ISO & fill-in flash for that.

yes, distortion at corners is quite visible on the 16-35 so composition-wise have been careful not to put people or important subjects there.

quite happy with the purchase of 16-35 so far :)
 

Dfive

Senior Member
Nov 20, 2008
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#14
the 17-35 is the only current near bullet proof Nikkor... ;) .. I love mine. ( Old school Nikkor Quality !!! )
 

#16
I used the 17 -35 quite abit, but didnt enjoy it very much. my copy had v v mushy corners where the colour and detail would smear.. that was quite the deal breaker for me because I couldn't shoot at 2.8 with confidence. I ended up switching it out for a tokina 17 3.5 atx pro which beat it hands down.

I'm not sure if it's a lens problem or just my copy, but you ll def wanna look out for the issue as its quite unsightly, ESP on grass an foliage.

also, check the af s motor for squeaking.
 

K S Kong

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Dec 11, 2007
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#17
Why waste time to compare? One is film era product, another exclusive design for today digital camera. Unless you still enjoy shooting in film.
 

fmeeran

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Nov 5, 2010
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#18
K S Kong said:
Why waste time to compare? One is film era product, another exclusive design for today digital camera. Unless you still enjoy shooting in film.
Some of the film era products can beat the pants off of the newer lenses.
 

Jul 26, 2009
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#19
(Some of the film era products can beat the pants off of the newer lenses.) Totally agree.
58mm f1.2 NOCT,28mm f/1.4D and some other old lens nowadays lens cannot beat. :devil:
 

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icarus

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Jan 27, 2002
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#20
I used the 16-35mm and 17-35mm extensively on FX and film but now using only primes... if i have to buy a wide angle zoom for landscapes again, i will get the 16-35mm. Its sharper but more distorted than 17-35mm. But i am scared of the 17-35mm's AF-S motor issues, mine old 17-35mm suffers from the same problem on film.
 

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