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Nikon 16-35mm f4 Review

by Jim on April 8th, 2010
Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4.0 @ 24mm f5.6

In comparing the recently discontinued Tamron to the new Nikon wide angle zoom. I found that the new Nikon is very sharp across almost the whole range. There is however some distortion at 16mm, and the Nikon is least sharp at the shortest focal length. The Tamron is just the opposite, it is most sharp at 17mm and does a pretty good job at the longer focal lengths. The biggest delta between them is at 35mm where the Nikon is better.

The Tamron is lighter by about 240 grams, is about an inch shorter and takes the same size filter (77mm). The Tamron does not have VR,  nano coating or AFS. It does come in at about one forth the price, focuses fast and is well made. They have identical lens hood, and based on testing with a DX (D300) camera, the two lenses are closer in optical performance then I would have guessed.

I really liked the new Nikon, its close in size to the 24-70mm older brother, but lighter. With the Nikon you get 2 ED elements out of 17 and a high end magnesium barrel. Basically what you would expect for a $1200 product, but the Tamron holds its own against a much more expensive lens. If you are looking for a well made inexpensive travel lens,  I would recommend the Tamron.  At 100% crop you give up very little, and at the wide end the Tamron is just a bit better there. 

As an update to this review, I did receive a second copy of the Nikon  16-35mm f4, and it performed much better in the 16-24mm range compared to my first copy that I returned.

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