Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR £900, $1000
Once innovative, it’s since been overtaken
When announced back in 2010, this lens was proclaimed to be the first-ever FX-format ultra-wide zoom to have optical stabilisation. The maximum viewing angle is wider than from the Nikon 18-35mm lens that’s also on test, at 107 rather than 100 degrees. The aperture is more well-rounded, based on nine rather than seven diaphragm blades, and the widest available aperture remains fixed at f/4. However, the 16-35mm VR is beaten by the Tamron 15-30mm for maximum viewing angle and the latter has an f/2.8 constant aperture rating, while also featuring optical stabilisation.
Given that you can get away with fairly slow shutter speeds in ultra-wide handheld shooting, it’s not surprising that VR is only worth about 2.5 f-stops. That’s still better than nothing in low light. Image quality is very good on the whole, with excellent sharpness and contrast, and minimal colour fringing. The only slight niggle is that barrel distortion is pretty extreme at 16mm.