I've long been a big fan of wide-angle lenses, so I was really pleased when David Edelstein (our intrepid Nikon sales rep) dropped off one of the first production samples of Nikon's latest ultra-wide zoom lens, the AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR.
The first thing you notice about Nikon's new AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR is its size. Though in no way heavy, and if anything, quite well balanced, the lens looks more like a moderate zoom lens, say a 28-105, as compared to the shorter physical sizes of "typical" wide zooms. Looks aside, Nikon's latest ultra-wide addition to its growing optical line-up is a true wide-zoom workhorse.
Designed for high-res capture on full-frame DSLRs, the new lens is equally at home on an APS-C format compact DSLR, with which it features the field-of-view of a 24-55.2mm lens. While not quite as dramatic as a 16mm lens on the short side of the zoom range, it's still plenty wide for many applications. In the techie department, the Nikon's latest wide-zoom lens features 2 Extra-low Dispersion (ED) elements, and 3 aspherical surfaces for sharper, clean images, internal focusing (IF), a Silent Wave Motor for quick and quiet AF operation, and Nano Crystal lens coatings, which perform as advertised in putting the kibosh on lens flare and ghosting even when shooting directly into the sun.
Other features include 9 curved aperture blades for natural looking out-of-focus highlights (i.e., good bokeh) and separate focus and zoom controls, which perform smoothly and positively. And an M/A focus mode switch makes easy work of switching between AF and MF mode on the fly. For low-light shooting, the lens features Nikon VR II vibration reduction control, which enables shooting up to 4 shutter speeds slower than normally possible without need of a tripod. You can also focus down to 1 foot (0.28 m) for capturing dramatic close-ups of even the most mundane of subject matter.
Along with sweeping land and cityscapes, Nikon's 16-35mm f/4G ED VR is also well suited for architectural photography. Interiors - even the tightest of arrangements - can be captured dramatically and architecturally correct thanks to the lens's rectilinear design. Photographing distortion-free exteriors of mid-size buildings is also quite easy with Nikon's 16-35. By leveling the camera and focusing dead-ahead at the building, it's possible to capture a distortion-less image of the structure, which after cropping off the lower half of the image field, results in an architecturally corrected image of the building.
After tooling around for a day with the new lens (mounted on a Nikon D700) I've once again fallen in love with a new lens.
I know, I know, I've said this before... but this time it's different... really.