Fast, Wide, and Handsome II

Photo © Bob Krist

The other half of the one-two wide angle punch Nikon delivered to FXers, the 16-35mm f/4 VR, is another winner. I wandered all over a freezing cold, soaking wet South Beach in Miami (yes, let’s get out of the cold Northeast, and shoot in the nearly as cold, even wetter Southeast….Murphy, when will you and your law ever leave me alone?????) shooting with it primarily at night, as per my instructions from the agency.

I got sharp crisp results handholding at 1/4th, 1/8th, and even a couple of 1/2 second exposures (and that was before happy hour!). My brief said to avoid using a tripod, but did not prohibit the use of Margaritas to calm jittery weather nerves.

Of course, in South Beach, you have to pace yourself, because they all serve Margaritas in giant glasses as big as bird baths. Ummmm, VR II, there’s a challenge for you! The Jose Cuervo smackdown.

Stuff looked great wide open at f/4 too. Man, if I were an FX shooter (and depending on how negotiations go with my wife, my chiropractor, and my spinal surgeon, I might be one day), these would be my two wides. I’m not that much of a gearhead, and even I’m dreaming of them (oh, please come back, little 24, and bring your bokeh with you!)

The 16-35mm is bigger than the 17-35mm, but doesn’t feel any heavier and balanced well on both the big D3s and a D700. I’ll leave it to Nikon and the more techy blogs to give you all the details. I’ll just leave you with a couple of other sample pix and my user impression that this too is a killer piece of glass.

Oh, and just a request to the blogs who are grabbing and using these pics….how about running them with the copyright notice? Is that too much to ask? Geez, when a photography blog doesn’t know enough to run the damn copyright notice with a picture (and you know who you are), what hope is there?

Photo © Bob Krist
Photo © Bob Krist

And just to illustrate how changing the framing from horizontal to vertical can really change the message of your picture, hit the jump.

Photo © Bob Krist
Photo © Bob Krist
Photo © Bob Krist

This Post Has 48 Comments

  1. Thank you for your report, Bob. Love your pictures and your blog. As soon as I become a FX shooter, this lens will be my no brainer choose.

  2. Hi Bob!

    Love the red/blue gradient of lights, and the reflection on the wet ground totally makes that photo!

    It’s 50 degrees in Los Angeles, you should come out here. The recent rains put snow up on the mountains, serves as a nice backdrop to the Hollywood Sign and the downtown skyline!

    See you in San Francisco in two weeks.

    1. See you then. bob

  3. Killer to share your WB Settings?

    1. Jim: I used Fluorescent for a lot of twilight neon stuff. Makes the blues pop. Bob

      1. That is absolutely SUPER..Thanks!

  4. Bob — Great pics. How was the bokeh on the 16-35? And, did you have a chance to shoot with it on a DX body? Wondering how the shots were if so for those of us DX owners.

    1. Steve: The bokeh looked nice in FX….I didn’t shoot any DX so I can’t report on that. I’m guessing that this would be primarily an FX lens. Bob

      1. On DX the 17-55 would be preferred I’m guessing; almost as wide yet giving more ‘reach’ on the other end.

        And yes, I’d love to see some more lightweight f/4 zooms for ‘FX’ – the 24 – 120mm deserves an overhaul to f/4 constant… would make a great walk-around lens for most uses.

  5. So…other than the VR, how does this lens compare to the 12-24 for us DX shooters? (Other than the slightly wider coverage.) Is it better optically?

    1. Greg: Hard to say….that VR made handholding it a breeze. Off hand, I’d give the nod to the 16-35VR. Bob

  6. Bob,
    Look at the beautiful reflections you got in the second picture. How would you have such a play of lights without rain. (I’m not very convincing, I know… Just trying to cheer you up…)

    1. Luc: I was telling myself that very thing as kneeled in the wet, cold gutters of South Beach to shoot that one! Bob

  7. I’m curious how sharp this lens is, compared to the 14-24mm f/2.8. I might be willing to give up 2mm in trade for filter threads, if the image quality is there.

    1. Kevin: I’ve never worked with the 14-24, so I can’t tell you. I think the only way to determine that would be to shoot them both and compare. BK

  8. OK, I’ll say it… f4? Really? C’mon!

    Nice series and thanks for the reports, Bob!

  9. Bob

    Excellent series … I love what you’ve done with these and the the 24/1.4. Fun to play with “new” stuff, isn’t it? I just returned from my first trip with a D700 … a couple of weeks in Japan and the Philippines. Used a Nikon 24-85mm most of the time. In fact, the D700 may be a good alternative to the D3s you were using … and you can always “justify” it because you can share D300 accessories, batteries, MB-D10, etc.!! Sure wish you’d do a seminar up here in Washington State sometime!! Cheers!!

    1. Ken: If I go FX, it’s the D700 for me for just those reasons. Bob

  10. This lens looks terrific. I often find myself anchored to the 14-24 f/2.8 because I like the quality. I’d happily give up a stop and a little on the wide end (on occasion) to have somewhat more more manageable hunk of glass. Looks like it saves about half a pound and has VR as a bonus. They really hit the sweet spot for me.

    Have you considered putting copyright info on the image itself? Not as nice as a link and text, but better than totally unattributed images floating around.

    1. I’m trying to figure out how to do that now, Mark. Thanks! Bob

  11. Thanks for the first impressions! Does the 16-35 extend while zooming? Or does it stay the same length throughout the zoom range like the 12-24?

    1. Jimmy: Good question….I’ve had to return the lens and it was a while ago when I shot with it, but I’m pretty certain it did not change sizes while zooming. Bob

      1. That’s the sign of a good photographers life. When you can’t remember something because “it was a while ago” but for the rest of us it is so new we haven’t seen it yet!!! Cheers!

        1. Jimmy: It’s also the sign of an old photographer’s memory! Bob

  12. Bob, thanks for the great shots and your assessment. Can’t wait to slap this puppy on my D700.

    Will you be at Photoshop World next month? If so, maybe I could talk you into a quick portrait with it on the expo floor.

    1. Mike: Would love to, but I’m not going to be there. cheers, Bob

  13. Nice to see some really pictures from this new lens…

    1. Hi Torben: How are things in Denmark? I used to shoot a lot there—great country! Bob

  14. Great pictures…..I wonder how the D3 would have faired compared to the D3s on most of the evening pictures (1/10,1600). These are pretty darn good!

    1. Kono: Don’t know, but I imagine it would be pretty good. Bob

      1. I am sooooo tempted!!!

  15. Seriously, I agree with you Mr. Krist. “Another face”(the blogger) should really be ashamed for not posting your copyright onto the images on their blog. Sure, they mention you (lost in the babble), but nothing direct and simple, like right below the images. How hard can that be? It’s just pathetic and stupid.

    1. Copyright: I think it’s just more like thoughtlessness than anything else! Bob

  16. Bob, I wonder if you plea for copyright notices on photos “borrowed” from you site will do any good. How do you feel about watermarks on your photos? Personally, I rarely put a photo on the web without one.

    1. Hi Alan: Yes, it’d probably be a good idea. More work for no money. Why should I be surprised! Bob

  17. Dear Mr Krist,

    Did these files come out as is, or have they been post-processed? They look beautiful. The last one is my favorite.



    1. Mostly these are the jpegs from a RAW & JPEG shoot. I had to work on the levels on a couple of them, but the young lady in the period costume, for instance, are jpegs out of the camera. Usually, if I do a lot of post processing, things tend to look worse instead of better:-) BK

  18. For the working professional, do you see the benefits of VR and new glass offsetting the f/2.8 of the 17-35, given the ISO performance of the new sensors?

    1. Dunno, Dave. Is the 17-35 that much of a stellar performer in the digital age? I know we all thought it was the cat’s pajamas in film terms, but I’ve not heard much about it in terms of performance on FX sensors (I don’t have an FX camera, but I did keep my old 17-35, along with a couple of F100s, just in case the digital thing didn’t work out:-).
      My feeling on all matters of upgrading is “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If you’re happy with the 17-35, then I don’t think there’s too much of a compelling reason to go to the 16-35. The VR helps me hold things steadier, and if I had to choose, I’d probably go with the slower VR just because of the shake cancelling (especially holding the bigger cameras….I’m such a wimp).
      I had the new gear for such a brief period, and I had a full list of things to do with it (none of which included side by side tests) so I can’t really give you any further advice on the issue. Bob

      1. Bob, great photos, congrats!
        a) can you share what was required from you while testing the lens?
        b) I’m on FX and have 24-70 and 70-200m and I’m looking for a wide angle lens. Been totally undecided between 14-24 and 17-35, and now the 16-35 f4 comes in to the mix..I shoot primarily portraits and weddings and music, I reckon the 17-35 is more versatile, no? Can you shed some valuable old photographer opinion? (I can find a lot of new photographers opinion around the web..!)

        Best regards,

        1. Luis: I was required to shoot handheld pictures in low light, and other conditions. Personally, if I didn’t own either lens (16-35 or 17-35) and was chosing, I think I’d go for the 16 because of the VR and my impression (remembering my 17-35 from film days) that the new lens is sharper. If you already own the 17-35 and are happy with it, I wouldn’t spend the $$$. Hope this helps, Bob

  19. Hi Bob, very nice pictures. I love it. The 16-35mm rocks. Handhold pictures at that shutterspeed is very interessing. I ‘ve seen, that the most pictures were not shot at f4 (because of the need of depth of field or is the quality of f4 not so good). Wow does the lens perform at f4? We have rain (and snow) in germay too -> I need this lens to take pictures 🙂 Thorsten

    1. Hi Thorsten: It was very good at f/4. I did not do formal lens tests, however, I just took pictures with it, so I have no empircal data for you other than my own casual observations that it was sharp at all apertures. You’ll have to wait for the magazines and blogs to do their exhaustive tests to get that info. Bob

  20. I have bought a 16-35 mm VR, used it on my F100 and Velvia, also Ilford Delta 400 – WORKS GREAT. Razor sharp handheld even at lower speeds, got nice real raw shots at the San Antonio Missions. Ronald

  21. Now we need a F/4 24-70 mm VR as well as a F/4 70-200 mm VR, and an updated 80-400 VR. Ronald

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