Nikon 16-80mm VR

f/2.8~4 DX AF-S E N ED (2015-)

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Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4DX ED VR AF-S

Nikon 16-80mm VR (DX coverage only, 72mm filter thread, 16.9 oz./479 g, 1.15'/0.35m close focus, about $997). bigger. I got mine at Adorama; I'd also get it at Amazon, at B&H Photo Video or at Crutchfield.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Nikon does not seal its boxes, so never buy at retail or any source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective or damaged customer return or a used lens. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for your support! Ken.

 

March 2016   Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses    All Reviews

 

Sample Images

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Format   Specs   Performance   Compared   

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Sunset at the beach with runner

Sunset at the Beach with Runner, 26 January 2016. Nikon D810 (DX crop), 16-80mm at 48mm, f/8 at 1/250 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original 15MP file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full-resolution images properly).

 

Eroded ocean cliffs

Eroded Cliffs and Crazy Windblown Tree, 26 January 2016. Nikon D810 (DX crop), 16-80mm at 19mm, f/5.6 at 1/125 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original 15MP file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full-resolution images properly).

 

Sunset Light in Seafoam

Sunset Light Glinting off Seafoam, 26 January 2016. Nikon D810 (DX crop), 16-80mm at 80mm, f/5.6 at 1/125 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original 15MP file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full-resolution images properly).

 

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise at Dawn, 28 January 2016. Nikon D810 (DX crop), 16-80mm at 80mm, f/8 at 1/250 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original 15MP file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full-resolution images properly).

 

Introduction

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Format   Specs   Performance   Compared   

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Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

This Nikon 16-80mm VR has the best Vibration Reduction (VR) I've tested. It's also extremely sharp, a stop faster than most zooms (f/2.8~4), and focuses extremely closely.

Its high speed and outstanding VR (image stabilization) makes it easy to get perfect shots in any light. I get perfectly sharp shots most of the time at 1/4 of a second hand-held!

If 80mm is long enough for you (it is for me), this new 16-80mm is Nikon's best do-everything lens for Nikon's DX cameras.

Move the focus ring at any time for instant manual focus override.

You can buy different zooms, but you can't buy better.

 

Compatibility        top

This lens uses an electronic diaphragm, and therefore is only fully compatible with cameras introduced since about 2007. See Nikon Lens Compatibility for the complete list.

It will not work properly with older DSLRs and will not work properly on any 35mm camera. Older cameras cannot control the diaphragm and it will always shoot wide open (f/2.8 to f/4, depending on focal length setting).

Forget it on any 35mm cameras; it doesn't cover the format and will have black corners at every focal length setting.

 

Format        top

As a DX lens, it only works properly on DX cameras.

Don't use it on an FX cameras. If you do, the camera will crop and only use half of the big sensor for which you paid.

You can't cheat; I've tried and this lens always has black corners on full frame at every focal length setting.

For FX cameras, get the FX equivalent, the current 24-120mm VR.

 

Nikon 16-80mm VR

Nikon 16-80mm VR. bigger.

 

Specifications

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Name        top

Nikon 16-80mm VR

Nikon 16-80mm VR. bigger.

Nikon calls this the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E DX ED VR SWM IF ∅72.

    Nano Crystal Coat: Continuously variable index of refraction anti-reflection coatings.

    AF-S and SWM: Silent Wave Autofocus Motor.

    NIKKOR: Nikon's brand name for all their lenses.

    DX: only works properly on DX cameras. You'll get black corners is shot on full-frame.

    E: Electronic diaphragm, just like Canon has been doing since 1987. This means it only works on the newest Nikon cameras.

    ED: Magic Extra-low Dispersion glass for reduced secondary chromatic aberration.

    IF: Internal Focusing; nothing moves externally as focussed.

    VR: Vibration Reduction. Claims almost 4 stops improvement.

    Aspherical: Vibration Reduction. Claims almost 4 stops improvement.

    ∅72: 72mm filter thread.

 

Optics        top

Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4E internal diagram

Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4E VR internal diagram. ED glass and Aspherical.

17 elements in 13 groups.

4 ED glass elements.

3 aspherical elements

It's multicoated, which Nikon calls Nikon Super Integrated Coating.

One element has Nano coating for marketing purposes.

Fluorine front schmutz-resistant coating.

 

Close Focus        top

1.15 feet (0.35 meters) from the image plane.

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio        top

1:4.5.

 

Diaphragm        top

Nikon 16-80mm VR

Nikon 16-80mm VR; E diaphragm not seen. bigger.

7 rounded blades.

Stops down to f/22-32.

Electronically controlled for quieter operation, but isn't compatible with cameras made before about 2007.

 

Coverage        top

DX only.

 

Focal Length        top

16-80mm.

When used on a DX camera, it sees angles of view similar to what a 24-120mm lens sees when used on an FX or 35mm camera.

 

Angles of View        top

83° ~ 20º on DX.

 

Hard Infinity Focus Stop?        top

No.

You have to let the AF system focus at infinity.

 

Focus Scale        top

Yes.

 

Depth-of-Field Scale        top

No.

 

Infra-Red Focus Index        top

No.

 

Aperture Ring        top

No.

 

Filter Thread        top

72 mm.

 

Hood        top

Nikon 16-80mm VR

Nikon HB-75 hood for 16-80mm VR. bigger.

HB-75 plastic bayonet hood, included.

 

Case        top

CL-1218 case, optional.

It's just a $24 sock with a drawstring.

 

Size        top

Nikon specifies 3.37" (85.5 mm) diameter by 3.15" (80 mm) extension from flange.

 

Weight        top

16.900 oz. (479.1g), actual measured weight.

Nikon specifies 17 oz. (480g).

 

Included        top

Lens.

HB-75 plastic bayonet hood.

Snap-on 72mm front lens cap.

LF-4 rear cap.

Paperwork.

 

Optional        top

CL-1218 case.

 

Warranty         top

5 years, USA.

You'll see a "5" on a seal on the box, and have a card in the box that specifically says 5 YEARS OF PROTECTION and 4 Years USA..

Nikon USA Warranty

Nikon USA Warranty Card. bigger.

If you don't have these, you got ripped-off with a gray-market lens. Buy only from approved sources to prevent this.

 

Announced        top

Thursday, 02 July 2015, at 12:01 AM NYC time.

 

Promised for        top

July 2015.

 

Price, USA        top

$996.95, March 2016.

$1,069.95, July 2015 ~ Februarty 2016.

Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4DX ED VR AF-S

Box, Nikon 16-80mm VR.

 

 

Performance

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Compatibility   

Format   Specs   Performance   Compared   

Usage   Recommendations   More

Overall    Autofocus    Bokeh   Coma   Distortion

Ergonomics   Eyeblow   Falloff    Filters

Flare & Ghosts   Lateral Color Fringes   Macro

Max & Min Apertures    Mechanics    Sharpness

Spherochromatism   Sunstars   Image Stabilization

 

Overall

The Nikon 16-80mm is a small, fast, sharp and close-focussing lens. It does just about everything well — but it's expensive.

 

Autofocus

Autofocus is fast enough and accurate, but far from instantaneous

Autofocus is not silent. The motor sounds like one of the cheaper ones used in Nikon's least expensive DX lenses. You can hear the motor when it runs.

 

Manual Focus

A fingertip moves the manual focus ring. Touch it at any time for instant manual focus override.

Manual focus is slow at 16mm and perfect at 80mm.

 

Bokeh

Bokeh, the quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to the degree of defocus, is fair at 16mm and neutral at 80mm. As bokeh goes, this isn't Nikon's best.

Like all lenses, for the softest backgrounds, zoom to the longest focal length, get as close as possible to your subject and shoot at the largest aperture.

Here are samples shot wide open from headshot distance. Click either for the camera-original file to explore on your computer (portable devices rarely display full resolution files properly):

Nikon 16-80mm Bokeh

Shot at 16mm at f/2.8. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full-resolution images properly).

 

Nikon 16-80mm Bokeh

Shot at 80mm at f/4. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full-resolution images properly).

 

Coma

Coma (sagittal coma flare) can make bright points of light in the corners look more like batwings or big blobs than the points they are supposed to be. This is a problem that haunts fast wide and normal lenses. If a lens has it, it's worst wide-open and goes away as stopped down.

The Nikon 16-80mm has a tiny bit at 16mm and f/2.8, and it's gone by f/4.

There's a tiny bit at 24mm at f/3, and it's gone by f/5.6.

I don't see any at longer settings.

 

Distortion

The 16-80mm has strong barrel distortion at 16mm, and strong pincushion distortion from 24mm through 80mm.

Most cameras can be set to correct this automatically, so it's not a big deal as it would have been on film.

For critical work, use these values in Photoshop's Lens Distortion tool to remove the distortion. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.

 

at 3m (10')

at infinity

16mm
+5.30
+7*
19mm
tbd
+1.50
24mm
-3.00
-2.50
35mm
-4.00
-3.90
50mm
-3.00
-3.50
80mm
-3.50
-3.20

* Some waviness remains.

© 2016 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

Ergonomics

top

Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4DX ED VR AF-S

Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4DX ED VR AF-S

Nikon 16-80mm VR. bigger.
Nikon 16-80mm VR at 80mm. bigger.

This is a great little grapefruit-sized lens.

Zooming is marvelous; two fingers make it easy and fast to set an exact focal length.

Manual focus glides with a fingertip.

This is all a far cry from where Nikon was 10 or 20 years ago with its zooms; this lens never gets in the way of a great picture.

 

Eyeblow

The 16-80mm is a "pumper" zoom which moves in and out. Air is trapped and released like an accordion as zoomed.

On some cameras like my D40 I can feel wind blowing on my eye from the camera's eyepiece when zoomed quickly.

 

Falloff

Falloff is completely invisible even uncorrected, and most cameras can be set to correct this automatically anyway.

I've greatly exaggerated this by shooting a gray field and showing it on a gray background, and this is uncorrected:

 

 

Nikon 16-80mm falloff, uncorrected

f/4
f/5.6
18mm
Nikon 16-80mm falloff
Nikon 16-80mm falloff
Nikon 16-80mm falloff
24mm
Nikon 16-80mm falloff
Nikon 16-80mm falloff
Nikon 16-80mm falloff
35mm
Nikon 16-80mm falloff
Nikon 16-80mm falloff
Nikon 16-80mm falloff
50mm
Nikon 16-80mm falloff
Nikon 16-80mm falloff
Nikon 16-80mm falloff
80mm
wide open is f/4 ->
Nikon 16-80mm falloff
Nikon 16-80mm falloff

© 2016 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

Filters, use with

All filters work great!

There's no need for thin filters. Even my rotating Schneider ND 0.6 grad and a stacked standard filter has no vignetting at all at any focal length.

In facts, a stack of two standard filters and my rotating Schneider grad — a stack of three filters — has no vignetting at all as wide as 23mm.

Go ahead and use your standard rotating polarizer and grad filters.

 

Flare and Ghosts

There are few if any ghosts.

Here's about the worst you'll see, and this was with a Hoya HMC UV filter over the lens:

Ghost at Sunset

Ghost at Sunset, 26 January 2016. Nikon D810 (DX crop), 16-80mm at 27mm, f/11 at 1/500 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original 15MP file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full-resolution images properly).

Did you catch it? The ghost is in the lower right.

 

Lateral Color Fringes

There are no lateral color fringes as shot on my D810 in crop mode.

All Nikons on which this lens works correct lateral color fringes automatically, if there are any. Even then, some lenses have some residual color fringes, but this 16-80mm does not.

This is superb performance.

 

Macro

Nikon 16-80mm macro performance

Mondaine A1323034811SBB at close-focus distance at 80mm at f/8. bigger or camera-original to explore on your computer (portable devices rarely display full-resolution images properly).

 

Nikon 16-80mm macro performance

Crop from above at 100%. If this is about 6" (15cm) on your screen, printing the complete image at this same high magnification would result in a 32 x 48" (80 x 125 cm) print! Camera-original file to explore on your computer (portable devices rarely display full-resolution images properly).

While it's super sharp at normal apertures, it has lower contrast wide-open due to spherical aberration:

Nikon 16-80mm macro performance

Crop from similar image at 80mm at f/4.

 

Maximum & Minimum Apertures

 
Maximum
Minimum
16mm
f/2.8
f/22
24mm
f/3
f/24
35mm
f/3.3
f/27
50mm
f/3.5
f/29
80mm
f/4
f/32

 

Mechanics

Nikon 16-80mm VR

Nikon 16-80mm VR. bigger.

This is an all-plastic, but sturdy, lens.

 

Filter Threads

Plastic.

 

Hood Mount

Plastic.

 

Front Barrels

Plastic.

 

Gold ED Band

Solid metal, 14k gold filled.

 

Zoom Ring

Rubber-covered plastic.

 

Focus Ring

Rubbery plastic.

 

Internals

Mostly plastic, and thankfully some metal, especially the zoom cylinders.

 

Rear Barrel

Plastic.

 

Identity

Gold-look plastic plate around focus window.

 

Moisture Seal at Mount

Yes.

 

Mount

Chromed metal.

 

Markings

Paint.

 

Serial Number

Sticker glued into recess on bottom of barrel.

 

Date Code

None found.

 

Noises When Shaken

Mild clunking.

 

Made in

Thailand.

 

Sharpness

Lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers because image sharpness depends more on you than on your lens.

It's the least skilled hobbyists who waste the most time blaming fuzzy pictures on their lenses, while real shooters know that few photos ever use all the sharpness of which their lenses are capable due to subject motion and the fact that real subjects are rarely perfectly flat.

This said, this lens is superbly sharp. It's sharp throughout the entire image at all apertures.

It's super sharp and contrasty in the center at all apertures.

The corners are only very slightly softer wide open, and ultra sharp a stop or two down.

At 16mm the corners are slightly less sharp at f/2.8, better at f/4, and perfect by f/5.6.

At 24mm the corners are slightly less sharp at f/3, better at f/4, just about perfect at f/5.6 and perfect by f/8.

At 35mm the corners are only slightly less sharp at f/3.3, better at f/4, just about perfect at f/5.6 and perfect by f/8.

At 50mm the corners are just about perfect at f/3.5 and perfect by f/8.

At 80mm the corners are a little softer at f/4, about the same at f/5.6, better at f/8 and perfect by f/11.

Of course diffraction dulls all lenses at f/16 and smaller.

Here are Nikon's MTF curves:

Nikon 16-80mm MTF at 16mm
Nikon 16-80mm MTF at 80mm
MTF at 16mm. bigger.
MTF at 80mm. bigger.

 

Spherochromatism

Spherochromatism, also called "color bokeh" by laymen, can cause colored fringes on slightly out-of-focus highlights, usually seen as green fringes on backgrounds and magenta fringes on foregrounds.

It is an advanced form of chromatic aberration in a different dimension than lateral color. Spherochromatism is most commonly seen in fast lenses of moderate focal length when shooting contrasty items at full aperture. It goes away as stopped down.

After all that, I see none in this lens, as expected. We usually only see spherochromatism at f/2 and faster, and this is an f/2.8~4 lens.

 

Sunstars

With curved diaphragm blades, the Nikon 16-80 makes dull sunstars, if any at all. You have to shoot at the smallest aperture to get much of anything:

Nikon 16-80mm sunstars

Sunstar at f/5.6, 28 January 2016. D810 (DX crop) 16-80mm at 46mm. bigger.

 

Nikon 16-80mm sunstars

Sunstar at f/8, 28 January 2016. Nikon D810 (DX crop) 16-80mm at 46mm. bigger.

 

Nikon 16-80mm sunstars

Sunstar at f/11, 28 January 2016. Nikon D810 (DX crop) 16-80mm at 46mm. bigger.

 

Nikon 16-80mm sunstars

Sunstar at f/16, 28 January 2016. Nikon D810 (DX crop) 16-80mm at 46mm. bigger.

 

Nikon 16-80mm sunstars

Sunstar at f/22, 28 January 2016. Nikon D810 (DX crop) 16-80mm at 46mm. bigger.

 

Nikon 16-80mm sunstars

Sunstar at f/29, 28 January 2016. Nikon D810 (DX crop) 16-80mm at 46mm. bigger.

 

Image Stabilization

Vibration reduction (a.k.a. VR or Image Stabilization) is outstanding. You can forget your tripod.

I get perfectly sharp shots most of the time at 1/3 of a second at 16mm and 1/4 of a second at 80mm.

By "sharp shots" I mean perfect tripod-equivalent sharpness when viewed at 100%, as shot on a D810 by me. For most uses, one can use much slower speeds. See Why VR Matters for more.

% Perfect Shots
1
1/2
1/4
1/8
1/15
1/30
1/60
1/125
16mm  
16
100
100
100
100
100
100
80mm
0
5
50
100
100
100
100
100

 

Compared

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Format   Specs   Performance   Compared   

Usage   Recommendations   More

 

Overall

All Nikon's VR DX zooms are good.

This particular 16-80mm lens costs more, and is a stop faster for better results in low light. What sets this 16-80mm apart are its faster speed (f/2.8 versus typically f/4 at the wide end for the other lenses), super-close-focus and superb vibration reduction.

 

Versus the 16-85mm VR DX

The 16-85mm VR DX is about the same size and weight and zoom range, and it's just as sharp. The 16-85 has much less distortion and costs half as much — but this 16-80mm is twice as fast and has far better vibration reduction.

The 16-85mm works with all DSLRs; this new 16-80mm only with those introduced since 2007.

 
16-80mm VR DX
Introduced
2015
2008
Speed
f/2.8~4
f/3.5~5.6
Works with
Filter
72mm
67mm
Sharpness
Excellent
Excellent
Close Focus
1.15'/0.35m
1.3'/0.38m
Max. Repro. Ratio
1:4.5
1:4.6
Distortion*
Poor: +5.3 ~ -3.5
Good: +1.5 ~ -2.3
VR at 80mm good to
1/4
1/15
Weight
16.9 oz./479 g
17.2 oz./487 g
Price, 1/2016

* Uncorrected figures; usually correctable in-camera automatically so not that big a deal.

 

Versus your 18-55mm

This 16-80mm does all the same things — just better in each and every way.

This 16-80mm goes wider, longer, has better VR and is twice as fast. Multiply all these big and small improvements together, and you get to the price of the 16-80mm. It's also bigger and heavier than your 18-55mm.

 

Versus the 16-35mm VR and other FX lenses

Don't waste the full frame lenses like the 16-35 VR on a DX camera. They're bigger and heavier and have very little zoom range compared to this 16-80mm.

It's a waste to use FX lenses on crop sensor cameras. On DX, the 16-80 is a much smaller, faster and more useful lens.

 

Versus the 24-70mm f/2.8 VR

Again, it's a waste to use the big full-frame 24-70/2.8 VR on a DX camera. It costs and weighs twice as much and has only half the zoom range.

The 16-35 VR and 24-70/2.8 VR together don't quit have the range of the 16-80 on a DX camera - and cost over three times as much.

 

Versus longer zooms

The 18-200, 18-300mm and other longer lenses are bigger, but go longer.

There isn't much difference between 16mm and 18mm. I wouldn't worry about this if you need or want the longer zoom ranges.

None of these compare directly; the real question is all about what range you need.

I prefer this smaller and faster 16-80mm lens, but it costs more and I prefer to get closer for better pictures. I rarely make good pictures with longer lenses; better pictures come from getting closer.

 

Versus the 17-55mm f/2.8

The Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 DX is a fully professional metal lens that's faster over most of its range.

The 17-55 is a fast, constant-aperture pro lens built to last a lifetime, while this 16-80 is an all plastic zoom with a variable aperture.

The 17-55mm has no VR. The difference here is that the 17-55 is tougher and a little faster, while the 16-80mm adds VR and more zoom — but has a plastic barrel.

 

Versus the 35mm f/1.8

For just $200 I love my 35/1.8 DX because it's smaller, lighter, tougher, over twice as fast and less than one-fifth the price — but it's a completely different kind of lens and has no VR.

 

Usage

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Format   Specs   Performance   Compared   

Usage   Recommendations   More

Nikon 16-80mm VR

Nikon 16-80mm VR. bigger.

M/A - M Switch

Nikon goofed. This switch should be labeled "A - M."

The "M/A" position means autofocus. It's called "M/A" because you also can focus manually simply by grabbing the focus ring in this position.

The "M/A" position means autofocus. It's called "M/A" because back in the old days, when Nikon had almost caught up to Canon who had been doing this for ten years before, Nikon was trying to show off that you could focus manually while in the AF position.

Paint over the extra M if you're easily confused.

The M setting means manual only.

 

VR Switches

Leave VR ON and set to NORMAL.

ACTIVE is for when you are shooting from a moving platform like an aircraft, car or motorcycle, or while skydiving.

If you're not moving but your subject is, use NORMAL.

ACTIVE is only for when you're in motion.

OFF is for when you're on a very sturdy tripod.

 

Recommendations

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Compatibility   

Format   Specs   Performance   Compared   

Usage   Recommendations   More

I love the 16-80 because it's so versatile, small and light and convenient. It stands out for its high speed (f/2.8~4) and superb VR performance that really is much better than most other, maybe all, Nikon lenses.

It's always worth spending more to get the lens you really want. You won't be disappointed; for speed and VR this new 16-80 is superior. See also Is It Worth It and How to Afford Anything.

The only gotcha is that it won't work well on old DSLRs; your camera needs to be a model introduced since about 2007.

I got mine at Adorama; I'd also recommend getting it at Amazon, at B&H Photo Video or at Crutchfield.

When you get yours, use only those or these links to approved sources of supply. Using any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live is my biggest source of support and ensures you get the best prices, selection and service. It helps me keep reviewing these lenses when you get yours through these links — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you take your chances and buy elsewhere. Never buy at retail; Nikon doesn't seal its boxes so you can't be sure if you got a new lens or if it's already been damaged or used or returned when buying at retail. I buy from these stores because they ship from secure, remote warehouses where no one gets to touch my lens before I do.

Thanks for your support!

Ken.

 

Deployment

I never mess with hoods. I'd leave it in the box for resale time.

I'd use a 72mm Hoya HD2 UV to protect it. It's an ultra multicoated, dirt and fingerprint resistant and shatterproof filter. The 16-80 is an expensive lens worth protecting with the best filter.

If you prefer to stick with Nikon, use the 72mm Nikon Clear (NC - UV).

If I was working in nasty, dirty areas and don't want to spring for the HD2 filter, I'd use an uncoated 72mm Tiffen UV filter instead. Uncoated filters are much easier to clean, but more prone to ghosting.

 

More Information        top

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Compatibility   

Format   Specs   Performance   Compared   

Usage   Recommendations   More

 

Nikon's page on the 16-80/2.8-4DX.

 

© Ken Rockwell. All rights reserved. Tous droits réservés. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

 

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08 December 2017, 28 Jan 2016, 9PM 01 July 2015