10
Aug 17

Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Long Term Review

I have been using this lens as my go to wide angle zoom since 2011. I own many other Nikon mount lenses yet continue to use this lens because it is has outstanding build, sharpness, rendering and value. Wide angle lenses are a Nikon specialty and the 16-35 f/4G ED VR is a fine example of that tradition.

The 16-35 f/4G ED VR was announced in February 2010 and was originally intended to be used for travel, architectural photography and photojournalism. It is a full frame G type lens featuring a metal barrel and weather sealing consistent with Nikon’s professional series of lenses. There is a rubber gasket on the rear where the lens attaches to the camera via the Nikkor F bayonet mount. The lens is 3.2 inches (82.5 mm) in diameter and 4.9 inches (125mm) in length. It weighs 24 ounces or 680 grams, has internal focusing, and a constant f/4 aperture with 9 rounded blades. The VR II image stabilization gives up to 2.5 stops of increased low light hand hold ability.

Venice, Italy. 2017. Nikkor 16-35 f/4G ED VR and Nikon Df.

So how does the lens feel and function? It’s comfortable in the hand and balances well on both the D810 and Df bodies. The AF-S autofocus is smooth and reliable while autofocus speed is average, a lot of this depends on the camera. I don’t shoot fast moving sports or wildlife so I can’t tell you how fast it would be on a D5 or D500. The VR II works great and I love to shoot it in dim interiors and low light. The f/4 maximum aperture is plenty for a full frame wide angle lens for it’s intended use. I own the 24mm f1.4G and rarely if ever shoot it wide open under those conditions and if I did need that particular rendering and shallow depth of field, the 24 is the lens I would use. I might also take along a tripod, but that’s a different style of shooting and defeats the purpose of having a stabilized wide angle zoom.

Paris, France. 2017. Nikkor 16-35 f/4G ED VR and Nikon Df.

For the sake of argument let’s take that f/4 maximum aperture and apply 2.5 stops of increased hand hold ability, f/4  f/2.8  f/2  f1.4. We end up at the same place. The f/4 with VR II has the same low light hand hold ability, under the same circumstances as the f1.4 prime. The question you have to ask yourself is “what are you trying to say with your photographs?” Which lens better suits your intended purpose under the conditions you intent to shoot?

Tomb Raider, Cambodia. 2017. Nikkor 16-35 f/4G ED VR and Nikon Df.

The 16-35 f/4G ED VR is a walk around lens, it’s designed for shooting on the move and in this role it functions very well indeed. I’ve used it extensively for travel, architecture and street photography. In low light, no light, crap light, in the dust of the Sahara desert, on moving boats, in the rain, the back alleys and jungles of North Africa and India and just about everywhere in between. The lens just works and does what I want it to do.

Toymaker, Morocco. 2017. Nikkor 16-35 f/4G ED VR and Nikon Df.

Because I travel and photograph often under adverse conditions I value the fact that this lens is weather sealed and can stand up to heavy use. Are there better lenses on the market? Sure, I have access to several superb Nikkor and Zeiss primes, but then I’d be changing lenses more frequently and carrying more bulk and weight. The value of a rugged sealed zoom is that I don’t have to swap lenses and expose the interior of my camera to all the environmental junk that can foul things up. Certainly there is a time and place for gorgeous primes but I try to pick the appropriate tool for the job at hand.

Venice, Italy. 2017. Nikkor 16-35 f/4G ED VR and Nikon Df.

The 16-35 f/4G ED VR has a 77mm filter diameter. I always use B+W XS-Pro UV filters on the front of all my lenses. The only other filter is use is a B+W XS-Pro Kaesemann Polarizer. I have two of them in different sizes. I have not had any vignetting issues on this lens with the XS-Pro filters.

All images in the post are hand held available light photographs.


28
Jul 17

Still life with Coffee and Tea

Some of the most wonderful photographs and memories are often the simplest. I’m known for dipping a spoon into my morning coffee and using it to making a little drawing in my travel journal. This quirky ritual has given me many of my longest lasting travel memories.

Coffee Tea. New Delhi, India. 2017

The still life is underrated in photography and it’s a subject that I’ve been working with for a really long time. Seemingly simple, it’s difficult to get a pleasing result. I always depend on spontaneity in my photography. I never set up shots so I was happy when everything came together, at least in my mind, in the above photograph. Taken at breakfast after the oatmeal and fruit. New Delhi, India.


26
Jul 17

Photographing Ankgor Wat

Everybody wants to travel to Cambodia and experience the beauty and grandeur of Ankgor Wat. The area is quite large and crowded so be prepared to do a fair amount of walking to explore the complex of lakes, moats, out buildings, and main temple.

Monk. Angkor Wat, Cambodia. 2017

Sunrise photography seems to be the thing to do. Guide books will tell you to arrive at the complex as early as 5AM in order to photograph the main temple complex. The problem is that everybody will be lined up in front of one of the lakes at the entrance and the sunrise will occur in the east, in your face, backlighting the all the buildings. There will be no beautiful morning glow, only silhouettes. Perhaps there will be clouds in the sky with an interesting orange patina, but honestly if you’re not prepared, it can be really disappointing.

Sunrise Crowd. Angkgor Wat, Cambodia. 2017

Christy and myself hadn’t realized we would be facing in to the rising sun when we got up at 4:30AM to take our tuk tuk over to Angor Wat. I had prepared as I typically do by ensuring that my gear was cleaned, batteries charged and everything was in order the night before. I even took the time to assemble my tripod and get out my 24mm landscape lens for the first time in months.

When we arrived at shortly after 5AM, there was already a large crowd, and looking at the sky I realized that the light would be all wrong for what I had envisioned. Perhaps some lovely silhouettes? If I were to prepare to photograph Ankgor Wat at sunrise again, I would do a time laspe.  Ultimately though, if you want to photograph the temple complex in beautiful light, late afternoon is the time to go.

Lacey White. Angkor Wat, Cambodia. 2017


29
Jun 17

Buddhist Monks of Laos

The saffron robes of buddhist monks are gorgeous, but even more beautiful are their serene faces.

Buddhist Monks. Laos, 2017.


15
Mar 17

Namaste India

Namaste, India. 2016

 


06
Mar 17

Travel in Bhutan

Bhutan is unique and special. The flight into Paro Airport is legendary and exciting. Nestled on the southern slope of the Himalayas, this small buddhist country has become famous for it’s “Gross National Happiness” in contrast to gross national product. Indeed it’s main sources of revenue are hydroelectric power and tourism. The people are lovely, their fabrics colorful and the yak tasty.

Monk twirling prayer beads, Bhutan. 2016.

As with many paces in Asia, the people don’t mind being photographed as long as it is done in a respectful manner. It is not acceptable to photograph inside a shrine or temple or to photograph monks during prayer.

Master Monk, Bhutan. 2016

The Bhutanese are master artisans and take pride in preserving their traditional arts and crafts.

Weaver, Bhutan, 2016

They have worked closely with the Japanese in developing their paper industry. Being a paper junky and collector I visited one of their paper making facilities and had a great time watching and photographing them at work. It is very similar to other handcrafted processes I’ve seen in other countries yet they manage to put their own unique stamp on it.

Papermaker, Bhutan. 2016.

While visiting one of the remote monasteries, a group of nomads arrived with their families to receive blessings from the monks and masters. It was a fortunate time for us to be there.

In the kitchen, Bhutan. 2016