Nikon 16-85 vs Tamron 17-50


Nikon 16-85 vs Tamron 17-50

nikon 16-85 vs tamron 17-50

Nikon 16-85 vs Tamron 17-50
Introduction – Nikon 16-85 vs Tamron 17-50

I own both of these lenses. I have a Canon mount Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 (non-Vc) and have a Nikon 16-85mm vr as well. You can’t go wrong either of these lenses. Both of this lenses are very good, very good value lenses. If I must sell one of theses it would be hard to choose. The Nikon is very versatile and has silent, quick focusing, while the Tamron is also a very good quality, very sharp f/2.8 lens.

Optical quality

Setup: Nikon 16-85 on a Nikon d7000 Tamron 17-50 on a Canon 30D, ISO 100 tripod.
Below the picture can check the apertures and image info.

Nikon 16-85 vs Tamron 17-50
Nikon 16-85 f/3.5 click to see in 1200 pixel
Tamron 17-50 f/3.5
Nikon 16-85 f/5.6
Tamron 17-50 f/5.6

The Tamron is sharper(better contrast), the Nikon has wider angle, and wider range, both of them excellent, the Tamron is the Canon version, the Nikon version perhaps little wider, because of the slightly bigger sensor(1.6 vs 1.5 crop factor)

Nikon 16-85 Vr

The Nikon 16-85 is a very good value, versatile lens with excellent silent swm focusing motor and very good effective stabilizer. For an amateur photographer who don’t want to change lenses anytime, this lens is my top 1. Nikon recommendation. You can get a Nikon 35/1.8 and you can have a very good capable kit. The Nikon 16-85mm is a very interesting lens that is sharp at almost any apertures, including at 16mm f/3.5 and 85 mm f/5.6 which is very unique in zoom land.

Tamron 17-50

The Tamron 17-50 is a very sharp lens, has a good close focusing distance, and constant f/2.8 aperture. The lens is not so sharp at f/2.8 as I would like, but not bad at all and there is a field curvative which means the focus plane is bended, this way if we make a photo of a building at f/2.8 can happen that the center is sharp but the sides of the building are not, because these are not on the focus plane. At f/5.6 the Tamron is very sharp, sharper than many much more expensive lenses.

Compatibility – Nikon 16-85 vs Tamron 17-50

The Nikon is compatible with almost all Nikon bodies, entry level bodies as well, and the Tamron also have a model with a focus motor for the entry level-models, but there is an older model also without focus motor. If you intend to use the Tamron lens on Nikon d3xxx or d5xxx cameras needs to make sure that the lens has in-built focus motor, easiest perhaps to try in a shop, or when you check the lens if you buy used. For future bodies compatibility not sure for the Tamron.

Similarities – Nikon 16-85 vs Tamron 17-50

Both lenses has 67mm filter size and non-rotating front element. The size and weight of this lenses are similar. Both lenses fall into the category of general purpose lenses. This lenses perhaps the most useful focal length to photographing almost anything apart from very distant objects.

Key differences – Nikon 16-85 vs Tamron 17-50

– the Nikon has wider range, more wide and more long, both differences is quite significant, the longer end is a bigger difference if you want to make portraits, pictures of a cat,dog, or insects, which is harder with the wider Tamron lens.
– the Tamron has constant f/2.8 aperture the Nikon has f/3.5-5.6 aperture, this means the Tamron is f/2.8 at 50mm, while the Nikon is f/5. At 85mm the Nikon is f/5.6. This is a huge difference in low light, outside in daylight nothing to worry about.
-the Tamron blurs the background significantly more at 50mm f/2.8 than the Nikon at 85mm f/5.6 (useful for artistic shots).
– the Nikon has a very good and effective vr and swm silent focusing motor, the Tamron has a louder micromotor(the only thing perhaps I don’t like in the Tamron), the Tamron also has a Vc version, it is a little heavier and has 72mm filter size.()
-the Tamron is much cheaper(the non-Vc)
-the Tamron is focusing much closer 27cm vs 43cm for the Nikon.

Smaller differences – Nikon 16-85 vs Tamron 17-50

-The Tamron is a little sharper according to my perception
-The Nikon build quality is a little better
-The Tamron is better against flare, the Nikon can produce all shapes of artifacts even with the hood on.
-the Nikon is sharpest at f/3.5 (widest setting) while the Tamron at f/5.6.
-The Nikon is sharper at open apertures, than the Tamron.

What about the Tamron 17-50 Vc version

The newer more expensive vc version of the Tamron lens is similar to the older version optically (the older version is little better in the corners and at 50mm, the difference not so visible at monitor size), but little bigger and heavier, and significantly more expensive. The usage of the vc needed some learning curve, because it pulls the lens significantly, and must wait a little before make the shot. The bigger size, weight and higher price clear two very strong, and also very important points of the original model. What I miss on the Tamron is not the stabilizer but a good USM motor. In many situations the loud bzzzz can be disturbing.

Nikon 16 85mm review
Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 review
Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 Vc review


Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8
Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5 – 5.6 vr
Nikon F Nikon F
Filter size:
67mm 67mm
Lens elements / groups:
16 elements / 13 groups 17 elements / 11 groups
Exotic Lens elements:
1 Xr glass, 2 apherical and 1 LD 2 Ed glass and 3 aspherical elements
434 g ( 15.3 oz. ) 485 g ( 17.1 oz. )
82 x 74 mm ( 3.22 x 2.9 ” ) 72 x 85 mm ( 2.83 x 3.35 ” )
Close focus distance:
27 cm ( “) 38 cm ( “)
Micromotor Ultrasonic
No yes
Manual focus autofocus, zoom lock Manual focus autofocus, stabilizer on-off, stabilizer active normal
Lens Mount:
Metal Metal
Aps-C Aps-C
0.22 x 0.22 x
Reproduction ratio:
1 : 4.5 1 : 4.6
Aperture blades:
7 rounded 7 rounded
Distance scale:
yes yes
Focal length:
17 – 50mm 16 – 85 mm
Max Aperture:
constant f/2.8 f/3.5 (wide end) f/5.6 (long end)
Min Aperture:
f/32 f/22 – f/36
Angle of view:
78° – 31° 83° – 18°
FTM (Manual focus override):
No yes
Ring rotates during focusing ?
yes No
Focus limiter:
No No
Tripod mount ring:
No No
Tilt / shift:
No No

 Posted by at 10:14 pm