Nikon 16 85 vs 18 105


Nikon 16 85 vs 18 105

Nikon 16 85 vs 18 105

Nikon 16 85 vs 18 105
Introduction – Nikon 16 85 vs 18 105

The Nikon 16 85 vs 18 105 is perhaps the question comes for many beginning Nikon shooter. I think if you think between these two lenses you already start your interest in a good place. I can admit none of these lenses are very appealing for pro shooters though.

I think both lens has excellent value. The value comes with very good versatility. Compare to the usual 18-55mm lenses, the longer end makes these lenses much more capable for portraits or pictures of more distant subjects. If we have a Nikon slr camera, and want to have some lens for general usage, we have seven or more different choices:

1. Prime lenses or one prime lens
2. 18-55 type zoom lenses, cheap kit lens f/3.5-5.6 expensive f/2.8 lenses
3. Nikon 16-85 vr
4. Nikon 18-105 vr
5. Nikon 18-140 vr
6. Nikon 18-200 vr
7. Nikon 18-300 or similar Sigma 18-300 or Tamron 16-300 or Tamron 18-270.

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If we want prime the best choice is the 35mm f/1.8, but we don’t have a telephoto, nor wide angle. Serious limitation.

18-55mm lenses: I don’t like the range simply, not too wide, very short. Brighter lenses can be interesting, with better bokeh, but still very limiting. The best value here is the Tamron 17-50mm.

18-140mm is also not bad, with good stabilizer, similar like the 18-105.

18-200 significantly more expensive than either of these lenses, and 200mm is perhaps the worst quality of the range

18-300 similar like the previous, expensive, not as good optically, but here we have much more range.

So let’s compare the two Nikkors:



Close focus distance:
Distance scale:
Manual focus override:
Focal length:
Filter size:

Nikon 18-105 vr

plastic (this is most don’t like)
45 cm
420g ( 14.8 oz. )
78 x 89 mm ( 3 x 3.5″ )
67 mm
Nikkor silent wave

Nikon 16-85 vr

38 cm
3.5 – 5.6
485 g ( 17.1 oz. )
72 x 85 mm ( 2.8 x 3.4″ )
67 mm
Nikkor silent wave


The 16 85 is a little wider, the 18 105 is a little longer. If I think myself I prefer the extra 2mm at the wide end, because according to my needs it is much more useful. It would be even better to be wider, like 10-15mm. The 20mm at the long end doesn’t give so much difference in real terms. A 85 or 105mm is a short telephoto, the obvious usage of it to make portraits. From 10 meters the difference is 2.29m vs 2.82m. To have the same view with a 85mm lens the distance is 8.1m (two steps). At wide angle the 16 mm is wider: from 10m 15m vs 13.33m. From 60m the difference is between the view of these two lenses is 10m.

Build quality

The 16 85 has better build quality, but if we see the price difference the 18 105 is ok as well. The 18 105 is bigger, but if we don’t consider price the 16 86 is much better build. The 16 85 isn’t a professional lens either in terms of build quality, I am not sure it survive dropping to a concrete, which some of my Canon L lenses survived without a single problem.
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Optical quality

According to my perception, the 16 85 is better at the wide end, the 18 105 is better at the long end. If you have no idea which end would you use more, most people use wide end much more like makes landscapes, family shots. The long end is used for portraits (head and shoulders, or from a distance), or telephoto. Even the 105mm is not very long, not enough to photograph birds of wildlife. If you want to make photographs of distant subject an additional telephoto perhaps needed. If you are heavily interested in telephoto I doesn’t recommend the 18-200, or 18-300 zooms, better to have a ‘real telephoto’, like a Nikon 300f4 with a 1.4x converter or a Nikon 70-300, or the Nikkor 55-200. All three are much better than this wide range zooms. The first is the best quality and more pricey option, after cheaper and cheaper, with less quality.

Autofocus operation

On a capable body, such as Nikon d7000,d7100 or Nikon d5200 both has quite quick and precise autofocus operation in good light. I would say surprisingly quick. In dark is perhaps more depend on the camera body.

Common strenghts

Both has lens has a quite useful range, which helps not to change lenses all the time. You can handle most photographic opportunities with both of these lenses from landscape to portraits, and anything in between. For macro or wildlife these lenses are not the best, nor for dramatic landscapes where wider lenses are preferred.

Common weeknesses

Common weekness is the lack of brightness, especially at the long end. Inside the room the f5.6 aperture not really cut it. Perhaps to get a 35mm f1.8 is a good solution indoors. It would be very nice to have let’s say f/3.5 in the long end (85, or 105mm) for portraits to produce nice blurred backgrounds at theses lenses, but this just doesn’t happen. We have f/5.6 which is good for portraits, but not through the background out so much as the brighter lenses can do.

Personal experience

I used both of these lenses, and I own the 16-85. I am quite satisfied with it. It is a very good lens. I like the sharpness, even wide open, the very nice colors, contrast, the very smooth and quick operation, excellent stabilizer, decent build quality. I like the extra 2mm at the wide end. The biggest advantage of this lens is versatility. It can handle almost any situation apart from low light and wildlife. My experience with the 18-105 is that I was really surprised how sharp is it at 105mm wide open, at the wide end I wasn’t so much surprised. It is decent, but nothing to rave about.

Compare to

The 18 55 kit: the kit is sharper at wide end than the 18 105, the 16 85 is similar
Tamron 17-50, Nikon 17-55 f2.8 zooms: The Nikon is much heavier, but better build and much brighter, with smaller range, in smaller apertures the difference is not big, at f5.6 the 16-85 or the 18-105 is not bad either.
The Tamron (Non Vc) something similar, perhaps little better, than the 16-85 or 18-105 but it has smaller range, and perhaps worse autofocus operation.


As I see the decision is first
1. What your budget allows,
2. What you prefer long end, or wide end. If you mostly wants to make landscapes the 16 85 is better, optically as well as wider, for portraits or telephoto the 18 105 is perhaps little better. The difference is not huge between the two lenses.

See also:
Nikon 18 105 review
Nikon 16 85mm review

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 Posted by at 5:06 pm