Nikon 17 55 vs 16 85


Nikon 17 55 vs 16 85

nikon 17 55 vs 16 85

Nikon 17 55 vs 16 85
Introduction – Nikon 17 55 vs 16 85

The Nikon 17 55 vs 16 85 is perhaps the question comes for many Nikon shooter. Below I make some comparison how the two lens compare to each other.
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Between the 16mm and 17mm wide end of this lenses the difference is not too much. I still like better the wider 16mm though, which is similar to 24mm on the FF camera. The real difference is the portrait range long end of the 16-85mm. The 50mm is little short for my liking to make portraits, unless pre-set ones from close distances (1-3m).

Build quality

The 17 55 has better build quality, feels very sturdy but very heavy as well, feels bend the D7000 downwards a bit. The 16-85 has also has good build quality, but not professionally build though, like the 17 55.



Close focus distance:
Distance scale:
Manual focus override:
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Nikon 17-55 f/2.8

36 cm
9 rounded
constant f/2.8
755 g ( 26.63 oz. )
86 x 111 mm ( 3.39 x 4.37 ” )
77 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


If you prefer to bring the lens for you everywhere, or like hiking and not travel with car the weight of the 17-55 (755g vs 485g for the 16-85mm) can be a serious drawback.


This is one of the key difference between the two lenses. The 17-55 has f/2.8 brightness while the 16-85 has f/3.5 at the wide end and f/5.6 at the long end. Although the Nikon 17-55 is not tack sharp at f2.8, but not bad at all, and a lot faster than the Nikon 16 85 especially at the long end. The difference at the long end is f/2.8 vs f/5.6. This means four times shutter speed. If you often makes portraits indoors, the Nikon 17-55mm is much better thanks to the brighter aperture. Also means for portraits the brighter lens can blur the background much more, allowing more creative potential and flavor for the pictures. The Nikon 16-85mm can blur the background as well thanks to the longer 85mm focal length, but not as good for this reason as the brighter lenses. If you mostly use the lens outdoors and not make many portraits with blurred backgrounds the Nikon 16-85mm is more versatile.

Optical quality

Both lenses very good optically. The 16-85 is sharp at any apertures, weekest at 85mm f5.6 but here is very sharp also. The 17-55 is not so sharp at wide open apertures, but even wide open is very useful for close portraits for example.
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Autofocus operation

On a capable body, such as Nikon d7000,d7100 or Nikon d5200 the Nikkor 16-85 has quite quick and precise autofocus, the Nikkor 17-55 is a little slower. In dark the autofocus speed is perhaps more depend on the camera body attached.


Here the Nikon 17 55 not good enough for my judgement, for this money one can ask for flawless optical performance even wide open, quick autofocus operation, stabilizer, etc. The 16 85 is much better value especially used: very sharp any aperture, has a wider range and smaller weight.

Common strenghts

Both has quite useful range, the most used in general photography and both lens is quite good optically. Both has decent build quality.

Common weeknesses

Both lens are not bad lens at all. The price is little high for both of them especially for the 17-55. The weekness of the 16-85 is the lack of brightness. The 17-55 has no stabilizer, which would be useful. No Full frame coverage for neither of them.

Compare to

The 18 55 kit: The kit is also very good but not wide open, both the 17-55 and 16-85 is better than the kit, but by not much.
Tamron 17-50: Not very much difference compare to the 16-85 or 17-55, perhaps at f5.6 the Tamron is little shaper.


As I see the decision is first
1. What your budget allows,
2. What you prefer: brightness or convenience. The 16-85 is a logical choice for amateurs, the 17-55 is perhaps preferred by professionals.

See also:
Nikon 17 55mm f2.8 review
Nikon 16 85mm review

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Nikon 17 55 vs 16 85
Nikon 17 55 vs 16 85
Nikon 17 55 vs 16 85

 Posted by at 1:31 pm