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Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4 VR vs Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 Lens Comparison

This is surely going to be one of my more controversial lens comparisons. Nikon makes several very good ultra wide angle zoom lenses, but the Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4 VR and the Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 lenses are quite close to each other. So which should you choose? Read on for my analysis of these two excellent lenses.

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Pricing*

  • AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR - $1099.99

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Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Pricing*

  • Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED - $749.95

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*Pricing from Manufacturer's website - Current selling price may be different. Be sure to visit the links below for current pricing.

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Advantages

Better Build quality: the 16-35mm feels a lot more solid in the hand and it is also weather sealed.

Constant f/4 Aperture: Variable aperture zooms aren’t as convenient to use since the aperture changes as you zoom. However, the difference between the 16-35mm and the 18-35mm max aperture is less than a half stop at the extremes (3.5 vs 4 and 4.5 vs 4).

Image Stabilization: The 16-35mm lens has VR but the 18-35mm lens does not. This is a benefit when hand-holding the lens at slower shutter speeds.

Wider field of view: the 16-35mm lens offers a 106°60’ field of view vs the narrower 100°20’ field of view on the 18-35mm lens.

Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Advantages

Smaller Size: The 18-35mm lens is 1.15 inches shorter although it is 0.07 inches larger in diameter, but that is hardly noticeable.

Lighter Weight: the 18-35mm lens weighs almost half of what the the 16-35mm lens weighs. The difference is .65 pounds

Lower Price: The 18-35mm lens costs $350 less than the 16-35mm lens ($1100 vs $750).

Sample Images

Check out images on flickr.com from each lens:

Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR

Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5


In terms of image quality, both lenses are very good to excellent, although it is interesting to note that DXO rates the 18-35mm lens slightly better than the 16-35mm lens. In real world photos most people probably wouldn’t notice the difference, even in larger prints. User reviews for both lenses are also very close (4.69 vs 4.65) to each other. However, 5% more reviewers gave the 16-35mm 5-stars than users of the 18-35mm lens. See the overall breakdown below. So which lens should you get?

If your budget is tight then the 18-35mm becomes the obvious choice, but if you can afford the 16-35mm which one you purchase becomes a harder decision and will come down to how important the extra 2mm (6°) field of view is, Do you need VR and do you need the better build quality vs the overall size and weight.

Frankly this is one of the harder decisions as I really like the extra 2mm and the better build quality of the 16-35mm lens but I really like the smaller size and lighter weight of the 18-35mm lens. I don’t really need VR in my ultrawide angle lenses so that is a non-factor in my decision, but for some that may be a big deal. Since I like to hike, bike and travel, the lighter weight is an advantage, but for those same reasons the better build quality is also an advantage. It’s too bad Nikon doesn’t make a 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 with the pro build quality but in the same 18-35mm body. Personally, I am leaning towards the 18-35mm but the 16-35mm lens is also very compelling. Bang for your buck, I think the 18-35mm wins the battle, but just barely. Good luck in your decision.

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Overall User Rating

4.69 out of 5

based on 671 user reviews online.

: 78% (522.36)
: 17% (115.08)
: 3% (18.28)
: 1% (4.76)
: 1% (9.14)

Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Overall User Rating

4.66 out of 5

based on 216 user reviews online.

: 74% (159.92)
: 21% (45.73)
: 3% (6.01)
: 1% (2)
: 1% (2.34)


Spec Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
Focal Length 16 18
Max Aperture f/4 f/3.5
Minimum Aperture f/22 f/
Minimum Focus distance 11.42 inches 11.02 inches
Maximum Magnification 0.25x 0.20x
Number of Elements 17 12
Number of Groups 12 8
Aperture Blade Design Rounded Not Specified
Number of Aperture Blades 9 7
Filter Size 77 mm 77 mm
Diameter 3.2 in. 3.27 in.
Length 4.9 in. 3.74 in.
Weight 1.5 lbs. .85 lbs.
Lens Mount Construction Metal Metal
Tripod Collar None None
Weather Sealed Yes Not Specified
Distance Scale Yes - No Hyper Focal Markings Yes - No Hyper Focal Markings
Image Stabilization Yes No
Lens Shade Included Included