We’re through! Yup, I’m done with my revered Nikon 14-24mm lens for now. Everyone loves this lens and it definitely has served me well over the years, but I’m moving on. I’ve been thinking about the Nikon 16-35mm lens for a while now so rented one from LensProToGo.com a few times. I took it on some trips with me and here’s what I’ve come up with.

(Photo taken with Nikon 16-35mm lens – click photo for larger view)

First, why was I looking for another lens?
For my photography style at least, I’ve noticed that sometimes my 14-24 didn’t work for me. On the wide end, all I lose from going from the 14-24 to the 16-35 is 2mm – I can deal with that. On the zoomed side, sometimes I simply want to zoom in a little more than 24mm and I can’t with 14-24mm. I’ve also hated the shape of this lens. I lose the lens cap all the time when I take it out of the bag. Usually not a big deal for a lens, but the glass on this lens bulges out so far that I always felt like I was going to scratch the lens. And the biggest problem (for me at least) I’ve had is that I can’t put filters on it. I don’t care much about not being able to use a polarizer on it. When you’re shooting that wide, a polarizer would most likely give you a very weird looking sky with some parts darker than others because of it’s wide area of view. But I’ve gotten into longer exposure stuff, and been using the Lee Big Stopper a lot, and the adapters don’t fit the 14-24 lens. Now, you can buy an adapter for it, but it’s nearly $400. Yes, I know it’s cheaper than a new lens, but when you put all this together with my reasons above, I decided it was time to change.

(Photo taken with Nikon 16-35mm lens – click photo for larger view)

My Experience with the 16-35 Lens
After using the 16-35 for a couple of weeks I’m extremely happy with it. It’s every bit as sharp as the 14-24. I’ve read reviews where they say it’s not as sharp around the edges as the 14-24mm, but I haven’t seen any signs of it. The largest aperture is f/4 (not 2.8 like the 14-24) but that doesn’t bother me. I’m using it to shoot landscapes so I typically never go below f/11 (and usually f/16 or higher). It’s also got vibration reduction. I haven’t used it yet since I’m usually on a tripod, but it may come in handy one day.

In addition to the two photos I posted here, I posted a couple long exposure photos I took with the 16-35 a couple weeks ago. One was from San Francisco (click here to see the post) and the other was from Boston (click here to see the post).

Another added perk (for me at least)
Another benefit of the lens is that it’s great for background photos. I do a lot of Photoshop compositing work (placing a person into a different background) and I like to walk around and take photos of potential backgrounds (here’s a link to my book on the topic). It’s kinda cool actually. While I’m usually a light snob, and only like to shoot during good light, you can find cool backgrounds at nearly any time of the day. My lens for backgrounds (until now), was the Nikon 24-70mm. The problem with it was that sometimes I like to shoot wider than 24mm, and I couldn’t unless I put the 14-24 on. But when I wanted to zoom in further than 24mm, I had to put another lens on. The 16-35mm is the perfect compositor’s background lens.

My Recommendation
If you’re looking for a great landscape and nature photography lens (or just an great overall wide angle lens), that’s fairly lightweight and about half the price as it’s closest Nikon competitor, then I’d definitely recommend it.

What’s Your Thoughts?
Anybody own this lens? Compared it to the 14-24? Any other lenses in it’s range that you feel are a must have?

The lens is actually on backorder these days (here’s the link), but unless some one talks me out of it, as soon as I can I’ll probably grab one (unless anyone has one to sell) :)