Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 vs. 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6: The Ultimate Showdown for Your Perfect Lens Match

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Are you in search of the perfect Nikon DX lens for your photography endeavors, but can’t decide between the 16-80mm f/2.8-4 and the 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6?

Search no more! In this in-depth analysis, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of these two commonly used lenses, helping you make an informed decision based on your shooting preferences and the photography genres you’re passionate about.

Whether you’re a landscape enthusiast seeking superior low-light performance or an avid traveler in need of a versatile zoom range, we’ve got you covered.

So, join us as we explore the intricate details of these two Nikon DX lenses, evaluating factors such as build quality, weather sealing, focusing performance, optical stabilization, and much more.

By the end of this article, you’ll be well-equipped to choose the ideal lens for your unique photography needs and aspirations.


Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm F2.8-4E ED VRNikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR
Max ApertureF2.8-4.0F3.5-5.6
Aperture TypeVariableVariable
Focal Range (mm)16-8018-140
Max FormatAPS-C / DXAPS-C / DX
Zoom Ratio (X)57.8

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 features a maximum aperture of f/2.8-4.0 and a 5.0x zoom ratio. Thanks to its wider aperture, this lens offers superior low-light capabilities and a shallower depth of field, making it an ideal choice for a range of photography styles, including landscape and architectural photography.

The Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6, on the other hand, has a maximum aperture of f/3.5-5.6 and a 7.8x zoom ratio. Although the aperture is smaller, it offers a longer focal range, making it more versatile for different photography genres like travel, events, or sports. The smaller aperture might lead to reduced low light performance and a deeper depth of field. However, this lens could be more affordable and lightweight compared to the 16-80mm lens.

Design and Ease of Use

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm F2.8-4E ED VRNikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR
Diameter x Length (mm)⌀80×85.5mm⌀78×97mm
Weight (gr)480490
Filter Thread (mm)7267
Weather SealingNoNo
Zoom MethodRotary (internal)Rotary (extending)
Distance ScaleYesNo
DoF ScaleNoNo
Hood SuppliedYesNo
Hood CodeHB-75HB-32

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 has a diameter of 80mm and a length of 85.5mm, making it relatively compact. It weighs 480 grams and uses an internal rotary zoom method. This design keeps the lens at a constant length while zooming, which can make it easier to handle and more weather-resistant.

The Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 has a slightly smaller diameter of 78mm but is longer at 97mm. It weighs 490 grams, only slightly heavier than the 16-80mm lens. The lens uses an extending rotary zoom method, which means it physically extends when you zoom in or out. This design can make the lens harder to handle due to its changing size and potentially less weather-resistant.

In conclusion, the choice between the 16-80mm and 18-140mm lenses largely depends on your priorities and shooting preferences. The 16-80mm lens is more compact and uses an internal rotary zoom design, which offers better handling and weather resistance.

The 18-140mm lens, with its extending rotary zoom design, could be harder to handle due to its changing size and potentially less weather-resistant. Overall, the 16-80mm lens could be considered superior for its compact design and consistent handling, but the 18-140mm lens might be a better option if you are willing to work with the extending zoom design.

Lens Mount and Barrel

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 lens features a metal lens mount with a rubber seal around it, providing better protection against dust entering the camera body. Its lens barrel is made of plastic with rubberized rings for focus and zoom, offering a lightweight and portable design. Additionally, this lens doesn’t change its physical size when zooming in or out.

In contrast, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 boasts a sturdy metal lens mount, but it doesn’t come with weather sealing, which makes it less resilient to dust and moisture. The lens barrel is primarily made of polycarbonate plastic with a metal mounting plate, providing a balance between weight and durability. It features textured rubber grips on the zoom and manual focus rings for comfortable handling. However, the lens extends by just over 50mm when zooming, and the rear group of elements moves in and out as the focal length is changed.

Considering the build quality and lens mount, the 16-80mm lens offers a superior design due to its metal mount with a rubber seal, providing better protection against dust and moisture. The lens barrel’s lightweight construction and the absence of size changes when zooming make it more convenient for photographers on the move.

While the 18-140mm lens has some advantages, such as a metal mounting plate and textured rubber grips, the lack of weather sealing and extension when zooming make it less desirable in comparison.

Weather Sealing

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4, while not fully weather-sealed, offers some protection against the elements with a rubber gasket around the lens mount to keep dust out of the camera body. Additionally, its front element is coated with a fluorine layer that repels water and simplifies cleaning.

Conversely, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 completely lacks weather sealing, as it doesn’t have a gasket at the lens mount or internal seals at the rings, switches, or front of the barrel. Furthermore, it does not possess a fluorine coating on the front element, making it unsuitable for use in harsh weather conditions or environments with high levels of moisture and dust.

In conclusion, the 16-80mm lens offers superior weather sealing compared to the 18-140mm lens, providing some protection against dust and water. Although not fully weather-sealed, the 16-80mm lens’s partial sealing measures make it a more reliable option for photographers who may occasionally encounter challenging environments or unpredictable weather conditions.


The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 features 2 rings: a zoom ring at the front and a manual focusing ring at the rear. The zoom ring is large and rubberized with a slightly heavy movement, contributing to its well-built and sturdy feel even when fully extended.

However, the manual focusing ring is narrow and not aggressively knurled, resulting in a grinding feel when used. Its rotation is not smooth, and it can be difficult to locate, but there is a modest focus-distance-scale window marked in both feet and meters between the zoom and manual-focus rings.

In contrast, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 also has 2 rings: a zoom ring and a focusing ring. The zoom ring, located near the front, occupies most of the barrel and is covered with a thick, textured rubber grip band, while the focusing ring is narrower but still sports a ridged rubber grip band.

The zoom ring is well-damped with nice resistance, and the focusing ring has a long throw but lacks tactile feedback. There are no windowed distance scale or depth-of-field indicators, and the lens lacks an extension lock switch on the zoom ring.

In conclusion, the 18-140mm lens offers superior rings compared to the 16-80mm lens due to its well-damped and resistant zoom ring, comfortable textured rubber grip bands, and a longer throw on the focusing ring.

While the 16-80mm lens does have a focus-distance-scale window, its manual focusing ring is less user-friendly, and the overall feel of the rings is not as satisfying as that of the 18-140mm lens.


The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 is equipped with 3 switches/buttons on the barrel, providing a versatile control experience. The first switch is an AF/MF toggle, allowing manual override of autofocus with minimal lag time, regardless of the AF mode in use.

The second switch is an IS switch, enabling the 4-stop vibration reduction system. The third switch allows the user to choose between Normal and Active VR modes. While these switches are clearly labeled, they are identical in appearance, which may make it challenging to change settings quickly while the camera is raised to your eye.

On the other hand, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 features two control switches located on its left side. One switch toggles autofocus (A or M), and the other switch enables or disables the vibration reduction system (ON or OFF). The aperture is controlled via a mechanical lever, simplifying the lens’s overall control layout.

In conclusion, the 16-80mm lens offers a more comprehensive set of switches/buttons, providing greater control over autofocus and vibration reduction settings. However, the identical appearance of the switches can make quick adjustments difficult.

The 18-140mm lens, with its simpler control layout, might be more suitable for those who prefer easy-to-identify switches during fast-paced photography sessions.

Filter Thread

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 boasts a 72mm filter thread made of plastic, and its front element remains stationary when focusing. This non-rotating design makes it easy to use filters, such as polarizing or ND grad filters, without any unwanted spinning. While the 72mm filter thread is not compatible with larger 77mm filters, the internal focusing feature ensures a hassle-free filter experience.

On the other hand, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 features a 67mm metal filter thread. It accepts 67mm diameter attachments and, like the 16-80mm lens, the front element does not rotate during focus or zoom operation. This compatibility makes it convenient to use with filters such as graduated neutral density filters and polarizers. The front element sits relatively flat and just behind the filter ring, with a small indicator mark on the outer edge of the filter ring as a guide for attaching the optional bayonet-style lens hood.

In conclusion, both lenses offer filter threads with convenient non-rotating front elements, which facilitate the use of filters. The 16-80mm lens provides a larger, albeit plastic, 72mm filter thread, while the 18-140mm lens has a smaller, metal 67mm filter thread.

If you prioritize a larger filter size and don’t mind the plastic construction, the 16-80mm lens is the better choice. However, if you prefer a more durable metal filter thread and can work with a smaller 67mm size, the 18-140mm lens is the superior option.

Lens Hood

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 comes with a lens hood included in the box, offering users added convenience. This squared petal-style design sets it apart from more common rounded and petal designs. Made of hard plastic with a matte finish, the hood features an ergonomic bevel, allowing for comfortable grip when attaching or detaching. Its lock button, an improvement over older twist-on/click hoods, ensures smooth rotation and secure attachment to the lens.

Conversely, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 does not include a lens hood in the package, requiring a separate purchase for this optional accessory. The petal-shaped, plastic hood has a bayonet mount and can be reversed for storage. With an ergonomic bevel and smooth rotation, this hood’s primary function is to prevent lens flare and protect the front lens element from impacts.

In conclusion, the 16-80mm lens hood is superior, as it is included with the lens, has a unique squared petal-style design, and features a convenient lock button for secure attachment. The 18-140mm lens hood, while functional, must be purchased separately and has a more common petal design. If you prioritize convenience and a unique design, the 16-80mm lens hood is the clear winner.

Focusing and Optical Stabilization

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm F2.8-4E ED VRNikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR
AF MotorSilent Wave MotorSilent Wave Motor
Rotating Front ElementDoes not rotate on focusingDoes not rotate on focusing
Min Focus Distance0.35m0.45m
Max Magnification (X)0.220.23
Full-Time Manual FocusYesYes
Focus MethodInternalInternal

Focusing Performance

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 boasts impressive autofocus performance, with quick, accurate focusing that is relatively quiet, making it suitable for photography and video applications. The focusing speed is fast, and it excels in low-light situations, maintaining autofocus accuracy and speed.

It also supports manual focus override for fine-tuning, and its internally focusing design keeps the lens length constant regardless of focus and zoom settings. Minimal focus breathing makes this lens an excellent choice for videographers and photographers who need consistent framing during focus adjustments.

On the other hand, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 features an ultrasonic Silent Wave Motor for fast, quiet, and nearly silent autofocus operation. It performs well in both single-servo and continuous autofocus modes and allows manual focus override. Like the 16-80mm lens, it has an internally focusing design, but it does exhibit focus breathing, especially at the long end of the zoom range.

In conclusion, the 16-80mm lens outperforms the 18-140mm lens in focusing performance, offering faster and more accurate autofocus, better low-light performance, and minimal focus breathing. While the 18-140mm lens has a decent autofocus system, the 16-80mm lens is a more versatile choice for various shooting situations, providing superior focusing performance.

Optical Stabilization

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 features a Vibration Reduction (VR) system with 4 stops of compensation, allowing you to capture sharp images at slower shutter speeds. It has two modes: Normal and Active, with Active being more suited for shooting from a moving platform. With the VR enabled, sharp shots can be achieved at 1/3 of a second at 16mm and 1/4 of a second at 80mm, even with some hand movement. However, stabilization performance may vary based on individual shooting conditions and photographer steadiness.

On the flip side, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 comes with Nikon’s vibration reduction (VR) technology, which corrects for hand-held shake up to 4 f-stops. This lens’s stabilization slider has two options: on and off. The integrated VR stabilization is highly effective, enabling photographers to capture handheld shots at slow shutter speeds, such as 1/15 second, with the 140mm focal length and get around half of the photos in sharp focus.

Optical stabilization is not always essential for wide-angle photography but can be beneficial in certain situations, such as low-light conditions, handheld shooting, or when recording video. Both lenses offer optical stabilization, but the 16-80mm lens provides more flexibility with two stabilization modes compared to the 18-140mm lens, which only has an on and off switch.

In conclusion, the 16-80mm lens has a superior optical stabilization system with 4 stops of compensation and two stabilization modes, making it the better choice for photographers who prioritize stability and sharpness in various shooting conditions.

Image Quality

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm F2.8-4E ED VRNikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR
Special Elements4 ED and 3 aspherical elements. Nano Crystal Coat.1 ED (extra-low dispersion) glass element, 1 aspherical lens element
Diaphragm Blades77
Circular ApertureYesNo


The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 demonstrates good control of chromatic aberration, with only noticeable fringing at 16mm that can be easily corrected in-camera or in post-processing. Spherochromatism, a more advanced form of chromatic aberration, is not present in this lens.

Coma is also well-managed, with minimal visibility at certain settings that diminishes as the lens is stopped down. However, spherical aberration is present at the extreme end of the lens’s focusing distance, causing some loss of contrast and necessitating post-processing for high-impact images.

On the other hand, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 exhibits chromatic aberration, which is more noticeable in this model than in previous Nikon offerings. Despite this, it is generally not objectionable, with slight dark blue fringing around high-contrast areas in the corners of test images. The coma performance of this lens is superb, as it displays no signs of distorted blobs surrounding bright spots of light, even in the image’s corners.

In conclusion, the 16-80mm lens offers better control of chromatic aberration and coma, while the 18-140mm lens demonstrates superior coma performance. However, the presence of spherical aberration in the 16-80mm lens might require additional post-processing for high-quality images. Overall, the 16-80mm lens has a slight edge in aberration control, making it the superior choice for photographers who prioritize minimizing optical imperfections.


The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 delivers impressive sharpness at most zoom settings, with exceptional center sharpness across the focal range. However, corner sharpness can be slightly compromised at wider focal lengths and wide open apertures. Stopping down to around f/5.6-8 significantly improves corner sharpness. The sharpest aperture varies slightly depending on the focal length but generally falls between f/5.6-8.

When compared, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 demonstrates commendable sharpness performance, with the center sharpness being rather impressive at wider apertures and even better at f/5.6 and beyond.

The corner sharpness of this lens can be a bit soft, particularly at wider angles, but it improves considerably when stopped down to around f/8. The optimal aperture for sharpness varies with the focal length, but typically f/8 and f/11 yield the most impressive outcomes. Diffraction effects become visible around f/8 and pose a serious problem at f/16 or smaller apertures.

In conclusion, both lenses demonstrate strong sharpness characteristics, with the 16-80mm lens having a slight advantage in center sharpness. While corner sharpness in both lenses can be improved by stopping down, the 16-80mm lens is the superior choice for photographers who prioritize sharpness across various focal lengths and apertures.

Bokeh Quality

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 offers varying degrees of bokeh quality, depending on the settings used. At 80mm and near the minimum focusing distance, the bokeh is smooth and pleasing, making it suitable for capturing flowers and small subjects.

However, at other focal lengths and apertures, the out-of-focus quality can be less impressive, even displaying hard-edged or onion bokeh. To achieve the softest backgrounds, it is recommended to use the longest focal length, get as close as possible to the subject, and shoot at the largest aperture. Overall, the bokeh produced by this lens is not Nikon’s finest.

In contrast, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 employs a 7-blade iris diaphragm, resulting in somewhat nervous bokeh. Bokeh quality is a matter of personal taste and can range from decent to good, depending on the focusing distance, focal length, and aperture settings. The smoothest backgrounds can be attained by stepping back and zooming in to the longest possible focal length, capturing photos at 140mm f/5.6.

In conclusion, while neither lens is a standout performer when it comes to bokeh quality, the 16-80mm lens offer smoother and more pleasing bokeh when used at specific settings. However, the bokeh quality in both lenses can be enhanced by utilizing the appropriate techniques for each lens.


The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 displays noticeable flare when pointed near the sun, but this issue can be easily eliminated by using the included hood. Ghosting is visible when shooting into the sun, but it is not significant and can be minimized by shading the lens with a hand.

Conversely, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 displays little to no flare and ghosting in most circumstances, thanks to Nikon’s Integrated Coating, which minimizes these optical aberrations. Nevertheless, when capturing images directly into the sun or other intense light sources, some ghosting may be noticeable.

Employing the optional petal-shaped lens hood (HB-32) can further decrease the likelihood of flare and ghosting. It’s essential to remember that the occurrence of ghosts can be managed to some degree, with fewer ghosts emerging when using a prime lens and more ghosts when using an older single-coated zoom lens.

In conclusion, the 18-140mm lens appears to have superior flare and ghosting control due to its Integrated Coating and compatibility with the optional lens hood. This makes it the preferable option for photographers who frequently capture photos in difficult lighting situations or want to minimize the impact of flare and ghosting on their images.


The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 experiences noticeable vignetting in the corners when shooting wide open, especially at 16mm and f/2.8. However, this can be improved dramatically by stopping down the lens by 1 or 2 stops. At f/4 and beyond, vignetting is well controlled.

Applying a lens correction profile, either in-camera or in post-production, can easily correct the vignetting, but it does reduce the resolution slightly. Overall, vignetting is an issue that can be managed with some adjustments.

In contrast, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 reveals visible vignetting at different focal lengths, particularly when in-camera correction is turned off. It becomes more noticeable towards the edges of the zoom range than in the center. To reduce vignetting, using a smaller aperture such as f/5.6 or f/8 can help brighten up the corners of the image.

In conclusion, both lenses exhibit vignetting, but the 16-80mm lens appears to have better control when stopping down the aperture and applying lens correction profiles. This makes the 16-80mm lens the superior option in terms of vignetting, provided that photographers are willing to make the necessary adjustments.

However, it is important to note that some photographers may appreciate a certain level of vignetting for artistic purposes, so the choice ultimately depends on personal preference and specific use cases.


The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 exhibits both barrel and pincushion distortion at different focal lengths. Barrel distortion is more noticeable at 16mm, while pincushion distortion becomes moderate at longer focal lengths.

Both types of distortion can be easily corrected in post-processing using supported software like Adobe Lightroom or in-camera if using Nikon’s in-body distortion correction. However, for subjects with critical straight lines, such as buildings or ocean horizons, it’s important to correct for the distortion to avoid any noticeable bending of the lines.

On the other hand, the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 exhibits noticeable distortion, especially at wider focal lengths. At 18mm, the lens displays barrel distortion, while from 35mm to 140mm, pincushion distortion is evident. Like the 16-80mm lens, this lens has in-camera distortion correction available, and post-processing software can also fix it. Some users suggest turning on Auto Distortion Correction in the camera’s menu.

In conclusion, both lenses exhibit distortion at various focal lengths, but the 16-80mm lens shows a more balanced distortion pattern, with only moderate pincushion distortion at longer focal lengths.

The 18-140mm lens, on the other hand, experiences distortion throughout the entire zoom range. Although both lenses offer solutions for correcting distortion, the 16-80mm lens is a slightly better choice in terms of distortion control, making it the superior option between the two.

Final Verdict

In conclusion, both the Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 and the Nikon DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 cater to different photography genres and priorities. The 16-80mm lens, with its wider aperture and 5.0x zoom ratio, is better suited for landscape and architecture photography, offering superior low light performance, optical stabilization, shallower depth of field, and better handling due to its compact and weather-resistant design. It also demonstrates better control over chromatic aberration, sharpness, vignetting, and distortion, and offers smoother bokeh under specific settings.

On the other hand, the 18-140mm lens, with its smaller aperture and 7.8x zoom ratio, is more versatile for travel, events, or sports photography. Additionally, this lens displays excellent flare and ghosting control and superior coma performance, making it a great option for photographers who frequently take photos in difficult lighting conditions.

Meet the Author

Wei Mao

Wei was a cruise photographer who worked at Disney Cruise Line. He is a lucky traveler who has been to more than 20 countries with his camera while working on an around-the-world cruise. Photography has changed his view of the world forever. Now he wants more people to benefit from photography through his blog.

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