Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 vs. Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4: The Ultimate Showdown – An In-Depth Lens Comparison

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Capturing the perfect moment is a crucial aspect of photography, and having the right lens can make all the difference in translating your vision into reality.

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 and Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 have emerged as two popular contenders for photographers seeking versatility, performance, and quality in a single package. Both lenses cater to a wide range of photography styles, from stunning landscapes and intricate architecture to captivating portraits and eye-catching macro shots.

In this comprehensive comparison, we’ll delve deep into the features and performance of these two lenses, exploring their strengths and weaknesses to help you make an informed decision. By understanding how each lens excels in various aspects such as sharpness, bokeh, autofocus, and weather sealing, you’ll be able to choose the lens that aligns perfectly with your photographic goals.

Join us as we examine and compare the Nikon 16-80mm and Sigma 17-70mm lenses, providing you with valuable insights and tips to elevate your photography game. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or an enthusiastic hobbyist, this article will help you uncover the secrets of these two versatile lenses and guide you towards capturing exceptional images that truly stand out.


Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm F2.8-4E ED VRSigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM C Nikon F (DX)
Max ApertureF2.8-4.0F2.8-4.0
Aperture TypeVariableVariable
Focal Range (mm)16-8017-70
Max FormatAPS-C / DXAPS-C / DX
Zoom Ratio (X)54.1

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 and Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 are both variable aperture lenses designed for APS-C / DX format cameras. They share the same maximum aperture range of f/2.8-4.0, offering flexibility in low light performance, depth of field control, and image quality. However, there are some differences between these lenses that may influence your choice.

The Nikon 16-80mm has a wider focal range of 16-80mm, providing slightly more versatility in terms of framing options compared to the Sigma 17-70mm, which has a focal range of 17-70mm. This difference may be more noticeable when shooting landscapes or architecture, where the extra 1mm on the wide end can make a significant impact. Moreover, the Nikon 16-80mm has a higher zoom ratio of 5.0x, as opposed to the Sigma 17-70mm’s 4.1x, offering more flexibility when zooming in or out.

Design and Ease of Use

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm F2.8-4E ED VRSigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM C Nikon F (DX)
Diameter x Length (mm)⌀80×85.5mm⌀79×82mm
Weight (gr)480470
Filter Thread (mm)7272
Weather SealingNoNo
Zoom MethodRotary (internal)Rotary (extending)
Distance ScaleYesYes
DoF ScaleNoNo
Hood SuppliedYesYes
Hood CodeHB-75LH780-03

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 and Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 differ in size, weight, and zoom method, which may impact your photography experience depending on your preferences and shooting needs.

The Nikon 16-80mm lens is slightly larger in diameter and length, measuring ⌀80×85.5mm, compared to the Sigma 17-70mm lens, which measures ⌀79x82mm. While the difference is not substantial, a more compact lens can be beneficial for portability, discreetness, and storage.

The Nikon lens is also slightly heavier at 480 grams, as opposed to the Sigma lens at 470 grams. A lighter lens may be more comfortable for extended shooting periods and contribute to a better overall balance with your camera setup.

In terms of zoom method, the Nikon 16-80mm lens features an internal rotary zoom mechanism, while the Sigma 17-70mm lens uses an extending rotary zoom. An internal rotary zoom offers advantages such as consistent size and balance while zooming, as well as better weather sealing. However, it can be more complex and potentially heavier due to the additional mechanics.

On the other hand, the extending rotary zoom method found in the Sigma 17-70mm lens is typically simpler and may result in a lighter design. However, it can cause the lens to physically extend while zooming, which may impact handling, weather sealing, and balance.

Lens Mount and Barrel

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 and Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 differ in their lens mount and barrel designs. For the lens mount, the Nikon 16-80mm features a robust metal construction with a rubber seal to keep dust out of the camera body, while the Sigma 17-70mm also has a metal mount but lacks the rubber gasket.

Regarding the lens barrel, the Nikon 16-80mm is composed of plastic with rubberized rings for focus and zoom, and maintains a constant size when zooming. The Sigma 17-70mm lens, on the other hand, also has a plastic barrel but with a sleek, modern design. As it is zoomed in, the lens extends 1.5 inches in length, and includes a distance scale etched onto the focus ring and macro reproduction ratios marked on the barrel.

Plastic lens barrels are generally lighter and more affordable, but may not be as durable as metal barrels. Metal lens mounts, such as those found on both the Nikon 16-80mm and Sigma 17-70mm lenses, are typically stronger and more resistant to wear and tear compared to plastic mounts.

In conclusion, the Nikon 16-80mm lens mount and barrel offer a slight advantage in terms of weather sealing and handling due to the rubber seal around the lens mount and the constant barrel size when zooming.

The Sigma 17-70mm lens, while lacking the rubber gasket and having an extending barrel design, still offers a durable metal mount and a stylish, modern appearance.

Weather Sealing

When it comes to weather sealing, the Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 and Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 have their unique approaches.

The Nikon 16-80mm, though not fully weather-sealed, offers a rubber gasket around the lens mount, acting as a barrier against dust and protecting the camera body. In addition, its front element boasts a fluorine coating that not only repels water but also makes cleaning a breeze. This combination provides a basic level of protection for photographers shooting in various conditions.

On the other hand, the Sigma 17-70mm doesn’t have explicit weather sealing, lacking a gasket at the mount or internal seals at the rings, switches, and front of the barrel. This makes it more susceptible to dust, moisture, and light water splashes, potentially affecting its durability and performance over time.

It’s clear that the Nikon 16-80mm offers superior weather sealing in comparison to the Sigma 17-70mm. While weather sealing might not be a crucial feature for portrait lenses, it can be beneficial for photographers who frequently shoot in outdoor or unpredictable environments. The added protection that the Nikon 16-80mm provides ensures greater peace of mind and longevity for your investment, making it the more attractive option in terms of weather sealing.


The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 features a large rubberized zoom ring with a slightly heavy movement, providing a solid grip and a sturdy feel even when fully extended. However, its manual focusing ring is narrow, not aggressively knurled, and has a grinding feel when rotated. Locating the manual focusing ring can be challenging, and its rotation is not as smooth as one might prefer. A modest focus distance scale window, marked in both feet and meters, is situated between the zoom and manual-focus rings.

In contrast, the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 has a rubberized zoom ring, approximately an inch in width, and a quarter-inch wide rubberized focus ring. Both rings rotate smoothly, with the zoom ring showcasing focal length markings at 17, 24, 28, 35, 50, and 70mm.

The focus ring is narrow, with only half of it ridged for easier grip. The zoom mechanism extends by 1.5 inches as it zooms towards 70mm and shows only a marginal amount of wobbling even at the most extreme zoom setting. It’s worth noting that there is no extension lock switch on the zoom ring, no windowed distance scale, and no depth-of-field indicator.


The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 offers 3 switches/buttons on its barrel. Its AF/MF switch empowers photographers with manual override of autofocus, granting control and flexibility with minimal lag time, regardless of the AF mode in use.

Additionally, the lens is equipped with an IS switch that activates its 4-stop vibration reduction system, and a third switch to alternate between Normal and Active VR modes. While these switches are clearly labeled, they are identical, which could potentially slow down your ability to change settings when your camera is raised to your eye.

On the other hand, the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 features 2 switches located on the side of the barrel. The larger switch governs the autofocus mechanism, while the smaller switch enables or disables the optical stabilization.

The AF switch is easily distinguishable by touch and features a white inlay that is visible when the lens is set to AF. These switches are strategically placed close to the lens mount, allowing for easy access with your left thumb, and are noticeably raised from the lens barrel for quick adjustments.

In conclusion, the Nikon 16-80mm lens provides more options with its 3 switches, but the Sigma 17-70mm lens boasts a more user-friendly design with its easily distinguishable and accessible switches.

Filter Thread

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 sports a 72mm plastic filter thread, with a non-rotating front element that simplifies the use of polarizing or ND grad filters. Although it is not compatible with larger 77mm filters, its internal focusing mechanism ensures filters won’t spin around, making it user-friendly and efficient.

In contrast, the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 offers a plastic filter thread with a 72mm diameter, also non-rotating and featuring a hood thread on its very edge. While the 72mm size is relatively rare and could necessitate purchasing larger and pricier filters, this lens generally excels in handling flare and minimizing the impact of strong light sources.

Lens Hood

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 comes with a squared petal-style lens hood included in the box, offering added convenience for users. This hard plastic hood has a matte finish and an ergonomic bevel for comfortable grip during attachment and detachment. As an improvement over older twist-on/click hoods, it features a lock button for smooth rotation and secure attachment to the lens, ensuring your gear remains protected.

Conversely, the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 includes a petal-shaped lens hood in its package. This hood can be smoothly rotated and has a thread on the edge. Adding 1 3/8 inches to the overall length of the lens, it provides ample space to keep fingers and other objects from touching the front element. The Sigma center-and-side-pinch lens cap is user-friendly, allowing for easy installation or removal even with the hood in place.

In conclusion, both the Nikon 16-80mm and Sigma 17-70mm lens hoods provide protection and convenience. However, the Nikon 16-80mm lens hood with its lock button mechanism and ergonomic design edges out the competition, offering a more secure and comfortable experience. Happy shooting!

Focusing and Optical Stabilization

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm F2.8-4E ED VRSigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM C Nikon F (DX)
AF MotorSilent Wave MotorHyper Sonic Motor
Rotating Front ElementDoes not rotate on focusingDoes not rotate on focusing
Min Focus Distance0.35m0.22m
Max Magnification (X)0.220.36
Full-Time Manual FocusYesNo
Focus MethodInternalInternal

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 has a Minimum Focus Distance of 0.35m, while the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 boasts a shorter MFD of 0.22m. This means that the Sigma lens allows you to get closer to your subject, which is beneficial for capturing fine details, textures, or small subjects in close-up or macro photography.

In terms of Maximum Magnification, the Sigma 17-70mm lens outperforms the Nikon 16-80mm lens with a 0.36x magnification compared to the Nikon’s 0.22x. A higher maximum magnification enables the Sigma lens to capture more detailed, close-up images of small subjects or intricate textures.

Lastly, the Nikon 16-80mm lens offers Full-Time Manual Focus (FTMF), which allows the photographer to make fine adjustments to the focus manually without having to switch between manual and autofocus modes. This feature can be particularly useful in photography where precise focusing is crucial. The Sigma 17-70mm lens does not offer FTMF.

In conclusion, the Sigma 17-70mm lens has superior performance in terms of Minimum Focus Distance and Maximum Magnification, making it a better choice for close-up or macro photography. However, the Nikon 16-80mm lens offers Full-Time Manual Focus, which can be advantageous for photographers who prefer more control over focusing.

Focusing Performance

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 boasts an impressive autofocus performance, characterized by quick, accurate, and relatively quiet focusing, making it suitable for photography and video applications. With its fast focusing speed and commendable initial autofocus acquisition, this lens excels in low-light situations. Additionally, manual focus override allows for fine-tuned focus adjustments, while the smooth and precise manual focus action caters to user preferences. The internally focusing design ensures a constant lens length, and minimal focus breathing enhances the lens’s appeal for both videographers and photographers.

In comparison, the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 features a hypersonic motor (HSM) for autofocus, providing a quiet and noiseless performance with average focusing speed. The initial autofocus acquisition speed is decent and accurate in most situations.

However, the lens lacks full-time manual focus override, and the manual focus ring is slightly loose, making critical manual focusing more challenging. Although the lens also has an internally focusing design, the front element rotates during autofocus, and the focus ring rotates during operation. Focus breathing is minimal, ensuring a small change in subject or framing size when focusing.

In conclusion, the Nikon 16-80mm lens outshines the Sigma 17-70mm in terms of focusing performance, delivering a superior autofocus experience, manual focus override, and minimal focus breathing.

Optical Stabilization

The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 features a Vibration Reduction (VR) system with 4 stops of compensation, enabling sharp images at slower shutter speeds. It has two modes: Normal and Active, with Active being better suited for shooting from a moving platform. The VR system itself does not make noticeable noise during operation. With the VR enabled, you can achieve sharp shots 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 other hand, the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 offers Sigma’s Optical Stabilization (OS) system, claiming to provide up to four stops of stabilization. At 70mm, you can achieve a decent proportion of sharp shots at shutter speeds 4 stops slower with OS turned on (1/10 vs 1/160 sec), but the system is not always 100% effective. At 17mm, it offers a solid 3 stops of stabilization, allowing hand-holding at shutter speeds as low as 1/4 sec, rather than 1/30 sec with OS off. The optical stabilizer works efficiently for most situations but becomes less effective as you focus closer to your subject.

While optical stabilization is not always essential, it can be beneficial in certain situations, such as low-light conditions, handheld shooting, or when recording video. Both lenses offer optical stabilization, with the Nikon 16-80mm lens providing a more consistent performance across its focal length range.

In conclusion, the Nikon 16-80mm lens offers superior optical stabilization compared to the Sigma 17-70mm lens, as it provides more consistent performance throughout the focal range. This makes the Nikon 16-80mm a 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 VRSigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM C Nikon F (DX)
Special Elements4 ED and 3 aspherical elements. Nano Crystal Coat.2 FLD (“F” Low Dispersion) glass elements, 1 SLD (Special Low Dispersion)glass element, 3 aspherical glass lenses including double sided aspherical lens
Diaphragm Blades77
Circular ApertureYesYes


The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 demonstrates impressive control over chromatic aberration, with noticeable fringing only at 16mm, which can be easily corrected in-camera or during post-processing. Spherochromatism, an advanced form of chromatic aberration, is absent from this lens.

Coma is also well-managed, with only a tiny bit visible at specific settings that diminishes when the lens is stopped down. Spherical aberration, however, appears at the extreme end of the lens’s focusing distance, resulting in some loss of contrast and necessitating post-processing for high-impact images.

In contrast, the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 exhibits varying levels of chromatic aberration, with the worst at 17mm, gradually improving towards longer focal lengths. Lateral chromatic aberration is well-controlled within the focal range of 23-50mm but exhibits as magenta-green color shifts at the focal range extremes. Longitudinal chromatic aberration is not an issue.

Coma is noticeable at 17mm but decreases as the focal length increases, with no significant complaints. The aspherical aberration is corrected reasonably well, with no focus shift issues, but defocused light points in front and behind the focus are not identical. The lens performs similarly or slightly worse than its predecessor in terms of spherical aberration and astigmatism, both at low levels.

In conclusion, the Nikon 16-80mm lens outshines the Sigma 17-70mm in terms of aberration control, demonstrating superior performance in managing chromatic aberration, spherochromatism, and coma. The Sigma 17-70mm lens still offers reasonable aberration control but falls short in comparison to the Nikon 16-80mm.


The Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 offers exceptional sharpness at most zoom settings, with center sharpness taking the spotlight. However, corner sharpness may lag at wider focal lengths and open apertures, but it can be significantly improved by stopping down to around f/5.6-8. The lens reaches peak sharpness at varying apertures depending on the focal length, with f/5.6-8 being the sweet spot.

On the other hand, the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 flaunts impressive sharpness, particularly in the center of the image frame. This center sharpness remains consistently high across different apertures and focal lengths. Corner sharpness, though, depends on the focal length and aperture.

At wide open apertures, the corners may appear slightly soft, especially at 17mm and 70mm. By stopping down the lens, corner sharpness improves, achieving the best results between f/8 and f/11. For the sharpest aperture, using the lens at or above f/4.0 is recommended. At focal lengths of 23-50mm and apertures between f/4 and f/5.6, the lens produces breathtakingly sharp images.

In conclusion, both lenses offer remarkable sharpness, with the Nikon 16-80mm excelling in most zoom settings and the Sigma 17-70mm performing exceptionally well at specific focal lengths and apertures. While the choice ultimately depends on your photography style and requirements, the Nikon 16-80mm lens emerges as the winner in terms of overall sharpness, ensuring your images truly stand out in a crowd.

Bokeh Quality

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

However, at other focal lengths and apertures, the out-of-focus areas may not be as smooth or attractive, sometimes appearing hard-edged or having an onion-like pattern. With fair bokeh quality at 16mm, neutral quality at 80mm, and typical many-elements zoom characteristics, the background highlights may turn into strong edged circles. To achieve the softest backgrounds with this lens, zoom to 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 may not be Nikon’s finest.

In contrast, the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 creates a pleasing bokeh that many users describe as smooth and beautiful. The lens features an iris diaphragm with seven rounded blades, contributing to its attractive bokeh quality.

In conclusion, while bokeh quality may not be a primary concern for wide-angle lenses, it can add a creative touch to certain photographs. Between the two lenses, the Sigma 17-70mm emerges as the winner, producing a smoother and more beautiful bokeh that enhances your images and helps separate the subject from the background.


As photographers, we all strive for captivating images, and flare or ghosting can sometimes distract from that perfect shot. Let’s compare the Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 and Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 to see how they handle these potential pitfalls.

The Nikon 16-80mm lens may exhibit noticeable flare when pointed near the sun. But fear not, as you can easily eliminate this by using the included hood. Ghosting may also appear when shooting into the sun, but it’s not significant and can be minimized by shading the lens with a hand. A versatile option, the Nikon 16-80mm lens is ready to tackle those bright days.

On the other hand, the Sigma 17-70mm lens generally handles flare quite well, even with strong light sources in or just outside the frame. At a 17mm focal length and wide open aperture, you might notice some corner shading and light greenish flare opposite the bright light source.

However, when used close to the maximum relative aperture, flares shouldn’t be too bothersome. Ghosting is also well-controlled, but there may be some small greenish artifacts that can grow as you increase the focal length, particularly when stopped down.

In conclusion, both lenses manage flare and ghosting reasonably well. However, the Sigma 17-70mm lens takes the lead in this contest, as it generally deals better with flare and has well-controlled ghosting.


Vignetting, the gradual decrease in brightness from the center towards the edges of a photo, can be an artistic choice or an unwanted effect. Let’s see how the Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 and Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 handle this aspect of photography.

With the Nikon 16-80mm lens, you might notice vignetting when shooting wide open, especially at 16mm and f/2.8. However, stopping down the lens by 1 or 2 stops can dramatically improve it. At f/4 and beyond, vignetting is well controlled.

Should you need to correct it further, applying a lens correction profile either in-camera or in post-production can help, but be aware that it may slightly reduce resolution. Overall, the Nikon 16-80mm lens allows you to manage vignetting with some adjustments.

The Sigma 17-70mm lens exhibits some vignetting, particularly at the widest focal length and largest apertures. Yet, it’s well controlled when stopped down. For instance, at 17mm and maximum relative aperture, vignetting is 27% (-0.90 EV), but it decreases to 10% (-0.30 EV) when stopped down to f/5.6. At other focal lengths, vignetting levels range from 13% (-0.41 EV) to 33% (-1.15 EV) depending on the aperture and focal length. The Sigma 17-70mm lens generally controls vignetting quite well.

In conclusion, both lenses manage vignetting effectively, with the Sigma 17-70mm lens slightly outperforming the Nikon 16-80mm lens. Remember to consider stopping down the aperture or using post-processing techniques if vignetting is a concern.


In photography, distortion can cause unwanted bending of straight lines, with barrel and pincushion distortion being the most common types. Let’s compare how the Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 and Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 lenses handle distortion.

The Nikon 16-80mm lens exhibits both barrel and pincushion distortion at different focal lengths. At 16mm, barrel distortion is more noticeable, while pincushion distortion becomes moderate at longer focal lengths. The good news is that both types of distortion can be easily corrected in post-processing with supported software like Adobe Lightroom or in-camera using Nikon’s in-body distortion correction. Just remember to correct for distortion when shooting subjects with critical straight lines, like buildings or ocean horizons.

On the other hand, the Sigma 17-70mm lens also displays noticeable distortion, with barrel distortion at wide angles and pincushion distortion at longer focal lengths. The barrel distortion is especially pronounced at 17mm, reaching -4.13%. However, the distortion remains relatively uniform across the frame, making it easier to correct in post-processing.

In conclusion, both lenses exhibit distortion that can be corrected in post-processing, but the Sigma 17-70mm lens’s uniform distortion makes it slightly easier to manage.

Final Verdict

Taking all factors into account, the decision between the Nikon DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 and Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 can be challenging, as both have their advantages and drawbacks. With nearly identical prices, it’s essential to focus on the features that matter most to your photography style and requirements.

The Nikon 16-80mm offers a wider focal range and higher zoom ratio, superior weather sealing, better focusing and stabilization performance, and overall greater sharpness. It also manages aberrations more effectively. However, it is slightly larger, heavier, and exhibits more vignetting and distortion than the Sigma lens.

The Sigma 17-70mm is more compact and lightweight, excels in macro photography with better minimum focus distance and maximum magnification, and has superior bokeh quality. Additionally, it handles flare, ghosting, and vignetting slightly better, with more uniform distortion that is easier to correct in post-processing.

If versatility, weather sealing, autofocus performance, and overall sharpness are your priorities, the Nikon 16-80mm would be the better choice. However, if you prefer a lighter, more compact lens with better macro capabilities, smoother bokeh, and easier distortion management, the Sigma 17-70mm would be the more suitable option.

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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