Review Nikon Z 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR DX

When you buy a Nikon Z50, you buy it with a Nikon Z 16-50 mm kit lens, perhaps with the Nikon Z 50-250 mm f/4.5-6.3 VR DX telephoto zoom lens as well. But for those who can’t decide between a cheap Nikon SLR or the Nikon Z50 system camera: What are the differences between this Nikon Z 16-50 mm Nikon Z50 combination compared to the 50 euro cheaper Nikon 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6G VR AF- P DX on a Nikon SLR camera?ย 

Click on the lens for specifications, prices and test results.

TEST RESULTS Nikon Z 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR DX @ Nikon Z50:

PROS

CONS

  • very compact and light (135 grams!)
  • high image quality
  • 16mm= wide field of view (~24mm @ full frame)
  • built-in image stabilization
  • image quality: perhaps the best APS-C kit lens ever
  • f/6.3 at 50mm is not very bright

The Nikon Z 16-50 mm has a field of view with which you can take wide interior or landscape shots at one extreme of the zoom range (16 mm). At the other extreme (50 mm), you can shoot portraits, although isolating your subject from the background isn’t as effective because of the maximum f/6.3 aperture.

The 16mm focal length, with its big field of view, is alone a decisive argument for choosing this pancake kit lens.

This standard zoom lens has been specially designed for the Nikon Z50 system camera with an APS-C (DX) sensor. The lens design, consisting of 9 lenses (including 4 aspherical lenses and 1 element of extremely high-quality glass) in 7 groups, really differs from the lens design of the Nikon DX 18-55mm kit lenses for SLR cameras. As a result, the Nikon Z 16-50 mm f/3.5-6.3 VR DX is not only (even) more compact and lighter but also (as became apparent during our test) visibly better.

A 10 for AF accuracy:ย In 400 ms, the AF stepper motor of the Nikon Z focuses 16-50 mm at 50 mm from infinity to 1.5 meters. That’s not super-fast for a system camera but extremely accurate with a reproducibility of 0.5%.

BUILD QUALITY

This zoom lens collapses during transport and is surprisingly compact. Before use, you first have to turn the zoom ring, which means that the zoom lens increases in size. But even then, the size is still small. Compared to bigger, professional lenses, manual focusing is less comfortable because, due to the small size, there is only room for a narrow focusing ring. This zoom lens has a 46mm filter size.

The Z-mount made of high-quality plastic does not fit on Nikon SLR cameras, so there are 3 cameras on which you can use this zoom. But because the Nikon Z6 and Z7 have a full-frame sensor, this lens will only be used on a Nikon Z50.

IMAGE STABILIZATIONย (VR)

The Nikon Z50, unlike the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7, has no built-in image stabilization. That makes it nice that this zoom lens has image stabilization, with which you can expose 3 stops longer without loss of sharpness compared to images without image stabilization. At 50mm, image stabilization produces sharper shots at shutter speeds of 1/60 second or longer. As a result, you can choose a slower shutter speed in low light without worrying about motion blur.

IMAGE QUALITY

The image quality of the Nikon Z 16-50 mm is a welcome surprise. As with most lenses today, a lens design has been chosen in which color errors and distortion are automatically corrected. That applies for anyone who uses jpg files from the camera or opens RAW files in Nikon software, Lightroom or Photoshop. This ensures high image quality.

The Nikon AF-P 18-55 mm DX VR zoom lenses for SLR cameras distinguish themselves from kit lenses from other brands due to their relatively high image quality. But the Nikon Z 16-50 mm is, thanks to automatic lens corrections in the camera, even better. In terms of sharpness, the most gain is in the corners with the shorter focal lengths. Here, the Nikon Z 16-50 mm also beats more expensive lenses.

Thanks in part to automatic lens corrections, you will have little trouble with vignetting or distortion. At 16 mm and full aperture, a little vignetting remains, but that’s not unusual with wide-angle lenses.

Like almost all lenses below 500 euros, this Nikon Z kit lens has an aperture with 7 rounded blades. But a modern lens design, consisting of 9 lenses (including 4 aspherical and 1 ED) in 6 groups still yields an above-average bokeh for this DX kit lens.

Nikon Z 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR DX SAMPLE IMAGES

Curious about the performance of the Nikon Z 16-50 mm f/3.5-6.3 VR DX and the Nikon Z50 in practice? Click on the button below and visit our renewed web gallery with sample images. The images can be downloaded in full resolution to be viewed at 100%.

ConclusiON: REVIEW Nikon Z 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR DX oN Nikon Z50

The smallest and most compact kit lens exceeds our expectations on all fronts.

The first surprise when seeing the Nikon Z 16-50 mm are the compact dimensions. But the telescope design that allows you to collapse the kit lens during transport is both an advantage and a disadvantage. What might be difficult for some people is that you can only take a picture after you have turned the zoom ring, which makes the lens ready for use.

The second surprise is that, after folding out the lens, the dimensions lean more toward those of an SLR kit lens. If you look at the image at 16 mm, then the third surprise follows: on a camera with a DX sensor, thanks to that 16 mm focal length, you get much more in the picture than with an 18 mm lens on an SLR with an APS-C sensor.

With the Nikon Z50 and the Nikon Z 16-50 mm, Nikon raises the bar visibly for APS-C cameras.

The fourth surprise concerns the image quality: that is – notably below 35 mm – visibly better than the Nikon kit lenses for SLR cameras. That’s quite surprising. Firstly, because the Nikon Dx kit lenses for SLR cameras stand out because of their best-in-class image quality. But also because we have tested the older kit lenses with a higher resolution (24 megapixel) camera than the 20-megapixel Nikon Z50.

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