I am considering buying one of these lenses. I much prefer the feel and perceived1 build quality2 of the 17-35mm Nikkor compared to the 16-35mm, but I also want the widest field of view. At infinity, 17mm vs 16mm is significant (to me), but I plan to do focus stacking so I will lose some field of view. Last I held the 16-35mm in my hand I recall it experienced significant focus breathing, though I did not measure it, as I didn't care about it then, but I don't know how bad it is compared to the 17-35mm.

Does anyone know the minimum field of view of these two lenses (at their widest end), measured as focus is racked from near to far?

[1] I am perfectly aware that perceived build quality doesn't necessarily map to actual durability or reliability.

[2] I am also perfectly aware that the 17-35mm is an older design that measures worse in optical tests. This is of no concern to me at the apertures I am using.


2 Answers 2


What you seek is an odd way of looking at Macro performance, where reproduction ratio at minimum focus distance is much more applicable than focal length. Both focal length and angle of view (AoV) are normally measured at infinity focus, rather than MFD.

Since reproduction ratio (RR) or maximum magnification (MM) is measured at the minimum focus distance (MFD), comparing the MFD and RR/MM of each lens should be helpful in predicting which provides a wider field of view. If the RRs are equal, the shorter MFD would provide a wider angle of view (The object at the MFD would be the same size, but the view of the background would be slightly wider). If the MFDs are equal, the higher RR would provide the narrower angle of view (The object at the MFD would actually be slightly larger).

Specifications provided by Nikon:

  • AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED: MFD = 0.28m, MM = 0.22X (1:4.6)
  • AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR: MFD (at 16mm) = 0.29m, MM = 0.25X (1:4)

Based on the above specifications from Nikon USA, both lenses seem to focus breath to roughly the same field of view at MFD/MM.

At MFD the 16-35 appears to be ever so slightly narrower than the 17-35. But since there's a slight difference in MFD, it looks like the focus distance for the 16-35 at a magnification ratio of 0.22X (equal to the 17-35's MM) would be slightly longer than the 17-35's. With numbers this close, the specs, as provided by Nikon, are subject to rounding errors¹ that might be significant enough to reverse the comparison.

¹ 0.22X is exactly 1:454545454545454545..., not 1:4.6. 1:4.6 is exactly 0.2173913043478261... Nikon quotes both 0.22X and 1:4.6 in different places on their official websites for the 17-35mm.


The angle of view is a function of the focal length of the lens and the camera’s format size. The most published is the diagonal angle of view. This is the highest of the three values and likely the most senseless, somewhat akin to selling TV’s by their diagonal measure. Here I use trigonometry to calculate the angles of view. I think the most valuable is the horizontal angle of view. This tells me the breath of a vista with the camera held horizontal (landscape). I have calculated the angles of view for a full frame format 24mm height by 36mm length and guessing you are using a compact digital (DX) format 16mm height by 24mm length.

16mm mounted on FX (full frame) Vertical 73.7° Horizontal 96.7° Diagonal 107.0°

17mm mounted on FX(full frame) Vertical 70.4° Horizontal 93.3° Diagonal 103.7°

16mm mounted on DX (compact digital) Vertical 53.1° Horizontal 73.7° Diagonal 84.1°

17mm mounted on DX (compact digital) Vertical 50.4° Horizontal 70.4° Diagonal 80.6°

35mm mounted on FX (full frame) Vertical 37.8° Horizontal 54.4° Diagonal 63.4°

35mm mounted on DX (compact digital) Vertical 25.8° Horizontal 37.8° Diagonal 44.8°

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ You have added a lot of information here, but none whatsoever about focus breathing - which is what the question is about. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Jan 13, 2018 at 18:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ Philip Kendall --- Your turn! \$\endgroup\$ Jan 13, 2018 at 19:37

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