I recently added the Nikon 16-35 f4 VR to my lens collection. I already have the Nikon 17-35 f2.8, which is a very nice sharp wide angle zoom that performs well stopped down for landscapes. I was intrigued by the new Nikon lens and thought I would pick one up and try it out. The MTF charts on the Nikon web site indicated the new 16-35 was quite a bit sharper in the center and the edges/corners than the 17-35. If the 17-35 could use improvement, it was the edges and corners and an extra 1mm on the wide side wouldn't hurt either.
After testing the 16-35 against the 17-35 for 2 days I was satisified it would meet my landscape needs and brought it along on my recent trip to the Eastern Sierra to test it out in the real world for the type of shooting I do. After using it for a week and looking at the files it produced I can say it adds a special something to my shots I cant quite explain but I can see, almost a 3D type effect in some shots. There is quite a bit of barrel distortion at the wide end, a bit more than my 17-35, but for most landscape shooting it is not noticeable. At 16mm, perspective distortion will be the major issue one will have to deal with anyway and all wide lenses cant avoid that. I have started using focus stacking with some of my images, this lens is quite suitable for this purpose as there is very little focus breathing. The one troubling "feature" with this lens is the small distance from close focusing to infinity on the focus ring. It is very difficult if you manually focus for DOF to get the proper distance set. Of course, if there is something at the correct hyper focal distance you can auto focus on that. Though that isnt always going to be the case and manual focus will need to be set occaisionally. I added a small white paint spot on the focus ring at 3 feet to help me get the distance correct when focusing manually.
This shot taken with the 16-35, f11 at 16mm, as you can tell from this, barrel distortion isnt an issue. The only time it would be a problem is if the horizon was near the extreme top or bottom of the frame. To my eyes, the lens renders the shot much more pleasing than my 17-35 would have done.