“Great Everyday Lens”
I have both the 18-135 and the 18-200, yet this lens has become my everyday go to lens for most of my photography. The 18-200 has tremendous versatility and I have made many great photos with it. However the softness and CAs around the edges is quite pronounced and definitely shows in larger prints of 12×18 and larger (I could have a poor copy). My 18-135, on the other hand, is tack sharp throughout the frame and is a great lens. However, the lack of VR is a limiter for using the lens as an everyday lens where low-light, hand held shots are often required.
Now to the 16-85VR: As I shoot mostly landscapes and outdoor shots, the 16mm wide end was particularly attractive to me. Only 10% or so of my shots are beyond 85mm, so I don’t think I’ll miss the 85-200 range. The build quality is about like the 18-200 without the zoom creep. I conducted informal tripod tests of this lens against my sharp 18-135 and the 16-85 actually exhibited better sharpness and contrast all across the frame from 16mm-50mm at all apertures, with the sharpest apertures being f8 and f11 (no surprise there). However, wide open is sharp as well, with very little light falloff at the corners, even at 16mm. In the 60mm – 85mm range, the 18-135 was usually just a bit sharper (except at f-11, where they were equal) for both the center and edges (you have to look really hard and pixel peep at 100% to notice the slight difference). Given the great sharpness (especially in the 16-50mm range), VR, and almost total lack of noticeable CAs, I can highly recommend the 16-85 for a general purpose, on-the-camera-all-the-time lens.