Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM A-mount lens review by ColiNiloK

reviewer#10959 date: Mar-3-2013
sharpness: 5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.4
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:- Sony DT 35mm f1.8 SAM
- Sony DT 50mm f1.8 SAM
- Bower 85mm f1.4 manual focus, aspherical IF
- Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm f1.8 ZA
- Sony DT 18-55mm f 3.6-5.6 SAM
- Sony DT 18-250mm f3.5-6.3
- Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm f2.8 ZA SSM
- Sony 28-75mm f2.8 SAM
- Sony 70-200mm f2.8 G SSM
- Minolta AF 70-210mm f4 Beercan
price paid:$650 AUD (New)
-Well build
-Weather sealed
-Not too big and heavy
-Zoom clock
negative:- Distortion and vignetting at wide angle wide open
- Flare control can be better
- CA control at wide open aperture can be better
- Corner sharpness ok
comment:This is a very good lens, I've tested on 3 Sony SLT models- A57, A77 and A99 and this lens produces very crisp and vivd images on all 3 cameras.

IMHO For starters looking for a all-rounder walk around zoom lens that can also be used in low light conditions to pair with their APSC Alpha bodies, this lens is highly recommend. Though it doesn't offer great zoom range as the 18-250mm lens, it is much faster to focus, sharper, and better build and offers constant f2.8 aperture. However, some may find this lens isn't exactly lightweight and the focal range isn't enough for general purpose/ walk around photography. Though this lens is not exactly cheap but it is cheaper than the Canon Nikon equivalent and plus you can also find some seriously good deals for this lens online.

The sharpness of my copy is excellent, much better than the kit lens, and it is similar to my 28-75mm f2.8 lens. When comparing to Sony 50mm f1.8 lens at f2.8 it is hard to tell which one is better. When stopped down to f4, this lens is tack sharp no question. When coupled with A77 or A57, IMHO this lens can even be a match to other brand's full frame cameras with their 27-40mm f2.8 lens in turns of sharpness say Canon 5D MK II + Canon 24-70mm L combo, but the Sony combo has the advantage of image stabilisation build into their camera bodies while the Canon/Nikon doesn't( lens dependent) .

When mounted on A57, this lens can seem a little front heavy, though personally I find no problem, and this lens is a perfect match on A77, very well balanced and handles brilliantly with A77. On the A99, you can not use the AF-D with this lens, and you only get 10MP files, but you can still produces good images from it.

Colour is generally good with this lens,but not excellent, not as saturated contrasty as Zeiss 24-70mm and rich as Minolta Beercan.

The fast, silent and accurate focus from the SSM motor is really handy for snap shots, however, it doesn't guarantee no misfocus especially in continuos burst modes and low light conditions. In general this lens focuses well, and rarely hunts even in low light. Other features like weather sealing and zoom lock button is welcome and really adds value to this lens.

Bokeh wise, this lens is generally good , it can render good out of focus scenes and blur the background relatively smoothly when used at f2.8 and f4, however, the bokeh balls can appear a little busy sometimes in day light at wide open aperture. The 70-200 G produces better bokeh than this lens wide open.

The biggest con of this lens is the relatively strong distortion at 16mm, when shooting RAW wide open this is very obvious. When shooting in JEPG however, the distortion control is better, but still excises. Stopping down and shooting at 24mm this almost goes away. Vignetting wide open at 16mm is also visible too, again stopping down helps. Lastly, the corner performance, flare and CA control of this lens is not the best, though acceptable but not excellent. Stopping down to f4 helps with CA, though not eliminates the issue. Corner performance greatly improves as stoping down to f5.6-f8 or smaller aperture; and to avoid flare, try to avoid direct sunshine to lens.

Overall, great lens for APSC Alphas and a must if you want a standard zoom for walk around photography and low light shooting.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 93
  • sharpness: 4.74
  • color: 4.71
  • build: 4.85
  • distortion: 4.12
  • flare control: 4.42
  • overall: 4.57 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania