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

reviewer#30688 date: Sep-24-2016
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
overall: 4.6
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:Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6
Rokinon 16 F2
Minolta AF 24 F2.8
Minolta AF 28 F2.8
Minolta AF 50 F1.7/RS
Sony AF 28 F2.8
Sony DT 30 F2.8 Macro SAM
Sigma 30 F2.8 DN Art
Sony DT 35 F1.8 SAM
Sony DT 50 F1.8 SAM
Sony CZ 16-80 F3.5-4.5 DT
Sony DT 16-105 F3.5-5.6
Sony DT 18-55 F3.5-5.6 SAM I/II
Sony DT 18-70 F3.5-5.6
Sony DT 18-135 F3.5-5.6 SAM
Sony DT 18-200 F3.5-6.3
Minolta AF 24-50 F4
Minolta AF 24-85 F3.5-4.5/RS
Minolta AF 24-105 F3.5-4.5 D
Tamron SP 17-50 F2.8
Tamron 18-250
price paid:298 USD (used)
positive:Internal focus
Non-rotating filter/hood
Non-rotating focus ring in AF
Good contrast
Very sharp even in the corners on the wide end
In-body lens compensation
negative:Size and weight
Clutched manual focus control
Fairly heavy and uneven zoom mechanism
Extending barrel with zoom
Not as strong at long end
Distortion at wide end
Focus drift with zoom
Focus breathing
AF noise
Expensive hood
comment:A very clean copy with both original caps but no hood purchased from another forum member. I found a used hood and added it to the cost. This lens is currently on sale for $750 new and is one of the kit lens options for the A77 bodies. The optical design is similar to the older Tamron SP 17-50 mm F2.8 XR Di-II LD SP Aspherical. "MADE IN CHINA"

It is a bit strange this lens didn't get the G designation. Not only is this the best normal APS-C zoom. It is also one of the best wide angle lenses. It is sharper the the E-mount 16, 19, and 20 F2.8 primes. It is sharper than the Minolta 20, 24, and 28 F2.8 primes. It is pretty much as sharp as the DT 30 F2.8 and 35 F1.8 lenses. It is even sharp wide-open at the long end on a 2x teleconverter, though it has some optical problems on that end.

It seems to be very similar to the Tamron SP 17-50 F2.8, but the differences make a better lens. This lens is much sharper wide-open and the focus plane is much flatter at the widest end. It is wider than the Tamron on both ends--more like a 15-48 mm. The field-of-view at the long end is similar to the DT 50mm F1.8 prime.

It does often show more lateral CA in the corners, but that is very easily corrected. The distortion at the wide end is similar to the 16-80 and 16-105 lenses. The actual focal length of all of these seems to be less than 16 mm, perhaps to allow for cropping required for distortion correction.

Like other cheap zoom lenses the focus drifts a bit with zoom action, so it is not perfectly parfocal.

The SSM clunks into position a little un-silently. Like the Sony 18-135 the AF switch on the lens is redundant. Sony could have put a focus hold button and/or a range limiter or something useful there instead. There is also a Tamron standard issue barrel lock switch.

Overall a very nice kit lens and a great reason to own an A-mount APS-C camera. Image quality is better than the little primes with the size and weight being the drawback for the convenience of zoom. This is also one of only two DT lenses with a lens profile in Capture One 8.

Test chart comparison with Tamron 17-50 F2.8, Carl Zeiss 16-80, Sony DT 18-135 SAM, and primes.

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
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