Sony AF DT 16-105mm F3.5-5.6 A-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#16286 date: Jun-30-2015
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.2
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony DT 16-50 F2.8 SSM
Sony CZ 16-80 F3.5-4.5 DT
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
Minolta AF 28-85 F3.5-4.5
Minolta AF 28-105 F3.5-4.5/RS
Minolta AF 28-135 F4-4.5
Minolta AF 35-70 F4
Minolta AF 35-105 F3.5-4.5/New
Sigma AF 28-105 F2.8-4
Sigma AF 35-135 F3.5-4.5
Tamron SP 17-50 F2.8
price paid:161 USD (used)
positive:Wide range
Precise autofocus
Center sharpness
Internal focus
Non-rotating filter/hood
Non-rotating focus ring in AF
Good contrast
negative:Large and heavy
Small aperture (f/5 already at 35 mm)
Curved focus plane
Lateral CA at long end
Heavy and inconsistent zoom action
Loud manual focus/slop in manual focus
Complex distortion at the wide end
Focus distance window difficult to read
Zoom creep
comment:I liked this lens so much when I sold my first scratched copy I purchased a second like-new copy. The review has been updated to reflect the performance of this nicer copy. After selling the second I bought a third. A fourth copy came with a used A77II. The sale price between winter 2014 and spring 2017 was $499. Then the price returned to $699 before the lens was discontinued. "JAPAN"

This lens looks and feels like an older design than the Minolta AF 24-85 and 28-105. It is very similar in size and weight and covers the range of the older 28-105 lens with the addition of the 16-28 wide range. Unfortunately it doesn't perform like the 28-105 as far as image quality and ease of operation. The zoom action reminds me of the 28-135--very inconsistent and heavy. It seems to be both a cheaper and a more compromised lens design.

This is also a slow lens even compared to the 18-55. The bulk of the lens seems to have used for attaining the 16 mm focal length which is actually closer to 15 mm before correction. By 18 mm it is at a maximum aperture of f/4, and at 24 mm it is already at f/4.5. At 35 mm is at f/5 just like the 18-55.

It does have mostly better image quality on the very wide end than the 18-55, 18-70, 18-135, and 18-200 lenses. It has less barrel distortion than the 18-55, but it is more complex distortion. Most of the frame is sharper on the wide end compared to the 18-55 except the extreme corners. It is noticeably wider the the Rokinon 16 f/2 at its short end. Image quality doesn't match that lens, but it does have the advantage of SteadyShot, AF, and Lens Compensation. Image quality is comparable to the Sigma 24 f/2.8 at 24 mm and is better than the Sony AF 28/2.8. The Sigma 10-20 f/4-5.6 has better image quality over their joint range as does the Minolta AF 24/2.4.

It has better central sharpness and contrast than the 24-85 but considerably softer corners. The auto focus with this lens is spot on in the center at all focal lengths, while the Minolta 24-85 and the 18-55 SAM II back focus often at shorter distances. It has similar image quality to the 28-105 at 105 mm, but inferior to that lens in most of the range.

The Carl Zeiss 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 has a slightly flatter focus plane at most focal lengths, but both lenses have issues around 75% off their zoom. The 16-105 image is better than the 16-80 at 50 mm, but the opposite is true at 80 mm. The 16-105 is heavier than the 16-80 and seems to be better made.

Retracted it is just slightly larger than the Minolta 28-105. It extends quite a bit further with two smaller diameter barrel tubes.

Overall a decent APS-C normal zoom lens especially at the wide end. It doesn't give premium image quality at any focal length, but centered subjects will be sharp. It provides a decent quality wide-angle of view.

Between the 16-105, 28-105, and 35-105 each have their own advantages. The 28-105 is the most consistently sharp across the frame especially at the wide end, but suffers from CA away from the center of the frame at the long end. The 35-105 gives up close focusing except at 105 mm in macro mode. The focal range is mostly short telephoto on APS-C cameras. The DT 16-105 has full lens compensation support and seems to auto focus most accurately. But while it is sharp in the center of the frame it falls off the quickest with the extreme corners being horrible. It actually performs quite well on the wide end which of course is much wider than the others. The price however is also much higher for lower image quality through most of the range.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 92
  • sharpness: 4.58
  • color: 4.62
  • build: 4.32
  • distortion: 4.07
  • flare control: 4.51
  • overall: 4.42 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania