Sony Carl Zeiss 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 DT Vario-Sonnar T* A-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#29663 date: Aug-20-2016
sharpness: 3.5
color: 5
build: 3
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
overall: 4.1
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 used to own this lens
compared to:Sony DT 16-50 F2.8 SSM
Sony E 16-50 F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS
Sony DT 16-105 F3.5-5.6
Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM
Tamron SP 17-50 F2.8
Sony E 18-55 F3.5-5.6 OSS
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
Tamron 18-250 F3.5-6.3
Canon EF 22-55 F4-5.6 USM
price paid:240 USD (refurb)
positive:Zeiss logos & T*
Useful range
IQ at 35 mm
f/4.5 at 80 mm
Non-rotating filter/hood
Non-rotating focus ring in AF
Sharp wide-open in center
Good contrast
Close focusing
In-body lens compensation
negative:Build issues with early copies
View shifts erratically during operation
Very short focus throw
Very mushy corners around 20 mm
Noisy mechanical focus
Zoom creep
f/4.5 from 35 mm
Lateral CA
comment:The original retail price was $700 when released in 2007 and is now $1000. My first used copy looked very nice and came with the hood and both caps purchased on eBay. After selling this copy I purchased a second older copy that had a locked focus ring and wouldn't auto focus to the minimum distance. I then bought a factory refurbished copy from Secondipity. "JAPAN"

It is slightly faster optically than the other variable aperture DT normal zooms but slower than the full-frame normal zooms. It reports f/3.5 at 18 mm unlike the 16-105. A maximum aperture of f/4 at the long end would have been nice.

This lens performs similarly to the other APS-C normal zooms with good center sharpness wide-open and variable corner performance with a good deal of distortion at both ends. It's best image quality is at 35 mm which is good for an APS-C lens. It is a bit better at 35 mm than the 35 F1.8. However, the corners are quite soft at most other focal lengths. The 18-55 kit has much less focus plane curvature at the wide end. The 16-105 is also slightly better on the wide end.
Overall decent performance for a cheap kit zoom, but quite poor for its cost.

Test chart comparison with Tamron 17-50 F2.8 and Sony DT 18-135 SAM.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 215
  • sharpness: 4.67
  • color: 4.80
  • build: 3.83
  • distortion: 4.20
  • flare control: 4.55
  • overall: 4.41 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania