Sony Carl Zeiss 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 DT Vario-Sonnar T* A-mount lens review by A68noob

reviewer#44514 date: May-9-2020
sharpness: 5
color: 3
build: 3
distortion: 3
flare control: 4
overall: 3.6
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Tamron 18-270
price paid:140€ w. shipping
positive:-sharpest lens i ever had (even at open aperture it was really sharp and absolutely gorgeous)
-amazing performance between approx. 24-50mm replacing fixed focal length lenses, talking about raw image quality
-very solid and usable zoom-range
negative:-horrible zoom creep
-not a particularily attractive lens to look at
-cool colours, too cool for my taste
-loud AF
-quite some CA
comment:This was my 2nd real zoom lens after my first Tamron 18-270. It delivered very sharp and much better images than the tamron obviously, BUT is inferiour in built quality in every way:

-NO zoom lock. This zeiss lens still costs about 900€ but makes me look dumb, as it keeps expanding all the time. The tamron is much cheaper but features a very well placed zoom lock. yes, there are rubber bands that fix this issue.. but using cheap rubber on an expensive zeiss lens? please no, pathetic.

-AF was loud and felt really cheap because of this, compared to the PiezoDrive built in the tamron. Yes, AF worked flawless in most cases and thats the thing that matters, but if you keep in mind that a much cheaper tamron features a much smoother and more quiet autofocus i feel fooled, AGAIN..

-most pictures had pretty cool colours. yes, you could say that postprocessing could fix this, but i am not someone who edits every picture because of basic problems. there are enough lenses out there that deliver better colours without wasting time in editing.

-build quality appearance. compare both lenses i mentioned before and tell me, that the zeiss doesn't look cheaper/worse.

-my 2nd hand copy had an issues that didnt allow me to focus on distant objects at low focal length (especially 16mm). everything looked blurry and i had to zoom in to about +20mm to get sharp images of objects in distance. probably something faulty, but the lens worked fine otherwise.

To the one positive aspect of this lens:
It was sharp.. extremely sharp even and a pleasure to use between the already mentioned 24-50mm, but otherwise it was pure frustration with every negative aspect i stated above. Oh.. and yes, i bought it pretty cheap, but it was still not worth it for me.
My Minolta 50mm 1,7 may never be as sharp as this lens, but at least it is fun to use..

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 215
  • sharpness: 4.67
  • color: 4.80
  • build: 3.84
  • distortion: 4.20
  • flare control: 4.55
  • overall: 4.41 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania