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

reviewer#44136 date: Sep-25-2018
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
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:Zooms: Sigma 10-20, Tamron 16-300, Sony DT18-55 SAM (I & II), DT18-70, DT18-250; Minolta 24-50, 24-85 and many more;
Primes: Minolta 20, 24, 28, 50 f1.4, 50 f1.7, 50 f2.8, 50 f3.5, Sony DT30, DT35, DT50.
price paid:GBP 240
positive:Sharp, great auto-focus (quick & quiet), price, f2.8, weather sealed.
negative:A bit short, a bit heavy
comment:I love this lens, the only real drawback is the relatively short tele end, it would be so nice to go to 85 or 105 - but the quality of images I get make it worth carrying another lens on walkabout. My copy came from ebay with a set of Hoya filters (UV, CPL, ND2, ND4, ND8, ND16 & ND100) - the filters alone would have cost more to buy new.
In comparison with my other lenses it is the 16mm end that makes it stand out - it's amazing how much 2mm at that end transforms the usefulness of a lens, but it also blows away any opposition from the other Sony kit lenses on image quality (and the 18-55 II is a pretty good lens). I still need the Sigma 10-20 from time to time, but it cannot match the 16-50 so it's become a 10-16 for me. The only other zoom I have that gets as much use is the Tamron 16-300, which is also a very fine lens - its extra reach makes it my holiday lens of choice.
Comparing the 16-50 against primes is more of an even field - it is hard to see much difference in sharpness at 24 and 28mm (but they do have Minolta colours), it is better than my 50 f1.7 (not a great copy), similar to the DT50, not quite as sharp as the DT30, 50 f2.8 and 3.5 macros and the DT35 f1.8 has it beat for speed as well as being slightly sharper. I still like to shoot with primes, it concentrates the mind more, but lenses like the 16-50 make a very strong case for zooms.
Macro performance is nothing special, but it's not bad.
If Sony's more expensive zooms are better than this lens then I can only wish that I could afford them!
I have given this lens 5 in all categories, not because it is perfect, but because it is the best I have seen. It's sharpness is close to or better than many primes, it clearly deserves '5 for a zoom'; its colour may not be 'Minolta' but it's pretty accurate; it may not be built to last in the manner of the beercan era, but it seems robust and the weather sealing is a big plus; I have seen reports of irregular distortion, which would be a worry if I had seen it (perhaps the A58 & A77 bodies I have used it on correct it - I shall try it on earlier bodies and update this review), regular distortion is a) expected at wide angle and b) so easy to fix in PP that I don't worry about it; it is possible to get flare with the sun in frame, I would have put 4.5 if I could.
UPDATE 11-8-19 Having adjusted microfocus my 50mm f1.7 is able to challenge this zoom for sharpness, whereas further experience with the 28mm f2.8 has convinced me that it is no match for this zoom.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 101
  • sharpness: 4.74
  • color: 4.68
  • build: 4.83
  • distortion: 4.13
  • flare control: 4.44
  • overall: 4.56 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania