The Sony 16-50 mm zoom lens has entered the Dutch market with the Sony A77 at the end of 2011. This lens is only suitable for cameras with an APS-C sensor, not for cameras with a full-frame sensor. Due to this limitation in the design, the lens is relatively compact for an SLR lens with this intensity. The Sony DT 16-50 mm lens has an internal “Supersonic Wave” engine, which focuses fast and quietly, allowing you to use the lens for video too.
Sony DT 16-50 mm F2.8 SSM @ 16 mm/5.6
Sony DT 16-50 mm F2.8 SSM @ 50 mm/4.5
The Sony 16-50 mm has a 3x zoom range, which corresponds to a 24-75 mm zoom lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor.
Construction and autofocus
The Sony 16-50 mm lens is ruggedly built with a wide zoom ring and a not too small focus ring. The Sony 16-50 has an internal “Supersonic Wave” engine, which focuses fast and quietly. On the lens is a switch to choose between manual focusing and AF. The image stabilization is in the body.
Image stabilization was tested at a focal length of 50 mm (75 mm @ full-frame). For the average photographer, it goes that the shutter speed at handheld shots should be at least 1/90 second for you to take sharp pictures.
The image stabilization works. With a focal length of 60 mm and shutter speeds longer than 1/90 second, the chance of a sharp picture becomes considerably greater if you apply image stabilization. But a tripod delivers even sharper images.
The with Imatest measured vignetting of the jpg files and the vignetting of uncorrected jpg files match. The automatic lens compensation of vignetting thus seems to have little effect. In practice, vignetting will only sometimes be visible at aperture 2.8 in the extreme corners.
Over the entire zoom range, distortion of jpg files is negligible. This is due to the in-camera correction of distortion. Uncorrected RAW files exhibit, particularly at 16 mm and 19 mm, clear distortion.
The Sony 16-50 has a less beautiful, irregular bokeh. But that is not unusual for a lens with a relatively short focal length on a camera with an APS-C sensor.
The Sony 16-50 is composed of 16 lenses in 13 groups. Such a complex design makes the lens, even when using the supplied lens hood, more susceptible to internal reflections. Despite using the free, provided hood, you will encounter ghosting in practice. This is often in the form of aperture rings, such as illustrated on the right.
The Sony 16-50 delivers, in combination with the 24 megapixel Sony A-77, very sharp images. The jpg files have a resolution of 2400 LW/PH in the center. This is a very good performance.
At a number of focal lengths, the extreme corners stay visibly behind in terms of resolution, but the average resolution in the corners remains above 1000 LW/PH. After stopping down 2 stops, it is another 500 LW/PH higher. And that is very good too.
Sony DT 16-50 mm/2.8 SSM @ 23 mm/2.8
At 16 mm, the difference in sharpness between the corners and the center is the greatest. Usually stopping down 1 stop is sufficient to make this difference considerably smaller, but at 16 mm only 3 stops are required.
The chromatic aberration of the Sony 16-50 mm is very low at all tested focal lengths thanks to the in-camera correction that is applied in the Sony A77. Chromatic aberration in uncorrected RAW files can sometimes be just visible: the worst score in the corners was 0.15%. Even that is not a bad score, by the way.
In camera correction
More and more camera manufacturers are turning to the correction of distortion and aberrations in the camera instead of in the design of the lens. That has the advantage that a lens comes to better performances without losing any quality in terms of sharpness.
In this test, all possible corrections have been applied: correction of vignetting to the corners, correction of chromatic aberration, and correction of distortion.
Conclusion Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM review
- Good optical performances: resolution, distortion and chromatic aberration
- Decently built
- sensitive to ghosting
- lvignetting at 2.8 could be corrected better
The Sony 16-50 mm has proved to be a very good lens in this test, in combination with the Sony A77. The Sony 16-50 produces very sharp images. The resolution is sometimes behind the extremely high resolution in the center in the corners. But at aperture 8, the resolution is even very high in the corners, with at least 1500 LW/PH. When the camera performs some corrections, the distortion and chromatic aberration are very low in the jpg files too. With these performances, the Sony 16-50 mm belongs to the very best lenses out there for sale nowadays.