Great pictures from a bad lens. Is lens "correction" acceptable? The 16-50mm lens for Sony NEX - Part 1

A while back I wrote a review of the 16-50mm lens for the Sony NEX system. I wasn't very nice about. And yet I did indicate that I fully intended to keep it and use it. 

Using the lens profile in Adobe Camera Raw this lens that suffers badly from distortion and vignetting at the wide end is capable of excellent results however. 

Yesterday evening my nephew and I were taking pictures of his bicycle which he is planning to sell on ebay. We took them using my NEX-7 and the 16-50mm. Shooting raw and "correcting" the images, the results were very good indeed. 

For reasons I won't go into these were all shot at night. Even using ISO 800 some of these shots required very long exposures, up to 15 seconds. They are sharp and fulfill the requirements for ebay nicely. i.e. decent pictures, but they don't look like product shots. The idea is to show a well looked after bicycle in a "natural" environment.

In addition to this I've been editing some pictures I took with the lens previously and have been uploading them to picture library websites. Again with the lens profile they have turned out well.

So does this mean that lens "correction" is acceptable? Well my answer to that is I don't actually have an answer. To a certain extent my answer must be "Yes it is" because I'm using the lens, I find it very useful and I already have images for sale shot with it. But then my answer is also "No it isn't" because the review I wrote above was pretty scathing about the lens, and I take none of it back. 

The lens does have some good points. Its small, light, fast to use and its relatively cheap. However to get the best results from it, you need the lens profile for Photoshop or Lightroom, because even the in-camera processing of the jpgs. doesn't always get rid of the distortion and vignetting. Shooting raw, and using the Adobe software produces decent results. Its not a blisteringly sharp lens, but adding some sharpening in post-production produces very acceptable results. 

There is no doubt that if Sony ever produce the "pro-spec" zoom similar to the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 that they are talking about, I'll sell the 16-50mm immediately, but I really do think I'll be keeping it and shooting with it until then. Surprising? Well yes, since my initial reaction was to sell it immediately after seeing what it produced. 

So does this mean that we are going to see this more and more and more? Seriously flawed lenses with massive software correction? We have of course had this for some time now, and many of the lenses I use have profiles for them. DxO of course make software for the "correction" of many lenses, including some pretty expensive ones. The 16-50mm however is a slightly different case because of the extent of the flaws and the amount of "correction" required. 

In part two of this I'm going to be comparing this lens with the Panasonic 12-35mm just to see what I get, and attempt to come to some kind of conclusion.

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.

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