Great pictures from a bad lens. Is lens "correction" acceptable? The 16-50mm lens for Sony NEX - Part 2

As I indicated in Part 1 of these posts, this is a comparison between the Sony 16-50mm zoom on a NEX-6 and the Panasonic 12-35mm on a GH3.

Here are the two out of camera jpgs. Sony at 16mm, Panasonic at 12mm. ISO 100 for the Sony, ISO 125 for the Panasonic. f/8 for the Sony. f/7.1 for the Panasonic.

Just in case you aren't aware of this the Panasonic file is on the left - 4:3 ratio as opposed to the 3:2 ratio of the Sony on the right.

Here are blowups from both from these jpgs.

Here are the two files from raw with the Sony "uncorrected".

Below - same thing, this time with the Sony file "corrected" using the lens profile in Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop CS6.

Below are blow-ups from the raw files.

All of the above I think illustrates the dilemma. With the "corrections" applied the result from the Sony combination isn't actually that bad. Because of the GH3's poor jpg. performance the Sony is probably better (sharper with more detail). But then the raw file isn't far behind either. Plus with the 3:2 ration of the NEX-6 it actually looks like you get more in the picture. Slightly different colour balance, and as I've found before the GH3 produces a slightly darker file.

I indicated that I might try to come up with some kind of conclusion as to whether I think these industrial strength lens "corrections" for the 16-50mm are acceptable. However, I'm unable to do that. There is no doubt that with the lens profile applied the Sony combination works. The Panasonic lens has the obvious advantage of being f/2.8 throughout, but thats not what I'm looking at today. Its usable, and I guess that is what counts. Its always the final image I'm interested in and that is perfectly acceptable to me. There is of course the fact that the Sony lens is about 1/4 of the price of the Panasonic, though its clearly nowhere near as well made.

It would be great if the Sony lens was better, but the "correction" adds no processing time for me because I have a preset for it in ACR and I do like using it. As I indicated its very fast at focusing on the NEX-6, its small and light and I actually enjoy taking pictures with it. So the answer may be that I should just accept it for what it is and try to ignore my old-school prejudice.

I would be very interested to hear what others think about this, so please feel free to pop over to Google+ and post some comments. It is I guess an issue thats going to be around for some time to come and one that we'll all have to deal with at one time or another.

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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