More on the Sony 16-50mm - Coping with the distortion.

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Sony NEX-7 16-50mm lens

Whilst obviously not desirable in the first place, it is possible to cope with the distortions caused by the 16-50mm zoom lens as shown in the images above. If like me you don't want to use the out of camera jpg. and are looking to work with the raw file, then the lens correction tools in the filter menu of Photoshop CS6 do a more flexible job than the in-camera processing.


In Photoshop the image can then be further altered using the transform tools in the edit menu.



You then end up with images, that while they have "thrown away" quite a lot of pixels, are relatively straight and loose the various distortions that the lens can produce.




I've been "correcting" images in this way for years anyway, as I shoot a lot of architecural and buildings for stock, and I can do it relatively quickly. The 16-50mm zoom does have the extra step of the lens correction tools, but this doesn't take me long to do.

However not everybody is able to do this, doesn't have Photoshop nor particularly wants to do it. In which case they either have to accept it, use the out of camera jpg. or crop the image. None of which is particularly satisfactory. As I've written the distortion on this lens is the worst I've seen. People go on about the Panasonic 7-14mm, but that is minor compared to this.

So why do we get this? Well a small zoom lens with a decent range, being made to a budget, is always going to have compromises. I've often written in the past that Sony listen to what people want. However in this case they seem to have listened to the wrong ones. There are two main criticisms levelled at Sony NEX lenses. The first is that they seem to have somewhat average optical quality, the second is that they are too big for the cameras. In this case the "I can't put it in my pocket" whiners seem to have won the day. Certainly not the priority I wanted to see but there you go. The 16-50mm lens is certainly small and light, but with all the problems that I have outlined here and in other posts. I'm sure Sony are capable of making an equivalent to the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 for m4/3, but it would be bigger, heavier and pricier and that seems not to be the direction Sony think they should be going. However as I've mentioned before I don't think this lens is even close to the 14-42mm X pancake zoom, which is excellent. Made to look even better by this Sony offering.

Now this is going to sound odd having written everything I have about this lens, but I'm actually warming to it!! For two reasons. Firstly its an absolute dream to use. Its really good to use out in the real world. Its light its small, and its actually quite sexy!, plus it focuses lightning fast and the zoom ring works well. (I don't use the power zoom switch) Plus for some perverse reason I actually like the "look" it produces after correcting the distortions. My first instinct was to sell it, and while that may yet happen, I'm thinking I might hang on to it for a while. I particularly like it in combination with my NEX-7. (Half the pictures above were taken with that camera, the others with the NEX-6)

How long it takes me to get fed up with the process of correcting the images, who knows, but there is no denying that the size and weight are an attraction. Who knows I may yet put a camera in one of my pockets!!

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