Sony 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS power zoom

For all Sony NEX-6 and 16-50mm Review and User Experience Posts - CLICK HERE

Since this is a new lens, I thought it worthy of a separate post from the NEX-6. Particularly once you've looked at the above picture!

This lens has problems, and how! 

We're all used to in-camera and software lens "corrections" these days, and in a lens so small as the 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS power zoom it would be surprising if there weren't any. But as you can see from the image above this lens requires more than most. I've personally never seen this amount of correction on any lens. The raw file on the left has massive distortion and pretty bad vignetting. The out of camera jpg. on the right deals with this by throwing away a lot of pixels.

Here is another example.

This is not the end of the "problems". The following was shot indoors in daylight and is a comparison with my Voigtlander 20mm Nikon fit lens.

The Sony lens has a pronounced blue cast.

Another example.

As you can see the Voigtlander image is sharper, but that I would have expected. Look along the blade of the scissors and you will see that the Sony lens is missing detail that the Voigtlander has captured. This is NOT an exposure difference, in fact the raw file from the Sony was slightly underexposed compared to the Voigtlander which means that the Sony isn't capable of recording as much highlight detail.


Again as you can see there is distinct edge softness. Plus the above was shot at f/9, which means it is still performing badly at what must be close to its optimum aperture. 

Yesterday I wrote about this lens:- "As far as the 16-50mm lens is concerned, its an improvement on the 18-55mm but smaller." Well, ignore that, its NOT!!
So yet again Sony have come up with another poor lens for the NEX system, and there is no way that I can write about this 16-50mm lens in anything other than these terms. It stands poor comparison with the Panasonic 14-42mm X "pancake" zoom, which is actually a pretty decent lens. 
If you shoot jpg. only then you probably won't notice some of the inadequacies of this lens, but if you shoot raw, then you can't fail to notice them and I can't see how I'm going to work round them without a lot of post-processing work. There is no lens profile for this lens in Adobe Camera Raw as yet, and even if there was I'm not sure I would be inclined to bother.

Why Sony choose to "sabotage" their excellent NEX series cameras with a group of admittedly well-made lenses which seem average at best and poor at worst is beyond me. I'm not even convinced by the Zeiss 24mm, which I didn't rate that highly. In my tests I found that my 18-55mm kit zoom was actually slightly sharper at f/8 and f/11.

I am coming to the conclusion that Sony can't make or don't seem inclined to make top class lenses. Thinking back to all the ones I've used, including a-mounts, I can't think of one that I've kept for any length of time or one that I would regard as being in the good to very good catergory. I've tended to get rid of them pretty quickly and the 16-50mm is going to be no exception to that pattern. This is a real shame, since their cameras are full of innovation and quality, but let down by a disppointing lens range. Its not as if this can't be achieved. Sigma have the cheap 19mm and 30mm prime lenses, neither of which show any of the problems shown above. Using Voigtlander lenses on my NEX cameras also shows just what they are capable of and its no accident that this 16-50mm is the first "native" NEX lens that I've owned for some time. It does seem however that it isn't going to last long either.

Today is a similar day to yesterday, with some great light promised and I'm going out with the NEX-6 again. However I'm leaving the 16-50mm at home, since I want to take full advantage of the weather. I can only speculate as to why Sony don't seem capable of a lens range that takes advantage of their NEX cameras. Desire to keep prices down, lack of experience, the fact that what they have inherited from Minolta isn't up to scratch for digital, are all possibilities, but compared to what Panasonic, Olympus and indeed Samsung with their NX lenses, have achieved Sony just aren't delivering the goods as far as I'm concerned. I've been happy to use my NEX-7 with mainly manual focus lenses for some time and will do that with the NEX-6. It would be nice to have some decent AF lenses however two Sigma primes is hardly the level of choice I was looking for.

I really did want this lens to work, as its very useful for what I do. It handled pretty well on location, though I'm no fan of power zoom buttons but yesterday is probably the only time I will ever use it for anything other than tests. Its a shame but I'm not prepared to compromise on quality and since I have a way of getting it with my Voigtlanders thats what I will use in future.