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Quick Review: Sony 16-50mm F2.8 for Sony A-Mount DSLRs

by Andy Hendriksen on 06/06/2012

The Sony 16-50mm f/2.8, best known as the “kit” lens with the Sony A77, is among one of the finest “kit” lenses I’ve ever tested. I wrote briefly about this lens in my Sony A77 Review, but I thought I would go ahead and post a full-on review of the lens, because I really can’t get enough of it. The build, the image quality, and the versatility of this lens make it a clear winner among the Sony A-Mount choices. Read on for more details!

Ergonomics and Build Quality

There’s no other way to say it: this lens feels fantastic in the hand. Sony chose to not call this lens a “kit” lens, because of the negative connotation associated with such lenses. I absolutely agree with that, and there’s really nothing about this lens that feels kit-like at all.

It is indeed made of mostly plastic, but is very high quality plastic, and feels heavy and solid in the hand. A maximum aperture of f/2.8 requires quite a bit of glass, and that’s very obvious in the weight of this lens. The size and weight is very well matched with the A77, and it balances out that camera quite well.

The zoom ring and focus ring are both very smooth, and I experienced no zoom creep at all when carrying the camera with the lens facing down. All the controls of this lens feel solid and well made, and instill absolute confidence that it will last a lifetime.

Image Quality

What good is a great feeling lens if it can’t produce great images? Fortunately, this lens doesn’t disappoint.

In fact, images I could get from this lens are so good that I found myself scrambling to find a similar lens for my Nikon DSLR. 16-50mm, or 24-75mm on APS-C sensors, is a very useful focal length, and with a relatively fast maximum aperture of f/2.8, there aren’t many situations where this lens won’t perform. It also has a minimum focus distance of just under 12 inches, which could even allow you to do some wide macro-type photography. It’s proven to be an incredible versatile lens to shoot with, and really a perfect walk-around lens for your Sony Alpha camera.

Example of this lens' close-up capability...

Images from this lens are track sharp at all apertures, and all focal lengths. In fact, I’ve yet to find a zoom lens that performs as well as this one at all possible aperture or focal length combinations. I continually tried to stump this lens, but it never disappointed, and consistently produced sharp images with very little distortion, chromatic aberration, and no significant vignetting to be found. The only lens I have used that comes close to the quality of this lens is the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, but at nearly three times the price, it makes the Sony seem like an incredible bargain.

Conclusion

If you own a Sony Alpha camera, this is a must-have lens. Not only is it fantastic to hold and use, but it doesn’t disappoint with image quality, and is a lens that performs well in a very wide variety of situations. Some may complain about the size or weight, particularly when paired with smaller cameras like the Sony A57 or the new A37, but the build quality and image results speak for themselves, and I believe the tradeoff is absolutely worth carrying this lens around.

Check out the Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 on Amazon

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