First Impressions: Sony E 16-55mm F2.8 G (Sony E Mount, APS-C)

The Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G is a lightweight and compact zoom lens with weather-sealing that’s designed for crop sensor E mount cameras

Sony has been releasing new mirrorless APS-C cameras regularly for the last few years. A common complaint has been the lack of new lenses that are designed specifically for crop sensor E mount cameras. With the introduction of the Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G lens, those shooting with Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras finally have a first-party standard zoom option. This is Sony’s first 16-55mm zoom explicitly designed for crop sensor E mount cameras, with a 35mm Full Frame equivalent focal length of 24-82.5mm and a constant aperture of f2.8. 24-70mm f2.8 zooms are the workhorse lenses for many working photographers, and this 16-55mm is essentially the APS-C version of that, albeit much lighter and more compact. The Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G features an optical design consisting of two AA lenses, two aspherical elements, and three ED glasses, and is driven by an XD Linear Motor allowing the lens to focus quickly, accurately, and quietly. Being a G lens, the 16-55mm is also dust and moisture resistant.

Gear Used

We tested the Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G with the Sony A6600. You can pick one up at Adorama.

 

Tech Specs

Tech specs for the Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G taken from Sony’s official product page.

Lens Specifications

  • MOUNT
    • Sony E-mount
  • FORMAT
    • APS-C
  • FOCAL LENGTH (MM)
    • 16–55
  • 35 MM EQUIVALENT FOCAL LENGTH (APS-C)
    • 24–82.5
  • LENS GROUPS / ELEMENTS
    • 12-17
  • ANGLE OF VIEW (35 MM)
  • ANGLE OF VIEW (APS-C)
    • 83°-29°2
  • MAXIMUM APERTURE (F)
    • 2.8
  • MINIMUM APERTURE (F)
    • 22
  • APERTURE BLADES
    • 9
  • CIRCULAR APERTURE
    • Yes
  • MINIMUM FOCUS DISTANCE
    • 1.09 ft (0.33 m)
  • MAXIMUM MAGNIFICATION RATIO (X)
    • 0.66
  • FILTER DIAMETER (MM)
    • 67
  • IMAGE STABILIZATION (SteadyShot)
    • – (body-integrated)
  • ZOOM SYSTEM
    • Manual
  • TELECONVERTER COMPATIBILITY (X1.4)
  • TELECONVERTER COMPATIBILITY (X2.0)
  • HOOD TYPE
    • Petal shape, bayonet type

Size & Weight

  • DIMENSIONS (DIAMETER X LENGTH)
    • 2 7/8 x 4″ (73 x 100 mm)
  • WEIGHT
    • 17.5 oz (494 g)

 

Ergonomics

The Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G lens is compact in size and feels well balanced when mounted onto one of Sony’s crop sensor mirrorless bodies. You’ll find the Focusing Ring at the front of the lens, with the Zooming Ring situated midway up the barrel of the lens.

A customizable Focus Hold button, along with the Autofocus/Manual Focus mode switch, can be found on the side of the lens. This is standard for most Sony lenses.

The inner barrel of the lens extends outward as you zoom in. To that end, note that this isn’t an internally zooming lens.

Looking at the front of the lens, you’ll find the markings for the maximum aperture, focal length, and filter thread, along with the minimum focusing distance surrounding the front element.

 

Build Quality

The Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G features a dust and moisture resistant design. It’s also compact and lightweight, roughly the size of a small cup of coffee and weighing just under 500 grams. It is by far the most robust feeling APS-C lens available for Sony E mount. In hand, there is noticeably improved build quality over older E mount crop sensor lenses. We’ve only spent a few short hours with the lens so far and didn’t get the opportunity to put the lens’s weather sealing to the test. But rest assured that we will be testing the 16-55mm f2.8 G more thoroughly once final production review units are available. We’re not sure what to expect as this is a G lens and not a G Master.

 

Ease of Use

With a 35mm Full Frame equivalent focal length of 24-82.5mm, the Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G covers a trendy focal range favored by many photographers. The lens is pretty straight forward to use overall. The Focusing Ring turns smoothly while the Zooming Ring offers just enough resistance to easily tell the two apart. You can toggle between autofocus and manual focus using the switch on the side, and the inclusion of a customizable Focus Hold button gives the lens added versatility.

 

Autofocus

We tested the Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G using the brand new flagship Sony A6600 (both pre-production prototypes) and found the autofocus highly responsive and accurate. Having only spent an afternoon with the lens, we will need to further evaluate it in a variety of lighting conditions and shooting environments. We’ll do this once we get our hands on a final production review unit.

 

Image Quality

All sample images seen within this First Impressions article are straight out of camera JPEGs. They are captured using an early pre-production prototype Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G mated to a Sony A6600. As a matter of ethics, none of the sample images have been retouched or subjected to major editing. Some of the images are cropped.

 

First Impressions

While Sony has been updating its crop sensor mirrorless cameras regularly, the same can’t be said for their crop sensor lenses. Photographers shooting with Sony’s APS-C cameras have been clamoring for more dedicated crop sensor lenses for seemingly forever. With the introduction of the 16-55mm f2.8 G, Sony is reaffirming their dedication to their APS-C Mirrorless user base. With a lightweight, compact, and weather-resistant design, the Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G will likely be the lens that stays mounted to many Sony APS-C cameras. It begins to ship in October of this year for approximately $1,400 (USD).

We look forward to reviewing the final production version of the Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G lens. Stay tuned for our upcoming full review.

Pauleth Ip

Paul is a New York City based photographer, creative, and writer. His body of work includes headshots and commercial editorials for professionals, in-demand actors/performers, high net worth individuals, and corporate clients, as well as intimate lifestyle/boudoir photography with an emphasis on body positivity and empowerment. Paul also has a background in technology and higher education, and regularly teaches private photography seminars. When not working on reviews and features for The Phoblographer or shooting client work, Paul can be seen photographing personal projects around NYC, or traveling the world with his cameras in tow. You can find Paul’s latest work on his Instagram over at @thepicreative.