It's really, really good, but pricy
March 02, 2017
I bought an NEX-3 because it was small and light. It came with the 16-50 lens. The tiny package produced very, very good images. It now replaces my compact camera.
On the strength of that experience, I moved to the a6000 to gain more finesse and a viewfinder. Same lens, better camera performance. I became a little disappointed in the muddy telephoto shots and distorted wide angle. It's a great focal length, size and cost, but the quality is a little inconsistent. So I groaned and saved and took a chance on this 16-70 f4 lens. The interweb wasn't totally enamored with it. For me it was worth the expense. In my review I'll give you the good, the bad and my verdict. I hope it helps.
First the bad and there is only one bad thing: the price. Memo to Sony: This lens is overpriced. It should sell for 25% less. It's a good lens and it shouldn't be cheap - I get that, but c'mon.
That's it for the bad.
Now the good list is long:
- lens is well made. It seems like it will last. It feels nice to use.
- lens zooms manually. This is fast and accurate. Again it feels solid with good feedback.
- it covers the most useful focal range (24-105mm in 35mm speak). This allows expansive, distorted wide angles to mild telephoto. You can expand and compress the depth of field enough at both ends to be effective. The telephoto end is the ideal for portraits and f4 givens enough DoF separation. For most photographers this lens is either all they will ever need or will handle the lion's share of their shots. Any other lenses will be for special purposes (like macro, super wide or super telephoto) and probably used lightly.
- it focuses close enough for all but tiny flowers or bugs.
- lens is small. This is important. Why would you choose a EVF-based camera like the a6000 if not for its reduced size and weight. So the system should support it with small lens. Sony seems to have gotten that. (This used to be Pentax's domain for the old-timers out there.) It balances well with a6000, the slightly heavier, newer a6xxx will balance well too. The expansive ISO capacity of these new cameras more than compensates for an f-stop of raw speed.
- it takes 49mm filters - small enough to be cheap, big enough to extract the lens cap easily with big mitts.
- the lens has stabilization built-in and it works great like its competitors. For all but fast action, this is a God-send.
- the lens is f4 stabilized. Some moan that this is slow, especially for the price. I find a zoom of this size, having stabilization with f4 at the tele-zoom end is pretty good and usable. The f4 allows more light and narrows depth-of-field at least the tele end. No complaints here.
- it's consistently sharp across focal lengths and across the frame. It's only slightly soft in the corners wide open (most lenses have this compromise). It has excellent contrast and colour balance throughout (a big improvement from the kit lens).
- I haven't seen any distortion to speak of (a massive improvement from the kit lens).
This is a great lens. The interweb has some snooty nag-filled reviews for this lens. They are comparing it to massive lenses, non-stabilized lenses, or primes. It is a great all-rounder capable of terrific, consistent real-world results. The tools will not be the limiting factor. This is a great, practical lens that suits the Sony E-mount cameras in size and style.
If you shoot a lot and/or really care about the technical quality of results you may be able to justify the outlay for this piece of metal and glass. I can. It's a lot of dough though.
I review my older pictures periodically and am sometimes disappointed by their quality. For me, once I see consistent short-comings from my gear (like murky contrast or distortion-laden issues), it's hard to see past these issues to the photos' content. Taking photos are about my effort, my expression. One I take a photo, I frequently can't reproduce that moment in time (which is one of the beauties of photography). This is essentially the logic I use to justify some of these more expensive lenses.
Happy trails. Get out and shoot!
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