Just how crappy is the 16-50 kit lens? Test vs 17mm prime & 11-16 Tokina

Started Mar 31, 2013 | Discussions thread
Mel Snyder
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Re: Revised/corrected post: Just how crappy is the 16-50 kit lens? Test vs 17mm prime & 11-16 Tokina
In reply to captura, Apr 1, 2013

The curvature results from the images all being shot raw; I ordinarily correct in Photoshop. Then it's fine.

I think Sony has been brilliant in their lens design: Build a lens and camera with cheap in-camera software correction for the majority who will shoot in jpeg, keep correction out of RAW and let the more experienced photographers who know Photoshop to make the fixes manually.

When I bought the NEX-6, the 16-50 was almost an afterthought - I had 5 lenses I wanted to start using, for the first time in 20+ years: A 35mm f1.4 Summilux, a 50mm f2 Summicron, a 90mm f2.8 Tele-Elmarit, and a 24mm f2 Canon FD and 85mm f1.2L Canon FD.

And my objective was realized. The camera is brilliant with all five. I just got plussed by all the negativity toward the 16-50 when I saw it being bashed by people who hadn't even held a NEX yet, based on noise from people here. Used with in-camera correction, as 99% of newbies will, the distortion is gone, the edges are sharp and free of vignetting, and the lens will be brilliant. I might flip to RAW+JPEG to take advantage of that on the road, myself.

captura wrote:

Mel Snyder wrote:

Mel Snyder wrote:

One of the great sports of the technogeeks here is dumping on the 16-50 kit lens. And many neophytes take those dumps to heart.

My impression without comparative tests was to judge from my own experience that it wasn't as bad as the detractors claim. So I decided to test it.

The real advantage of the kit lens, if there is one, is that at 16mm, it is wider than just about any zoom under $600, with a not-too-shabby f3.5 maximum aperture.

And so, my test comparator lenses were the 11-16mm f2.8 Tokina, and the 17mm f3.5 Tokina AT-X Pro. I know all three do really well in real-world photography - I've carried both over the years on trips to the Middle East and Europe, shooting on Nikon D70, Nikon D300, and Nikon D7000.

I have a pretty good test scene right outside my front door. So what follows are images from that test scene. All were shot raw, imported into Photoshop Elements 11 with no adjustment, and saved as jpegs with the same specs:

16-50mm kit lens @ f3.5

Uploading error detected in original post (realized it when I saw the EXIF data) - image for kit lens is now correct - and DEFINITELY GREAT!

No it's not great! Just look at the curvature of the roadway, compared to all the other images displayed, that were straight. Including the original of this one.

Anyway, this lens displays soft edges and corners, with vignetting at the corners. From what I've seen, the 1650 matches the 18-55 over 20mm, but not below that. Not bad for a kit lens, if kept over 20mm. Certainly a more useful lens than the 16/2.8.

 Mel Snyder's gear list:Mel Snyder's gear list
Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony Alpha 7 Sony E 16mm F2.8 Pancake Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 +13 more
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