why has the 16mm f2.8 got such a bad rep?

Started Jul 29, 2013 | Discussions thread
GaryW
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Re: You need to know the history
In reply to Mike Fewster, Jul 30, 2013

Mike Fewster wrote:

Keit ll wrote:

Mike Fewster wrote:

This lens was released with the very first Nex cameras. On those models, the lens had very soft corners. The reviews of the new camera and Nex at the time duely pointed this out and marked the lens down, although most said it was very good in the centre. Those reviews are still the reviews that people read when they look for evaluation of this lens.

These reviews are less than accurate on two grounds. The lens had highly variable performance with some copies much better than others. Clearly a quality control issue at Sony. Later releases of the lens tended to be considerably better. More importantly, on later Nex models, Sony changed the micro lenses in the camera and this made a significant difference to the edges.

There you have it, a later build lens on one of the later Sony models is much better than its reputation and an absolute bargain.

You are probably right in saying later productions of the 16mm are better than earlier models but when the first 16mms were said to be discarded because of faults how was it that Sony were able to supply kits onto the market literally weeks later with up to date 16mm's ?

What else did they have to do? They only had this and the kit lens, at the start. When I bought my Nex-5, the 16mm kit wasn't even available in the US. It was weeks before it was available, so I had to buy my 16mm separately.

I takes time to produce kits & ship them to foreign markets. How is the average buyer to know what is new & old ? Does anyone have serial numbers which indicate when properly QC'd models came onto the market ?

Has anyone organized a list of people with obviously de-centered lenses and their associated serial numbers? No? I guess we'll never know, then. You just take your chances....

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Keith C

I never heard of earlier models being discarded.

I recall the claim that Sony had bad "pre-production" copies out there.

Some people early users reported and posted shots that looked good. Others were clearly sub standard. I think the early samples were variable and that the quality control tightened up. I have a fairly early model and I am quite happy with it. I don't think it can be tied to serial numbers, the early quality was just variable. I would hesitate to buy one second hand unless I had done some shots or was confident it was a relatively recent lens.

Maybe, but this is probably speculation.

More important than this is the performance of the lens once it was on cameras with the improved micro lenses.I've tried it on my new Nex-6, but haven't tried to compare directly. On my Nex-5, it does have soft corners with a wide aperture, but the problem shrinks as you step down. Will it even look better on the Nex-6? Somehow, I doubt it, but I'm in the camp that thinks it looks pretty good for what it is. The extreme corner softness can be managed.

I've tried it on my new Nex-6, but haven't tried to compare directly. On my Nex-5, it does have soft corners with a wide aperture, but the problem shrinks as you step down. Will it even look better on the Nex-6? Somehow, I doubt it, but I'm in the camp that thinks it looks pretty good for what it is. The extreme corner softness can be managed.

But by that time the damage re the rep was done. I had argument after argument over on the mft forum about this lens. mft owners would make general claims about Sony lenses and quote figures from the reviews done of the original lens on the original Nex. Like several other Nex owners, I invited them to base their discussion on actual samples of images, but no one seemed to want to take this up.

Ok, here's a sample.  Here's a 100% crop from the extreme corner at f6.3. (On my copy, the extreme corner softness doesn't disappear until f7.1.) This was taken on a miserable, overcast day, so f8 would have been a bit slow for the lower light.

100% crop from a corner. F6.3, 1/40, processed with DxO to sharpen and remove CA.

This is the horrible softness that brings out so much vitriol? It looks like it's just a bit out of focus. It should be out of focus, I focused on the bridge towards the left, many meters away. My thought is that this is simply a handy club for trolls to beat up the Nex fans. The corner softness is quirky, but if you can deal with it, I don't think it's that bad. Sure, if you use f2.8 or even f4, it'll be very intrusive into your photo, but there's no need for that in daylight.

No, the worst problem with this photo (and lens), and something critics don't seem to mention (which tells me that they are more interested in complaining than actually looking into it) is the CA. It really messes with the low-level detail. I had to really turn up the sliders in DxO to get it under control in this photo. After I was done, the center of the photo has tons of detail, far more than the 14mp was capable of, I would guess. Resolution is less towards the edges, I'm sure, but I'm pretty happy with it.

f6.3, 1/40

This is the full scene, so you can see how insignificant the corners are. In photo after photo, the extreme corners just aren't that important. Now, if I were a pro and wanted to sell my photos, would it be more of a problem? Maybe? I just don't know why this is so horrible to deserve such negativity. It was the first pancake for the Nex and gave owners a cheap wide-angle option that is often hard to come by on other cameras, at least at a low price and size. Just over $100 more, and you have a 12mm UWA lens. What other system has a deal like that? I know, the pro needs more, but he can feel free to pay for it. I'll keep my E16, and step it down.

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Mike Fewster
Adelaide Australia

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Gary W.

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