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Conclusion - Pros

  • Hugely useful wide angle to telephoto range - arguably the most flexible currently available
  • Extremely sharp at wide angle
  • Impressive resistance to flare
  • Small size and lightweight
  • Good build quality

Conclusion - Cons

  • Chromatic aberration at both wideangle and telephoto ends
  • Extremely soft in the middle of the zoom range at wider apertures
  • Somewhat soft at telephoto
  • Stiff manual focus ring with excessively short travel

Overall conclusion

The Sony DT 16-105mm F3.5-5.6 is a lens which certainly promises a lot, with a tremendously useful zoom range wrapped up in a surprisingly compact body. It may not at first glance have the headline-grabbing attraction of those superzooms which sport 200mm or even 250mm telephoto ends, but I'd venture to suggest that as a single-lens solution, it's more useful for the majority of general-purpose work, with the additional width more than compensating for the shorter length (it's much easier to crop the occasional long shot than stitch a wideangle composite). And in real world shooting it generally delivers on its promise, producing attractive results across a wide range of shooting conditions with a minimum of fuss.

Of course every silver lining has its cloud, and the compromises which are inevitable in such an ambitious design aren't hard to find. Chromatic aberration at wideangle and telephoto is very pronounced, and because the fringing is red/cyan in colour, it shows up frequently in real world use. The corners are soft wide open at 16mm and 25mm, but this is ultimately a relatively trivial issue in photographic terms; stopping down to F8 is all that is needed to sharpen them up. More worrying is the loss in resolution across most of the frame at larger apertures in the middle of the zoom range, where you'll need to use F8 or F11 to get the best results. (To be fair, this is not exactly the first zoom which works best at these apertures, and it won't be the last either.)

This therefore is a lens which will repay you with good results once you get to know and appreciate its foibles, and even put them to good use - for example that mid-range corner softness could be useful when shooting portraits, to help emphasize a subject placed towards the centre. And it must be said that when this lens is good, it's very good indeed, easily providing sufficient resolution for the Alpha 350's 14.2 Mp sensor at optimal focal lengths and apertures. Crucially in side-by-side comparison shots, it's streets ahead of the 18-70mm kit lens, and therefore an ideal upgrade for users seeking a more capable general purpose lens.

In summary, this is a very good lens for Alpha users. The versatility of the focal length range goes a long way towards making up for the inevitable optical compromises, and as such the lens easily earns our recommendation.

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Build quality 8
Ergonomics & handling 7.5
Features 8.5
Image quality 7.5
Value 7.5

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Samples Gallery

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Sony DT 16-105mm F3.5-5.6 Review Samples

24 images • Posted 13 March 2008 • View album
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Sony DT 16-105mm F3.5-5.6

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