Comparison Sony 18-55 Kit lens and Sony 17-70/4 Zeiss

Started May 17, 2014 | Questions thread
blue_skies Forum Pro • Posts: 11,473
Re: Comparison Sony 18-55 Kit lens and Sony 17-70/4 Zeiss

jasby wrote:

I have just invested AU$1000 in a Sony 16-70mm f4 Zeiss, because I wanted the wider end and the longer end for a general travel camera that would also give me better IQ (Europe for 5 weeks in early June), leaving the 55-210mm at home. Thought I might sell the kit lens if I was happy with the Zeiss. Just did the brick wall test with both, and I would like your comments please.

I used a tripod and remote shutter release, used 24mm and 35mm focal lengths. therefore two from each lens. Tried to upload full size but was told the file was too big. Strange, because each file was only 11mb and longest side 6000 pix, but I have not done much uploading before so am confused.

First two from the Zeiss 23mm then 34mm

Second two from the Kit 24mm then 35mm

All at f8 and ISO 100

I am either very impressed with the black kit lens OR not very impressed with the Zeiss.

I would appreciate comments from those who know these two lenses, but do not want to hear from those who just want to trash the Zeiss.

Thanks, John

ZEISS......8514...23mm at f8 ISO100

ZEISS.....8516....34mm at f8 ISO 100

18-55 KIT.....8521......24mm at f8 ISO100

18-55 KIT....8523.....35mm atf8 ISO 100

Hi John,

brick wall tests are sometimes misleading because they tend to shorten the distance to the subject (the wall) versus what you would usually photograph in your field of view. In doing so, you are more subject to plane mis-alignment and DOF effects.

If you do a test like this, mount the camera on a tripod, and take a first shot. Then, flip the camera upside down and take another shot from the same position. It is important that the two shots use the same camera (sensor) plane. Remember to turn OSS off when using a tripod.

If the edge softness moves from left to right, it is a lens property. But if it stays at the same side, regardless of camera orientation, it is merely an effect of FOV, alignment and DOF. Nothing to worry about in the latter case.

Also take multiple shots - especially if handheld. In 'precision' experiments, simple breathing can affect the results, and thereby the interpretation thereof.

As to the kit versus Z zoom lens comparo, you are comparing at f/8. At this aperture, I would expect that any differences between the lenses become minute, and whatever differences remain can be erased in post-edit. If you shoot JPG, this kind of does some of the post-edits steps in camera. So, remember that you are comparing lenses + software applied, and not just the lens.

That is, the Z lens may be a better optical lens, and require less software corrections that the kit lens, but after corrections, the results are very close. Only in textures with extreme fine detail you may be able to see the effect of software compensation - most of the time this is very hard to find.

The Z lens does have a constant f/4, it does have slightly different coating (warmer), it does have slightly improved micro-contrast, and it goes wider and longer. Plus it is made with more expensive materials. All this, aside from its internals (more expensive glass, larger glass, etc), amounts to a more expensive product.

You get what you pay for.

The test shots as taken may be misleading. But they are telling that the distance between the kit and Z zoom lenses is fairly narrow when stopped down. Wide open, the Z will perform a tad better, but wide open I'd always argue that you should consider a prime lens.

Another way to get a 'feel' for a lens is to just take it out an afternoon and shoot solely with this lens. Then come home and inspect the results. How do these compare with another lens? Do you see the same sharpness, color, micro-contrast, and so on. Some lenses will fit your style better than others, and when you find a lens that aligns itself with you, you'll immediately will notice this in the results.

I am shooting the A7 with the kit zoom lens and am satisfied with the images. I posted a while ago the kit zoom against some high IQ prime lenses in this thread, and, if you visit the thread, you can see that the distance between the prime lens and zoom lens is noticeable.

But it doesn't bother me - the kit zoom lens images are rather pleasing, and the zoom is convenient at times.

As to choosing between 1855 or 1670, I already listed above what the 1670 adds over and above the 1855. If the lens works for you, it also adds confidence and surefooted-ness which will show in your final result.

Some feel that f/4 is usable with these new cameras at ISO 3200 or higher, when going indoors.

I find that using a prime at f/2 at ISO 800 yields a much more pleasing image. To me, this is the biggest difference between the zoom and prime.

But, if you compare the 1670 at f/4 versus the 1855 at f/5.6, the 1855 would have to be at ISO 6400 to keep up, and that is really pushing it.

This implies that the 1670 is more useable, and for some that may be good enough. Personally, I would carry a prime or a flash.

And in the latter case, the 1855 would satisfy me plenty. I would never have to use it wide open, I figure, and thereby nullify some of the benefits of the 1670.

Hope it helps - in the end it is a personal decision, and only you know what works best for you.

-- hide signature --


 blue_skies's gear list:blue_skies's gear list
Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony a6000 Sony a5100 Sony Alpha a7 II Sony Alpha a7R II +36 more
selected answer This post was selected as the answer by the original poster.
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow