16-70 / 18-55 Comparison, Methodical, but not super precise

Started May 24, 2014 | Discussions thread
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felixdacat Regular Member • Posts: 194
16-70 / 18-55 Comparison, Methodical, but not super precise

I had some play money, so I decided to go for the 16-70 F4. I'm going to Ebay the 18-55, but before I list it, I decided to run a quick comparison.

I did not go for highly strict comparison images. I did some guestimations, just to get an idea of the differences between the two lenses. So, if you want to beat me up on the imprecision with the crops and the changes in lighting, feel free (as I really don't care).

My NEX 7 is on a tripod. I moved my position back to get a general similar crop between 18mm (slight zoom in on 16-70), 35mm, and 55mm. I used Aperture priority for F4, F8, F11, & F16 (on 18-55, it is more like 35mm F4.5 and 55m F5.6).


I found that for all combinations of focal plane and aperture the 16-70 was the better lens.

At 18mm, the 16-70 was better wider open, with the differences much less when the lens stopped down.

At 35mm, the 16-70 was significantly better in the center at F4 & F8, and just better at the corners. F11 & F16 were again, a lot closer.

At 55mm, the 16-70 was significantly better in the center, and just better on the corners wider open, while stopped down, the center was still better, but the corners were almost identical.

All images have the 16-70 pictures on the left side. There has been no sharpening. I changed the DPI to 96 and saved these as JPG High.

18mm F4

18mm F8

18mm F11

18mm F16

35mm F4

35mm F8

35mm F11

35mm F16

55mm F4 (F5.6 on 18-55)

55mm F8

55mm F11

55mm F16


The 16-70 is a better lens than the kit lens, and sometimes a significantly better lens.  The 18-55 is significantly a better value.

The 16-70 is more than three times the price of the 18-55.  It is not three times the lens.  If you take your photography seriously, then you have to bite the bullet and get the 16-70.  Eventually, it will be worth it.  At some point you will either need the F4, or will appreciate the extra sharpness.  If you're a snapshooter, or just use the camera on vacation, stick to the 18-55.

After doing the comparison, I am glad I got the lens.  But it is way overpriced.

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NEX-7, 18-55 (for now), 55-200, 16-70 F4
Canon Powershot S3
Former Pro Photographer
Nikon User 1977-2012
I know the difference between an F Stop and a Bus Stop

Sony Alpha NEX-7
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