My favourite e-mount lens: Sony E PZ 16-50mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 OSS

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Luddhi
Luddhi Regular Member • Posts: 207
My favourite e-mount lens: Sony E PZ 16-50mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 OSS
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There have been a number of threads in this forum denigrating the Sony PZ 16-50mm kit lens I want to offer a counter view.

The 16-50 is my favourite native e-mount lens. Most of my deliberate photography is taken with adapted lenses, in particular my trio of vintage Carl Zeiss Jena lenses, but I use a few native mount lenses as my walk-around lenses and for family snaps.

I bought the 16-50mm with my a6000. It added a negligible amount to the purchase price—less than $100 AUD so I had no great expectations of it.

There were various pundits on the intertubes telling me that this was the worst kit lens ever which also made me keep my expectations minimal. My only expectations were that it would provide adequate images across a reasonable amount of its focal range and that it would work well with the a6000 focusing modes. As it turned out it is nowhere near as bad as the kit lens on my Canon (EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6) which I simply found unusable. I accept that I may have had a bad copy of the Canon kit lens but the point remains that my 16-50 was certainly better than it.

Once I started using the 16-50 a few things impressed themselves on me. In the first place the size and weight was a revelation. I can put the a6000 with the 16-50 in my coat pocket with ease but I can also carry the setup in my hand for 6 hours without it disabling me. Secondly I was pleasantly surprised at the image quality and even astonished at how good the lens was for video. I don't do much video but I took some reference clips for a colleague and he commented on how clean the video turned out. Part of that is (probably) due to the OpticalSteadyShot (OSS).

Because the 30mm focal length is one that I use quite a lot I bought the Sigma 30mm ƒ2.8 on the basis of reviews but, very much to my surprise I find that I don't use the Sigma very much for four reasons: 1. It does not focus as fast nor as accurately as the kit lens, 2. While it is sharper across the frame than the kit lens its rendering is not as pleasing to my eye, 3. It is not stabilised and 4. At 30mm the kit lens is almost as sharp (although slower) than the Sigma. Now I only mount the Sigma for very specific shots where I "need" the sharpness it provides and the subject is static so focusing issues are not significant.

The 16-50 is a bit of an odd lens. When I first pulled the files into DxO Optics the wide angle shots were massively distorted. It turns out that at 16mm the lens is more like 13-14mm with some vignetting and plenty of distortion. My initial reaction was one of almost horror—until I loaded and applied the lens profile. Once I did that the image looked far closer to what I had seen in the EVF. The profile in DxO Optics corrected the image back to (at least close to) 16mm, removed the vignetting and the distortion and gave me an image that I liked. This would not have been such a surprise, had I done any research on the lens, but as I bought it as part of a package, rather than a targeted purchase, I was not aware that the 16-50 is designed to be corrected in camera for JPEGS. Now I know

While I stated that the Sony PZ 16-50mm is my favourite native e-mount lens I would not say that it is very good as that would imply too much. Optically it is adequate and no more—except for casual video where it is bit more than adequate, but as a walk-around lens there is nothing for e-mount that comes close. This is a judgement based on my needs. I need a lens that is small, light and focuses well in normal lighting. I need a lens that allows me to put my camera in my jacket pocket or hold it for up to 6 hours while bush-walking. I need a lens that can capture my grandchildren in action. Even if Sony gets around to providing a 16-50 ƒ/2.8 or some such—which I think they should, it will not cause me to discard the 16-50 kit lens it is just too damn useful.

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Vintage person with a bit of a thing for vintage lenses...
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 Luddhi's gear list:Luddhi's gear list
Canon EOS 50D Sony a6000 Sony a6500 Canon EF 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 V USM Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS +19 more
Sony a6000
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