My impression of the 16-55mm 2.8G

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dankwok Senior Member • Posts: 1,432
My impression of the 16-55mm 2.8G

Summary: While not perfect, this is for me the most versatile lens for casual family/travel photos.

What it is NOT:

It is not a small, light-weight lens that you can slip the camera/lens into a pocket and carry it every where.

It is not the best lens for any or all situations, you can always find lenses that are faster (e.g,. f/1.8, f/1.4), more purpose built (e.g., macro, portrait, etc.), and better color contrast/rendition out of camera (e.g., certain Zeiss or Sigma with better color contrast and rendition).

It is not cheap!

What it is:

A lens that can do 90% of the shots I want with a more than acceptable image quality (not nearly as good as my primes but really, really close) and in a manageable size and weight. Regarding that, it is the largest and heaviest lens I have ever handled for my Sony APS-C body, but it is only just a tad longer and a little heavier than my Batis 85. So while it is not something so light and small that I can easily hold and shoot with one hand (I was able to do that with the primes I sold), it is still manageable to carry around.

The range feels perfect for my need. I don't foresee I would want to take photos of people at any FL wider than 16. But at the wide end (16mm) it gives me a unique perspective that can make some really interesting shots (as I have seen from other members here) and shooting at tight spaces.

This one is at 18, one thing about the FL ring I don't like is that at the wide end, it is easy to turn it just so slightly when I'm holding the lens so I have to be careful not to touch the FL ring when I want to shoot at 16.

Shooting down from above at a swimming pool

At the long end (55mm) and at wide open aperture, it is usable as a portrait lens.

The background can be blurred quite nicely (bokeh is very smooth, no harshness at all) at 55mm and f/2.8

Though, if you want to take portrait photos properly, you would still need a dedicated prime such as a 56 f/1.4 or a 85 f/1.8. The example below gives you an idea of the limitation of using this as a portrait lens.

With 16-55mm at 55mm and f/2.8

Similar shot using my 85mm at f/1.8:

A 56mm f/1.4 can probably blur the background in a similar way as the 85mm, but the 85mm can completely eliminate the background from the view in addition to blurring, which is why I prefer the 85mm FL.  I also prefer the rendering of my 85mm.  Somehow, the colors and the texture comes out more pleasant with the 85mm.

This lens also has a very good MFT (at 0.33m). Again, this is not the best macro lens, but if needed, can perform that functionality. Though I have not really tested its macro capability yet.

It's strength lies in its range, from 16 and 55 and everything in between and able to open up to f/2.8 throughout, making it possible to take very different types of shots with just a simple twist of the ring. For those who mainly do street/travel/landscape and shoot mostly at f/8, there are better options than this lens.  But for those like myself who take photos of mainly people and sometimes at low light and indoor. The constant f/2.8 is a very welcome and needed feature. The ability for it to blur background is nice when I need it, though with a caveat that having a second prime lens dedicated to portraits would be a good idea.

Could've taken with my Z24 that I sold, but the ability to instantly change FL gives me more shots in a given setting. I used to be a purely prime shooter and I got tired to changing lens and this allows me to easily explore different FLs.


1. I noticed that when compared to photos taken with my other primes, I need extra work to post process photos from this lens to get the result I want. I'm still learning and figuring out the best way to post process them, but while it does not give me that pop right off the bat, many of its downfall (e.g., chromatic aberrations, lower color contrast, etc.) can be fixed in post.

2. AF speed is great (not as fast, but close to what I get from the Z24). Its AF does struggle a little more than the Z24 in low contrast situations (e.g., shooting at the light).

3. Another upside of this lens is that it handles lens flare very well. This is a great feature for me as I like to shoot at the light sometimes.

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Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony a6300 Zeiss Batis 85mm F1.8
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