Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....

Started May 8, 2015 | Discussions
cxsparc
cxsparc Veteran Member • Posts: 3,424
Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....
4

... the 1670, 1650 and 18105, at least from me

After having received my repaired 1670 back from Sony, I made another and final test round to assess its image quality compared to my 1650 and 18105.

I then compiled the results into some tables (see below) and stored the sample shots on a Google drive (link on my blog post with more details). For those who asked for an update after the repair, check there. Shortly, the problem has been solved and I consider the performance of my 1670 now to be representative of a good copy.

Here is one of the tables showing relative performance in terms of image quality, of course based on my copies only and as I see it:

Comparison of the zooms over all range and aperture combinations

If you either use the 1670 or a combination of the 1650&18105, and also only consider only at least good central and ok sides image quality, you end up with these options:

I'll now go and shoot real-life instead of test scenes......

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Foroa Regular Member • Posts: 193
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....

Thank you for the nice summary. I don't have the 1670, but I have been following many related discussions and did quite some pixel peeping, and your conclusions correspond with what I got in my mind.

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blue_skies
blue_skies Forum Pro • Posts: 11,166
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....
7

I think that you are making a good case for the E1650

The E1670Z adds usable f/4 and a slightly longer range, while still being a compact lens.

The E18105G extends the range, but is a much larger lens (internal zooming).

There were comments made that color rendering of the E1670Z is to be considered the best.

Still, the E1650 is no slough, and with its compactness is a winner in my book.

I took some A5100/E1650 daytime snaps the other day (mountain biking) and I am rather impressed by the OOC JPGs that came out (not uploaded, private pics).

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Cheers,
Henry

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gugarci Senior Member • Posts: 1,559
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....

Thanks for the test. Glad to hear your 16-70 was repaired. I also happen to like my 16-50 kit lens & have come to similar conclusion doing my own test using actual 3D images, not test charts. that 18-105mm lens will probably find a home in my bag in the near future for it's over-all versatility & good IQ.

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cxsparc
OP cxsparc Veteran Member • Posts: 3,424
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....

blue_skies wrote:

I think that you are making a good case for the E1650

The E1670Z adds usable f/4 and a slightly longer range, while still being a compact lens.

The E18105G extends the range, but is a much larger lens (internal zooming).

There were comments made that color rendering of the E1670Z is to be considered the best.

Still, the E1650 is no slough, and with its compactness is a winner in my book.

I took some A5100/E1650 daytime snaps the other day (mountain biking) and I am rather impressed by the OOC JPGs that came out (not uploaded, private pics).

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Cheers,
Henry

Yes Henry, the 1650 is quite strong in the lower focal range. As you pointed out in the other thread, the Zeiss design of making the center strong gives impressive sharpness in the center, but somehow the 1670 design has neglected picking up the side performance. Especially around 24 mm, the centers are the same between 1650 and 1670, but the 1670's sides fall apart even at f8.

In 2015 we have become used to kit zooms being rather sharp right into the corners.

Of course this is complaining on a high level ;-).

Still wondering though whether to keep the 1670. Hm....

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cxsparc
OP cxsparc Veteran Member • Posts: 3,424
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....
1

gugarci wrote:

Thanks for the test. Glad to hear your 16-70 was repaired. I also happen to like my 16-50 kit lens & have come to similar conclusion doing my own test using actual 3D images, not test charts. that 18-105mm lens will probably find a home in my bag in the near future for it's over-all versatility & good IQ.

Just to clarify, I didn't use test charts either, those tables are the outcome of tedious pixel peeping inspection of test photos such as this one:

Test scene

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gugarci Senior Member • Posts: 1,559
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....

cxsparc wrote:

gugarci wrote:

Thanks for the test. Glad to hear your 16-70 was repaired. I also happen to like my 16-50 kit lens & have come to similar conclusion doing my own test using actual 3D images, not test charts. that 18-105mm lens will probably find a home in my bag in the near future for it's over-all versatility & good IQ.

Just to clarify, I didn't use test charts either, those tables are the outcome of tedious pixel peeping inspection of test photos such as this one:

Test scene

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I know, that wasn't meant for you. But many on this forum just take pictures of test charts. Also you have to expect to see some soft corners in any 24mm or equivalent type lens wide open.

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cxsparc
OP cxsparc Veteran Member • Posts: 3,424
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....

Come to think, I just noticed that frankly I now prefer the silky-smooth zoom ring compared to the mechanical zoom ring of my 1670 😉.

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Roy LaFaver Contributing Member • Posts: 689
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....
1

Think about this photo. That is not a photo you would ever take, unless you are showing your mom where you live, and she could care less about the borders. In any real photo at 70mm, border performance is rarely a factor. And you have to get outside the rule-of-thirds to see any softness in the 16-70. The a6000 cleans up vignette nicely, so that's not really a factor either. I can understand that if you want to do a very close-up with your subject in the corner of the frame, any of these zooms would be unacceptable. That's why you would probably be using a prime for that.

Bottom line, there is nothing for the a6000 that matches the size/weight/range/bokeh/build quality of the 16-70. If you wish to carry a heavier and larger lens, no doubt the 18-105 is nice, though that 2mm on the wide end does make a difference. If you want the lightest kit possible the 16-50 seems a great choice, although you will definitely miss out on 50-70mm.

So it boils down to what you want, what ticks more of the boxes for you personally. If you are in this for fun, you have to ignore price to some extent. Find a good used copy if you need to. I did. Here is a photo I have wanted to take because I love the way those shadows look on the side of this parking garage near mid-day. It is near a doctor's office I frequent, neurologist. This is a real photo at f4. It looks fine to me, and I captured the wavy shadows that I like so much. The a6000 performed beautifully, as did the 16-70. The DR is awesome.

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Jerry R Veteran Member • Posts: 9,993
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....
2

I don't think all the testing and arguments is going to convince anyone who is satisfied with the 16-70 to change their minds or those who feel that its not worth $1000 to change their minds. Aside from the differences in range and size satisfaction with a particular lens or camera is very subjective.

What I will say and have experienced this personally is that the kit lenses are much better than reviews would have you believe.

If you think the kit lens and 18-105 are as good, better or worse than the 16-70, just being able to compare the three says a lot for the kit and 18-105.

If I could not not afford the 16-70, I would be satisfied with the IQ of the kit or 18-105 (except for its size).

However, after experiencing the quality of images from the Zeiss lens on the R1, 24mm, and 16-70 there is IMHOP a Zeiss look which does stand out under the right conditions.

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meanwhile
meanwhile Senior Member • Posts: 1,304
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....
1

"So it boils down to what you want, what ticks more of the boxes for you personally. If you are in this for fun, you have to ignore price to some extent."

Agreed. They all look like capable lenses, for what they are. Thanks for the tests, cxsparc.

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dchao Veteran Member • Posts: 5,170
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....

Thanks for your hardwork. Looks like the de-centering is now fixed, congrats!

My copy is decenterred around 16-20mm. I prefer the left and right side evenly soft, rather than one sharper than the other. I think I will try to get it serviced before my vacation.

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cxsparc
OP cxsparc Veteran Member • Posts: 3,424
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....

meanwhile wrote:

"So it boils down to what you want, what ticks more of the boxes for you personally. If you are in this for fun, you have to ignore price to some extent."

Agreed. They all look like capable lenses, for what they are. Thanks for the tests, cxsparc.

Yes. I have made my peace with the 1670 zoom. All three are capable lenses, with different benefits and limitations.

It is a special type of lens actually: On one hand it is in the standard focal range, extending that into tele range, so on first glance the ideal replacement of the kit zoooms. But then Sony decided to use the special Zeiss design with great central sharpness, but sacrificing the side performance, something we have become used to taking for granted: Sharp sides when stopped down.

Agreed that in most scenes this is not of importance, and actually enhances the feeling of focus on the important subject usually located in the image center. Also, when wide aperture is used, this effect may even be desirable. Furthermore, maybe the nice bokeh requires this lens design, too?

But the "ordinary" unknowing photographer is not prepared for this different lens characteristic and maybe that is why some are disappointed even if they did get a good copy of the 1670. If you are looking for a good zoom lens for wide or tele landscape photography, the 1670 is not the best choice, though it can be used if stopped down to f8.

So maybe my tables above illustrate where each lens excels, and where it has compromises, so a potential buyer is prepared for what he will get.

Just to help understand, here a scene with some depth, taken at 70 mm f8 with the 1670, and at 64 mm f8 with the 18105, with crops of center and left side (all corners same effect by the way). Central focus is set on roof ventilation grill.

It is of course debatable whether the unsharper sides are a problem or not. Fact is, it is unsharper than with the 18105, it is not even the extreme corner, and its still there at f8. Interestingly, going from f8 to f4 has minimal impact on both lenses, and the edge at f4 of the 18105 is still way sharper than the 1670 at f8, indicating the impact of lens design is strong.

So if someone like photozone then makes measurements, they will (and did) see the resolution drop from a cliff in that area, whether it has an visual impact on the scene or not.

I think, a good copy of the 1670 is still a good single lens to carry around, if you know its limitations and work with them.

Scene with 18105, scaled to 30%

Scene with 1670, scaled to 30%

Left side, 18105, crop from full res JPG f8

Left side, 1670, crop from full res JPG f8

center crop 18105

center crop 1670

Remember to download the files for real viewing locally on your PC, since the dpreview viewer zooms up the pictures and blurs them in the process.

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dchao Veteran Member • Posts: 5,170
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....

cxsparc wrote:

Comparison of the zooms over all range and aperture combinations

Hi, I think this chart is very clear. There is only one score I am disagreeing with you.  Which is on the 1670Z, at 70mm f/4, the whole image is quite soft on my copy.  It clears up when you stop down to f/5.6.  Unfortunately I am giving that a blue "O".  Do you agree?

Don't forget, at photozone.de he gave this lens a low 1.5 stars because the 70mm performance was a big factor.

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gugarci Senior Member • Posts: 1,559
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....
1

dchao wrote:

cxsparc wrote:

Comparison of the zooms over all range and aperture combinations

Hi, I think this chart is very clear. There is only one score I am disagreeing with you. Which is on the 1670Z, at 70mm f/4, the whole image is quite soft on my copy. It clears up when you stop down to f/5.6. Unfortunately I am giving that a blue "O". Do you agree?

Don't forget, at photozone.de he gave this lens a low 1.5 stars because the 70mm performance was a big factor.

You know due to manfacturihng tolerances & other factors no 2 16-70mm lenses will ever perform the same. His Sony repaired copy is performing better than yours.

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dchao Veteran Member • Posts: 5,170
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....

gugarci wrote:

dchao wrote:

cxsparc wrote:

Comparison of the zooms over all range and aperture combinations

Hi, I think this chart is very clear. There is only one score I am disagreeing with you. Which is on the 1670Z, at 70mm f/4, the whole image is quite soft on my copy. It clears up when you stop down to f/5.6. Unfortunately I am giving that a blue "O". Do you agree?

Don't forget, at photozone.de he gave this lens a low 1.5 stars because the 70mm performance was a big factor.

You know due to manfacturihng tolerances & other factors no 2 16-70mm lenses will ever perform the same. His Sony repaired copy is performing better than yours.

Let me show your from his samples from the repaired copy, 100% center crop, 70mm, Do you agree the lens is un-acceptably soft at f/4? I haven't figure out the reason yet, but I am going to avoid 70mm wide open for now.

The center of the 1670Z is very sharp at any FL and all apertures but *except* at 70mm f/4. Which is really a shame.

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gugarci Senior Member • Posts: 1,559
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....

No, for me that would be perfectly acceptable for the wide open long end of a zoom lens. YMMV.

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dchao Veteran Member • Posts: 5,170
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....

I just realized that there might be some distance between the bush and the wall (I think that was where OP focused)

So I crop the center window frame instead.

For 70mm, OP has given the scores of +, +, +, IMO, it should at least be O+, +, +, or  O, +, +

What do you think?

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gugarci Senior Member • Posts: 1,559
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....
1

dchao wrote:

I just realized that there might be some distance between the bush and the wall (I think that was where OP focused)

So I crop the center window frame instead.

What do you think?

Still doesn't bother me. You have to expect some compromises in IQ in the design of a zoom lens. Unless you plan make huge prints & examine them up close you are really wasting your time sweating over this lack of sharpness wide open.

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dchao Veteran Member • Posts: 5,170
Re: Sony Standard Zooms - The last word on the 1670, 1650 and 18105....

gugarci wrote:

Still doesn't bother me. You have to expect some compromises in IQ in the design of a zoom lens. Unless you plan make huge prints & examine them up close you are really wasting your time sweating over this lack of sharpness wide open.

On my copy, I can see softened in the center, at f/4, even if I downsize it to 12MP, so clearly visible without pixel-peeping. I need to do some more testings to see what's going on. I need to decide if I should send my lens to Sony.

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