Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...

Started Apr 7, 2018 | Polls
Foto4x4 Senior Member • Posts: 2,736
Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...
2

I know it’s been done to death but no other lens seems as polarising as the 16-70. You either love it or dislike it. There might be a large number of take it or leave folk that never comment though. Anyway, with the recent release of the 18-135, there seem to be many asking how the two compare and this seems to have reignited the debate all over again. For disclosure, I am firmly on the anti-16-70 side. I’ve had two. One so badly decentered it went back early. A year later I tried another and for a while I overlooked its soft edges but after a few months with it, I decided it just wasn’t doing it for me. Below is an image I shot shortly before I sold it. To me it demonstrates what’s wrong with the 16-70. I don’t think it is a bad copy, because I’ve seen many images that show the soft sides. But in this one, it’s easy to see without pixel peeping, though if you view at 100% it really is very poor in my opinion. I’m interested to know how this image compares to other owners’ copies and what you think of them. You don’t need to have owned one to be involved.

Before responding to the poll, study the full size image. Note these aspects and then rate your opinion.

  1. The centre is nice an sharp. Every sample seems to be good there.
  2. Now look at the fences on the left and the right. Both are equidistant from the camera yet the sharpness falls off badly.
  3. Now look at the stoney roadway in front of the store. Even as you move your eye to the very bottom, they stay fairly well defined indicating a reasonable DoF and okay focus which was on the sign above the awning.
  4. Finally, run your eye to the left and right and you’ll see how the softness quickly kicks in.

Now please vote.

If you wish to comment, I ask respondents to keep it civil. No ones opinion rates over any one else’s. Thanks for your input.

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POLL
I own the lens and mine doesn’t display soft edges like these and I’m happy with mine.
31.1% 33  votes
I own the lens. Mine is about the same but it doesn’t bother me at all.
7.5% 8  votes
I own or owned the lens. Mine is about the same and I have or will sell it because I find it unacceptable.
10.4% 11  votes
I don’t own the lens and find this sample image unacceptable. It would discourage me from purchasing.
43.4% 46  votes
I don’t own the lens and I can see the softness but it wouldn’t be a reason not to buy. I like the centre sharpness more.
2.8% 3  votes
I don’t own the lens and can’t see what you’re all on about. Whatever you’re seeing wouldn’t bother me.
4.7% 5  votes
  Show results
rjjr Forum Pro • Posts: 14,745
Re: Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...
2

Each of the several copies of the 16-70 I tried has the same issues demonstrated in the image you posted throughout the zoom range. Due to those issues I especially found them useless for landscapes, one of my main uses for such a lens. However, I've also seen images from the lens that have much less of an issue and would be acceptable to me. If I had one of those copies I'd be singing its praises, so I'm not completely "against" the lens, just very cautious of variance.

I wanted the 16-70 as a walkaround zoom but I found the 18-105 to function better so, even though I don't use video, I went with that. I recently tried the 18-135 and I find it fills the walkaround role much better replacing my 18-105 so in the long run it worked out better for me.

If, when I started my APS-C E-mount walkaround lens acquisition journey, I had been presented with the 16-70, 18-105 and 18-135 lenses I had access to all at the same time I would have bought the 18-135, no question.

ohcello Senior Member • Posts: 1,720
Re: Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...
1

rjjr wrote:

Each of the several copies of the 16-70 I tried has the same issues demonstrated in the image you posted throughout the zoom range. Due to those issues I especially found them useless for landscapes, one of my main uses for such a lens. However, I've also seen images from the lens that have much less of an issue and would be acceptable to me. If I had one of those copies I'd be singing its praises, so I'm not completely "against" the lens, just very cautious of variance.

I wanted the 16-70 as a walkaround zoom but I found the 18-105 to function better so, even though I don't use video, I went with that. I recently tried the 18-135 and I find it fills the walkaround role much better replacing my 18-105 so in the long run it worked out better for me.

If, when I started my APS-C E-mount walkaround lens acquisition journey, I had been presented with the 16-70, 18-105 and 18-135 lenses I had access to all at the same time I would have bought the 18-135, no question.

As I just posted in what has become a long thread, my copy does not have the blurriness your copy does.... that's really bad like worse than anything else I have seen bad.... this is why the 16-70 is so polarizing... extreme sample variation like this.... sony should stand behind thus product more... if I got a copy like that no way would I keep it either.... and if I got 2 bad copies I'd probably abandon it like many did and either get the 16-50 with adapter or the 18-135mm.....which I still might do as it seems the WA FOV is not that much different between the two as we have been discussing. ..

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al. Senior Member • Posts: 1,391
I had this lens
2

I had this lens but it was not as bad as your copy. Mine did not have as much blurring along the edges as yours, but it was there. I recently sold it and now have the 18-135.

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maccam
maccam Senior Member • Posts: 1,122
Re: I had this lens
1

I've had the 16-70 for around 6 months and am very happy with it. I usually don't look at 100% crops but do view everything on my 4k 21.5" imac at full screen. I can't find any defect. If I didn't have this lens and the 18-135 came out I probably would be interested (but) the the 18-20 mm push/pull software edge games that the 18-135 uses most likely would have turned me off since I take most pictures at the wide end. I owned one copy of the 16-70 before and sent it back not because it was bad, I just had an impulse purchase moment and realized it didn't make sense. It makes sense to me now.

JAW

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someguy50 Regular Member • Posts: 332
Re: Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...
5

A mix of answers... The issues facing this lens would be a nonissue if it were priced more fairly. I would expect much higher quality at the MSRP. That's my problem with it - the performance at its price.

QuietOC
QuietOC Senior Member • Posts: 3,407
Re: Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...
2

I have had lots of zooms and 24 mm is always a rather variable focal length. I had a Sony DT 18-200 that was a pretty horrible zoom, that was actually quite great at 24 mm. You have to decide focal lengths you actually care more about, which wasn't 24 mm for me on a 18-200 zoom.

From DXOMark's measurements the corners on the 16-70 at 24 mm get worse when stopping down. That's irregular. I'll note your image is at 25 mm F6.3.

From my own testing the Sony DT 16-50 F2.8 SSM is superb at 24 mm as also reflected in the DXOMark results here. I also have the Sony DT 18-135 which is generally a very good zoom, but it definitely quite bad in the corners at 24 mm.

We all want zooms that are sharp corner-to-corner at all focal lengths, but those rarely ever exists. This Perceptual-Megapixel map of the Sony Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm F2.8 ZA SSM mounted on Sony SLT Alpha 77 II. There seems to have some magic at small apertures, but it still is a bit soft wide-open at 70 mm.

Compared to the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM mounted on Sony A6000 :

Or say a Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM A mounted on Nikon D5300.

That looks pretty great unless you want to use small apertures at short focal lengths.

My favorite Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM mounted on Sony SLT Alpha 77 II looks quite weak. Maybe mine is better than theirs, but these contours seem accurate. Around 24mm looks the best wide-open, which is what I found too.

And then we have the Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS mounted on Sony A6000:

Maybe that is just a very bad copy of that lens.

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BobScheer New Member • Posts: 3
Re: Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...
3

Your example is a good one showing the worst of this lens.  I would not keep such a lens.  My 16-70mm is excellent with rather good corner sharpness at 100% pixels.  I have had the same experience with the 24-70 4.0 lens on my A7rii.  I seemed to have been  lucky with that one two, as it is sharp in the corners and I see little advantage to getting the 24-70 GM.  The sample variation on many Sony lenses is such that what may be a great lens design gets maligned due to many poor examples.

Dirk W Veteran Member • Posts: 3,293
Re: Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...
1

Wow this is really bad. I also had three copies of this lens and did not keep any of them due to similar - but if I remember correctly not as bad as yours - results.

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hawk15 Contributing Member • Posts: 668
Re: Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...
2

Similar to the recent question about E mount in general, the price.  Comparisons on youtube (ie from the Technology Mafia channel) show the kit 16-50 holding its own. For pros, the cost doesn't mstter much as it's a tool of the trade but it doesn't make much sense for consumers.

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sgkoala Senior Member • Posts: 1,052
Re: Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...
8

Hi John, your example seems to show really strong field curvature, which is unfortunate. (I reckon if you had focussed on the edges, the edges would be sharp, but the centre might be out of focus).

Anyway here are some of my examples at similar focal lengths to the one you posted. There is absolute no 'clarity' or additional sharpening here, other than Lightroom defaults.

I won't claim these are perfect, but obviously a lot better than your example and I find them acceptable for my needs.

24mm, F8 - note the unusually large depth of field in the centre of the image top to bottom (almost everything seems to be in focus), while at the corners and sides, the cabin is in sharper focus than the grass and flowers. The top left corner is pretty sharp... Hence my copy does show some field curvature too.

26mm, F7.1 - very close settings to the example you gave. I find this pretty decent performance across the frame. (With some clarity added it would look even sharper of course).

24mm, F8 - the left side, left bottom corner, right bottom corner, and bottom part of the right side look good to me. The right top corner looks pretty bad, but then my focus was on the lady and those branches are further away, so I think this is DOF related and a bit of field curvature.

23mm, F8 - left side, left top corner, centre top, right top corner, right side all look good to me. The bottom parts are all out of focus, DOF related, they are further away and the focus distance is quite close.

25mm, F8 - I would say this is strong performance across the whole frame. (With a little clarity it looks really sharp).

25mm, F11 - looks strong performance across the whole frame.

25mm, F11 - looks strong performance across the whole frame.

23mm, F8 - the focus was on the huge red lantern with the Japanese characters. Note how the people and objects in the bottom left and right corners appear to be in focus despite being much closer in focal distance than the red lantern, this also appears to indicate some field curvature, because if you look at the building near the top right corner, it looks out of focus even though it's not much further away in focus distance than the red lantern. You can use this field curvature to your advantage sometimes and I think it works well in this image.

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Euell Veteran Member • Posts: 3,833
Re: Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...
12

Yawn. Some people just can't stop beating a dead horse. Will this broken record ever stop playing??

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MrCPH
MrCPH Senior Member • Posts: 1,159
Did I get a bad copy?
7

Whilst I really like the lens for it's size, build quality, constant aperture and versatility, I wonder if I got a bad copy.

The GF set the cam on the tripod and it was on the timer, so there's no possibility of camera shake. Should I send it back? Or should I send her back?? 

OOC jpg

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MrCPH
- If you think before asking, I'll think before answering.
Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/142270290@N02/

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Silkroader
Silkroader Regular Member • Posts: 161
Re: Did I get a bad copy?
3

MrCPH wrote:

Whilst I really like the lens for it's size, build quality, constant aperture and versatility, I wonder if I got a bad copy.

The GF set the cam on the tripod and it was on the timer, so there's no possibility of camera shake. Should I send it back? Or should I send her back??

OOC jpg

Wow, you can send her back? Mine didn't come with a warranty...

Dirk W Veteran Member • Posts: 3,293
Re: Did I get a bad copy?
2

MrCPH wrote:

Whilst I really like the lens for it's size, build quality, constant aperture and versatility, I wonder if I got a bad copy.

The GF set the cam on the tripod and it was on the timer, so there's no possibility of camera shake. Should I send it back? Or should I send her back??

OOC jpg

You should not pixel peep all the time! Just go out and take pictures with the lens!

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Trevor_S
Trevor_S Regular Member • Posts: 393
Re: Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...

I am just down the road from you, if you live near Nana Glen I am up towards Grafton a little !

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OP Foto4x4 Senior Member • Posts: 2,736
Re: Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...

Thanks for all the votes, feedback and thoughts. I am out today but will have more time to reply tonight (Eastern Aust Time).

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OP Foto4x4 Senior Member • Posts: 2,736
Re: Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...

Thanks mate for posting those. Far more useful to the discussion than glib offhand remarks. As noted above though I will have to look at these more carefully later and likely to respond tonight. Thanks again.

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sgkoala Senior Member • Posts: 1,052
Re: Why the Sony Zeiss 16-70 triggers so much conjecture...

Foto4x4 wrote:

Thanks mate for posting those. Far more useful to the discussion than glib offhand remarks. As noted above though I will have to look at these more carefully later and likely to respond tonight. Thanks again.

You’re welcome, I think your poll is a good idea and the options you provided for people to vote for were well considered. At least if enough people respond it could give some indication of, among active dpreview folks, what proportion of people who actually own or had the lens found it to have similarly poor results.

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ohcello Senior Member • Posts: 1,720
f/8 16mm Sample from today - edge to edge pretty good
1

Advice on this lens... buy used and get full sized samples first from a reputable seller

Philly - 16mm f/8 no the A6300 - Correction applied

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