Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

Started 3 months ago | Questions
math guy Senior Member • Posts: 2,604
Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

I'm considering getting an A6400 + Tamron 70-180 to supplement my Pentax kit... specifically for fast action shooting. (Very happy with Pentax in all other respects.) Besides the faster autofocus, an extra benefit to going this route would be the ability to carry a quality camera in my back jersey pocket while biking. It would primarily be for landscapes, which means I wouldn't care much about its performance wide open.

My experience with Pentax kit lenses is that they're not great wide open, but they're not too bad when stopped down. Is that the case with the 16-50 -- decent when stopped down to f/8 or so? Or is there another E mount lens about that size which is better suited for landscapes? The Sony 20mm pancake also caught my attention since the 21 Ltd is my favorite Pentax lens for landscapes. But if the 16-50 is on par with it in the f/8 range, I think the extra range would be worth the slight difference in size.

And if it's not, then I'd rather not buy the 16-50 kit in the first place. I would just get the A6400 body and put the extra $100 toward a better lens.

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-- Joe S.
If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~ Albert Einstein

 math guy's gear list:math guy's gear list
Pentax K-50 Sony a6400 Pentax smc DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited Pentax smc DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR Pentax smc DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL WR +7 more
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QuietOC
QuietOC Veteran Member • Posts: 4,190
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

I find 16-50 PZ OSS pretty good wide open especially around 24 mm. I prefer using the 18-55 OSS kit zoom, but that is larger lens.

The 20mm F2.8 is very good in general. I've kept mine for use on my A7III. The Sigma 19mm F2.8 is another option. There's also the Samyang AF 18mm and 24mm primes.

These all vary more or less copy to copy.

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OP math guy Senior Member • Posts: 2,604
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

QuietOC wrote:

There's also the Samyang AF 18mm and 24mm primes.

Oooh, that Samyang 24 may be a good choice. I like that focal length better than 20 mm, and it's not much bigger than the 20 pancake.

I also see Samyang makes a small 35mm which reviews say is sharper than the 24.

These all vary more or less copy to copy.

Yeah, sometimes quality control isn't the greatest with lower-end lenses.

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-- Joe S.
If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~ Albert Einstein

 math guy's gear list:math guy's gear list
Pentax K-50 Sony a6400 Pentax smc DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited Pentax smc DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR Pentax smc DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL WR +7 more
Sympa Senior Member • Posts: 2,427
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

I found my 16-50 quite reasonable around 20-24 mm. It was disappointing above 35 or so.

Eventually I sold it as I got a 16-70 which doesn't have the power zoom. But the 16-50 is actually sharper at 24 mm (my 16-70 has better corners at 16mm, and more contrast above 35).

 Sympa's gear list:Sympa's gear list
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ArtAlt
ArtAlt Senior Member • Posts: 2,189
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

math guy wrote:

I'm considering getting an A6400 + Tamron 70-180 to supplement my Pentax kit... specifically for fast action shooting....

I love my Tamron 70-180mm and am a fan of the newest generation of A6x00, but neither the Tamron nor the A6400 have optical stabilization.   On the long end you will be shooting at a full frame equivalent of 270mm which suggests that 1/500 is the slowest shutter speed you can muster without a tripod.  Just sayin ....

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Art M Altman
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OP math guy Senior Member • Posts: 2,604
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

Sympa wrote:

I found my 16-50 quite reasonable around 20-24 mm. It was disappointing above 35 or so.

Sounds like the zoom wouldn't be much better than going with one of the pancake primes  given the limited range it's good in, but also not much worse in it's sweet spot.

Eventually I sold it as I got a 16-70 which doesn't have the power zoom.

I was able to play with a 16-50 on an A6000 at Best But, and the power zoom just seemed awkward to me. I guess I'd get used to it and maybe like it in time, but it's different for sure.

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-- Joe S.
If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~ Albert Einstein

 math guy's gear list:math guy's gear list
Pentax K-50 Sony a6400 Pentax smc DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited Pentax smc DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR Pentax smc DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL WR +7 more
OP math guy Senior Member • Posts: 2,604
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?
1

ArtAlt wrote:

math guy wrote:

I'm considering getting an A6400 + Tamron 70-180 to supplement my Pentax kit... specifically for fast action shooting....

I love my Tamron 70-180mm and am a fan of the newest generation of A6x00, but neither the Tamron nor the A6400 have optical stabilization. On the long end you will be shooting at a full frame equivalent of 270mm which suggests that 1/500 is the slowest shutter speed you can muster without a tripod. Just sayin ....

Thanks. I usually shoot sports at a faster speed than that anyway. The lack of IBIS is certainly something I have to keep in mind, though. Pentax has spoiled me in that sense.

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-- Joe S.
If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~ Albert Einstein

 math guy's gear list:math guy's gear list
Pentax K-50 Sony a6400 Pentax smc DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited Pentax smc DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR Pentax smc DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL WR +7 more
Martin_99 Senior Member • Posts: 1,107
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

For a landscapes I would give this small kitlens a try. For asked money is usefull. Expect some quality variation in lens copies, but in general should be "decent" at f8-11 and between 16-35mm. I sold kit and bought 20f2.8, but for your use case would be better and much cheaper.

Of course expectation of "decent" vary very wildly between users

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Sympa Senior Member • Posts: 2,427
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?
1

If you are getting the A6400 new, get it with the kit zoom. It is definitely usable, and you will always get $100 value out of it.

It has a very useful range of focal lengths, and makes for a compact combination. That alone should make it worth it.

And indeed it can be used quite well for landscapes. Perhaps not the greatest lens in the world, but it has a small price tag.

 Sympa's gear list:Sympa's gear list
Sony RX100 Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS Canon EF-S 10-18mm F4.5–5.6 IS STM Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS +2 more
mcslsk Veteran Member • Posts: 5,727
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

If you want small, it is pretty much your only zoom option. Depends on what you do with your landscape. Normal viewing on mobile device/TV: It will do just fine. Alternative: Sigma 2.8 trio: Small, light, very good IQ, very inexpensive. You put one on the camera and two into a small pouch. If zoom doesn't need to be pancake size, go for the 18135.

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OP math guy Senior Member • Posts: 2,604
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

Martin_99 wrote:

For a landscapes I would give this small kitlens a try. For asked money is usefull. Expect some quality variation in lens copies, but in general should be "decent" at f8-11 and between 16-35mm. I sold kit and bought 20f2.8, but for your use case would be better and much cheaper.

Of course expectation of "decent" vary very wildly between users

Haha. Yeah, I should have clarified what "decent" means in my context... much better than cell phone quality. I hate the mushiness of what it calls pictures. I think you're right about the kit zoom - I should just give it a try for the money, and then replace it later if needed.

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-- Joe S.
If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~ Albert Einstein

 math guy's gear list:math guy's gear list
Pentax K-50 Sony a6400 Pentax smc DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited Pentax smc DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR Pentax smc DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL WR +7 more
Max5150 Contributing Member • Posts: 590
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

Not sure I agree. I have a A6600 and the 16-50 kit lens. I use it periodically to keep things small. I'm not a pixel peeper but I like sharp pictures! The 16-50 is okay when there's plenty of light. However, you're talking about landscapes. I'm just not sure I'd be totally happy with that lens. Given the choice between my A6600 and my Olympus EM5.iii or my EM1.iii and a cheap Olympus 15-150 I think I'd take the Olympus. Stick the Olympus 12-40 f2.8 on there and it's no contest, and the EM5.iii with that lens is probably the same weight.

ArtAlt
ArtAlt Senior Member • Posts: 2,189
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

One more thing: the kit lens smaller aperture especially at the long end limits the amount of light to the autofocus mechanism.  This never seemed to be a problem with DSLR's but with mirrorless they are much more finicky on amount of light to autofocus, in my experience.

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Art M Altman
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OP math guy Senior Member • Posts: 2,604
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

mcslsk wrote:

If you want small, it is pretty much your only zoom option.

I'd rather have a good prime than a not-so-good zoom. Using it when biking is icing on the cake. My main goal in buying this camera will be faster AF for sports shooting.

Alternative: Sigma 2.8 trio: Small, light, very good IQ, very inexpensive. You put one on the camera and two into a small pouch.

I'm considering those. If I start with just one, it sounds like the 35 is the sharpest, yes? Biking I could make good use of any of those focal lengths.

If zoom doesn't need to be pancake size, go for the 18135.

Trying to stay pancake size for biking. That looks a good all-purpose travel lens, though.

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-- Joe S.
If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~ Albert Einstein

 math guy's gear list:math guy's gear list
Pentax K-50 Sony a6400 Pentax smc DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited Pentax smc DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR Pentax smc DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL WR +7 more
OP math guy Senior Member • Posts: 2,604
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

Max5150 wrote:

Not sure I agree. I have a A6600 and the 16-50 kit lens. I use it periodically to keep things small. I'm not a pixel peeper but I like sharp pictures! The 16-50 is okay when there's plenty of light. However, you're talking about landscapes. I'm just not sure I'd be totally happy with that lens. Given the choice between my A6600 and my Olympus EM5.iii or my EM1.iii and a cheap Olympus 15-150 I think I'd take the Olympus. Stick the Olympus 12-40 f2.8 on there and it's no contest, and the EM5.iii with that lens is probably the same weight.

I think I'm sold on Sony for the AF and f/2.8 tele zoom, since sports shooting is my primary objective in the new camera. I definitely have a positive opinion of Olympus, but when looking at options this week it seemed like Sony is a better choice for fast action shooting.

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-- Joe S.
If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~ Albert Einstein

 math guy's gear list:math guy's gear list
Pentax K-50 Sony a6400 Pentax smc DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited Pentax smc DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR Pentax smc DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL WR +7 more
OP math guy Senior Member • Posts: 2,604
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?
1

ArtAlt wrote:

One more thing: the kit lens smaller aperture especially at the long end limits the amount of light to the autofocus mechanism. This never seemed to be a problem with DSLR's but with mirrorless they are much more finicky on amount of light to autofocus, in my experience.

Very good to know. Thanks.

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-- Joe S.
If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~ Albert Einstein

 math guy's gear list:math guy's gear list
Pentax K-50 Sony a6400 Pentax smc DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited Pentax smc DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR Pentax smc DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL WR +7 more
mcslsk Veteran Member • Posts: 5,727
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?

math guy wrote:

mcslsk wrote:

If you want small, it is pretty much your only zoom option.

I'd rather have a good prime than a not-so-good zoom. Using it when biking is icing on the cake. My main goal in buying this camera will be faster AF for sports shooting.

Alternative: Sigma 2.8 trio: Small, light, very good IQ, very inexpensive. You put one on the camera and two into a small pouch.

I'm considering those. If I start with just one, it sounds like the 35 is the sharpest, yes? Biking I could make good use of any of those focal lengths.

Consider the 19 and the 60 for a start.

If zoom doesn't need to be pancake size, go for the 18135.

Trying to stay pancake size for biking. That looks a good all-purpose travel lens, though.

-- hide signature --

-- Joe S.
If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~ Albert Einstein

 mcslsk's gear list:mcslsk's gear list
Sony a6500 Sony Alpha NEX-5N Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony a7 III Canon EF 135mm F2L USM +55 more
Sympa Senior Member • Posts: 2,427
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?
1

math guy wrote:

Haha. Yeah, I should have clarified what "decent" means in my context... much better than cell phone quality. I hate the mushiness of what it calls pictures.

The kit lens is much better than a cell phone. Not always and in all aspects, but it is very noticeable in lower light.

As for the SIgma 19/30/60 trio: they basically support AF-S. AF-C only works in the center spot.

I hated AF-S on the 19 mm. It is clunky and pumps. On the 30mm AF-S works very well, snappy. Sold the 30/2.8 after I got the 30/1.4, but I sometimes miss that tiny lens.

Never tried the 60mm.

 Sympa's gear list:Sympa's gear list
Sony RX100 Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS Canon EF-S 10-18mm F4.5–5.6 IS STM Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS +2 more
Max5150 Contributing Member • Posts: 590
Re: Is the 16-50 kit lens decent when stopped down?
1

math guy wrote:

Max5150 wrote:

Not sure I agree. I have a A6600 and the 16-50 kit lens. I use it periodically to keep things small. I'm not a pixel peeper but I like sharp pictures! The 16-50 is okay when there's plenty of light. However, you're talking about landscapes. I'm just not sure I'd be totally happy with that lens. Given the choice between my A6600 and my Olympus EM5.iii or my EM1.iii and a cheap Olympus 15-150 I think I'd take the Olympus. Stick the Olympus 12-40 f2.8 on there and it's no contest, and the EM5.iii with that lens is probably the same weight.

I think I'm sold on Sony for the AF and f/2.8 tele zoom, since sports shooting is my primary objective in the new camera. I definitely have a positive opinion of Olympus, but when looking at options this week it seemed like Sony is a better choice for fast action shooting.

Yeah, if indoors then def get the 70-200 2.8 and you will be very happy. If outdoors then the 70-350 and you'll be golden. Out on the the baseballiamond, honestly, I use my EM1.2 and Panasonic 50-200 f2.8-4 with very good results, and less bulk.

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