If you’re after a versatile lens for your kit bag then a fast standard should definitely be on your shopping list. We took the Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM along to a busy marketplace to test it in a variety of situations.
The solid construction of the Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM is evident. Shooting at its widest length, 16mm, was a joy, with pin-sharp images right to the edge on not only the shots we captured in our local market but also in the studio with our test chart. However, at 16mm the vignetting was nearly a whole stop darker than the centre of the frame. Our test shots were taken outdoors at midday, with the sun directly above us, so with this in mind we decided to test the Sony’s focusing capabilities in low light conditions. The very contrasty scenes were no problem for this lens. In fact, we were blown away at how quick it locked onto our subjects. Not only that, we didn’t need to mess around with exposure compensation as the Sony worked out the tricky lighting for a well-exposed image. The main thing we love about Sony cameras is their vibrant colours and sharpness, and this lens certainly captures fantastic results. The biggest positive we found when using the Sony lens was the manual focus ring. We occasionally use manual focus and hate it when the ring is near the body. With the 16-50mm the ring is right near the end of the lens, allowing precision focusing without nudging the zoom barrel.
If you’re a Sony user looking for a solid and simple-to-use standard zoom, this is a great deal for you. We don’t consider the £559 price-tag to be too steep for a lens of this quality, especially as it is extremely well-built and tough as old boots. The only things worth considering are slight shadowing on the edges of the frame (only at 16mm though) and its sharpness at 50mm (albeit we only had concerns with a couple of our images). Other than those minor grumbles the 16-50mm would be a great addition to your Sony kit bag and allow you to take shooting street candids in low light situations to the next level.
- Price: £559
- Mount availability: Sony
- Image stabilisation: No
- Max. aperture: f/2.8
- Min. aperture: f/22
- Min. focus distance: 1m
- Construction: 16 elements in 13 groups
- Diaphragm blades: 7
- Filter thread: 72mm
- Weight: 577g
- Visit: www.sony.co.uk
This review was first published in the November 2012 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.