Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM Review

4.5
May 2, 2012 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

There aren't too many quality standard zoom lenses available for the Sony Alpha system, so the Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM is something of a breath of fresh air for A-mount users. Introduced at the same time as the A77 SLT camera, this 16-50mm optic is a great match for Sony's excellent prosumer DSLR. Is it a must-have lens for every A77 / A65 shooter? Read our Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM review to find out...

The Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM is a high-performance standard zoom lens for Sony A-Mount SLT/SLR cameras. It offers the equivalent angle of view as a 24-75mm lens on a 35mm camera and features a circular 7 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out of focus areas of the image. It has a minimum focusing distance of 1m and a maximum magnification of 0.2x. The internal SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) drive promises fast and quiet auto-focusing with full-time manual override available. The Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens is currently available for £550 / $700 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM The Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens

Weighing in at 577grams, the plastic-bodied Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM is a substantial A-Mount lens that is a good match for the Sony A77 body that we tested it with, as shown in the photos below.

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM The Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens mounted on a Sony A77

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM The Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens mounted on a Sony A77

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM The Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens mounted on a Sony A77, extended to 50mm

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM The Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens mounted on a Sony A77, extended to 50mm

Build quality is very good, perhaps to be expected given the relatively high price of the lens. The Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM has a distance scale in feet and meters, useful when manually focusing, but there's no depth-of-field scale or infrared index.

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM Front of the Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM Front of the Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens, extended to 50mm

The Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM has a focus and zoom ring, with the latter being the larger of the two at 2cms wide. It takes an 85 degree turn to zoom from 16mm to 50mm, with the lens extending by an extra 4cm when set to 50mm. The focus ring is just over 1cm wide with a smooth action for manual focusing and handy stops at either end of the focus scale.

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM Front of the Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens

There's a switch to change between auto and manual focus and another one to lock the lens at 16mm, which is a little redundant as the zooming mechanism doesn't creep even when the lens is tipped upside down.

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM Front of the Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens, isometric view

Focusing is usefully internal and the Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens has a metal lens mount and accepts 72mm filters via plastic threads.

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM Rear of the Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens

The lens is supplied with a petal-shaped hood which attaches via the bayonet mount (reverse fitted for storage).

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM Rear of the Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens, isometric view

Focal Range

At the 16mm focal length the angle of view is 83 degrees.

 Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM Field of view at 16mm

At the 50mm focal length the angle of view is 32 degrees.

 Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM Field of view at 50mm

Focusing

The Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens has quite a wide focus ring. There are hard stops at both ends of the range, making it straight forward to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 72mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM zoom is a quick performer, taking about 0.15 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Sony A77 that we tested it with.

We didn't experience much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time, and it's also a pretty quiet performer.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are only notable by their complete absence from our test shots with the A77 body.

Light Fall-off

With the lens set to its maximum aperture and widest focal length of 16mm, there is a little bit of light fall-off in the extreme corners, but it won't affect your real-world shots.

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM Light fall-off at 16mm

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM Light fall-off at 50mm

Macro

The Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM isn't claimed to be a macro lens, and it certainly lives up to that billing. It has a minimum focusing distance of 1m and a maximum magnification of 0.2x. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash memory card.

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM Close-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens, Sony employed an iris diaphragm with seven rounded blades, which has resulted in very appealing bokeh in our view. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several 100% crops for your perusal.

Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM
   
Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.

Entry Tags

review, photos, samples, images, wide-angle, lens, test, sony, dslr, 24mm, f2.8, wideangle, alpha, portrait, 50mm, slt, 16-50mm, 75mm, 16mm, a-mount, ssm, dt, sony 16-50mm, f 2.8, Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM, 24-75mm

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