Brief hands on: Sony E 16mm f/2.8

We spent about twenty minutes with the 16mm f/2.8 and these our are observations.  The lens is incredibly light weight.  So much in fact that it would be easy to lose.  The build quality doesn’t inspire confidence.  If you’ve ever owned a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8II you’ll know what I’m talking about.  The lens barrel is made entirely of plastic.  Fortunately the lens mount is metal.  A 24mm equivalent seems like a strange focal length for a walk around lens.  A pocketable camera with 35mm or 40mm would be more to our taste.  Our test shots were shot in aperture priority mode, ISO200, DRO off, standard picture mode, highest level jpeg and various apertures.  Auto focus was set to center point.  Full size images are available to download and examine.  We hate to do it but here’s your standard brick wall test.

Center f/2.8

Center f/8

Sadly the lens shows a fair amount of barrel distortion and mild vignetting wide open.  The sharpness is good but not excellent.  It seems the performance doesn’t change much when stopping down which is typical of a pancake lens.   Download the samples and draw your own conclusions.  We know how you love to look at brick walls.  Lets see how it handles purple fringing and CA’s.


If you examine the trees, especially at the edges of the frame, you can see some purple fringing.  CA’s appear to be non existent though.  It’s also worth noting that even at the center of the frame it’s not that sharp.  So far it seems that Sony put an emphasis on size and weight rather that optical quality which is a shame.  We’ve got one more shot for you so have a look.


At the minimum focus distance the lens provides adequate magnification suitable for smaller objects.  Definitely not a macro lens but pretty good.  Still the sharpness leaves something to be desired.  The combination of the NEX 3 and this lens make for a small, lightweight package.  Unfortunately at this point the optical quality of the lens doesn’t seem very good.  As I said before we’ve been promised an extended stay with the NEX 3 so we’ll be able to see if this is truly the case.  As much as we hate to do it we can’t, at this point, recommend this prime over similar set-ups from Olympus or Panasonic.  Unless you’ve got a huge boner for Sony you could probably do better elsewhere.  By elsewhere we don’t mean the 18-55mm so don’t even think about it.


  1. M
    June 2, 2010 at 9:29 am

    But this is a pre-production lens, right?

    • June 2, 2010 at 12:04 pm

      We assume it’s a pre-production. We have another sample arriving tomorrow for a full test.

  2. robert
    September 22, 2010 at 12:15 am

    luckily, i’ve tried the lens, and guess what, it is actully decent so i bought it.
    after a month – i am extremely happy.
    yes jpegs are a bit soft – but that’s sony processing – try it with LR3 before you blog.

    • September 22, 2010 at 12:47 pm

      robert, we had a pre production lens and a production sample. you right it’s a decent lens. i guess we were hoping for a great lens. if i was going to settle for decent i would buy a zoom. anyway, glad your happy with your purchase. see ya.

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