Sony 16mm f2.8 E-mount lens

I’ve been using only legacy lenses with my NEX-5n so far, in fact that was my purpose in buying it, to use lenses I inherited from my father. I’ve been generally pleased with the lenses from his old Leica kit (1948-1951) and his Pentax kit (1972-1975) but I didn’t have a wide angle lens, at least not one that gave me the field of view I was looking for on a 1.5x crop sensor camera. I thought about adapting my Sigma 10-20mm that I use on my Canon 40D or the 17-40mm that I use on my 5DmkII but these both seemed very large and clumsy on the small NEX body and the lack of an aperture ring would make their use problematic.

I read the reviews of the Sony e-mount 16mm f2.8 pancake lens and wasn’t impressed. Not only did it sound like there was a lot of variation copy-to-copy but also the edges and corners were said to be soft at wide apertures. In spite of this, and since I also wanted to try out the auto-focus on my camera, I bought one at Best Buy last week.

My impressions are, first, that it is light-weight, even lighter than my 1948 50mm f3.5 elmar, the lightest lens in my collection thus far. Second, it is quite compact and will fit nicely in my little camera kit for travel, hiking, and backpacking. After some tests, I think this lens will work well for me. I plan to use it mostly for landscape shooting and perhaps some streetscape work. At small apertures, f11 and f16, I find the lens acceptably sharp. Even at f2.8 it is pretty sharp in the center which can work for street photography. The distortions are well corrected in LightRoom 3.5 and I haven’t run up against the chromatic aberrations yet but hope to be able to correct these in post processing as well. The ability to focus quite closely is also an advantage over some of the older lenses in my collection.

I haven’t become entirely confident in my use of the auto-focus yet, the little auto-focus box seems to jump around quite a bit and doesn’t stay where I put it by touching the screen, but, well, I need to read the manual in more detail.

Anyway, for $249, I am well pleased with this lens, here is a photograph I took last evening in the desert near my town.

 image of a saguaro in black and white

About Dyer Lytle

I'm a software engineer at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. I love photography and am exploring avenues to turn it into a vocation.
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