Ever since the launch of the Sony E mount system (aka the now defunct “NEX” cameras), the weakest link, by far, has been lenses. Sure, the line up did get a little fuller with time, though there are more duds than truly lovable optics. But anyway, there also are some really excellent lenses in the family, including the 24/1.8, 35/1.8, 50/1.8, and 10-18. All others are, well… What truly hurt the NEX kit lens offering (an average 18-55 F:3.5-5.6, and a worse 16-50 with similar aperture), was when Fuji released their awesome 18-55 F:2.8-4, at around 600$ new, and half as much when bundle with a body. Sony’s answer to that ? A 16-70 (24-105 equivalent in 24×36 standard) F4 constant aperture zoom, bearing the Zeiss blue badge, with a whopping 1000$/€ price tag (huh, actually it’s 999, doesn’t it sound cheaper that way ??). Reviewers and bloggers have generally poo-poohed the lens, noticing how it was better, but not *that* much, than the 150$ 18-55. Real user feedback, on B&H or Amazon reviews, though, tell a different story, 9 out of 10 owners rave about it. 1000 is a really steep financial barrier to cross, and for a F4 generalist zoom, even more so. I just couldn’t bring myself to buy one. However, after decided I was finally gonna stay in Sony camp for good, I also knew I wanted something more versatile than the 18-55, and with more isolation ability than a 5.6 max aperture. I knew someone who owned the Zeiss but had just bought an A7, meaning he would soon not use it.
I’m well aware that the difference in IQ between the 1000$ 16-70 and 150$ 18-55 is NOT 850 worth. So it’s obviously a very steep premium for marginally better IQ, at pixel peeping level. BUT, having both more reach at 70mm vs. 55mm, and a faster max aperture at F4 vs. 5.6 *does* make a pretty nice difference for subject isolation, as demonstrated here.
I’m realizing those shots are really poor and don’t tell much about the lens, so I’m going out to shoot some more along the canal. Stay tuned for part II !