Meet the SEL16-70 F:4 OSS Carl Zeiss (part I)

16-60CZ01Sexy, huh ?

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.

Test16-70CYeah, that’s unexcting as they come, I admit. Taken in my backyard

Test16-70BOne interesting thing about Zeiss lenses, is that they have a pretty recognizable signature in color and contrast, not unlike older Minolta lenses, actually

Test16-70AI’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.

Test16-70DAnd better yet here (70mm)

Test16-70ESame POV at 16mm ! I gotta check if I have distorsion correction turned ON in camera. If not, well… (that’d be bad)

Test16-70FNot better than the 18-55 or 16-50. Are you *sure* ?? 😉

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 !


About marla2008

Shutterbug. Shallow DOF nut. Mother of Child. Student of the Horse.
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