Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 DT SSM (SAL-1650) - Review / Lens Test
Lens Reviews - Sony NEX

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published March 2012


As of the time of this review high quality zoom lens options are not really available in Sony E mount (Sony NEX) so it is viable to have a look beyond. Sony Alpha (DSLR) lenses can be used on NEX cameras via Sony Alpha adapters (EA-LA1 & LA2). The more interesting adapter is the new Sony EA-LA2 which basically transforms your NEX into a Sony Alpha SLT DSLR with phase-detection AF support - with no real drawbacks apart from the extra bulk.

An attractive Alpha lens option is certainly the fairly new Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 DT SSM - a fast, high grade standard zoom. It is a native APS-C format lens featuring a field-of-view equivalent to about "24-75mm f/4" on full format cameras. The "f/4" refers to the comparable depth-of-field. For determining the exposure, the real aperture obviously remains the relevant number. It is a rather large lens so a NEX camera looks a little dwarfish when "attached to the lens":

Here's a maybe more familiar view of the lens on a classic Sony Alpha DSLR:

As already mentioned we are talking about a high-end standard zoom lens. The lens is made of a high quality combination of plastic and metal parts. The zoom and focus control rings operate smoothly. As you can see below the lens extends quite a bit when zooming towards the long end of the range. The front element does not rotate thanks to an internal focusing mechanism. A petal-shaped lens hood is also supplied. A really nice aspect of the lens is the weather sealing which has been rarely applied in Sony lenses so far.

The EA-LA2 adapter offers a phase detection AF and in combination with Sony's SSM (super-sonic motor), auto-focus operations are both near-silent and very fast - and that's including object tracking which is normally not a strength of the naked contrast-detection system used in Sony NEX cameras. We had some trouble with AF accuracy so it may be a good idea to check whether you should tune this aspect via the AF micro-adjust feature. DMF ("Direct Manual Focusing" in Single Shot AF mode) is supported.

Equiv. focal length24-75 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/4.2 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction16 elements in 13 groups inc. 2x aspherical and 3x ED elements
Number of aperture blades7 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.30 m (max. magnification ratio 1:5)
Dimensions81 x 88 mm
Weight577 g
Filter size72 mm (non-rotating)
Hoodpetal-shaped, bayonet mount, supplied
Other featuresweather-sealing