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Lens review

Sony DT 16-105 mm f/3.5-5.6

10 November 2009
Szymon Starczewski

6. Distortion


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The Zeiss 16-80 mm showed the level of distortion of –3.98% at the wide angle; at longer focal lengths the distortion changed the sign and became negligible (0.16 –0.64%). It’s not hard to guess that in the case of the DT 16-105 mm the situation will be worse because of the wider range of focal lengths. It is indeed the case. At 16 mm we noticed a very significant barrel distortion of –4.67%. At longer focal lengths the situation ameliorates but not as much as in the case of the Zeiss. At 30 mm the distortion level amounts to 0.97%, at 50 mm it increases to 1.41%, at 70 mm it is 1.38% and at 105 mm – 1.26%.

Should we complain about Sony’s performance, then? Not really. The Zeiss fares better but it is an expensive lens and its range is narrower. To get an overall picture of the situation it’s good to compare how other companies fare when it comes to their flag universal zooms with similar range. On a Canon 17-85 IS USM we must simply bring down the curtain – its notorious distortion records make your hair stand on end. Let’s look at a Nikkor 18-135 mm. Zoom 7.5x is a bit bigger than in the case of the Sony but its angle of view is narrower so the scale of problems is roughly the same. You can see at once that the Sony fared better. Wide angle distortions for both lenses are in the margin of error and at longer focal lengths the Nikkor, having values from 2.0 to 2.6%, loses significantly to the Sony.

Sony DT 16-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 - Distortion

Sony DT 16-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 - Distortion

Sony DT 16-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 - Distortion

Sony DT 16-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 - Distortion

Sony DT 16-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 - Distortion