Lens review

Sony E 16 mm f/2.8

16 February 2011
Arkadiusz Olech

4. Image resolution

The resolution test of the Sony-E 16 mm f/2.8 was based on a 14.2 - megapixel sensor used in the Sony NEX-5. As in the case of the kit lens, the choice of the sensor was obvious because currently the NEX system doesn’t offer any alternative.

The graph, presenting the achievements of the tested lens in the frame centre and on its edge, is shown below.

Sony E 16 mm f/2.8 - Image resolution

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The performance ranges from average to very good. The lens reaches excellent values by f/5.6 but also in the range from f/4.0 to f/11 – it shouldn’t be ashamed of such results. However, it fares much worse and decidedly below our expectations near the maximum relative aperture and on stopping down to more than f/16.0. The maximum aperture is a serious problem for the tested lens as it is not able to reach even a decency level, which in the case of a 14-megapixel NEX sensor is placed near 34-35 lpmm. Fortunately the situation improves significantly on stopping down. It’s enough to close the lens by 1/3-2/3 EV and it becomes fully useful.

Taking into account the differences between „pancakes”, mentioned in the previous chapter, it is difficult to compare these results with those of other system lenses. Certainly the best achievements so far have been reached by the Micro Four Thirds devices, which draw extensively on bigger and bigger possibilities of the optics designed for a smaller detector. It makes the Olympus 2.8/17 and the Panasonic 1.7/20 unbeatable when it comes to reaching fully satisfying images at the maximum aperture; unfortunately the Sony product fails to perform so well.

Now let’s check the situation on the edge of the frame. Unfortunately the tested lens doesn’t deserve any praise there. The resolution at the maximum relative aperture is very weak and only on stopping down to f/5.6 or f/8.0 we can get acceptable results. The Sony lens fares definitely worse than other compact “primes”, tested by us, but we must remember that it is a much more wideangle device than them so its task was more difficult. Only after testing the Samsung 2.8/16, 2.8/20 or the Panasonic 2.5/14 we will have a good comparing scale and assess adequately the problems which must face the producers of wideangle optics closed in diminutive shapes.

When it comes to the resolution, the Sony 16 mm f/2.8 doesn’t impress although its performance, apart from weak points, has strong points as well. The result obtained by f/2.8 aperture is certainly the biggest disappointment – the lens barely borders the decency level. If you are planning to buy this lens just because you want to use it wide open do think twice. On the other hand in the range from f/5.6 to f/11 the lens fares very well, especially in the frame centre, but, to tell you the truth, its performance is similar to that of the kit Sony E 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS, which was also good in this regard. The resolution of this particular NEX system lens is not the factor which would make it especially worth buying.

Sony E 16 mm f/2.8 - Image resolution