Review Sony DT 16-50 mm F2.8 SSM (APS-C)

The Sony 16-50 mm zoom lens has entered the Dutch market with the Sony A77 at the end of 2011. This lens is only suitable for cameras with an APS-C sensor, not for cameras with a full-frame sensor. Due to this limitation in the design, the lens is relatively compact for an SLR lens with this intensity. The Sony DT 16-50 mm lens has an internal "Supersonic Wave" engine, which focuses fast and quietly, allowing you to use the lens for video too.


Sony DT 16-50 mm F2.8 SSM @ 16 mm/5.6
Sony DT 16-50 mm F2.8 SSM @ 50 mm/4.5

The Sony 16-50 mm has a 3x zoom range, which corresponds to a 24-75 mm zoom lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor.

Construction and autofocus

The Sony 16-50 mm lens is ruggedly built with a wide zoom ring and a not too small focus ring. The Sony 16-50 has an internal "Supersonic Wave" engine, which focuses fast and quietly. On the lens is a switch to choose between manual focusing and AF. The image stabilization is in the body.
Sony 16-50 mm f/2.8 DT SSM SAL1650
Price @ Amazon
Image Stabilization:-
lenses/ groups:16/13
length x diameter:88x81mm
filter size:72
Lens hood:+

Image stabilization

Image stabilization was tested at a focal length of 50 mm (75 mm @ full-frame). For the average photographer, it goes that the shutter speed at handheld shots should be at least 1/90 second for you to take sharp pictures.

The image stabilization works. With a focal length of 60 mm and shutter speeds longer than 1/90 second, the chance of a sharp picture becomes considerably greater if you apply image stabilization. But a tripod delivers even sharper images.



The with Imatest measured vignetting of the jpg files and the vignetting of uncorrected jpg files match. The automatic lens compensation of vignetting thus seems to have little effect. In practice, vignetting will only sometimes be visible at aperture 2.8 in the extreme corners.

Move your mouse over the picture for the Imatest results for vignetting.





Over the entire zoom range, distortion of jpg files is negligible. This is due to the in-camera correction of distortion. Uncorrected RAW files exhibit, particularly at 16 mm and 19 mm, clear distortion.

Move your mouse over the image for the Imatest results for deformation of uncorrected RAW files.




The Sony 16-50 has a less beautiful, irregular bokeh. But that is not unusual for a lens with a relatively short focal length on a camera with an APS-C sensor.

Move your mouse over the image for a 100% image area of the bokeh.



The Sony 16-50 is composed of 16 lenses in 13 groups. Such a complex design makes the lens, even when using the supplied lens hood, more susceptible to internal reflections. Despite using the free, provided hood, you will encounter ghosting in practice. This is often in the form of aperture rings, such as illustrated on the right.

Move your mouse over the image for another practical example of ghosting.




The Sony 16-50 delivers, in combination with the 24 megapixel Sony A-77, very sharp images. The jpg files have a resolution of 2400 LW/PH in the center. This is a very good performance.

At a number of focal lengths, the extreme corners stay visibly behind in terms of resolution, but the average resolution in the corners remains above 1000 LW/PH. After stopping down 2 stops, it is another 500 LW/PH higher. And that is very good too.




Sony DT 16-50 mm/2.8 SSM @ 23 mm/2.8

Hold your mouse over the image for a comparison of the sharpness in the center with the sharpness in the corners.

At 16 mm, the difference in sharpness between the corners and the center is the greatest. Usually stopping down 1 stop is sufficient to make this difference considerably smaller, but at 16 mm only 3 stops are required.

Click your mouse on the image for the Imatest results for resolution at different focal lengths.


Chromatic aberration


The chromatic aberration of the Sony 16-50 mm is very low at all tested focal lengths thanks to the in-camera correction that is applied in the Sony A77. Chromatic aberration in uncorrected RAW files can sometimes be just visible: the worst score in the corners was 0.15%. Even that is not a bad score, by the way.

Click your mouse on the image for the Imatest results for chromatic aberration at different focal lengths..


In camera correction

More and more camera manufacturers are turning to the correction of distortion and aberrations in the camera instead of in the design of the lens. That has the advantage that a lens comes to better performances without losing any quality in terms of sharpness.

In this test, all possible corrections have been applied: correction of vignetting to the corners, correction of chromatic aberration, and correction of distortion.


Conclusion Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM review


See our overview of all tested lenses or the list of tested lenses with a Sony mount to compare the performance of this lens with other lenses. 


ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you store the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".


  • Good optical performances: resolution, distortion and chromatic aberration
  • Decently built


  • sensitive to ghosting
  • lvignetting at 2.8 could be corrected better

The Sony 16-50 mm has proved to be a very good lens in this test, in combination with the Sony A77. The Sony 16-50 produces very sharp images. The resolution is sometimes behind the extremely high resolution in the center in the corners. But at aperture 8, the resolution is even very high in the corners, with at least 1500 LW/PH. When the camera performs some corrections, the distortion and chromatic aberration are very low in the jpg files too. With these performances, the Sony 16-50 mm belongs to the very best lenses out there for sale nowadays.

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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