Shooting With The Worst E Mount Lens: The Sony E 16mm f/2.8

sony e 16mm f/2.8

This is the Sony E 16mm f/2.8, one of the first lenses made for the E Mount system. It was released in 2010, a time Sony clearly wasn’t considering creating professional mirrorless cameras. Here’s why it’s the worst lens you can have as a Sony user.

Optical Quality

Pancakes aren’t known for their image quality. You sacrifice great sharpness for portability. The 16mm Sony handles the size and weight aspect of a pancake very well, but the optical performance isn’t something to be happy about. Even though I bought my 16mm used, other users have reported the same problem – it’s absolutely hopeless in the corners. The reason I’m using “hopeless” to describe the corners is simple: Sony seems to have given up when it comes to anything but the center of the image. And the latter is decent for a pancake.

It’s A Prime

Before the E 16mm f/2.8, Sony released the 18-55mm and the 18-200mm lenses. Neither of these won any awards for optical performance, but at least they are much more versatile. Both of them have OSS and the latter can be a passable portrait lens if you have enough space to work with.

With the 16mm I found myself pretty limited. 24mm full frame equivalent portraits can be nice only if you can separate the subject from the background. The 16mm doesn’t offer that.

It Could Have Been So Much More

Here’s the thing. When Sony launched the E Mount system we were promised a simpler way of taking photos, but with the same DSLR image quality. The “DSLR Gear, No Idea” campaign was funny and I remember wanting one of the NEX cameras.

The Sony E 16mm f/2.8 lens is a great proposition: compact and light, has decent autofocus and it can take adapters. Here’s the view at 16mm, and here’s what you get with the Ultrawide Converter: 12mm of awesomeness. That’s why despite all of its shortcomings, I find myself mounting it on my a6300 far more often than I would have thought. The focal length is great for architecture, street shooting, and even astrophotography if you don’t mind the horrible corners.

With the release of the new Fujifilm 16mm f/2.8 lens, there’s a small chance Sony could reconsider releasing a second generation.

And another reason this is the worst E Mount lens: Sony still sells this in silver-only.

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