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Here's a brief look at the Sony DT 16-105mm F/3.5-5.6 zoom lens.  Scroll down for the main review.

Lens

SAL-16105  Sony DT 16-105mm F/3.5-5.6 zoom lens

Box contents

Front and rear caps, hood, and users manual.

Cost

$698 retail

Build quality

Good

Additional information

Performs much the same as the more expensive Carl Zeiss 16-80mm.  For APS-C cameras only.

Specifications below

 

Optical configuration

15 elements in 11 groups

Angle of view

83°-15°

Aperture

7 blades, circular

Full frame and APS-C

Made for APS-C cameras, not full frame, but will work.  Nearly full coverage at 105mm and infinity focus, but APS-C size capt. will crop image when using the A900.

Depth of field and focus scales?

Distance window with FT/M

Minimum focus, image plane to subject

16"  (.4m)

Minimum focus, end of lens barrel to subject

8.5"  (220mm)

Hard stop at infinity focus?

Yes

Length changes when focusing?

No

Focus ring turns in AF?

No

Filter size

62mm

Filter ring rotates?

No

Distance encoder?

Yes
 

Max magnification

0.23x

Min. F/stop

F/22-36

Sony teleconverter compatible?

No

Length changes when zooming?

Yes

Dimensions WxL  (my measurements)

2.8" x 3.3"   72mm x 83mm 

Maximum  extended length (my measurements)

5.3"  (135mm)                                                      

Weight bare (my scale)

16.6oz  (472g)  18oz (500g) with caps


Requisite product shots.

Aug08/16105box.jpg
Box and lens.
Aug08/16105sdex.jpg
Fully extended
Aug08/16105ft.jpg
Front element completely different from CZ 16-80mm.
Aug08/16105bk.jpg
Rear view.
2012/s16105mmmtf.jpg
Sony X-ray view and MTF chart

 
 
The Sony A700 was used for this review.  For a better understanding of my review methods and terminology, go here
 
I make some comparisons in this review to the Carl Zeiss 16-80mm lens.  For a more thorough comparison of the Sony 16-105mm F/3.5-5.6 and Carl Zeiss 16-80mm F/3.5-4.5, go here.

The Sony DT 16-105mm makes a good "kit" lens offered by Sony on the latest models.  With a 6.6x zoom and focal length equivalent of 24-157mm, You're covering a nice range.  But is it any good?  read on! 

The lens has the standard Sony matte black finish, with white focal length numbers coming at 16mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm and 105mm.  The EXIF data matches up accordingly.  The lens is about 3-3/8" long closed, and 5-3/8 fully extended at 105mm.  This lens says "Japan" so I assume it's made in Japan.  Construction appears to be mostly plastic, but the fit and finish are good.  The zoom effort is a little tight to about right, and it doesn't seem to want to "creep" out as you walk.  There's no zoom lock.  It also has the standard focus distance window.
 

Performance wise, the lens auto-focuses quickly and accurately, especially with the A700.  The focus ring has a nice wide grip area but manual focusing isn't so easy as the action is very quick, with a little slop noticeable.  The Sony 16-105mm manually focuses from close-in to infinity in about 1/8 turn of the focus ring.  Zooming is damped about right.  Less than a quarter turn is needed for wide to full zoom, that's very common for Sony lenses though.  Sony claims the lens has three aspheric elements and one "ED" element, see image above.

The Sony Carl Zeiss 16-80mm is actually a bit lighter than the Sony 16-105mm, which is surprising.  Both are nearly identical in dimensions and outward appearance, but that's where the similarities end.  The front element and surround are totally different on the Carl Zeiss model, even looking through the front element you can tell the glass/construction is different inside.  Also, the Sony 16-105mm uses a two section extension barrel design, (see second product shot above) as opposed to the single barrel on the CZ.
 
Sony DT 16-105mm F/3.5-5.6 aperture/focal length guide below.

Maximum aperture

F/3.5

F/4

F/4.5

F/5

F/5.6

Range

16mm

17mm - 21mm

22mm - 30mm

35mm - 50mm

55mm - 105mm


Bokeh.  The Sony DT 16-105mm F/3.5-5.6 has so-so bokeh, similar to the Carl Zeiss 16-80mm, but not as good as the Carl Zeiss at 80mm and F/4.5, which the 16-105mm can't do at that length.  
 
Distortion.

october08/s16105distel.jpg
16mm, barrel distortion.

october08/s16105disw.jpg
105mm, pincushion distortion.


Distortion at both ends is moderate to strong.  The distortion is flat at 24mm-30mm.  The Carl Zeiss is a little better at distortion correction than the Sony 16-105mm, but not by much.  

Lateral color fringing.  Average control.  In normal situations and conditions, it isn't very noticeable.  It's mostly along the edges of the frame, red/purple dominate.  The CZ 16-80mm has better control of CA, see cropped images farther down the page.
 
Filter size is 62mm.  Other Sony lenses to use this size are the; Carl Zeiss 16-80mm, Sony 70-300mm, 24-105mm, 18-200mm and the 18-250mm.
 
Filter use.  There is a small amount of additional vignetting when using a regular filter at 16mm, F/3.5. 
 
Coma.  Nothing to worry about at wide angle, but a little creeps in around 24-55mm when using the maximum aperture, one stop down gets rid of it.  See crops below.
 
Color looks like other Sony lenses.

Lens flare/Ghosting is about average as compared to other Sony zoom lenses in this range.  Look for the green/red blobs when you shoot the low sun.  When the sun is centered, there are no problems.  See small sample below.  Results are very similar to the CZ 16-80mm.  The included petal hood does a good job at protecting the front element at wide angle, though for the best protection from ghosting, use your hand when the sun is outside the image.  Hood replacement will cost you $25 
 

Light fall-off.  As you can see below, light fall-off or corner shading is moderate to strong wide open at 16mm.  At F/5.6, it's not noticeable in real shots.  Towards the telephoto end, there is none to be found.  The CZ 16-80mm performed the same.
 

     16mm F/3.5

     16mm F/5.6

october08/s16105vigw35.jpg
october08/s16105vigw56.jpg

     105mm F/5.6

     105mm F/8

october08/s16105vigtel56.jpg
october08/s16105vigtel80.jpg

 

Random shots below.

 

    16mm @ F/3.5 Light fall-off

  16mm @ F/5.6 color blobs

october08/s16105over.jpg

october08/s16105gst.jpg

    16mm @ F/3.5 bokeh

  16mm @ F/5 bokeh

october08/s16105bokw35.jpg

october08/s16105bokw5.jpg

    105mm @ F/5.6 bokeh

  105mm @ F/8 bokeh

october08/s16105boktel56.jpg

october08/s16105boktel80.jpg

    16mm @ F/3.5 coma

  16mm @ F/5 coma

october08/s16105cmaw35.jpg

october08/s16105cmaw5.jpg

    24mm @ F/4.5 coma

  24mm @ F/5.6 coma

october08/s16105cmaw45.jpg

october08/s16105cmaw56.jpg


The top left shot shows light fall-off in a real picture, it's noticeable, but you wouldn't need to shoot at F/3.5 in broad daylight, stop down to F/5.6 and there's no problem.  The top right shot is ghosting with the sun low in the sky, this is pretty light and would clean up easy in post processing.
 
Bokeh examples in the middle row.  The wide-open 16mm shot look fairly good, but stopped down it starts to become busy.  At the long end, the results are not as smooth as the CZ 16-80mm. 
 
The bottom row shows coma.  There is very little coma to speak between 16mm-24mm, at the maximum aperture.  Don't worry about this much as it isn't very noticeable unless looking at the image blown way up on your computer screen. 
 
How sharp are the 16mm centers?

F/3.5

2008/s105741635.jpg

F/5.6

2008/s105751656.jpg

F/8

2008/s105761680.jpg


The 16mm centers are just a tiny bit soft wide open, and sharpen up slightly a stop down.  The three shots show very little difference.  Remember, these crops are at 100%, and they're posted closely so you can scrutinize them, that's not real world.  In the real world, you would be pleased as punch with the F/3.5 image. 
 
105mm center crops next.

F/5.6

2008/s1057810556.jpg

F/8

2008/s1057910580.jpg


Again, the same thing here at the full 105mm.  Maybe a hair soft at F/5.6, but it sharpens up one stop down.
 


Corner sharpness next.

Below are lower left corner crops from 16mm

F/3.5

october08/s16105cnw35x.jpg

F/5.6

october08/s16105cnw56x.jpg

F/8

october08/s16105cnw80x.jpg


Corners at 35mm.

F/5.0

2008/491053550dc.jpg

F/8

2008/501053580va.jpg

F/11

2008/511053511dc.jpg


Corners at 105mm.

F/5.6

2008/9110556dc.jpg

F/8

2008/9210580dc.jpg

F/11

2008/9310511dc.jpg


At the wide end, 16mm, the corners are pretty sharp at F/3.5, but light fall-off makes it a little darker.  In the next set, at 35mm, you have a soft crop at F/5, by F/8 the corners are sharp, maybe the absolute sharpest at F/11.  The final set is at 105mm, the corners are pretty sharp at F/5.6.  Disregard the false sharper look of the first image, because of light fall-off.  Check out the color fringing here, this is as bad as it gets.  Stopping down doesn't help with this type of color fringing.
 


Corner comparisons at 80mm (CZ) and 105mm.

Sony 16-105mm at 105mm F/5.6

2008/9110556dc.jpg

Sony CZ 16-80mm at 80mm F/4.5

2008/30cz8045.jpg


These images illustrate the differences in focal length between the (CZ) 80mm, and Sony 105mm.  Also, you can see CA is more plentiful in the 16-105mm.  Both telephoto corner shots were pretty sharp at their maximum aperture, varying little stopped down.

  
Let's check out the macro capabilities of this lens.

Below, check out the sample and click the picture to see a 100% cropped portion of the full image (249kb file).  The sample shot was taken with the Sony A 700 12.2MP camera.  The subject is a standard US stamp, 1"x 3/4" or 25.4mm x 19mm.  Also, note the macro shot was taken as close to the subject as focusing allowed; in this case 8.5" or .22m, measured from the front of the lens barrel to the subject.

The macro is nice and sharp, there was very little difference between F/5.6 and F/11, this is good news, it looked the very sharpest at F/8.  This macro looks a hair sharper than the CZ 16-80mm, even though the CZ has a slightly higher magnification. 

Aug08/16105maca.jpg
As close as you can get macro, at F/8.

 
Conclusion

The Sony 16-105mm has some competition in the Sony lens line-up, like the CZ 16-80mm and 16-50mm F/2.8 SSM, but the 16-105mm offers the longest zoom, at the lowest price.
 
The Sony 16-105mm is sharp in the centers, and there really isn't much of a need to stop down at any focal length, but maximum sharpness seems to come about a stop down from the widest apertures.  The corners are a little soft at mid-zoom range, especially 35mm, but that's not a big deal, remember, the crops above are at 100% viewing size and right next to each other for all-to-easy scrutiny.  Normally you would not be able to tell the difference.  There is more CA than the Carl Zeiss 16-80mm, especially towards the long end.  The colors and contrast are similar.  Distortion is about the same at wide angle, and a bit more at the long end than the CZ.  Light fall-off shows the same.  This lens came out after the Carl Zeiss 16-80mm, but it looks to me like Sony did a good job at trying to manufacture a lens with similar optical performance for a lower cost.     
 
In the end, you have the more expensive ($300) Carl Zeiss 16-80mm F/3.5-4.5 performing just a smidgen better overall, although not really much faster, (only 2/3 stop at the long end).  If you don't really need the extra focal length, and need more speed, look closely at the 16-50mm F/2.8 SSM