The SAL-1680Z is ultimate all-in-one zoom lens designed specifically for DSLR imaging. It’s the first professional-grade 5X zoom lens specifically designed for APS-size CCD image sensors®providing incredible precision in a single compact, easy-to-carry lens that carries you from 24mm wide-angle to 120mm telephoto (35mm equivalent). Advanced Carl Zeiss®optical design and anti-flare T* Coating make this one of the most valued lenses in the world of digital photography.
The Sony DT 16-80mm promises to be the perfect general-purpose zoom for discerning Alpha DSLR owners. With an equivalent range of 24-120mm it zooms both wider and longer than the standard kit lens, and with the pedigree of respected lens company Carl Zeiss behind it, the DT 16-80mm should have few concerns in the quality department.
In use the DT 16-80mm can certainly deliver excellent results. The range is much more flexible than the kit lens, and perfect as a single general purpose zoom. The optical quality is also of a much higher standard, with our Outdoor Results and Gallery pages revealing very well-corrected images with high contrast, sharp corners and minimal coloured fringing. It also managed to squeeze a little more resolution out of the A100 in our studio tests.
So far so good, but it’s not all positive. When upgrading to a premium lens, you generally expect improvements in both optical and build quality. But sadly while the DT 16-80mm does feature superior build quality to the standard kit lens (such as a metal mounting), it’s not as big a jump as you might be hoping for. Indeed in practice the DT 16-80mm and standard 18-70mm kit lenses are surprisingly close in look and feel, and don’t represent the difference you’d experience when making a similar upgrade on a rival manufacturer’s system.
Assuming a good sample the Zeiss ZA 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 DT is surely a desirable lens. The primary design objective was obviously to maximize resolution because this is where the lens shines with generally stunning MTF figures matching or beating many standard zooms out there. However, there’re also downsides. At 16mm vignetting is a problem at f/3.5 and the level of CAs and barrel distortions is very high. At around 700€/US$ the lens resides somewhere between the typical consumer and pro grade zooms. Some may have hoped for a metal construction but truth is that most other standard zooms in this price league have also plastic bodies. The mechanical quality is decent with tight tolerances but nothing to rave about. In Sony Alpha mount the lens remains an obvious choice for enthusiasts and beyond.