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Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G Lens Review

The Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G Lens is a high-end zoom for APS-C mirrorless Alpha cameras. It’s Sony’s first constant f/2.8 lens for the A600-series crop format, delivering pro-level results across a really useful general purpose zoom range.

Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G Lens Review

We were fortunate to shoot with this lens for a few days while making the Sony a6400 review, and thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase what it can do across a broad variety of photographic genres.

To help you decide whether it’s perfect for your needs, our Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G Lens Review has a range of image samples all made with this lens in real-world shooting conditions. So whether you’re interested in what the lens offers or have your eye on a new or used copy for yourself, read on to see what it has in store for your creativity.

Blossom captured with the Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G Lens

Blossom captured at 55mm. Camera settings 1/1600 sec. f/2.8. ISO 100

Sample images

To demonstrate image quality accurately all of the sample images in this Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G review are straight out of camera unedited JPEGs, captured with the Sony a6400. The majority were shot in Aperture Priority mode, with Auto ISO with a minimum shutter speed to avoid shake, as there’s no image stabilisation in the lens, nor that particular camera body.

Blossom tree with landascape view made with the Sony f/2.8 APS-C lens

Blossom tree captured at 39mm. Camera settings 1/2000 sec. f/2.8. ISO 100

Key lens features

As a pro-level zoom for crop sensor cameras this model includes high-end features, which are highlighted in these key features.

  • Constant aperture f/2.8 APS-C standard zoom
  • 16-55mm gives a 24-82.5mm full-frame equivalent range
  • High resolution across the zoom, and when wide open at f/2.8
  • Special optics include Advanced aspherical lens (AA lens), Aspherical lens and ED (extra-low dispersion) glass
  • 0.33m minimum focus distance with 0.2x maximum magnification
  • XD Linear Motor delivers fast, precise AF and tracking
  • Great handling with customisable focus hold button, AF/MF mode switch
  • 9-blade circular aperture
  • Nano AR Coating and Fluorine Coating
  • Weather sealed design
  • Lightweight design at just 494g

Exterior museum archiecture sample image Sony E 16-55 G lens

Architecture captured at 17mm. Camera settings 1/1250 sec. f/4. ISO 100

How much does the Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G Lens cost?

The Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G Lens retails new for £1,059.00, and a used Sony 16-55mm in excellent condition is currently priced at £729.00. Since its launch in January 2021, this standard zoom lens has become very popular and retains its value well, making it a sound investment for photographers.

Lens mounted on camera showing fully zoomed in design

What is a 16-55mm lens good for?

Taking the classic 24-70mm focal range even further with an equivalent 24-82.5mm* provides a very versatile zoom range, which is suitable for a wide variety of subjects. It covers the most popular 24mm, 35mm, 50mm primes as well as almost reaching 85mm*, which is well known amongst portrait photographers.

*full frame equivalent

During daily use you can capture everything from landscapes and portraits to street, architecture and everyday snapshots. In fact this lens will handle virtually anything as long as it’s not too far off wildlife or sporting events.

The bright aperture and fast autofocus cement this as potentially one of your most frequently used lenses, becoming a constant companion on photographic adventures thanks to its versatility, and making the investment well worthwhile.

Sample image of a museum interior

Museum captured at 24mm. Camera settings 1/500 sec. f/4. ISO 2500

How is the Sony 16 55 image quality?

Investing around £1000 in a lens sets high expectations for image quality, and the Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G does not disappoint. Boasting Sony’s latest optical innovations, it offers edge-to-edge sharpness, and by stopping down to f/4 corner sharpness is just slightly enhanced.

It delivers plenty of detail, resolving the 24MP sensor resolution of the A6400 with ease, thanks to an optical formula consisting of 17 elements in 12 groups with special elements. These include two AA (advanced aspherical) and two aspherical elements to minimise aberration, ensuring the G Lens’ high resolution. Additionally, three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements are employed to significantly reduce colour bleeding, maintaining colour fidelity and clarity across the frame. In practice there was very little noticeable colour fringing or chromatic aberrations and the lens captures natural colours without any editing required.

A 9-blade rounded diaphragm contributes to rounded bokeh and smooth out-of-focus areas, and you can achieve excellent subject separation, with well defined foreground vs smooth blurry backgrounds when you shoot wide open, as highlighted by the sample image of the ice cream cones.

Window showing great contrast and highlight shadow detail

Window captured at 16mm. Camera settings 1/640 sec. f/3.2. ISO 100

Lens accessories

With a 67mm filter thread you can choose screw-on lens filters from a variety of camera filter manufacturers to suit literally any budget. These include a cost effective Hoya 67mm UX II UV Filter, which costs £29.00, to a £120.00 ZEISS T* 67mm Circular Polarising Filter and everything in between.

It also pays to know how to keep your camera lens clean with a few simple accessories such as a LensPen Hurricane Blower and lens wipes, or by using an all-in-one ZEISS Lens Cleaning Kit. By maintaining a lens such as this pro-level Sony 16 55mm you can maintain image quality over time.

Sample image showing excellent background blur and subject separation ince cream cone

Ice cream cone captured at 55mm. Camera settings 1/500 sec. f/2.8. ISO 500

How good is the Autofocus?

The autofocus (AF) performance of the lens, when paired with the Sony a6400's subject detection and tracking capabilities, is noteworthy. It operates quickly and quietly across diverse lighting conditions and varied subject matter, achieving focus on subjects like the T-Rex even in extremely low light situations with efficiency.

This is due to the XD Linear Motor (eXtreme Dynamic), which is found throughout Sony’s professional G Master line of lenses. Whichever subjects you shoot from near to far this lens will keep up perfectly well even in very dimly lit situations.

Although I didn’t customise the lens during the review, you can program a focus hold button on the lens barrel, with any number of functions assigned to this button through the camera’s custom settings.

Close-up hand on watch

Watch captured at 42mm. Camera settings 1/500 sec. f/2.8. ISO 320

The E 16-55mm f/2.8 G impresses with its sharp image quality, versatile zoom range, and excellent AF performance. Its compact design and optical quality make it an essential addition for photographers who seek a reliable, all-around lens that excels for a range of shooting conditions and subjects.

Order your new Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G Lens today or why not save with a used Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G complete with a six-month warranty, and find out what it has to offer for your creative output.

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By Nick Dautlich on 10/04/2024

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