Standard Zoom comparison SEL1650PZ, SEL1670Z, SELP18105G

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Lenses' started by WestOkid, May 2, 2014.

  1. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    There are 3 standard zooms for APS-C E-mount. Typically DXO would be a source for objective feedback even if some believe it is flawed. However, DXO doesn't seemed to be interested in testing APS-C e-mount these days since they have not tested the Ziess or the G. As a result, we basically have a lot of subjective views with little more than eye test to work with. After almost giving up, I found that PCmag uses Imatest for its sharpness tests. I didn't find any charts like DXO, so I compiled excerpts from the individual reviews. I hope someone finds it useful.

    SEL1650PZ (kit),2817,2412815,00.asp
    At its widest aperture and the midpoint of its zoom, 33mm, it just barely hits the 1,800 lines per picture height that we used to mark a sharp photo—at 16mm it scores 1,666 lines and it drops back down to 1,663 lines at 50mm. Closing the aperture down to f/8 improves the score—that gets you 1,802 lines at 16mm, 1,885 lines at 33mm, and 1,777 lines at 50mm. (PCmag, 12/2012)

    At 18mm f/3.5. It scores 1,744 lines using a center-weighted test, but as is typical with entry-level zoom lenses, the edges are a bit soft at 1,350 lines. Stopping down to f/5.6 improves performance; the average sharpness is 2,052 and the edges top 1,600 lines
    At 35 sharpness at the maximum f/4.5 aperture is 1,735 lines, again with a sharp center and edges that are a bit soft (1,154 lines). Stopping down to f/5.6 improves things a bit (2,042 lines across the frame, 1,470 lines at the edges), but you'll get the best performance at f/8. When you narrow the aperture to that setting you'll get images that average 2,129 lines, with edges that are a very respectable 1,700 lines.
    At 55 The sharpness here is 1,713 lines, with just a slight drop-off at the edges (1,629 lines). You'll get a bit better performance at f/8; the center-weighted sharpness is 2,069 lines, and the edges are just shy of 1,800 lines.

    At 18mm f/4 is scores 1,770 lines per picture height on our center-weighted sharpness test, just a hair shy of the 1,800 lines we use to call an image sharp. The center is quite sharp, but there's softness at the outer two-thirds of the frame. Stopping down to f/5.6 bumps the score to 2,327 lines, and only the outer edges show some softness, scoring 1,705 lines.
    At 35mm improves sharpness; at f/4 the lens manages 1,901 lines, and even the outer edges hit 1,746 lines. That center-weighted score jumps to 2,260 lines at f/5.6, and the edges kiss the 1,800-line mark.
    At 70m the lens remains sharp, notching 1,951 lines with edges that top 1,700 lines. Stopping down to f/5.6 bumps the center-weighted score to 2,432 lines with edges that top 2,100 lines.
    At 105mm the center-weighted sharpness is good, 2,039 lines, but the edges are soft at just 1,331 lines. Stopping down to f/5.6 doesn't do much to improve the overall score (2,059 lines there), but the edges do improve to 1,552 lines. (PCmag, 3/2014)

    At 16mm f/4 it does much better than the center-weighted 1,800 lines per picture height score that we use to define an image as sharp; it manages 2,475 lines there, and maintains its sharpness through all but the outer edges of the frame (1,538 lines).Stopping down to f/5.6 bumps the center and edge scores (2,529 and 1,674 lines respectively
    At 35mm The center-weighted sharpness at f/4 is 2,239 lines and at f/5.6 it's 2,437 lines.
    at 70mm; the lens shows 1,951 lines using the center-weighted score. The mid-parts of the frame—the area between the center third and the outer edges—are a tad soft at 1,733 lines. Stopping down to f/5.6 bumps the overall score to 2,246 lines with all but the outer edges topping 2,000 lines. (PCmag, 3/2014)

    First off, this is actually saying the kit zoom is pretty sharp.
    However, it is outclassed by the Ziess and the G. In addition to the constant F/4 aperture, the G and the Zeiss are sharp across the zoom range. The Ziess is sharper at the center but the G has more balance across the frame as edge sharpness doesn't fall off as much as the Zeiss at equivalent focal lengths.

    I believe factors such as price, size, zoom range and features will dictate which you choose; meaning there's pros and cons for each. That said, optically, any of these zooms can work for most applications especially if light permits stopping down slightly.

    Pet peeve: The one thing reviewers seem to be stuck on when it comes to mirror-less is distortion. I'm not sure what the big deal is because most lenses are designed to be software corrected in camera or in PP software with very little user intervention. Haven't these guys heard of a lens profile?
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  2. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Um, doesn't the SEL1855 qualify as a standard zoom for APS-C? I know it's just a "kit" zoom (and the oldest of those for E-mount), but then so is the SELP1650.
  3. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    My bad. It wasn't based on it being a kit. I just looked at the 1650 as the replacement kit.

    I added it
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  4. d1rtyice

    d1rtyice TalkEmount Rookie

    Apr 19, 2014
    My kit lens at 35 mm max at f5.6 .. Urs f4.5??
  5. southy

    southy TalkEmount Veteran Subscribing Member

    Feb 5, 2014
    d1rtyice which kit lens do you have? The 16-50 maxes out to f5.6 at 35mm but the 18-55 will go to f4.5 at 35mm.

    Interestingly there are rumours of an FE16-35mm f4 lens. On the crop sensor e mount this would also make a short range zoom with a 35mm equiv of 24-52mm.
  6. Tabibito

    Tabibito TalkEmount Regular

    Apr 1, 2013
    Thanks for the info. It's quite hard to find good reviews or comparison for newer emount lenses other than the zeiss's and the full frame ones.

    Sent from my LG-E440 using TalkEmount mobile app
  7. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
  8. d1rtyice

    d1rtyice TalkEmount Rookie

    Apr 19, 2014
    Oh wait.. I read the wrong one lol 16-50
  9. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    The bad corners of the 16-70 are a little unfortunate. Otherwise, it could be the perfect standard zoom lens for the majority of NEX users. Personally, I'm still not sure whether I want a standard zoom in addition to my nice collection of primes. Probably I'll get one once my setup is pretty much finished just to have the option available.

    Also, saying a lens which resolves 1800 line pairs on a sensor which could resolve 4000 line pairs is a little optimistic. I wouldn't call a lens sharp until it hits about 2200 line pairs. Then again, I am used to the performance of primes, and obviously there still is a price to pay for the convenience of having a zoom lens.
  10. yakky

    yakky TalkEmount Rookie

    Mar 25, 2014
    Thanks for posting the summaries, very helpful.

    As to distortion, yes usually it can be fixed by software but in my experience some objects look very weird when fixed especially human faces caught near the edges. My Rx100 is terrible in that regard.
  11. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    That, of course, depends solely on the algorithm which does the corrections. Most software makers just measure the distortion and whether they're pincushion or barrel type and then do a uniform correction. With aspherical elements used in modern lens constructions, unfortunately distortions usually are not completely uniform. That's why you get these weird looking parts at the edges, together with a resolution loss which is pretty high depending on the amount of distortion. So a lens which is optically corrected to distortion is still superior in many regards.
  12. Bugleone

    Bugleone TalkEmount Veteran

    Aug 21, 2011

    I have always been very impressed with the results from the 18-55, especailly considering the low price although I only ever use it on f8 (or very rarely 5.6)

    ....If I read the above correctly, the 16-50 is a lump of junk that has no place on a quality camera unless compactness is a vital consideration (and maybe not even then)
  13. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    That's a bit harsh considering the compact design. Of course that's a trade-off, but Sony managed to keep the quality almost as good as the old 18-55 kit zoom.

    Both are average for kit zooms. For reference, an excellent prime on the NEX-7 can reach 3.200 line pairs in the center and up to 2.800 at the edges wide open. In any case should good primes reach above 2.500 lp in the center and 2.200 at the edges (of course super fast lenses are the exception, they won't reach above 2.000 at the edges). More than 3.200 is not really possible, which has to do with the Anti Aliasing filter on most Sony sensors and a divergence resolution loss which increases with higher pixel density.
  14. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
    I just wonder how these numbers you mentioned Poki can compare with much more expensive professional gear.. even though I am not a fun of numerology
  15. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Umm.. there are no "better" optics out there because physics dictate a limit what a sensor can resolve. You won't get out more resolution of a 24MP sensor than with what we already have - i.e. some of the fine primes out there like the Touits.

    If you mean with "more expensive professional gear" digital medium format, well, then we're speaking of resolutions of 60MP+ and comparably huge pixels, but comparing different systems with different sensor sizes in terms of lens resolution makes absolutely no sense.

    Put simply: There are no lenses out there which are better than the best APS-C E-Mount primes we got now. At least not on an absolute level. What "professionals" are paying for are other things - weather sealing, ultra fast AF, dual memory card slots, compatibility with some proprietary systems and so on. From a quality standpoint, you can only make a big improvement if you go medium format, and then we're speaking of €50.000+ for a system (or 'just' about €15.000 for those new, cheapo MF cameras with CMOS sensors).

    And don't forget, the word "professional" only means somebody earns his money with the corresponding profession. It does NOT mean that he or she is good at it.
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  16. d1rtyice

    d1rtyice TalkEmount Rookie

    Apr 19, 2014
    Agree to that
    • Agree Agree x 1
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