The Sony A77 has already been announced. One of the most interesting part of the announcement is that photographers can purchase the A77 with the DT 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM standard zoom lens (SAL-1650) as part of Kit combo. Considering the price of the A77 body only, you can a f/2.8 standard zoom lens for $600, which is $100 lens compared to the pre-order price on Sony store.
Many enthusiast photographers know that in order to get the most out of their photos, in many cases, a fast lens has to be used. That very true if you want to achieve a shallow depth-of-field or shoot photos in available light. The 16-50 mm f2.8 was designed especially for a use with APS-C A-mount Alpha cameras.
This is a DT lens design, which means that it’s more compact than the equivalent lenses that can also be used on full frame cameras two. In this article I want to talk about this new lens. Many of you are probably interested to know more about it and know whether you should go with the A77 + 16-50mm Kit or purchase the A77 body and buy another lens. Let’s begin..
What are Fast (Bright) Lenses?
First things first, some of you probably want to know why should you pay more for a fast lens. “Fast lens” (or “Bright lens”) is a name given to camera lenses that have wide (large) maximum aperture, mostly those who start with f/2.8. The larger the aperture opening, the “faster” the lens. The name ‘fast’ was give to those lenses because they allow more light passing through the lens, and that means that they result in a faster shutter speed for a given f-number. That means that you can shoot in relatively low-light and still be able to capture sharp images with optimal exposure. This can help you avoid using a tripod or even a flash when needed.
Fast aperture lenses are also more expensive, due to the use of larger lenses (glass). However, not all fast lenses are expensive. For example, the Canon EF 50mm F1.8 and Nikon 50mm f1.8D are cheap and provide high image quality. However, their build quality still leaves something to be desired.
The Canon 50mm f1.8 is referred to as “Fantastic plastic” for the reasons I’ve just mentioned. Nevertheless, it’s all comes to the image quality and sreative possibilities that those lenses bring with them to the hands of the experienced photographer. So if you don’t want to be limited, you should consider buying a fast lens.
About the Sony 16-50mm f/2.8
The Alpha 16-50 mm (24-75mm equivalent) SSM (SAL-1650) premium lens was announced with the Sony A77 SLT camera as part of a Kit offering from Sony, and part of Sony’s A-mount lenses for its Alpha cameras. This is a very high-quality zoom lens with constant f/2.8 aperture. The lens was built to compliment the A77 and it’s dust and moisture resistant as the A77 body and the A77′s grip. It’s built with a combination of metal and plastic construction and it’s very solid.
The lens is constructed using an aspherical glass and three ED (eXtra Low Dispersion) lens elements, which reduce chromatic aberration. The SSM means Super Sonic wave Motor, and it’s Sony’s patent for quiet and very fast AF mechanism. The SSM is important not just because it offers fast AF, but because it allow shooting videos without the camera catching the AF noise. So even without Sony naming it as an ‘HD lens’, this lens is also optimized for video shooting as well.
In some of the latest fast lenses from various vendors, we can find a lens-shift image stabilization mechanism. The lack of internal image stabilization mechanism doesn’t really effect this lens. The reason for that is that the Sony A77 (As well as other Alpha cameras) have a sensor-shift image stabilization mechanism built right-in the camera itself (called SteadyShot INSIDE). That helps cancelling out camera-shake and helps eliminating blurring in the image when shooting in slower shutter speeds. The SteadyShot Inside works with every lens that you attach to the camera. So it actually eliminated the need for lens-shift image stabilization.
The second fact is that an image stabilization mechanism as less significance on normal-zoom lenses, and become more crucial with telephoto-zoom lenses. Having said that, we can’t deny the fact that it’s very useful when you want to shoot at slow shutter speeds and in low-light. The SteadShot INSIDE can give you an advantage of approximately 3 to 4 stops advantage, which is tremendously important when shooting in slow shutter speeds. However, we have that in the camera, so compared to DSLR cameras without an internal image stabilization, we shouldn’t be worried about that. At least if we intend to buy an Alpha camera.
The Sony DT 16-50 mm f/2.8 SSM is compatible with the following cameras:
- Sony A77, A65,
- Sony NEX-C3, NEX-5, NEX-3, NEX-5N, NEX-7 and Sony’s NEX Handycam camcorders (*with a NEX camera mount adapter, model number LA-EA1)
- SAL16105 (DT 16-105mm F3.5-5.6 / 24-105mm equiv.)
- SAL18200 (DT 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 / 27-300mm equiv.)
- SAL1680Z (DT 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 ZA Carl-Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* / 24-120mm equiv.)
- SAL2875 (28-75 mm F2.8 / 42-112mm equiv.)
- SAL2470Z (24-70mm F2.8 ZA SSM Carl-Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* / 36-105mm equiv.)
- SAL1635Z (16-35mm F2.8 ZA SSM Carl-Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* / 24-52mm equiv.)