Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha/NEX (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published June 2021

Introduction

Sony's APS-C system has been a 2nd class citizen during the last few years. New native APS-C format lenses are rare and the lineup is rather limited compared to e.g. Fuji. To be fair - Sony users can always use full format E-mount lenses anyway so the situation isn't really dire. However, even when ignoring the potentially higher costs, full-format lenses aren't feasible when it comes to standard zoom lenses. E-mount has not been without options in this respect albeit a high-quality lens was not provided until late 2019 - namely the Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G. In terms of specs, this was surely what many APS-C users have wished for ... except for the steep pricing of ~$1300 / 1100EUR. Let's see whether its performance can match its price tag.

The E 16-55mm f/2.8 G is a member of the G-class family of lenses which is best described as "prosumer" lineup with the correspondingly high build quality. The construction incorporates strong plastics for the lens barrel based on a metal mount. The lens extends when zooming out but there's no wobbling of the inner lens tube whatsoever. It's also dust- and moisture-resistant. Both the zoom- and focus rings operate smoothly. A  fluorine coating on the front element helps to repel water and oily fluids. Typical for many high-end Sony lenses there's a focus stop button on the lens barrel. A petal-shaped lens hood is part of the package. The most surprising aspect of this lens is probably the comparatively compact size. The comparable Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 WR R is 30% heavier and "fatter" for instance. 

The lens uses an XD Linear Motor for fast, precise, quiet AF. Manual focusing works by wire. Sony implemented a linear drive system for this which can come in handy for video. An image stabilization system has not been implemented which is a little disappointing for a modern lens. After all, there are still Sony APS-C cameras in the lineup that don't feature in-body IS.

Specifications
Equiv. focal length (full-format)"25-84mm" (in terms of field-of-view)
Equiv. aperture (full-format)"f/4.3" (in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction17 elements in 12 groups inc. 4x aspherical, 3x ED elements
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.33m (max magnification 1:5)
Dimensions73x100mm
Weight494g
Filter size67mm
Hoodpetal-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)
Other featuresfocus hold button, Dust and moisture resistant, Nano-AR coating, flourine coating