My Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss DT Lens Review

Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Lens Review
93
APS-C A-Mount Zoom Lenses

In this Hands on Review I had the pleasure to test the Carl Zeiss 16-80mm DT lens using the Sony Alpha 35. This lens has an incredible attractive 35mm equivalent focal range of 24-120mm on a APS-C sized sensor camera. That is pretty much all you need focal range wise to do almost everything!! The Sony 16-80mm lens could be the best all around lens in Sony’s line-up. It’s an incredible walk around lens, a great landscape lens, and a solid performer for portraits as well.

This focal range equivalent happens to be very close to my Canon 24-105mm f/4 L lens that I absolutely love!! In fact it’s my go to lens if I can only take one with me when using my full frame Canon 5D Mark II.  It’s wide enough for most stuff, and you get a really nice zoom that brings you right in to most scenes. For my style of shooting it works very well and I like to take pictures of pretty much everything. You’ll see in a minute below 😉

Carl Zeiss 16-80mm DT lens – SAL1680Z

First, lets check out some pics and go over the specs on the A-Mount Sony 16-80mm Carl Zeiss DT Lens:

Sony Alpha 35, Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Lens
Sony Alpha 35, Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Lens – In Provided Soft Lens Bag
Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens
Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens @ 16mm
Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens
Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens @ 80mm
Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens
Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens @ 16mm
Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens
Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens @ 80mm
Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens
Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens @ 80mm
Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens
Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens
Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens
Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens

Here she is mounted to the Sony Alpha 35.

Sony Alpha 35, Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens
Sony Alpha 35, Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens
Sony Alpha 35, Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens
Sony Alpha 35, Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens @ 16mm
Sony Alpha 35, Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens
Sony Alpha 35, Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Autofocus Lens @ 80mm

Key Features:

  • A-Mount Lens/APS-C Format
  • 24-120mm (35mm Equivalent)
  • Aperture Range: f/3.5-4.5 to f/22-29
  • Two Aspherical Elements
  • Zeiss T* Anti-Reflective Coating
  • Auto Clutch Mechanism
  • Internal Focus
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 1.1′
  • Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm
  • Filter Thread = 62mm
  • Weight = 15.7 oz / 445 g
  • Price = $998 US

Build Quality:

As you can see by the images above, this lens is incredible well made and has very tight tolerance on the exterior. This lens is also fairly light weight considering the f/3.5-4.5 aperture and 16-80mm focal range. The lens hood is included and fits perfect. When the lens mounts to the camera it is very snug and firmly locks into place. The zoom is very smooth and has a nice dampening to it, so when your aimed downward it doesn’t zoom out on you. The focus is also smooth and relatively quick, although it’s not ssm technology. The 16-80mm lens feels relatively light to me, as far as lenses go and weighs in at 15.7 oz (445g). Inside the lens is extra high quality glass consisting of 10 groups, 14 elements. Two of which are aspheric. In addition to that the 16-80mm lens has a anti-flare T* Coating that is supposed to help with flare. The aperture eye has 7 blades which results in gorgeous circular specular highlights, and silky smooth bokeh’s!! The Digital Technology (DT) designation means that this lens is ideal for use on APS-C size sensor cameras. You can use it on a full frame, but you will have a cropped image as the lens is physically smaller on the inside. [divider

Test Shots:

Starting at 16mm I did a number of test shots with the 16-80mm CZ lens in a “lab” type scenario. This way you can get a pretty consistent comparisons between lens settings and focal lengths. I used the # 20 on the money for a focus point in all these test shots. I also tried to use the most popular focal lengths throughout the lens range including 16mm (wide open), 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 80mm. Also, be sure to Click on the photos for the actual 100% crops and a nice large crisp version 😉

Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss DT Lens @ 16mm

Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 CZ Lens @ 16mm, f/3.5
Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 CZ Lens @ 16mm, f/3.5
Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 CZ Lens @ 16mm, f/3.5
100% Crop @ f/3.5
Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 CZ Lens @ 16mm, f/3.5
100% Crop – Top Right @ f/3.5

Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss DT Lens @ 24mm

Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 CZ Lens @ 24mm, f/4
Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 CZ Lens @ 24mm, f/4
100% Crop @ f/4
100% Crop @ f/4
100% Crop @ f/4
100% Crop @ f/4

Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss DT Lens @ 35mm

Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 CZ Lens @ 35mm, f/4.5
Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 CZ Lens @ 35mm, f/4.5
100% Crop -  35mm @ f/4.5
100% Crop – 35mm @ f/4.5
100% Crop - Top Right @ f/4.5
100% Crop – Top Right @ f/4.5

Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss DT Lens @ 50mm

Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 CZ Lens @ 50mm, f/4.5
Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 CZ Lens @ 50mm, f/4.5
100% Crop - f/4.5 @ 50mm
100% Crop – f/4.5 @ 50mm
100% Crop - f/4.5 @ 50mm
100% Crop – f/4.5 @ 50mm
100% Crop - f/4.5 @ 50mm
100% Crop – f/4.5 @ 50mm

Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss DT Lens @ 80mm

Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 CZ Lens @ f/4.5, 80mm
Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 CZ Lens @ f/4.5, 80mm
Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 CZ Lens @ f/4.5, 80mm
100% Crop @ f/4.5, 80mm
100% Crop @ f/4.5, 80mm
100% Crop @ f/4.5, 80mm
100% Crop @ f/4.5, 80mm
100% Crop @ f/4.5, 80mm

I would rather you judge for yourself with these test shots, but I’ll give you my .02 cents: The Sony 16-80mm CZ  lens is sharp!!! Has very good detail retention in the corners at all focal lengths. A bit soft wide open at 16mm, but sharpens up quickly as you zoom in, and/or stop down. Chromatic aberration flaws are pretty much non-existent in these test shots. Distortion at 16mm is pretty noticeable, but not that bad in my opinion. Check out the specular highlights in the 80mm full photo. Notice how it stays round as the lens stops down. This is due to the 7 aperture blades creating a circular hole. [divider]

Vignette:

The vignette is very noticeable when shooting wide open at 80mm as you would expect, but as you stop down to about f/8 it’s not very noticeable. See below:

Vingette - 80mm @ f/4.5
Vingette – 80mm @ f/4.5
Vingette - 80mm @ f/8
Vingette – 80mm @ f/8

Real World Sample Photos:

Now for what really matters!! How does the 16-80mm actually perform int he real world? See for yourself below, and be sure to Click on the photos for nice large crisp versions!!

Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/11, 1/2000sec, 35mm, ISO 800
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/11, 1/2000sec, 35mm, ISO 800
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/11, 1/1600sec, 80mm, ISO 800
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/11, 1/1600sec, 80mm, ISO 800
100% Crop - Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/11, 1/1600sec, 80mm, ISO 800
100% Crop – Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/11, 1/1600sec, 80mm, ISO 800
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/4.5, 1/125sec, 80mm, ISO 160
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/4.5, 1/125sec, 80mm, ISO 160
100% Crop - Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/4.5, 1/125sec, 80mm, ISO 160
100% Crop – Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/4.5, 1/125sec, 80mm, ISO 160
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/60sec, 18mm, ISO 250
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/60sec, 18mm, ISO 250
100% Crop - Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/60sec, 18mm, ISO 250
100% Crop – Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/60sec, 18mm, ISO 250
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/125sec, 80mm, ISO 320
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/125sec, 80mm, ISO 320
100% Crop - Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/125sec, 80mm, ISO 320
100% Crop – Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/125sec, 80mm, ISO 320
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/4.5, 1/1250sec, 80mm, ISO 400
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/4.5, 1/1250sec, 80mm, ISO 400
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/5.6, 1/1250sec, 75mm, ISO 400
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/5.6, 1/1250sec, 75mm, ISO 400
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/1000sec, 40mm, ISO 400
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/1000sec, 40mm, ISO 400
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/4.5, 1/250sec, 80mm, ISO 400
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/4.5, 1/250sec, 80mm, ISO 400
100% Cop - Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/4.5, 1/250sec, 80mm, ISO 400
100% Cop – Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/4.5, 1/250sec, 80mm, ISO 400
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/80sec, 16mm, ISO 100
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/80sec, 16mm, ISO 100
100% Crop - Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/80sec, 16mm, ISO 100
100% Crop – Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/80sec, 16mm, ISO 100
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/4.5, 1/4000sec, 70mm, ISO 400
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/4.5, 1/4000sec, 70mm, ISO 400
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/160sec, 70mm, ISO 100
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/160sec, 70mm, ISO 100
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/500sec, 80mm, ISO 400
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/500sec, 80mm, ISO 400
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, .4sec, 16mm, ISO 400
Sony Alpha 35, 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, .4sec, 16mm, ISO 400
100% Crop @ f/8, .4sec, 16mm, ISO 400
100% Crop @ f/8, .4sec, 16mm, ISO 400
100% Crop @ f/8, .4sec, 16mm, ISO 400
100% Crop @ f/8, .4sec, 16mm, ISO 400

Video Performance:

The video performance of this lens is pretty solid and of course sharp!! You can here the autofocus motor focusing pretty clearly which makes this lens not the greatest choice for video. Ideally  you would want a lens with SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) Auto Focus for video as it is pretty much silent, and very fast!!

Here is a sample video of of my friend Abby. Be sure to select the 1080p HD & full screen options for best quality!!

Conclusion:

If I could only take one lens with me and I was using a APS-C sized Sony camera it would definitely be this lens!! The Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-45. Carl Zeiss lens is also an excellent value for the dollar at $998 US in my opinion. Mind you, I’m used to spending way more money on L glass for my Canon equipment, and the results with this lens are very comparable to those lenses.  Carl Zeiss Sony lenses really are a nice step up in quality and absolutely worth the extra money. The Color, Contrast, and Detail retention is excellent with this lens on even a relativity low-priced SLT camera like the a35. I would absolutely buy this lens and if I ever do purchase a Sony APS-C sized A-Mount camera this would be the lens of choice for a do it all work horse. I do wish it had SSM and OSS. Although that would raise the price to almost $1800 probably, I would still buy it at that price!! Please let me know if you have any questions about this review, camera, or lens, and have a great day!

Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT Lens Review
My Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss DT Lens Review
The best all in one APS-C A-Mount Lens option available
If I could only take one lens with me and I was using a APS-C sized Sony camera it would definitely be this lens!! The Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-45. Carl Zeiss lens is also an excellent value for the dollar at $850.00 in my opinion. Mind you, I'm used to spending way more money on L glass for my Canon equipment, and the results with this lens are very comparable to those lenses. Carl Zeiss Sony lenses really are a nice step up in quality and absolutely worth the extra money. The Color, Contrast, and Detail retention is excellent with this lens on even a relativity low-priced SLT camera like the a35. I would absolutely buy this lens and if I ever do purchase a Sony APS-C sized A-Mount camera this would be the lens of choice for a do it all work horse. I do wish it had an SSM focus motor and OSS builtin, but the sensor stabilization works really well, si it's really not necessary.
Bang For The Buck
95
Feature Set
85
Build Quality and Design
95
Ergonomics
95
Auto Focus System
85
Real World Usability
96
Video Quality
80
Real World Image quality
98
Lab Testing Optical Quality
95
Lens Distortion Control
93
Low Light Performance
90
Fun Factor
100
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Pros
fantastic 16-80mm range
killer optical quality all around
excellent build quality and design
Cons
no ssm autofocus motor
no optical stabilization built in
93
APS-C A-Mount Zoom Lenses

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