Sony Vario-Sonnar T* DT 16-80mm f3.5-4.5 ZA


The Sony DT 16-80mm (SAL-1680Z) is the first zoom lens for the Alpha DSLR system designed by highly respected optical company Carl Zeiss. It offers a general-purpose 16-80mm range, equivalent to 24-120mm when mounted on an Alpha DSLR, delivering decent wide angle to telephoto capabilities. It is designed for use with cropped-frame bodies like the A100, and is not corrected for full-frame.

The Sony DT 16-80mm lens was announced at the same time as the DSLR-A100 body itself, and was an undoubted highlight of the system’s launch. Most of the first Alpha lenses were rebadged versions of existing Konica Minolta models, but here was a brand new zoom for the system which promised a quality general-purpose option for discerning photographers. Sony also announced two further fixed focal length lenses from Carl Zeiss at the Alpha launch.

Unfortunately none of the Zeiss lenses were actually ready for sale at the A100’s Summer 2006 launch and a few months later the release date of the DT 16-80mm had been delayed even further. This was a big disappointment for those who believed until the brand new lenses (and bodies) arrived, the Alpha system was little more than a rebadged project. Thankfully any issues concerning the delay have now been resolved and the DT 16-80mm finally went on sale in Spring 2007.

As one of the most exciting and highly anticipated lenses for the Alpha system, we’re pleased to present our new full review of the Sony DT 16-80mm. It represents an upgrade for existing Alpha kit lens owners, or of course a quality general-purpose option for those buying into the Alpha system from scratch.

As such we’ll be comparing it here against the standard Sony DT 18-70mm kit lens. The range of the DT 16-80mm is clearly both slightly wider and longer, and the f4.5 aperture at the telephoto end a little brighter, but how does the build quality, focusing speed and crucially the optical quality measure-up?

Does the Sony DT 16-80mm justify its higher price tag, or is the standard kit lens still the best choice for new buyers wanting a general-purpose zoom? Find out in our Sony DT 16-80mm full review and for a demonstration of its design, features and coverage, check out our Sony DT 16-80mm video tour.

Testing notes

We tested the Sony DT 16-80mm and DT 18-70mm lenses using an Alpha A100 body. The A100 was set to its best quality Large Fine JPEG mode, and unless otherwise stated, all sample images were taken with Auto White Balance, 100 ISO sensitivity, Vivid colour mode and with the D-Range Optimiser switched off. The serial numbers of the 16-80mm and 18-70mm lenses tested were 3800651 and 1805672 respectively.

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