In this Hands On Review I will cover the Sony E-Mount 16mm f/2.8 Lens also known as the “Pancake Lens” or SEL16F28. I used the Sony Nex-C3 to review this lens and you can see my full Hands on Review of the Nex-C3 over here>>
In addition to the specs and features below, the E-Mount 16mm lens makes the Nex-C3 small enough to put in your pocket which is absolutely awesome!! The 16mm range although nice and wide is a bit limiting for an all around lens, but makes for a great landscapes, creative portraits, architecture shots and more. I also like the 9.4″ minimum focus distance which creates deep separation from backgrounds when utilized in compositions like the test shots you’ll see below.
- Aperture (Max.) : f/2.8
- Aperture (Min.) : f/22
- Filter Diameter : 49mm
- Lens Groups-Elements : 5 groups, 5 elements (1 aspheric surfaces)
- Minimum Focus Distance : 9.4″ (0.24m)
- Aspheric Elements : 1 aspheric surface
- Non-rotating Focusing Ring : No rotation
- AF for Movie Capture : Yes
- Angle of View : 83°
- Aperture Blade : 7 blades (Circular aperture)
- Dimensions (Max. Diameter x Length) : 2-7/16 x 7/8″ (62×22.5mm)
- Direct Manual Focus : Yes
- Exterior Finish : Metal
- Focal Length (35mm equivalent) : 24mm
- Focus Ring in AF Mode : No rotation
- Internal Motor : Yes (Stepping motor)
- Lens Weight : 2.5 oz (70g)
- Low Noise During Movie Capture : Excellent
- Maximum Magnification : 0.073x (APS-C)
- Mount Material : Metal
Light weight, heavy duty
Ultra compact and elegant, the SAL16F28 compliments your camera with a refined feel. The lens barrel is contracted from high-quality aluminum alloy which provides maximum durability in combination with the metal lens mount. Weighing in at only 2.5 oz (70g) it measures 62mm in diameter and 22.5mm thick.
The SAL16F28 features seven aperture blades that form a near circle. This result in a pleasing defocused circular effect on the background of your image when the aperture is set wide open. The same type of internal stepping motor used for the focus drive is used for aperture actuation as well, that result in a smooth, low-noise aperture operation ideally suited to movie shooting.
Smooth Manual Focusing
An easy-grip focus ring on the lens barrel gives you a solid “hands-on” feel in manual focusing. Additionally, Direct Manual Focus (DMF) allows you to focus manually after AF lock-on without the need for any switching. This can be extremely useful in situations where AF can’t lock onto the subject accurately, or when AF locks onto a point that does not match your intention. Electronic manual focus technology was originally developed for professional Sony camcorders to ensure smooth, precise focus control.
Made for movies
The SAL16F28 performs equally as well when shooting video. Thanks to an internal stepping motor and rear-focusing design It has optimized video performance for smooth, quiet operation essential for high-quality movie capture.
Accessories for creative shooting
The VCL-ECU1 Ultra-wide converter and VCL-ECF1 Fisheye conversion lenses can simply be attached to the front of the SAL16F28 to provide ultra wide or fisheye fields of view. Both conversion lenses were developed concurrently with and specifically for the SAL16F28 and integrate elegantly as well. The Ultra-wide and Fisheye conversion lenses offer single-focal-length image quality with superior portability.
High Res Photos of the Sony 16mm f/2.8 E-Mount Lens:
Be Sure to Click the photos for a nice Large Crisp view!!
As you can see from this side by side comparison below, the Nex-C3 becomes a pocket sized camera with the 16mm Pancake lens on it! A large pocket, but still a pocket 😉 Click Pics for a larger versions!!
Personally I’m not the biggest fan of using charts for testing lenses although they certainly have there place for raw data measurements etc… I prefer using real world objects to examine the lens flaws and in this case, I used leaf with a very colorful flower basket and deck railing in the background. This set-up gives a great visual of how well this lens can isolate subjects and separate them from the background. The leaf also offers enough detail and color to get a good idea how the lens works. I had the camera sitting on the deck and used the self timer to get as little camera shake as possible. Do to the slight occasional breeze being on the deck and all, I set the ISO to 400 to insure decent shutter speeds. I also included a few different 100% crops, but be sure to head over to the Full Res 16mm E-Mount Sample Gallery I set-up to check out the images in greater detail!!
Be sure to Click the images for a nice large gallery style view!
Sony 16mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/2.8
Sony 16mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/4
Sony 16mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/5.6
Sony 16mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/8
Sony 16mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/16
After examining the photos above you will see the lens is pretty sharp at f/2.8 and f/16, and Very sharp at all other apertures! You can also clearly see the separation between the leaf and the background flowers change through out the aperture range producing a nice bokeh in the process.
Sony 16mm Pancake Sample Photos:
Check out the Chromatic Aberration below where the white chair meets the dark background in the 100% crop. It’s easily fixable in Lightroom or whatever your preferred editing software is, so in the real world it’s not an issue as far as I’m concerned.
Shooting into the Sun.
Sony E-Mount 16mm lens and Portraits??
Portraits can also be done, you just have to be nice and close and like a little distortion for close-ups. Far away landscape style portraits are my favorite, but I just didn’t get a chance to grab one this time around. I’m getting the Nex-5n and Nex-7 though soon, so I’ll definitely be using the 16mm pancake again in the near future 😉 I’ll update this review and the sample gallery respectively at that time.
The Sony (SEL16F28) 16mm f/2.8 E-Mount Lens is an excellent complement to Nex series cameras and I highly recommend it! The lens is incredibly light weight and very thin which turns the Nex cameras into a pocket sized camera. With an effective focal range of 24mm on the Nex-C3, the Sony 16mm f/2.8 lens offers a really wide view! Add to that Panoramic Mode, and you can pretty much capture anything with this combo! The Sony 16mm pancake lens is also very sharp in the center, although it doesn’t have any ED (Extra-low Dispersion) Glass Elements. If it did the price would be more like $5-600 I would imagine. That killer ED glass is huge money!! The sharpness does fade towards the corners and at the very edge it’s noticeable soft.
The bottom line for the Sony 16mm f/2.8 lens is for $249.99 your getting very good quality glass in a very well made lens housing that produces great results in the real world. Would I buy one? Yes!
I also have the two Conversion Lenses for the 16mm lens reviewed over Here: Sony 16mm Conversion Lens Review >>
On a side note, I’m really looking forward to an ultra wide angle for the Nex Cameras, and I bet Sigma will come out with one very soon!! 😉 Also be sure to check out every E-Mount lens currently available for the Nex Cameras in my Sony E-Mount Lens Guide >>.
Your support is greatly appreciated as we run this site in our spare time and are not paid. We can however, make a small commission if you click a product link that your interested in. That click will then give us credit if you choose to purchase any given item. This has no effect on the cost of the product, and is a simple way to give back to SonyAlphaLab.com for the effort and info we provide.