Sony G 16-25mm f/2.8 Review: This is the Wide-Angle Zoom Lens To Get

Do you want a compact lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture? Does it have to be as sharp as a G-Master lens without the high price? Sony may have just given you what you asked for, provided that you don’t need an extensive zoom range.

The new Sony FE 16-25mm f/2.8 is intended to be a handy companion to the popular Sony FE 25-50mm f/2.8 with the two lenses covering a very useful range. It is also ideally suited for the lighter Sony a7C II and a7C R bodies. In fact, I decided to do the test charts on the a7R V to truly push the resolution of the lens but shot the 16-25mm out and about on the a7C II as a light kit for street shooting.

Sony G 16-25mm f/2.8 badge
The 16-25mm gives you a manual focus switch, aperture ring, and a customizable button.

How the Sony 16-25mm f/2.8 G Lens Handles

Although the Sony 16-25mm f/2.8 is a G series lens, it is nicely outfitted with controls. From the customizable button to the integrated aperture ring, the features are beyond what I expected. There is a switch for focus controls and another to make the aperture smooth-turning or with click stops. At only 14.4 oz (409 grams), the 16-25mm is incredibly lightweight for an f/2.8 lens.

Sony G 16-25mm f/2.8 compactness
Shown on the smaller A7C II camera, the compact nature of the 16-25mm is apparent.

A perfectly functional hood clicks in place around the 67mm filter diameter at the front of the lens. The zoom ring and manual focus do, however, feel sloppy to the touch. Being a Sony G series zoom, the lens is reasonably well-sealed against the elements.

Sony G 16-25mm f/2.8 weather sealed
The 16-25mm seems well-built and sealed, despite its affordable nature.

Thanks to the twin linear motors in the 16-25mm, autofocus performance is quick and effective. Top-of-the-line Sony XD motors just aren’t necessary here, and I found the ability to shoot from close to far silent and swift.

This is a fun wide-angle lens for dark interiors and architecture.
One of the main reasons to invest in an f/2.8 lens is for indoor scenes where light is at a minimum. Luckily, this lens doesn’t have to break the bank.

Sony G 16-25mm f/2.8

How It Shoots

Let’s start with the flare characteristics, as I foresee this lens being used as a landscape or cityscape tool, both at home and abroad. Because we had an overcast day to deal with I used a strong COB 60W light which is in some ways even more punishing to a flare lens test. Shooting wide open, I noticed a minor loss of contrast across the frame, but the lens coatings handled the situation well. Stopped down, there was some ghosting with plenty of reflections showing, but the ghosting overall was minor and somewhat muted.

Sony G 16-25mm f/2.8 indoor flare
The Sony G 16-25mm f/2.8 seems to handle flare pretty well, and the sunstars are nice.

Sunstars were quite impressive, given the affordable nature of this lens. The points of each star are pretty refined, and there are many of them. Certainly, this would be a nice lens for sunny landscapes or cityscapes at night.

Sony G 16-25mm f/2.8 waterdrops in sunlight
Water droplets create some shapes in the direct sun. You can see some ghosting present here in the right corner.

The sharpness characteristics of this lens impressed me. I was hard-pressed to see much difference between this lens and the more expensive G Master ultra-wide zooms. The center performance at f/2.8 is as good as you would want, and stopping down only improves the contrast slightly.

Sony G 16-25mm f/2.8 colorful ceiling
A colorful ceiling and an ultra-wide sense of perspective make for a vivid image.

However, the corners suffer from distortion correction at both ends of the focal range, which causes the extreme corners to blur slightly at f/2.8. Although stopping down to f/5.6 helps, the result is still somewhat soft. Still, this only affects the very far corners and, in most situations, won’t be a problem. I also found the 16-25mm to be very flat shooting overall, so if the center is in focus, the corners will largely be, too.

Sony G 16-25mm f/2.8 sharpness test
Here you can see the excellent inherent sharpness of the 16-25mm even wide-open.

The 16-25mm exhibits fairly nice bokeh overall, with some mechanical vignetting in the corners but clean specular highlights otherwise. No onion rings are present and the lens has nice transitions across the frame into the out-of-focus areas. An f/2.8 lens can deliver some shallow depth-of-field even when its an ultra-wide and the 16-25mm shows that off well.

Sony G 16-25mm f/2.8 bokeh beer
The 16-25mm renders backgrounds nicely and even busy backdrops like this are soft and smooth.

Sony relies on its built-in breathing compensation to correct lenses with fair amounts of lens breathing. However, this does hurt overall video quality. Luckily, the 16-25mm does not exhibit much change in field-of-view when focusing near to far, so there is no need to rely on breathing compensation.

The 16-25mm is a similar weight and size to the 24-50mm and works well on a gimbal or even handheld as a vlog-style lens. The smooth aperture is also lovely for video shooters, and although the manual focus ring is a little loosey-goosey, the 16-25mm would be a lovely video lens overall.

Sony G 16-25mm f/2.8 sunstars
I know. More sunstars. We had a break in the clouds, though, and the sun shone briefly.

The Sony 16-25mm f/2.8 G Punches Above Its Weight

While the 16-25mm may be small, it is very capable. I was surprised by how well-corrected and sharp it is, and the lens represents a good alternative for someone who needs a fast f/2.8 aperture without resorting to a heavy lens. The focal range is limited, but with so many general-purpose zooms beginning at 24mm, no focal length is missing.

Sony G 16-25mm f/2.8 downtown architecture
It’s easy to get the whole story with this lens. Even when space is tight.

Are There Alternatives?

Sigma and Tamron make 16-28mm and 17-28mm zooms, respectively, and they are also fast f/2.8 lenses. I would say the Sony is slightly sharper than the third-party options and technically lighter, although only by a marginal amount. When it comes to price, the Tamron and Sigma will save you a substantial amount of money, but the Sony does offer an edge in optical performance.

Should You Buy It?

Yes. The G series lens is much less expensive than its more illustrious G Master compatriots and delivers excellent optical performance. It’s a great lens that also keeps the size and weight down.