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on April 24, 2013
I've been motivated to write this review because I've used this lens on my NEX-6, and find many of the negative reviews here more a statement of photographer competence or expectations than valid criticism of the lens. Like so many people claiming competence to judge photographic equipment, they are big on technical gobble-de-gook, but are unwilling or unable to produce images that demonstrate the strengths or weaknesses of the equipment they review. My philosophy is, if you've captured a defect or an asset that impacts images, show it!

I'm a simple guy who's sort of new to this game - I've been shooting professionally for only 53 years, since I got a driver's license - from 4x5 Speed Graphics through Leica M4P and Hasselblad, up through a pair of D7000s today. My video work has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, local TV and many medical web sites; my stills have been on the business and feature pages of magazines and newspapers worldwide. I bought my NEX-6 to use my languishing Leica M mount lenses, and they are spectacular on the NEX-6. I bought the 16-50 with my NEX-6 because it was cheap when the combination was selling at $200 less than it is today.

Now, for this lens. Let's be aware of what this lens is: A small, very light and very inexpensive lens spanning a wide range at a cost that has no parallels in size/weight/cost/quality. It's not a Zeiss or Leitz. It's a lens designed to produce good images in an essentially pocketable camera-lens combination, at a sub-$1000 price (NEX-6).

And it does precisely that. It's a relatively slow (aperture-wise) compromise, and yes, it does require in-camera jpeg or post-processing (RAW images) to correct distortion at its widest setting.

But it's really sharp. Can you hand-hold a 50mm lens at 1/15th, and get reliably sharp images? Well, thanks to the optical stabilization in this lens, you can. I uploaded a sample image of mountaineer-photographer Ed Webster at a book signing (you can buy it on Amazon), and as you will see, the image is SO SHARP you can read the manufacturer's branding on the inside right (your left!) earpiece of his reading glasses. I also submitted a shot of the Manhattan skyline from Hoboken - produced from a RAW image with no post-processing - and you can see every window detail on all the buildings, even across town to the Empire State building - across the frame.

I can beat it with my Leica M lenses, which are faster by far. I can beat it with my 24mm f2 Canon FD. But not by much, and not that you would notice in a print 16x24 inches or smaller at normal viewing distance.

If you buy a NEX camera of any type, I would strongly suggest you consider buying this lens with your selected body.

When you are out to shoot a cover for National Geographic or Sports Illustrated, take it off and use a $1000-3000 prime lens.

For everything else, like family and travel, it's more than competent for the task. I give it 4 stars only because, like all kit zooms, it's a compromise - but a VERY competent one that's likely to please you, and all who see its images.
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on December 22, 2012
UPDATE - March 2013: Sony have "done the right thing" and released firmware updates for SOME of their older models. This lens is now compatible with the following cameras AFTER applying the firmware update - NEX7, NEX5n & NEX-F3. It was always compatible with the NEX6 and NEX5r. The lens is still NOT COMPATIBLE with any NEX body not mentioned above. Considering how "young" the NEX family is, this is still very poorly done on Sony's part. Accordingly, I've raised my review to 2 stars, from the original 1 star.

Sony leaves some very important information about this lens out of their marketing info, so let me save you some pain if you are considering this lens for any older (pre fall 2012) model NEX camera. This lens is designed for the NEX5r, the NEX6, and presumably, future NEX stills cameras. This lens is very small and convenient, but to get it this size, some huge optical quality concessions were made in terms of distortion and vignetting. The NEX6 (and other supported NEX bodies) have built in, real time correction for distortion and vignetting, which can not be turned off when this lens is attached to the body (hence many people do not even know how bad this lens actually is, unless they attach it to a camera without the in-body correction tables).

If you have an older NEX camera, such as the original NEX5, or any NEX3 except the F3, then your camera does not have these correction tables built in, and the results you get from this lens are going to be so bad that most people with an eye for photography would label the results unusable. On any camera without built in correction, this lens exhibits massive barrel distortion, and at it's widest angle, not only is there vignetting, but you are actually recording the inside of the lens barrel in each corner of your still or video image.

I give this lens 3 stars when used on a NEX6, mostly due to it's very convenient size for traveling. It finally makes the NEX cameras "pocketable" - as long as you have a rather large pocket - think cargo pants / cargo skirt. Outside of size and convenience, the image quality is acceptable, not great, but acceptable since the NEX6 is fixing the distortion and vignetting on the fly. Build quality is marginal - in your hands, this does not feel like a $350 lens, it barely justifies the $150 you pay for it as a kit with the NEX6. But the bottom line is that when used on a NEX6 (or other supported NEX body), it makes for a nice little package with acceptable image quality, certainly better than most pocket cameras, and similar to a DSLR with a cheap kit lens installed.

With any of the NON-supported NEX camera models, this lens is truly a "Buyer Beware" situation... you are looking at either accepting very sub-par quality images, or doing a lot of work in your favorite photo editing app to make your images look acceptable.

Conclusion: Get this lens in a kit (NEX6, NEX5R), or don't get it at all unless there is a firmware update that supports YOUR particular NEX body model to include the in-body correction for this lens.

TIP: if you shoot RAW on the NEX6, and your workflow includes Adobe products, then download the free "Adobe Lens Profile Downloader" application. There is an excellent user created distortion / vignetting correction profile in there for the NEX6 and SELP1650 created by Andreas Hinterleitner that will fix your RAW images so that they are indistinguishable from in camera corrected JPGs.

TIP UPDATE: As of Lightroom 4.3 and ACR 7.3, support for the SELP1650 is now BUILT-IN, and it is no longer necessary to download the 3rd party lens profile mentioned above. If you are still on an older version of Lightroom or Photoshop, then the "Adobe Lens Profile Downloader" application can still help you out.
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on December 9, 2012
I got this as the kit lens with my nex-6 camera and I am still not sure whether I like it or not.

Pros:
- The lens is retractable so when it is turned off the camera + lens has a very thin profile which makes it great to carry. E.g. I can wear the camera around my neck and button up my jacket easily.
- The zoom range is also great for an APS-C sensor camera. I was used to the 24-70 on my full frame canon and this is a very close approximate of that.
- Focusing is super fast. Unlike some of the other sony lenses (like the e-mount 50mm f1.8) this one supports phase detection AF (even in contrast detection mode it is fast) which makes focusing soooo much faster than all of the sony primes for nex.
- Image stabilization works extremely well - I've shot many handheld at 1/20 - 1/30 sec and they've all turned out

Cons
- Aperture is too small to get good shots with shallow depth of field or super low light situations.
- Bokeh is so so
- Sharpness is much lower compared to my canon 24-70 MK I (but maybe not a fair comparison- this lens is $1000 cheaper)
- You can zoom either using the ring or a toggle lever on the side of the lens. The ring works great, but this ring pulls double duty as focus ring as well, so when I am trying to fine tune the focus manually, my fingers keep brushing against the zoom lever and messing things up

Bottom-line: Recommend it for travel/casual/daylight photography. Not a good lens if you primarily take people pictures.
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on March 18, 2013
I bought this lens to use on my Sony NEX-7 camera after installing Sony's firmware update which provides in-camera optical corrections for this lens. In my own tests I was pleased to find that this 16-50mm lens is at least equal in image quality to the Sony 18-55mm lens which itself, in my experience, is a higher quality lens than many reviewers give it credit for being. There seems little point in owning both of these zoom lenses. The 16-50mm lens shows its focal lengths internally in viewers, whereas the 18-55mm lens shows them externally on lens body markings. The 16-50mm lens has no sun-shield hood and takes 40.5mm filters; the 18-55mm lens does have a sun-shield hood and takes 49mm filters. The 16-50mm lens is 9/16" shorter, 2/75oz lighter, and has a power zoom useful when shooting movies. For these reasons, I kept the Selp1650 zoom lens and sold my 18-50mm lens. ** Four months later: the lack of a sun-shield hood turns out to be more important than I had thought. I have had to delete far too many images due to lens flare spots which a lens hood would have prevented. And so now I have re-purchased the 18-55mm lens, which does have a hood.
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on January 22, 2013
This lens is a nice fit for the small NEX cameras, unlike the older 18-55 lens. The compactness made me consider a NEX 6 camera in the first place, whereas I always disregarded all previous NEX cameras (except NEX-7) because of the disproportion between the lens and the camera body. Concerning image quality. let's say it is decent for a walkabout, small kit lens. From 16mm to 20mm, JPEG are good at the center only, providing that you use it on NEX-6 that corrects the heavy vignetting and distortion at these focal lengths. Between 20mm and 40mm, the lens is at its peak performance, and at f/5.6 and slower is more than good. 50mm is again a weaker spot wide open, but at f/8 it's good.
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on January 4, 2013
I have been using this lens for a couple of weeks now on a NEX 7, and while RAW images show massive barrel distortion at wide angle settings, the in-camera JPG correction works pretty well. One proviso however, if you are using a NEX 7, and I guess any earlier models, you need to download and instal the latest firmware update which will remove distortion on in-camera JPGs and will also remove the distortion in movie mode. While I have been quite satisfied with the resolution, particularly in the center of the image, this is not the lens for the highest quality work, the standard kit lens or 18-200 zoom have more consistent resolution, but it is great for letting you just pocket the camera to take with you anywhere. Don't forget you are going to get much better photographs if you actually have a camera with you. The best results I have had are by using RAW and the lens correction filter and some sharpening in Photoshop. By shooting RAW plus JPG, you get both a quick corrected version for casual use and sorting, and the ability to tweak something better when you have time. I haven't been able to find a lens profile for Photoshop as yet, but the manual correction takes only a second or two.
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on May 7, 2016
I tried to use this lens on NEX-7 body and hated it - the vignetting, color fringing, and smeared unsharp corners made it unusable. I gave it along with my old NEX-5N to my daughter and forgot all about it. Then I sold NEX-7 (good riddance, it was truly an awful camera, as I now know!) and got the A7RII. One day I was looking for a small lens to take on a trip with me. My little girl suggested I take this lens. At first I brushed her aside - come on, I am not putting this thing on my precious A7RII! I'll be wasting more than half of that magnificent 42MP sensor, this thing will never live up even to the remaining 18MP, blah, blah, blah... But then I thought, what the heck, listen to the kid, she may have the right idea. She sure did! When I came back from my trip and examined the files, I almost fell off my chair - the images were absolutely superb! Tack sharp across the frame at every aperture, no vignetting, no color fringes, no distortion - just perfect! The color rendition and contrast is fairly close to my Zeiss Contax G 45mm F2.0 Planar. It left my wife's Nikon D3200 with Nikkor 18-140 in the dust. AF is silent and right on every time, the OSS is superb. This lens makes A7RII pocketable and weighs almost nothing. And as my little girl showed me, my sample of this lens works great on NEX-5N as well, definitely better than the original kit 18-55 lens with which that 5N came (make sure to upgrade your 5N firmware to the latest version available before using this lens on it).
I could go on, but the bottom line is - for those times you can not or don't want to carry your professional gear, but still want to enjoy your A7RII and 18MP is sufficient for your needs, this is definitely the lens to take with you. Street photography comes to mind, or dusty/wet places where you do not want to change lenses often. It can easily be used for serious work anywhere, and because it is so compact and light, you can carry it in your pocket at all times - I do. It feels great on A7RII body and looks cool also. I wish Sony would bring out something compact and good like this in the 55-200 range.
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on March 21, 2013
I have been using an NEX 3 with the 18-55mm kit lens (SEL1855) for the last 2 years and this January i upgraded myself to an NEX 5R and got this SEL1650pz lens (silver version)

After having using this for 3 months I think it meets my expectation

Pro:
1) Compactness (very light and small compare to the 18-55mm lens) - can better fit my jacket pocket and even pants pocket!
2) Power zoom via "focus" ring (optical AND digital zoom) is slick, smooth and quiet
3) Sharpness/quality of 95% of the picture seems to be compatible with the 18-55mm lens
4) Clear/digital zoom capability allows more zoom flexibility in still/video (don't think it was an option for 18-55mm lens)

Con:
1) Due to the 16mm wide angle, even with the NEX5R the corners seemed to have slight deformation
2) the Edge/corners sometimes could be slightly darker than the center at wide angle
3) Start up sequence seems to be a bit slower than when i use the 18-55mm lens (need to "power up" the lens)
4) Get buggy a few times that require to restart then camera (one time i need to remove the lens and reattach it) Probably due to the fact that the camera was accidentally turned on while it's in the case and the lens has trouble protruding)

Wish list:

1) Wish to have bigger aperture (F2.8 @ 16mm would be nice F3.5 @ 16mm is a bit disappointing)
2) Wish the focus ring can have some kind of "step click" (like the rear dial on the body) that can help fine tune focus/zoom level.
3) Wish they can have the option of using the focus ring to control another camera function (but i am actually happy to have the additional dial on the 5R for changing settings)
4) Wish we can use the "remote" to control ZOOM since it's digital! (especially with the 5R wifi function!)

Overall I am happy with the purchase using this as a basic kit lens that i can better carry around for every day use (compare to the fixed 16mm or 20mm lens and the bulky 18-55mm lens). I am looking forward to get additional prime lens (the f1.8) and the telephoto lens (the sel55210) for other special usage)
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on January 11, 2013
This lens fills an important gap in Sony's e mount selection, and is really what makes a nex camera worth the investment. It lives up to expectations and is an excellent lens with some caveats.

I got a c3 with the standard 1855 kit lens and soon grew tired of the size and weight of the lens compared to the camera despite the nice metal finish. I also found out that the quality of the lens is really not very good and far below what the camera itself is capable of.

When the 1650 became available, I did not hesitate long to get it, and it instantly turned my nex into a truly 'pocket sized DSLR' as I had hoped. The built quality is very nice with black metal exterior and internal metal mount, and a great look that complements the nex design line well. The combined zoom and focus ring works quickly and effectively after a short period of getting used to.

Pictures in the 30 to 50 mm range are as sharp as is reasonable to expect - in my view, very sharp and clearly sharper than the 1855 - BUT as others have noted there is an important issue at low focal lengths where barrel distortion and vignetting become extreme. In new nex models, built-in compensation software adjusts automatically in jpeg, but in my c3 this is not the case, so be prepared to adjust in photoshop if you intend to use it on an older nex for wide angle shots. However, it is not difficult to get very good results when compensating for barrel distortion, and there is an automatic correction profile available for download for easy raw conversion in photoshop, which is what I use.
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on July 3, 2013
When I initially got this lens, I thought it was pretty good. Especially compared to the Micro 4/3 len systems I had been using. But It had trouble focusing. Would hunt and peck a lot even in fairly good light. and looking at the photos at 100%, almost all of them were not sharp. Really disappointed, as I wanted to like this lens. And after I picked up the Nex 35mm lens, wow.... I knew this lens was pretty bad for the series.

Pros - very compact and light. Only compact all around zoom.. But unless you have to have a zoom, I'd look at some of the other NEX lens here on Amazon. The 35mm and 20mm are very very good.
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