Top critical review
157 people found this helpful
Buying for older NEX?? Buyer Beware!!! (Update - New firmware for some cameras available)
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.