Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Review

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens

Would you accept a truncated focal length, 16-25mm vs. the classic 16-35mm range, for a significantly reduced size and weight and a dramatically lower cost? This is your lens. The Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens is a compact, ultralight, affordable, wide-aperture, full-frame, ultra-wide-angle lens that is ideal for general-purpose use. This lens's best feature is its outstanding image quality. The kit's standard zoom likely takes a gap-free handoff to the longer range.

  • Extremely useful, covering the most-needed ultra-wide-angle focal lengths
  • Sharp image quality
  • Wide aperture
  • Affordable
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Silent, fast, smooth AF
  • Great choice for gimbal use
  • Weather sealed
  • Aperture ring
  • Short zoom range
  • No aperture lock switch
  • Extreme barrel distortion over much of the range
  • Focus ring lacks sufficient resistance
In-Depth Review

Why pay for or carry redundant focal lengths?

Many of us have a 24-something mm standard zoom lens in our kit, and that lens is often a 24-70 with the highly desirable f/2.8 aperture. Traditionally, that lens is paired with a 16-35mm f/2.8 on the wider side. While having a longer focal length range mounted and ready for immediate use is optimal, redundancy is often unnecessary, and it comes with additional size, weight, and cost.

Currently, Sony's outstanding FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens is that comparable lens. It was announced only about 8 months prior to the FE 16-25, so it features a recent design that shares the latest significant technological lens design breakthroughs, including this era's size and weight optimization. The 16-25 and 16-35 II differences are huge.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Compared to FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens

The 16-25 is dramatically smaller and moderately lighter, and the $1,100 price difference will catch your attention. The cost savings afford a Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G Lens with $2 still left in your wallet.

I'm fresh off of the Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G Lens review. That lens shortens the long end relative to a traditional 24-70mm model, garnering a similar size, weight, and cost savings. Aside from the focal length range differences, the FE 12-25mm F2.8 G and FE 24-50mm F2.8 G have a similar design, including a close enough size and weight to (likely) make rebalancing unnecessary when swapping on your gimbal.

The FE 16-25mm F2.8 G is a compact, lightweight lens that is easy to carry, including in a pack, and comfortable to use, including on a gimbal.

It's a Sony "G" lens, and the expected high-quality design and build are included. Dual linear motors power fast, silent, and accurate AF, and sharp image quality is delivered. The FE 16-25mm F2.8 G is a great choice for your all-around wide-angle needs.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Top

Focal Length Range

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Focal length range (or individual focal length for a prime lens) is a primary consideration for lens selection. A specific angle of view is required to get a desired subject framing with the optimal perspective (or from within a working distance limitation).

When starting a kit, most will first select a general-purpose lens (seriously consider the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens or Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G Lens). One of the next-most-needed lenses is typically a wide-angle zoom lens. This lens's 16-25mm focal length range ideally covers that need.

While the 16-25mm focal length range is relatively short, well-under 2x, the angles of view it contains are among the most useful. My time with this lens resulted in many images I was happy with, reflecting the high utility of this range. In addition, this range efficiently aligns with the 24-something mm standard zoom lenses.

Ultra-wide images usually feature a significant amount of background in the frame. Thus, the challenge of aligning an optimal background is increased when using ultra-wide angles of view. I generally find outstanding ultra-wide compositions more challenging to create than normal or telephoto compositions, but when the right scene is found, successful ultra-wide results are especially rewarding.

Placing an attractive or otherwise interesting foreground subject close to the camera, making it appear large in relation to a distant, still in-focus, and hopefully, also attractive background is a great ultra-wide-angle focal length composition strategy. For example, move in close to flowers in front of a large mountain range (perhaps with a lake between them) to utilize this concept.

Other ultra-wide strategies work, and sometimes, you need an ultra-wide angle because you can't back up any farther.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Tight Space Sample Picture

This focal length range is an outstanding choice for landscape photography.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Garden Sample Picture

It is perfect for gardens and most other beautiful places.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Forest Sample Picture

Take it for a walk in the park.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Vista Sample Picture

The 16-25mm angle-of-view range is an outstanding choice for astrophotography.

While a close-up wide-angle perspective can look great in a landscape scene, it is generally to be avoided when a person is the primary subject. What you do not (usually) want appearing large in the foreground of your ultra-wide composition is a person's nose. We don't typically look at people from really close distances (that other person will become uncomfortable with us being in their personal space), and when we look at photos of people captured from these distances, certain body parts (usually the nose) start to look humorously large. Unique portrait perspectives can be fun, but this technique should not be overused as it gets old quickly – and your subjects may not appreciate it. Get the telephoto lens out for your tightly framed portraits.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Girl in Ferns Sample Picture

Still, this lens is a great choice for photographing people. Simply move back and include your human subject in a larger scene, environmental portraiture. The only moderately wide 25mm focal length is a great choice for full-body portraits, and this focal length range also nicely handles small up to large groups.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Splash Zone Portrait Sample Picture

Perhaps not obvious is that the rock she is standing on is very wet. She is in the splash zone, and this water is fresh out of the mountain. Despite the cold water soaking her legs, she managed to hold still for a 1/3 second exposure to document this outing.

The 16-35mm focal length range is a great option for wide work at weddings, at family and other events, as well as for photojournalism and sports photography (especially with the f/2.8 aperture available to stop subject motion in low light and to aid in blurring the background).

Many of those uses happen in a location/venue that also needs to be photographed. This focal length range works well for architecture, interior, and real estate photography.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Interior Architecture Sample Picture

This focal length range is great for tight spaces, including building and vehicle interiors.

Going underwater? The 16-25mm FLR is a great choice for aquatic adventures utilizing an underwater housing. These angles of view permit close-distance framing of a subject, which minimizes the image degradation caused by water clarity issues.

Ultra-wide angles work great with leading lines, as seen here in this focal length range illustration.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Focal Length Range Example

16mm | 18mm | 20mm | 22mm | 25mm

Yes, you can get artistic with this range.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Artistic Sample Picture

This lens is optimized for video recording, with a range of uses that includes self-recording.

The 16-25mm focal length range is again illustrated below with landscape and architecture subjects:

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Focal Length Range Example

16mm | 18mm | 20mm | 22mm | 25mm
16mm | 18mm | 20mm | 22mm | 25mm

Does it matter that this lens is missing the 26-35mm focal lengths? Maybe. Maybe not.

Not all needs include that range, and in that case (or if you can satisfy infrequent needs via cropping), there is no concern.

Still, the 26-35mm range is especially useful for portraits and products, and I seldom go out without this range covered. However, a second camera with a lens standard zoom lens, such as the Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G Lens, covers more than this need. If a lens change and the short downtime it entails is acceptable, the second lens unmounted in the case may also cover this need.

APS-C imaging sensor format cameras utilize a smaller portion of the image circle, framing a scene more tightly. The Sony field of view crop factor is 1.5x, with the 16-25mm range providing a 24-37.5mm full-frame angle of view equivalent. This angle of view has increased value for portraiture while foregoing some landscape and architecture angles.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Front

Max Aperture

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Few zoom lenses feature a wider aperture opening than this one, and a wide aperture is a big advantage.

Wide apertures are useful for stopping action, both that of the subject and that of the camera, in low light levels while keeping ISO settings low. They also benefit AF systems, enabling them to work better in low-light environments.

Even when photographing under bright light conditions, wide apertures are useful for creating a strong background blur that clearly isolates a subject from distracting backgrounds. Here is an example of the maximum background blur this lens can produce at the specified focal lengths:

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Maximum Blur Example

16mm | 20mm | 25mm

While the distant background is diffusely blurred at close focus distances, don't expect ultra-wide-angle focal lengths to create a strong background separation at moderately long focus distances, even 25mm f/2.8, and especially not at the low resolution shown below.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Covered Bridge Sample Picture

That said, sometimes the background is attractive.

A disadvantage of a wide aperture is the required increased physical size of the lens elements, which come with heavier weight and higher cost penalties. In this case, those penalties are minor, and this lens is compact, lightweight, and affordable.

Videographers will especially appreciate this lens's iris ring, which enables a manually selected aperture. The camera controls the aperture setting with the ring in the A (Auto) position, while all other settings electronically force the aperture to the chosen opening. A 2-position switch rotationally oriented on the right side toggles the aperture ring between 1/3 stop clicks and smooth, quiet, non-clicked adjustments, ideal for video recording.

Aside from a slightly more complicated design, inadvertent aperture changes, such as when mounting or unmounting the lens, are the primary disadvantage of an aperture ring (especially when photographing in the dark). An Iris Lock switch would eliminate that problem, but such is not included. Helpful is that the rotation resistance between A and the manual settings is firm.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Angle

Image Stabilization

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Ultra-wide-angle focal lengths tend to keep details small in the frame and within their pixels during the exposure, which naturally keeps the results sharp, and the Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens does not feature image stabilization. Omitting the optical stabilization system reduces the size, weight, complexity, and cost. However, image stabilization is a very useful feature.

Sony addresses that omission with Steady Shot IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) in their Alpha cameras. In addition to reducing camera shake, the stabilized imaging sensor provides a still viewfinder image, enabling careful composition. Furthermore, sensor-based AF takes advantage of the stabilized view for improved accuracy.

With no IS switch on the lens, the camera menu must be used to enable or disable IBIS or check the current settings. This extra step is a slight impediment to working quickly, going from tripod mounted to handholding, for example.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens on Tripod

Image Quality

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It has the desired small, light, wide, and affordable characteristics, but is the Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens sharp?

We never want compromised image quality. Still, those cost, weight, and size issues are in play. However, the similar-in-most-regards FE 24-50mm F2.8 G set this lens's image quality expectations high.

This lens produces excellent center-of-the-frame image quality at f/2.8 throughout the entire focal length range. Stopping down produces only slight improvement in contrast and resolution, and none is needed.

Often, subjects are not placed in the center of a composition, and lenses typically produce decreased sharpness in the periphery of the image circle, where light rays are refracted to a stronger angle than in the center. Fortunately, this one shows only a minor decline from the center to the corner at f/2.8, and the f/2.8 corner image quality is excellent. Stopping down produces only minor changes aside from improving contrast by decreasing peripheral shading.

The resolution chart is merciless on image quality, so let's take the testing outdoors, next looking at a series of center-of-the-frame 100% resolution crop examples. These images were captured in RAW format using a Sony Alpha 1 and processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method. The sharpening amount was set to only "30" on a 0-1000 scale. Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening, but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

16mm: 2.8 | 2.8 | 2.8 | 2.8 | 2.8
20mm: 2.8 | 2.8 | 2.8 | 2.8 | 2.8
25mm: 2.8 | 2.8 | 2.8 | 2.8 | 2.8

These results are outstanding.

Next, we'll look at a series of comparisons showing 100% resolution extreme top left corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. The lens was manually focused in the corner of the frame to capture these images.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

16mm: 2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0
20mm: 2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0
25mm: 2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0

Count on samples taken from the outer extreme of the image circle, full-frame corners, to show a lens's weakest performance. These corner results are impressive.

Corner sharpness does not always matter, but it sometimes does, including when photographing landscapes and architecture, and this lens covers those needs.

This lens does not exhibit focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA). Many modern lenses automatically correct for focus shift, though focus breathing (more later) can create slight angle of view changes.

When used on a camera that utilizes its full image circle, a lens is expected to show peripheral shading at the widest aperture settings, and as mentioned, this lens has that. At 16mm, close to 3 stops of shading are noticeable at f/2.8, with closer to 2.5 stops showing at longer focal lengths.

Want less corner shading? Stopping down is the near-universal solution. At f/4, 16mm corners see about 2 stops of shading, with about 1.5 stops showing in the longer corners. Little change is seen at f/5.6, and just over 1 stop of shading remains in the f/11 corners.

APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, the about one-stop of corner shading showing at f/2.8 may be visible in select images, primarily those with a solid color (such as a blue sky) in the corners.

One-stop of shading is often considered the number of visibility, though subject details provide a widely varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting is correctable during post-processing, with increased noise in the brightened areas the penalty, or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. Study the pattern shown in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.

Lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration) refers to the unequal magnification of all colors in the spectrum. Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii), with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the most significant amount as this is where the most significant difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.

With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide. However, it is always better to avoid this aberration in the first place.

Color misalignment can be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a set of worst-case examples. The images below are 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of Sony a1 frames showing diagonal black and white lines.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

16mm | 18mm | 20mm | 22mm | 25mm

These images should only contain black and white colors, with the additional colors indicating only a modest presence of lateral CA.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light. More simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration, along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to observe. Axial CA remains somewhat persistent when stopping down, with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing. The spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused, and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.

In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation, with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.

The examples below look at the defocused specular highlights' fringing colors in the foreground vs. the background. The lens has introduced any fringing color differences from the neutrally colored subjects.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

16mm | 20mm | 25mm

These results indicate good performance.

Bright light reflecting off lens elements' surfaces may cause flare and ghosting, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes interesting, usually objectionable visual artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare and ghosting effects in an image are variable, dependent on the position and nature of the light source (or sources), selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades, and quantity and quality of the lens elements and their coatings. Additionally, flare and ghosting can impact AF performance.

This lens produced, at most, only slight flare effects even at narrow apertures in our standard sun in the corner of the frame flare test, reflecting excellent performance.

Flare effects can be embraced or avoided, or removal can be attempted, though removal is sometimes challenging.

Two lens aberrations are particularly evident in images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light that can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma) or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). The coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either sagittal (radiating from the center of the image) or meridional (tangential, perpendicular to sagittal). This aberration can produce stars appearing to have wings. Remember that Lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

The images below are 100% crops taken from the top-left corner of Sony a1 images captured at the widest available aperture.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Coma Example

16mm | 20mm | 25mm

While these stars are not perfect dots, they are considerably closer to such than most other lenses can produce.

Except at the long end, this lens has extreme barrel distortion. The geometric distortion is so strong that Sony forces correction at all focal lengths in camera (EVF, LCD, JPG images, movies), regardless of the lens correction settings. Processing this lens's distortion test images using third-party software with correction disabled reveals the true image captured.

The squares in the test chart filled the viewfinder during capture. At 16mm and 18mm, there is a lot of extra subject in the frame, and the straight line created by the top of the chart is turned into a strong curve. The 20mm and 22mm results show improvement, but strong barrel distortion remains. The barrel distortion is reduced to slight at 25mm.

Every lens is a compromise, and reasons for designing a lens with uncorrected geometric distortion include lower cost, smaller size, lighter weight, reduced complexity, and improved correction of aberrations not software correctable. Geometric distortion can be corrected, including in-camera, using software and a correction profile, and once properly corrected, geometric distortion is no longer a differentiator between lenses. However, the stretching required for correction can affect the final image quality. Base your evaluation on the corrected image quality.

As seen earlier in the review, it is easy to illustrate the strongest blur a lens can create, and the low wide-angle magnification is inherently disadvantaged in this regard. Due to the infinite number of variables present among available scenes, assessing the blur quality, bokeh, is considerably more challenging. Here are some f/11 (for diaphragm blade interaction) 100% crop examples.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Bokeh Example

16mm | 20mm | 25mm   16mm | 20mm | 25mm

The first example shows the high 11-blade count diaphragm rendering defocused highlights quite rounded and reasonably smoothly filled, though a modest circular imperfection shows. The second set of examples shows nicely blurred foliage.

Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the frame's corner does not show round defocused highlights, instead showing cat's eye shapes due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the frame's corner, the shape is not round. That is the shape we're looking at here.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Cat's Eye Bokeh Example

16mm | 18mm | 20mm | 22mm | 25mm

These results are good. Truncation primarily shows only deep in the 16mm corners. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced, and the mechanical vignetting diminishes, making the corner shapes rounder.

When the diaphragm is narrowed, point light sources will show a sunstar effect (diffraction spikes). Each blade is responsible, via diffraction, for creating two points of the star effect. If the blades are arranged opposite of each other (an even blade count), the points on the stars will equal the blade count as two blades share in creating a single pair of points. The blades of an odd blade count aperture are not opposing, and the result is that each blade creates its own two points. This lens's 11-blade count times two points means 22-point star effects.

Generally, the more a lens diaphragm is stopped down, the larger and better shaped the sunstars, and this lens produces beautiful stars.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Sunstar Effect Example

The 20mm example above was captured at f/16.

The design of this lens is illustrated below.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Design

Three ED (Extra low Dispersion) glass elements and four aspherical elements (include one ED Aspherical glass element) are featured to control spherical and chromatic aberrations and deliver sharp image quality.

Overall, the Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens produces excellent image quality. Extreme barrel distortion is this lens's primary image quality detriment, but the corrected results are sharp and look great.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Extended Side with Hood


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As in the FE 24-50 F2.8 G, "Two specially optimized linear motors and a precision control system acquire focus on any subject with remarkable speed and accuracy. Tracking performance is also excellent and fully capable of keeping up even with Sony’s advanced model a9 III camera at up to 120 fps. Precise, quiet focus is smoothly acquired and maintained even when shooting high frame rate 4K 120p or FHD 240p movies." [Sony]

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Dual Linear AF

This lens internally and silently focuses smoothly, fast, and accurately, and low-light AF performance is good.

A customizable AF hold button is provided. With the camera set to continuous focus mode, press this button to lock focus at the currently selected focus distance, permitting a focus and recompose technique. This button also acts as a custom button that can be programmed to another function using the camera's menu.

Non-cinema lenses usually require refocusing after a focal length change. As illustrated in the 100% crops below, the reviewed lens is not parfocal. Still, when focused at 25mm, at least close to accurate focus is maintained throughout a zoom to 16mm.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Parfocal Example

25mm | 22mm | 20mm | 18mm | 16mm

FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported via Sony's DMF (Direct Manual Focus) AF mode. This lens has an AF/MF switch, allowing this frequently used camera setting to be changed without accessing the menu system.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Side

The rubber-ribbed, slightly raised focus ring is ideally positioned toward the front of the lens, with the larger-diameter lens hood making it easy to find. While this ring is only modestly sized, it has generous proportions for the space available on this compact, full-featured lens.

Focus adjustment is linear, with about 140° of rotation for a full-extent adjustment. This rate is good for critical manual focusing, but the ring would benefit from increased resistance.

It is normal for the scene to change size in the frame as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other. This effect is focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus (without movement to camouflage the effect), and anyone critically framing while adjusting focus.

This lens produces only a modest change in subject size through a full-extent (worst-case) focus distance adjustment.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Focus Magnification Example

16mm: Far | Close   25mm: Far | Close

This lens has a minimum focus distance of 7.1" (180mm), and manual focus mode allows modestly closer focusing. The maximum magnification spec is 0.20x, a decent number.

ModelMin Focus DistanceMax Magnification
Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens11.0"(280mm)0.21x
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens11.0"(280mm)0.14x
Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens9.8"(250mm)0.18x
Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens7.1"(180mm)0.20x
Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens8.7"(221mm)0.32x
Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G Lens11.0"(280mm)0.23x
Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G Lens7.5"(190mm)0.30x
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens7.5"(190mm)0.19x

At 16mm, a subject measuring approximately 5.6 x 3.7" (142 x 95mm) fills a full-frame imaging sensor at this lens's minimum MF distance. At 25mm, a 6.3 x 4.2" (160 x 107mm) subject does the same.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Focus Magnification Example

The individual USPS love stamps shared above measure 1.19 x 0.91" (30.226 x 23.114mm).

Lateral CA is increased at minimum focus distance, especially at 16mm, and the image periphery is soft due to field curvature. F/11 provides increased depth of field that improves corner sharpness.

The minimum focus distance is measured from the imaging sensor plane with the balance of the camera, lens, and lens hood length taking their space out of the number to create the working distance. With the hood removed, an adequate 3.5" (89mm) of minimum focus distance working distance is availed at 25mm, but the plane of sharp focus is only about 1.6" (41mm) in front of the lens at 16mm, where the lens often obstructs subject lighting.

Mount an extension tube behind this lens to significantly decrease the minimum focus distance and increase the magnification. Realistically, extension tubes won't work with this lens at 16mm because the working distance is already extremely short, but a short extension tube might work at 25mm. As of review time, Sony does not publish extension tube specs or manufacture these items, but third-party Sony-compatible extension tubes are available.

This lens is not compatible with Sony teleconverters.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Angle Extended with Hood

Design & Features

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In the review intro, I mentioned that the FE 12-25mm F2.8 G and FE 24-50mm F2.8 G lenses share a similar design. Here is that visual comparison:

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Compared to Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G Lens

You need to read the characters to discern between the lenses, and if I blacked out those, the differentiation would be difficult. The similarity is a positive feature as these lenses are well-designed and durably built.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Product Images

MFD |    MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    MFD |    Rotated   Compare »

This lens extends and retracts slightly with focal length change. The extension is at the wide end, where the lens becomes 0.26" (67mm) longer (shorter than the 24-50).

The rubber-ribbed zoom ring is ideally located and smooth, with a short 50° rotation.

The only switch, the AF/MF switch, is flush mounted. While this switch is difficult to inadvertently change, it is slightly challenging to change with gloves on.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Mount

This lens is dust and moisture resistant, ready for challenging outdoor conditions. All seams are sealed, the buttons and switches have silicone rubber gaskets, and a rubber ring seals the lens mount.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Weather Sealing

The front lens element is fluorine coating to avoid dirt and moisture adhesion and make cleaning considerably easier.

"The use of engineering plastics for some components enhances durability while reducing weight to just 409 grams (14.5 oz.), making this a low-stress F2.8 choice for long shooting sessions or low-light situations." [Sony]

As I said about the FE 24-50mm F2.8 G Lens, there are few full-frame zoom lenses as pleasant to carry and use as this one.

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens29.7(840)3.5 x 5.0(88.5 x 126.8)822019
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens28.1(795)3.3 x 5.2(85.0 x 131.0)n/a2020
Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens15.9(450)3.0 x 4.0(77.2 x 100.6)722022
Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens14.4(409)2.9 x 3.6(74.8 x 91.4)672024
Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens19.3(547)3.5 x 4.4(87.8 x 111.5)822023
Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G Lens12.5(353)3.2 x 3.5(80.5 x 88.1)722022
Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G Lens15.5(440)2.9 x 3.6(74.8 x 92.3)672024
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens14.8(420)2.9 x 3.9(73.0 x 99.0)672019

View the complete Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool for many more comparisons.

A visual comparison is always helpful. Since the FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II and FE 24-50mm F2.8 G were already featured in comparisons earlier in the review, I'll leave them out of the larger group comparison. Don't let the Tamron lens's larger mount cap distract your size evaluation.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G Lens
Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens
Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens to other lenses.

The FE 12-25 has 67mm front filter threads. 67mm filters are modestly sized and priced and extremely common, enabling effects filter sharing with many other lenses. A standard-thickness circular polarizer filter has a minor impact on peripheral shading. Still, I recommend a slim model such as the Breakthrough Photography X4.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Angle with Hood

The petal-shaped Sony ALC-SH178 Lens Hood is included in the box.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Side with Hood

Though compact, this hood adds considerable front element protection from bright light and impact.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Cap

A lens case is not included in the box.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Extended Top

Price, Value, Compatibility

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This review's intro strongly hinted at the answer to the value question. While this lens, like its FE 24-50mm F2.8 G sibling, provides a relatively short focal length range, it is affordably priced and high-performing, making it a good value.

As an "FE" lens, the 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including full-frame and APS-C sensor format models. Sony provides a 1-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens was retail sourced.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Front on Camera


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The perfect lens does not exist. However, the best lens for your needs does. To determine that answer requires a look at the alternatives, and there are numerous alternatives for this lens.

I'll start the comparisons with the longer focal length range alternative, the Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens.

The image quality comparison shows neither lens having a clear advantage at f/2.8. Most obvious is that they both have excellent optical quality. The 16-35 has slightly less lateral CA, dramatically less barrel distortion, especially over the wider range, and less peripheral shading at f/2.8, especially at the longer shared range. The 16-35 has stronger out-of-focus color blur at 16mm and produces more stretched stars in the corner of the frame at 24mm vs. 25mm.

The Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G vs. 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens comparison shows the 16-25 weighing 4.9 oz (138g) less and measuring considerably smaller. The 16-25 has 67mm filter threads vs. 82mm. The 16-35 features up to 0.32x magnification vs. 0.20x, an iris lock switch, two AFL buttons vs. 1, and a significantly longer focal length range.

What is the difference between a Sony G lens and a Sony GM lens? My Sony PR rep has not been able to provide that explanation, but the GM lens costs significantly more.

The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G Lens provides an interesting comparison. Would you give up the f/2.8 aperture for the longer focal length range at the same size, weight, and price?

The image quality comparison shows two impressive-performing lenses with little to differentiate them. As expected, the 16-35 has stronger peripheral shading wide open at f/4 than the 16-25 stopped down to f/4. The 16-25 produces less lateral CA.

The Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G vs. 16-35mm F4 G PZ Lens comparison shows the f/4 lens weighing and measuring slightly less. The 16-25 has 11 aperture blades vs. 7 and 67mm filter threads vs. 72mm. The PZ lens goes to 0.23x magnification vs. 0.20x, has power zoom, and shows less focus breathing. As mentioned, the two lenses share the same price.

We'll look at Sigma's entry in this class, the 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens.

The image quality comparison shows the Sony lens sharper in the periphery, and considerably sharper across the frame at 25 vs. 24mm. The Sony lens produces less lateral CA and less peripheral shading except at 25mm. The Sigma lens has dramatically less barrel distortion at the wide end and significantly more pincushion distortion at the long end.

The Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G vs. Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens comparison shows the Sigma lens is larger and heavier, but these differences are slight. The Sony lens has smaller filter threads, 67mm vs. 72mm, more aperture blades, 11 vs. 9, which is still a high number, and a slightly higher maximum magnification, 0.20x vs. 0.18x. It also has an aperture ring and an AFL button. The Sigma lens adds a few mm to the long end of the focal length range and costs considerably less.

Now for Tamron's entry in this class, the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens.

The image quality comparison shows the two lenses having remarkably similar optical performance. The Sony lens produces sharper corners, less lateral CA, and less color blur at the long end. The Tamron lens has dramatically less barrel distortion at the wide end and more pincushion distortion at the long end.

The Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G vs. Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens comparison shows the two lenses having a similar size. The Sony lens has 11 aperture blades vs. 9. It also has an aperture ring, AF/MF switch, and AFL button. The Tamron lens has a fixed size, adds a few mm to the long end of the focal length range, and costs considerably less.

Use the site's tools to create additional comparisons.

Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens Top with Hood


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The FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens is a great addition to Sony's lineup, and it would probably also be a great addition to your kit.

While the 16-25mm focal length range is truncated from the classic 16-35mm range, you likely have a standard zoom lens that takes the handoff without a gap. If the shorter range works for you, the FE 16-25 F/2.8 G lens provides outstanding optical in a considerably smaller, lighter, and less expensive package.

A review is supposed to highlight a product's downsides, but this one challenges that list creation. The extreme barrel distortion is the easy list item to add. The aperture ring should have a lock switch, and the MF ring should have greater resistance.

On the positives list is the dual linear motor driven fast and accurate AF. The weather-sealed high-quality G series design and build are there.

With a pair of outstanding short focal length range G lenses, the 16-25mm and 24-50mm, just added to their lineup, Sony should prioritize creating a compact, ultra-light, affordable 50-135mm, 50-150mm, or similar f/2.8 G lens.

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Sony FE 16-25mm F2.8 G Lens
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