CZ 16-80, Sony 18-70, Minolta 24-85, Minolta 1.7/50

and beercan 4/70-210

f8 shootout with my Sony Alpha 100...

Preface

The Carl Zeiss lens has got very good reviews in the international community and therefore I wanted to test this lens to get a feeling what performance is possible. So I decided to make a f8 shootout to have a look what this lens is able to give to me in comparison of some of my other lenses I use regulary. 

All shots were taken on a heavy Manfrotto tripod with my Sony Alpha 100 (10,2 MPixel APS-C CCD) in Mode A, SSS off and the 2s mirror lock up shooting mode.

Before each shot the AF was forced to a close focal distance by first holding my hand about 1m in front of the lens and pushing the release button, than removing the hand and again pushing the release button, so for each shot the AF has to adjust focus coming from a much shorter distance. (AF-Mode: Spot, AF-Single)

Please click the links below to view the corresponding full frames and the presented 100% crops of each given focal length:

16mm f8 shootout CZ16-80 Sony 18-70

 

24mm f8 shootout CZ16-80 Sony 18-70 Minolta 24-85

 

35mm f8 shootout CZ16-80 Sony 18-70 Minolta 24-85

 

50mm f8 shootout CZ16-80 Sony 18-70 Minolta 24-85 Minolta 1.7/50

 

80mm f8 shootout CZ16-80 Sony 18-70 Minolta 24-85 Minolta 4/70-210

 

All original files (out of the cam) used here can be downloaded from the files section of the SonyAlpha group folder weberhj in Yahoo groups:

http://groups.yahoo.com 

Direct link if you are a yahoo group member:

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/SonyAlpha/files/weberhj/

Feel free to get membership in Yahoo groups! Its free and you can find very valuable information in many, many Yahoo groups.

 

Overall conclusion

The Carl Zeiss 16-80 is a very, very sharp lens stopped down to f8. In most cases it performs comparable to the best primes concerning contrast most often even better.
The usage of primes with this fantastic zoom lens only is necessary if you need wide apertures like f2.8 and wider. At the wide end (16mm) the CZ performs a little bit softer not unusual given this focal range (24mm in 35mm equivalent). Here also you have to stop down to f8 to get rid of the clear visible vignetting wide open. Also barrel distortion is clear an issue at 16mm, but it also is the only standard zomm lens that offers the 16mm in range! Also the CZ's distortion is simply correctable in post processing.

The Sony Kit lens 18-70 does not perform comparable against the Carl Zeiss 16-80. Wheras center sharpness is often close to the CZ 16-80 at focal length of 18mm up to 50mm, borders and even more corners lack sharpness compared to the Carl Zeiss. At 70mm the whole frame cannot convince me and the lens shows poor softness over the whole frame even stopped down to f8. Sorry, really not a lens for enthusiasts!

The Minolta AF 24-85 has a hard stand against the new APS-C optimized CZ. But consider its a full frame lens that also can be used on the old analog Minolta AF bodies and possibly on the future full- or near-full-frame digital Sony bodies too. At 24 and 35mm it comes very close to the performance of APS-C optimized CZ, but at 50 mm its very good in center sharpness, but poor at the border. At 85mm it stayes behind the CZ concerning contrast, center sharpness and even more corner sharpness. 

The Minolta AF 1.7 50mm again convinces with the best border sharpness of all shots but the advantage against the CZ16-80 at 50mm f8 is nearly invisible even in the 100% crops, and for sure doesn't matter in every day shooting! Center sharpness I think shows a very little disadvantage against the CZ and thats clear because my example shows a marginal better center sharpness at f6.3, where border sharpness is not as good as at f8 - its a dilemma with the 1.7/50mm. (I have to check this with my Minolta AF 1.4/50mm and my MC Rokkor 1.2/58mm with Pete Ganzels AF adaption kit one day!)

And the beercan? It is still a fantastic lens. I shot unbelievable many sessions since I purchased it in 1986. You may not believe, but it can fully conqueor with the very good CZ at 80mm. Only contrast wise I see a very little advantage for the brand new Carl Zeiss lens and both perform excellent at 80mm resp. 75mm f8! And the CZ performance at 80mm competes even my excellent rated Tamron SP 2.8/90mm Macro.

Concluding the CZ is an excellent standard zoom lens (the best I ever used - and I used many including Canon L glass and Nikkors) covering a very useful range (24mm up to 120mm in 35mm equiv.) and therefore reduces my number of lens changes dramatically. 

I am very happy with the optical performance this lens delivers at f8!  

Hans-Joachim Weber

(c) July 2007

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