This is the worst kit lens I’ve ever owned

I blame Black Friday fever. The Sony A6000 was on a special cashback offer with Sony’s 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 PZ (power zoom) lens. This camera is a few years old now, but sensor tech has been advancing slowly, and the 24-megapixel APS-C sensor inside the A6000 holds its own really well even against the best of its modern rivals. This is a great camera at a silly price, and I can’t quite believe Sony still makes any money from it.

But the lens is another story. It looks great. It’s a fraction of the size of a regular APS-C camera kit lens. It works OK too. Admittedly, the zoom action is a bit whirry and clanky, but I’ve used worse power zooms than this. It focuses fine too. The only issue is the most important bit of all – the optics. It’s sharp enough in the centre, but edges are terrible. Not just a little bit soft, but hopelessly, irreparably soft. This lens is so bad I just can’t see myself using it for anything, under any circumstances.

You expect kit lenses to be a bit variable, but this one is a shocker. I hope I’ve just got a bad example and they’re not all like this.

I could return it as being defective, but I don’t think it is. I think it’s just an example of a cheap kit lens from a maker building right down to a price (and then down a bit further). I guess Sony had to cut costs somewhere for the A6000 to make sense, and if the optical performance is anything to go by, Sony must have saved a bundle.

Just to be clear, the picture above doesn’t show my camera and lens because it’s a generic Sony press shot. But it does show what the 16-50mm PZ lens – ugh – looks like.

It’s not all bad news. This week I’ve been sent one of the new Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS semi-superzooms for review, and first impressions are that it’s very good indeed. Ah, but those were first impressions (dammit). Further use reveals something rather serious, so maybe it is all bad news after all…

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