Review: SEL1670Z

The SEL1670Z has been introduced to the market for some time, it is one of the few Sony native APS-C standard zoom lenses. The little Zeiss blue badge indicates that this lens is designed to give high quality optical performance with the Zeiss T* coating, one Advanced Aspherical element, and one Extra-low Dispersion element.

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The lens filter diameter is 55 mm. It is smaller than the SELP18105 72mm (APS-C E-mount lens) and the SEL2470Z  67mm (full frame E-mount lens, you may read the review of SEL2470Z here) but larger than the standard compact kit lens SELP1650 40mm (you may read the review of SELP1650 here).

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The front narrower ring is the focus ring and the wider ring is the zoom ring. The lens zoom in/out without rotating the front lens element which is great for using the polarizer. Instead of implementing the power zoom as the standard kit lens SELP1650, the SEL1670Z is a manual zoom (not manual focus!) lens. Personally I prefer manual zoom than power zoom lens as I rarely shoot video, and manual zoom lens save some battery life from the already not-so-long battery life!

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The SEL1670Z is small, lightweight, and fit nicely on any of the E-mount APS-C camera. It has constant aperture of F 4 throughout the whole focal length, the minimum focus distance is 0.35 m and the maximum magnification factor is 0.23x.

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It also has the built-in OSS (Optical Steady Shot) which provides up to 4.5 stops slower shutter speed. It was tested at 70mm at 1/4 second (slightly more than 4 stops slower than the safe minimum shutter speed at 1/80 second).

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Without OSS at 1/4 second
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With OSS at 1/4 s

As seen on other Sony lenses, the OSS is pretty effective and impressive as shown in the 100% cropped test shots above. As to date, none of the E-mount APS-C camera comes with the 5-axis in camera body image stabilizer as the one on the A7 second generation brothers. The in-lens OSS compensates the usage in low-light situation with the E-mount APS-C camera like the a6300/a6000/etc.

The Zeiss T* coating helped to eliminate the flare effect greatly. The flare effects were well-controlled in almost all the situation throughout my test shots.

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The SEL1670Z features circular 7-blades aperture which contributes to the beautiful circular shape bokeh effect.

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Original at 70mm
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100% Cropped at 70mm
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Original at 16mm
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100% Cropped at 16mm

Surprisingly,the bokeh is smooth and pretty from the widest end (16 mm) to the telephoto end (70 mm) as shown above.  The following shots also show that how smooth the bokeh can achieve.

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The distortion exists throughout the whole focal length. The SEL1670Z exhibited heavy barrel distortion at the widest end 16mm.

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There was minor pincushion distortion at the telephoto end 70mm.

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The distortion of the SEL1670Z did not bother myself much as it can be fixed easily in the raw processing software like Lightroom, Capture One Pro, DxO Optics Pro, and etc.

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The vignetting is heavier at F4 than other apertures, stopped down to smaller aperture will eliminate the vignetting. Besides, vignetting at 16mm and 70mm are heavier than other focal length too.

The following are 100% cropped test shots for CA and sharpness at 16 mm, 23 mm, 53mm and 70 mm’s center and corner. There is no adjustment/correction to any of the test shots below.

16mm

23 mm

53 mm

 

70mm

The SEL1670Z exhibits purple and magenta fringing at its corners regardless of the focal length but the CA are well-controlled in the center area.

Sharpness wise, it is not a tad-sharp lens. At the widest end (16mm) and  longer end (50mm to 70mm) you have to get the lens stopped down to F5.6 to get better center sharpness. At wider end (23 mm from the test shots), the center sharpness was pretty good from the F4 to F8. This shown that the SEL1670Z performed better at its wider end than the telephoto end. The corners were always softer than the center area as many other lenses.

In real life shooting, the SEL1670Z performed pretty well. With some sharpness adjustment to the RAW files, the final results are satisfied.

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Asides of the optical performance, the SEL1670Z provides standard focal length coverage from 24mm – 105mm (converted into FF) with constant aperture of F4 within a reasonable small size. The constant aperture F4 of SEL1670Z outshines the standard kit lens SELP1650 when shooting in the night, the experiences with constant aperture F4 and the in-lens OSS were great and enjoyable.

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Is the SEL1670Z a lens with perfect optic performance? Definitely no, it is not perfect. Is it a bad lens? Neither. With a little processing with raw processing software, the sharpness, CA, distortion, vignetting issues can be fixed easily and the final result can be pretty good.

Although it does not have corner-to-corner sharpness but it is still a good walk-around lens that satisfies our daily shooting. In overall, when compare the SEL1670Z to the standard kit lens SELP1650, the SEL1670Z gave greater shooting experiences especially when shooting for indoor events thanks to the constant aperture and the slightly longer reach.

It comes to the end of the SEL1670Z review. Hope you enjoyed it and happy shooting!

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