Update 8.5.15: I had the 1670 repaired by Sony and now the blurring has gone. See an evaluation of the 1670 lens performance versus the 1650 and 18105 here.
Well, I already have the 1650 and the 18105. However, recently I got tempted in Ebay to try once more
the 1670. My first results some time ago resulted in the blind quiz
(several focal lengths at f8) in which the majority preferrred the shots
from the 1650, and in me returning the lens.
This time, the price was 570 Euros in new condition so I made another attempt.
There IS a lot going for the
1670: It offers the 16mm wide-angle, some tele, althrough f4, in a still
acceptable size and weight and within ONE lens. Its drawback was the initial price of 1000 Euros, that slowly has eroded to below 800, still quite a bit for this lens.
So I made my usual visit to my test location, under fine weather and
then evaluated the shots compared to my (good) copy of the 1650 and my
18105. I also put the 1018 into the equation, because it offers both 16
and 18 mm, too.
To summarize briefly:
The 18105 is good to average
in the range of 18 to 35 mm. It gets really good at 50 mm and stays that
way till 105 mm, from f4 to f8, and excelling the 1670 from 70 onwards
in edge performance. Distortion out-of-camera JPG is still visible from
24 to 105, using Raw and Capture One Pro for Sony greatly reduces that. Focal
lengths reported by the 18105 are actually much higher. So a "24mm" displayed in the viewfinder is
actually more like 29 mm, making direct comparisons a bit difficult. The 18105s strength is more in longer focal lengths with low DOF, though
it still is usable as general purpose zoom.
The 1650 is good from 16 to 35
mm, about on the same level as the 1670 when both are stopped down, and
gets average at 50 mm. In addition "16 mm" is actually more like 15 mm
even after distortion correction, compared to the other lenses offering
more WA. So the good range for this lens is clear, too.
The 1018 wipes the dust with the other lenses at 16 and 18mm! Stopped down, it shows what is possible for a wide angle zoom lens.
The 1670 has good performance from 16 to 70 mm, with the edges dropping at 70 mm to good to average. A great lens? Yes it would be, BUT AGAIN
this copy of a 1670 is messed up! The right side (about 20 % of the
frame) of this lens at 24 mm, f8 is seriously blurred. At 16 mm it is
less pronounced, at the other focal lengths no problems.
The same shot with the 1650 shows no such issues. No change to the
tripod-mounted camera, OSS off, 10 sec delay, A-mode, single spot focus.
So theoretically the 1670 could be a great lens and I envy everyone who has a good copy of it. Great package in one lens body - but the percentage of bad ones out there seems staggering:
My first copy was not great, but at least not uneven in performance.
My second copy has better image quality allover, but messes up the right
side of the picture from 16 to 24 mm. Kurt Munger had two inferior
copies. Philipp Reeves first copy was decentered. Photozone apparently
had a similar one.
Astonishing to me is that this specific lens has this fault only in
the wide-angle area. So it could be that at least some who consider
their 1670 to be a good one haven't yet stumbled into this hole = focal
length. I would have kept the lens otherwise, but the blurring is
already visible at normal size.
All in all, I find it pretty frustrating
that Sony has designed such a good lens, but seems unable or unwilling
to ensure a good Quality control, putting the customer into the position
of a guinea pig or gambler taking his lot with chance. In countries
with return policies, one might still order several copies to find a good one.
But is that really the way to go with an 800 Euro lens?
So to get optimal image quality, I still have to use 1018 for the
10-18 range, continue with the 1650 for the 16-35 mm range, and then go
on with the 18105 for the remainder up to 105 mm, and for low DOF (if I
don't unpack my SEL50F18).
For all those interested in the good and bad and want to see for themselves, I have uploaded the test images
to Google Drive. Remember to download before viewing since the Google
viewer messes things up. AWB was customized so ignore colors.
The 18105 directory includes images rendered from ARW with Capture One to illustrate its default distortion correction.
And a small picture to illustrate how big the affected right side is:
If Sony would supply me with a working copy, I'd be willing to give
this lens still another try, but for now, I have given up! On the
positive side, I can continue to enjoy my 1650.
Equipment used: Sony SELP18105G E PZ 18-105mm F4 G OSS Zoom Lens; Sony SEL1670Z Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS Zoom Lens; Sony a6000 Camera with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens; Sony SEL1018 10-18mm Wide-Angle Zoom Lens; Slik Sprint Mini II Tripod with Ball Head
Deutsche Kurzfassung: Durch ein günstiges Angebot in Versuchung gebracht, habe ich das SEL1670 nochmals getestet. Insgesamt theoretisch ein gutes Objektiv mit breitem Brennweitenbereich, durchgehend f4, Bildstabilisation und noch relativ kompakt. Leider ist dieses zweite Exemplar ebenfalls wieder defekt: Bei 24 mm ist selbst bei Blende f8 der rechte Rand (ca. 20 % des Bildes!) verschwommen. Schade, denn sonst wäre das Objektiv geblieben.
Testbilder sind auf einem Google Laufwerk abgelegt.
Benutzte Ausrüstung: Sony SEL-P18105G E PZ 18-105 mm F4 G OSS Zoom-Objektiv; Sony SEL1670Z Zoomobjektiv; Sony Alpha 6000 System-Kamera und SEL-P1650 Objektiv; Sony SEL1018 Weitwinkel-Zoomobjektiv mit Bildstabilisator; Slik Sprint Mini II GM Stativ (mit Kopf) grau-metallic