Sony SAL1650 on NEX-FS100

Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 on FS100

I’ve been waiting to try out the Sony SAL1650 16-50mm F/2.8 lens since it was announced in August. My interest in this particular lens is for use on my Sony NEX-FS100, for which I had not been able to find a suitable wide zoom lens. There aren’t too many 16-50’s on the market yet (B&H is still not showing any inventory) so rather than wait another few months (like I expect to for Sony LA-EA2 FS100 firmware) for someone else to review it, I decided to see if I could beg, borrow, or buy an SAL1650 that I could test on one of my two FS100s.

I found a single copy in Vancouver and had it shipped to Kerrisdale Cameras a local camera store in Coquitlam. I bought it today and made a quick video comparing it to a pair of normal zoom lenses that I already own.


Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 on FS100

Sony SAL1650 16-50mm f/2.8 lens on Sony NEX-FS100

I already own a dozen lenses that I can use on my FS100. Most of them are Alpha mount lenses (Sony, Minolta, & Konica Minolta) but all of them are used. All of them require adapters. I do not own any e-mount lenses but my brother owns the kit lens. I have also tested at least 10 current Sony lenses. So at this point I feel pretty comfortable with my criteria, which actually hasn’t changed from before I first bought an FS100.

Because I’m shooting video and not stills and I don’t currently have access to any auto features (although I soon hope to gain some of those abilities with the Sony LA-EA2 adapter) my needs are different from those of a still photographer.

1) I don’t care about weight. The heavier the better in my case as my tripod balances better with a heavier camera.

2) The lens must have a fixed aperture. I can’t have my iris ramping down when I zoom in while recording. If it can’t be fixed then it must have a very small range and be fast.

3) The lens has to be parfocal. This means that it holds focus (in manual) from the telephoto end of the zoom to the wide end. Why? Because I don’t have autofocus and I can’t have the lens go out of focus every time I change the focal length (zoom in and out).

4) Iris control. I need some sort of iris control. Which means for now, Canon lenses are out. Nikon lenses have iris rings on the barrel, Nikon G lenses have iris’ that can be controlled with an adapter that has an iris ring, and Sony/Minolta/Konica Minolta lenses can either be controlled by the body or with an adapter than has an iris ring.

Below is a quick video comparing three lenses that I own:

Sony SAL1650 16-50mm f/2.8
Konica Minolta 28-75 f/2.8
Tokina ATX-Pro 28-70 f/2.6-2.8 (Angenieux designed)


My Test Notes:

  • Colour: I didn’t white-balance between lenses to show the different colours the lenses produced. The whites are a bit yellow with the Konica Minolta lens.

  • Parfocal: They all did way better than most of the lenses I tested but I already knew going in that the KM and Tokina were almost perfectly parfocal but I had no idea about the Sony and assumed it wasn’t. The Sony SAL1650 is the most parfocal lens I have tested. Again, the Tokina and KM were close but there was a bit of play. I was not adjusting the focus at all once it was set.

  • Sharpness: The Sony outperformed the KM and Tokina. The nice thing about a sharp lens is that it makes it easier to manually focus as well.

  • Rings: The Sony had evenly dampened rings, which made it easier to zoom in and out.

  • Lens Flare: The Tokina is the worst lens that I have ever tested for lens flare.

Other Important Details on the SAL1650:

  • The barrel extends when you zoom but it doesn’t rotate.The filter diameter is 72mm.

  • The SAL1650 costs $700 in the US and $800 in Canada.

  • The SAL1650 is a DT lens, meaning it is not full frame. Because of this it doesn’t carry the G designation, reserved for Sony’s professional lenses, which are all full frame. I’ve read that prototypes displayed the G designation on exif data but ultimately it was a marketing decision to not designate this lens a G lens. I’ve read photographer review that state it otherwise merits the G designation because it is that good.

  • The SAL1650 is equipped with the Sony ultrasonic motor, called SSM (Super Sonic Wave Motor), for silent autofocus. I was not able to autofocus with the LA-EA1 adapter.


Buy-it! Every shooter needs a great wide-zoom and this one fits the criteria. The Sony SAL1650 is the best manual wide zoom lens I have tested on the Sony NEX-FS100 as it is parfocal, has a fixed aperture, and is relatively inexpensive. If the Sony LA-EA2 adapter adds autofocus and improved iris controls then I consider this lens a must-have for the FS100.
73 replies
  1. Satva says:

    Thanks for the review!

    Question: So for the lens to work on the FS100 what adapter do you need-The LA-EA1? And even with this adapter autofocus does not work?

    • Shawn Lam says:

      You can use any A mount to E mount adapter in order to mount it on the FS100 but the LA-EA1 and adapters with an iris ring on the adapter allow you to control the iris on the lens manually. The LA-EA1 iris changes are not smooth though.

      Autofocus with anything other than E mount lenses is not available on the FS-100. The LA-EA2 will allow auto-focus on the FS100 but only when updated firmware is released.

  2. Narbs says:


    How about the SAL2470? Ive heard so many good things about this lens and about to buy one for my FS100 with the LA-EA2 adapter, my question is the SAL2470 a parfocal lens?

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Great question. Quick answer: The SAL2470 is parfocal. Unfortunately it does not have the same build quality as the SAL1650, which if you believe online stories, was designed to G specifications (Sony’s professional lenses).

      Here is an excerp from a huge review I wrote that is slated for publication in the EventDV Live Winter 2011 edition that talks about the normal zoom lens options for the NEX-FS100

      KONICA MINOLTA AF 28–75MM F/2.8
      When I was researching normal-range
      zoom lenses for the A-mount, I came
      across a few options in this range, including
      a newer Minolta AF 28–70mm 2.8 G,
      the Sony Zeiss 24–70mm f/2.8 SSM, and
      the Sony 28–75mm f/2.8 SAM.Prior to my
      shootout, I borrowed the SAM from Sony,
      but I really didn’t like the feel of the zoom
      ring; it wasn’t evenly dampened, which
      meant adjusting the zoom while recording
      would not be smooth.
      Although it was parfocal, I wanted better
      ring handling. Online reviews from Sony
      Alpha website indicate
      that the G has the same issue, so I passed
      on that model.

      After my tests for this review, I was able to get my hands on a Zeis 24-70mm f/2.8 but it wasn’t parfocal. Kurt Munger also noted that the 28-70 f/2.8 G lens also sufferes from bad flare and ghosting control, which makes it very video unfriendly.

  3. Tom says:

    Sorry if this is a stupid question, but it is my understanding that the FS100 is fullframe, while the 16-50 lens is not, are you able to use the full zoom range?

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Actually that is a great question. The FS100 is actually a crop sensor, similar to APSC. Super35mm and 35mm full frame are different. For that reason a 16-50mm lens on the FS100 acts like a 24-75mm lens on a full frame DSLR, like the Canon 5DMKII. The magnification factor is 1.5x. So yes you can use the Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 SAL1650 DT lens through the full zoom range on the Sony NEX-FS100 without any vignetting.

  4. Kamrul Ahsan says:

    I liked your review. I have also got the camera. I bought Sony 16mm, Fish eye adapter, 18- 200 zoom lens. They are fine. But I like to use Prime manual aperture and Focus controlled lens. Thats why I bought Canon FD 35, 50, 35-105 lens with Rainbow Adapter to fix with Sony FS 100. My observation is the adapter is changing the focal length. So that the Sony SAL1650 16-50mm lens will be more tele than actual. The LAE2 may be solved the problem for alpha lenses. But what will be the other lens like Canon Fd, Zeis or PL mount lens?

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Thanks for your coments and questions, Kamrul. All lenses on the FS100 will have a 1.5x magnification factor as compared to the 35mm equivalent you would experience on a full frame camera. The reason is that the Super35mm sensor is not the same as a traditional 35mm photographic film sensor and is slightly larger than an APSC crop-sensor camera. Because of this, a 16-50mm lens acts like a 35mm equivalent 24-75mm lens.

      Adapters act to bridge two different mount types and correct for the proper flange back distance (the distance between the sensor and the lens). So the LA-EA2 adapter will have the exact same width as all Alpha to E-mount adapters. The E-Mount has the shallowest flange back distance so you can adapt it to pretty much any lens type. On the other hand, Canon has one of the deepest flange back distances, so you can’t put any other mainstream SLR lenses on a modern Canon EOS mount, unlesss you use an adapter with a wide angle lens built-in.

  5. Tom says:

    Thanks for the quick reply! I’m not sure how I got the impression the FS100 is not a crop-sensor, so this is very useful information. I have a lot of Minolta/Sony glass and find this camera quite intriguing. That lens looks nice too, though with my current lenses, I’m not sure how much of an improvement (if any noticeable, at least for video) it would yield. Maybe a purchase for down the road 🙂

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hey Tom,
      You’re welcome. I think one of the best things about the SAL1650 is that is is parfocal, which makes a big difference for video. I know Minolta has a 17-35mm f/3.5 G lens that is almost as wide, although it is only a 2x zoom and not 3x like the Sony 16-50mm f/2.8. When I tested that lens I found that it wasn’t parfocal more than twice the cost. One of the benefits of the FS100 is that it is a crop sensor camera and because of that you can use DT (crop sensor lenses) or full frame lenses and when you use full frame lenses the FS100 only uses the sweat-spot on the lens, the centre.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hi Blake,
      I can’t say I have seen any pink fringing. I just checked some outdoor footage again. I’m using Doug Jensen’s Vortex Media picture profiles, btw. Knee is manual, manual set to 95%, slope 0. What I see is in blown-out highlights is the typical yellowish highlight.

  6. Blake Peterson says:

    Thanks Shawn, btw great comparison on the lenses, nailed it down for me. Yeah even the f3 gets that yellow……not really concerned with that……seen a few people say there is pink fringing….i’m thinking that’s because they don’t have the fs1oo WB and PP set optimally………i take it you are pretty happy with the camera?

    • Shawn Lam says:

      I am very happy with my two FS100’s. That isn’t to say they are perfect but with 10 years under my belt of using a professional camcorder, the FS100 has a beautiful risk/reward balance. I can’t wait for the LA-EA2 adapter to enable autofocus for those situations where I need it. Although I NEVER used it when shooting on a camcorder, the shallow depth of field on the FS100, the SSM on the lenses, and the image quality have me hoping that on a simple talking head it will keep my subjects perfectly in focus, regardless of how much to and fro swaying they do. Smooth iris control would be nice and I’m still working on external monitor placement as the top-mounted LCD requires me to always use a riser and means I’m shooting from pretty low down on my stabilizer (DVRig Pro).

  7. Blake Peterson says:

    Kinda takin over here…lol……sorry about that…..just wondering if you used the more expensive sony/zeiss 16-35 2.8?

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Happy for the interaction – I don’t post these for myself only and if no one commented, what would be the fun in sharing?

      I’ve tested a ton of lenses in the past little bit but not the Sony/Zeiss 16-35mm f/2.8. I did test the Minolta 17-35 G f/3.5 but it wasn’t parfocal. At this point I have no need to look into the 16-35 Zeiss any further as it is way more expensive than my SAL1650, is slower oops, I meant that for the Minolta 17-35mm f/3.5 G, and is only a 2x zoom. My next efforts will be to more critically look at the 24/28-70/75mm f/2.8 lens options and see if a new copy of the Sony 70-200mm G f/2.8 is better than the used copy I got my hands on a few months ago but didn’t like. At this point I’m really waiting to see what impact the LA-EA2 adapter and firmware make on my FS100 experience before buying more lenses but if the opportunity to test some new lenses presents itself I won’t pass it up. With two bodies I need twice as many lenses…

  8. Blake Peterson says:

    the zeiss is slower….they’re both 2.8 no?…….anyways thank you…..i guess i just figured anything zeiss would be the way to go cost comparisons aside……but the 1650 looks like an awesome deal.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      My mistake – I corrected my previous statement. I was thinking about the Minolta 17-35mm f/3.5 G lens that I test that wasn’t parfocal and was slightly slower (and still more expensive). I’m satisfied that the sal1650 is the right wide angle zoom lens for me on the FS100.

  9. Blake Peterson says:

    Yeah its a big leap, i mean it better be sharp as hell for being 3 times the price, i mean like cp2 sharp………how new is the 1650, i find a hard time finding fs100 owners with it……though the few i found love it.

    Anyways thanks for all the info.

    You posted something about a zoom lens shootout….was this it?…….just curious.

    Anyways best of luck.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hi Blake. I’m not sure how much sharper you can get with a CP2 on the FS100. In the full frame 24 MP photo world (which isn’t applicable to the crop sensor designed SAL1650 DT) you might be able to discern the difference but on the Sony FS100 where the resolution is 2MP (HD is 1920×1080), there comes a point where lens resolving power no longer makes a difference.

      The SAL1650 is very new. It came out with the Sony A77 DSLR and was only announced in August. One of the reasons it is in very short supply is because of the flooding in Thailand, where both the A77 and SAL1650 are manufactured. I got really lucky finding a single copy locally as there just aren’t many that made it into the supply-chain before the flooding damaged Sony’s plant.

      My lens shoot-out article is scheduled for publication in the December EventDV Live edition. It is way more elaborate than my simple three lens test above – I think it is about 6,000 words and I included some Nikon, Canon, Sony, Minolta, Sigma, and Tokina lenses. Mainly that focus was finding manual parfocal and fixed aperture lenses for the FS100 and I looked at a lot of older lenses, in addition to some top-of-the-line Nikon and Canon glass to see if I could see a difference with live models, rather than the tape cases I used in this quick test.

  10. Kamrul Ahsan says:

    Hello Shawn
    Thanks for your reply. So the super 35 CMOS sensor F3 camera is better than FS 100. There is no magnification or crop factor there. Isn’t it?

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hi Kamrul,
      Sony uses the same Super35mm CMOS sensor on both the FS100 and the F3. They both have the same magnification or crop factor of 1.5x. Where there are different is that they have different native mounts. The FS100 has the Sony E-Mount and the F3 has a new F3 mount but usually ships with a PL mount adapter. The different mounts don’t affect the crop factor but having a mount with a shallow flange distance allows you more lens options with adapters that place the lens at exactly the correct distance from the sensor. If the native mount has too deep of a flange distance then you can’t use lenses that were designed for a narrower distance without problematic adapters that have built-in wide angle lenses.

  11. Tam says:

    Hi Shawn,
    Thanks for the info on this lens. For some reason I can’t see the video you’ve embedded. Not sure why. It’s annoying because when I google this lens, all roads seem to lead back to you..and then I read your blog post about SEO..
    Anyway I wondered if you had noticed any chromatic aberration with the SAL 1650 on the FS100? I believe the new Sony a65 and a77 have electronic correction for this built in?

    • Shawn Lam says:

      I’ll have to look into that to see what the problem might be. Perhaps you are behind a company firewall? Your IP doesn’t show in my stats as a page load for in my video stats. I’ll look into it.

      I’m glad to see my SEO efforts are paying off 😉

      I have not noticed any chromatic aberration with the SAL1650 on the FS100. It should perform better than most lenses as it has all the fancy new coatings, etc.

  12. Blake Peterson says:

    Have a question for you about the fs1oo and external recorders. Since You cannot achieve 1080 60p through hdmi, what would be the best way to do slow motion when pairing with 1080/24p footage recorded 4:2:2 uncompressed through hdmi.

    As far as i can see there are two logical options.

    1- record 1080/60p to sdhc (h264) then transcode to 4:2:2 and edit together.

    2 – record 1080/24p through hdmi (all footage), use pulldown and use slow mo tools on selected 1080/24p footage (twixtor or equivalent)


    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hi Blake,
      Unless you need the footage for greenscreen work I’m thinking the 1080/60P footage on SDHC (or FMU128) is your best bet if you want to do slo-mo to 24P. The AVCHD codec holds-up very nicely on the FS100, especially because the Super35mm sensor is so clean and noise-free.

  13. derek says:

    Just received my 16-50 and returned it the same day.
    The lens did not hold focus through the zoom, so it is essentially a varifocal, and that does me no good. I know that the problem is not a flange depth problem because my Sigma 17-50 performs perfectly with the FS and Nex adapter.
    I may have just gotten a bad copy of the lens. I will test another before giving up completely.
    The lens is made in China, so quality control may be all over the place.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Just make sure you are testing the lens properly. A pafocal lens will hold focus from telephoto to wide, a back to telephoto again. But if you start wide and then zoom-in, your focus may not be properly set, and is likely to go soft when you zoom-in. So they only way to manually focus a parfocal lens so that it remains in focus at any focal length (zoom setting) is to first zoom 100%, then manually focus, and then adjust the focal length.

      The Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 isn’t a parfocal lens but Tamron claims their 17-50mm f/2.8 lens is (I haven’t tested it). I’d try another copy. I know they are “made in China” but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to be a bad copy or that all the components are made there. My hunch is that the glass still comes from the same spot in Japan that Minolta had their mine.

  14. Tony Reale says:

    Shawn, thanks for the review. How does the focus barrel on the lens feel? I’m still a little ways off from getting my FS100 but I hear from other users that the focus barrel on the kit lens is junk for using with a focus gear and follow focus. I don’t mind using the kit lens without a follow focus but I would want to use the 16-50 with one…otherwise I’m leaning to Canon FD or Contax primes.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Thanks Tony. The focus barrel on the lens has a smooth, evenly dampened feel to it. Way better than the kit lens. It doesn’t hard stop at either end, which is a good thing, so that you don’t rock your body at either end. You can feel the end though as there is a slight click when you reach the end of the focus range on either end – just enough to feel it but not enough to cause any unwanted camera movement. The read-out under the clear section of plastic display the focus distance in feet and meters so you know where you are at.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hi Cas,
      The lens does not have image stabilization on the lens. (BTW, I updated the link in your comment to the page on DSLR Shooter News that points to the Sony A77 and SAL1650 article where they mention image stabilization – thanks for making me look for it ;-)).

      Sony Alpha cameras have in-body stabilization so the camera body is what stabilizes the lens. Unfortunately for the FS100, which is a native E-mount, this means that there is no image stabilization on A-Mount lenses. Sony makes smart A-mount to E-mount (also refereed to as Alpha to NEX) adapters, such as the LA-EA1 and LA-EA2, but unfortunately neither of those offer image stabilization. The only image stabilized set-up for the FS100 is to use E-mount lenses (like the kit lens and a very limited few others) as they have image stabilization in the lens. Unfortunately none of the zoom lenses are fast and the primes don’t have image stabilization.

      • thomas says:

        Thanks for the info re. image stabilisation.
        However, do you know if the firmeware update of the LA-EA2 E-mount adaptator will include stabilisation for such A-mount Sony lenses ?

        • Shawn Lam says:

          Hey Thom – The firmware update will not include image stabilization for A-mount Sony lenses. IS can only be done by the camera body. The only way to get image stabilization with the combination of LA-EA1/2 and A-mount lenses on the Sony NEX-FS100 is with Sigmas lenses that have lens image stabilization. The Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM, is one such lens. Unfortunately that lens is not parfocal but on a wider lens and with phase detection autofocus on the LA-EA2, this might not be an issue, depending on your workflow.

  15. Ulisse says:

    Hello and thanks for your review, with LA-EA2 adapter we lost on aperture?
    A 2.8 lens stay at 2.8?
    I don’t know if is better for me to buy the adapter and A-mount lenses or wait for new E-mount lenses.
    Thank you in advance.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Just taking a 2nd look at this question a few months in I can confirm that when you use phase detection autofocus with the LA-EA2 adapter the lens has a maximum aperture of f/3.5 or the fastest setting on the slower lenses. So an f/2.8 lens would work at f/3.5 and an f/4.0 lens at f/4.0. There is also a 1/3 stop light transmission loss so f/4 becomes f.4.5. When you turn the AF off you can can use the entire range of f/stops but you still loose the 1/3 stop of light transmission due to the semi-transparent mirror in the adapter.

  16. Shawn Lam says:

    Hi Ulisse – thanks for your comment. I think you are asking if you have iris control with the Sony LA-EA2 adapter on the FS100.

    At this point the LA-EA2 adapter is only supported on NEX still cameras and the VG10 and VG20 video camera models. Sony include support for the LA-EA2 adapter on the FS100 in “early” 2012 with a firmware update (March is my guess). At that point, the LA-EA2 adapter should allow both smooth iris control and continuous autofocus (phase detection autofocus, thanks to the translucent mirror).

    But until this firmware update it released, you are correct that you will not have iris control of Alpha lenses and my guess is that they will be stuck at f/2.8 (or whatever is the largest aperture on the lens).

    I’m pretty sure the FS100 firmware that will allow LA-EA2 support will be released way before suitable constant f/2.8 aperture lenses are released on the E-mount. Currently there are no fast zoom lenses on the Sony E-mount roadmap but SAR is reporting that additional Sony E-mount lenses will be announced. You can check-out this website for Sony Rumors:

  17. Roger Herr says:

    Hi Shawn,

    I recently bought the FS-100 and the Sony SAL 16-50 based on your
    testing. I have the LA-EA2 adapter. Since I’m so new to this
    camera/lens combo, how do you set/adjust the f-stop so that you’re
    shooting at f-2.8? Is it necessary to use an ND fader to take down
    light levels?

    Thank you for your time in putting the lens tests together and your response.

    • Vancouver Video Production says:

      Hi Roger,
      Thanks for your email.

      The FS100 requires a
      firmware update before the LA-EA2 adapter will allow iris and autofocus
      control. Until that update is released (March 2012 is the estimate),
      the LA-EA2 adapter is nothing more than a dummy adapter when paired with
      the Sony FS100. By default, A-mount lenses will default to their
      largest iris settings on the LA-EA2. In the case of the Sony SAL1650,
      this means the lens is stuck at f/2.8 (which is pretty much the same as
      Canon lenses with adapters on the FS100 right now). So you will want to
      use a combination of traditional or fader ND filters and shutter speed
      adjustments in order to get the desired exposure.

  18. Angelo says:


    I have purchased this lens and the parfocal doesn’t seem to work. If I fully zoom in and out, I lose the focus. I am doing something wrong? This is my first parfocal lens.

    Thank you

    • Shawn Lam says:

      If when you zoom in, manually focus, and then zoom out and your subject doesn’t stay in focus, then your lens may have an issue. I’ve read a few accounts of SAL1650 lenses that aren’t parfocal. Return it and try a different copy until you get a parfocal one. One reader of my blog in Canada had to try three copies before he found a parfocal copy.

  19. Pete Miko says:

    Hi Shawn,

    Thanks for sharing all your experiences here. It’s sure helping me. I just got an FS100 and am trying to sort out the best lens options.
    I have purchased and tried 3 Sony SAL1650 lenses with no luck finding a parfocal one.
    They really weren’t even that close! I could see it on the camera, but when I recorded the “zoom in focus and then zoom out”, it was really noticeable on my computer screen. An object 8ft away zoomed in and focused, and when zoomed out the sharpest plane was 12ft away. Anyway, I’ve been purchasing it from Henry’s here in London Ont. and they said it was actually listed as parfocal on their computer, so they were really surprised that all 3 were not as well. They were very helpful, and ordered the third one in just to try, but no luck. At this point they said try back in a month, after they sell those, and they’ll order some more.
    I’ve been wondering if maybe a later serial # might have better luck? Can anyone who has a parfocal lens post the serial # here pretty please? These were the serial #’s that weren’t parfocal for me #S0118038017, #S0118041257, #S0118057029. It’s so strange that some are and some aren’t? So maybe this will shed some light? Or it very well might not!
    It’s a very nice lens. Great image, solid and sharp. Only complaint is it’s a bit stiff to zoom, but I imagine it will loosen up some over time. Focus ring is nice and smooth though.
    Thanks for your help.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hey Pete,
      You are most welcome – thanks for the comments.

      My serial number is 1805418 on the lens and S01-1805418-D on the box. Not sure why mine ends in a letter and yours in a number but I think the 7 digits on the lens are the important bit.

      I wonder if we can establish a pattern with batches using the serial numbers – does anyone know what the numbers mean?

      • Pete Miko says:

        Thanks Shawn,
        I got my serial numbers from the receipts, so that’s why they look different. I’m guessing your digits are the ones that matter, so then it looks like one of the ones I tried was made after yours (1805702-9). So maybe there is no way to figure it out by the serial numbers. 🙁 I’ve got a big shoot coming up though that I would love to have this lens for. I’m also starting to consider the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS. It’s reviewed well, very close to parfocal and has stabilization which can be very handy sometimes (A mount with LEA1). I’d love to see a comparison between these two lenses, but not much out there on the SAL1650. There isn’t even a comparison between the SAL1650 and the FS100 kit lens. Would you be able to comment on that? Is the SAL1650 definitely a better performer? I’m sure it is (excluding the OS and 50-200mm). But how much better is it? I know you don’t own the kit lens, but you have mentioned you’ve borrowed it I think.
        Thanks again

        • Shawn Lam says:

          Hi Pete,
          I don’t like to describe as much as I like to show the difference but the SAL1650 is sharper than the kit lens. As for the Sigme 17-50mm, while it isn’t parfocal, I think that the added OS is a good trade-off. I find that I really need my long lenses to be parfocal but 1/2 the time on my wide lenses I don’t, especially if my subject and/or I am moving. And if you pair the Sigma with the PDAF enable LA-EA2 (March 22nd firmware update will include FS100 support) then you have another focus option and PDAF is a lot more accurate than the CDAF on the kit lens. My brother has the kit lens and he isn’t a big fan of it when he doesn’t need an 11x lens. And I can agree with that as I find I sometimes want an 11x lens option as my largest range is 3x.

          • Pete Miko says:

            Thanks Shawn,
            Yah I’m trying not to buy the kit lens, and instead use that money towards a better quality lens. So I tried the SAL1650 instead.
            For now I still use my EX1 for the run and gun type stuff, and Fs100 with prime lenses for everything else. But at some point soon I’m going to probably want the FS100 for some run and gun too. So maybe the Sigma would be good for that.
            But I did really like the SAL1650, and would of kept it if my copy was parfocal.
            Thanks again for all your help.

  20. Mike McVittie says:

    Thanks for all the info. My question for you is the focus ring. Does it stop at infinity or does it keep turning like the FS100 kit lens. Thanks in advance

    • Shawn Lam says:

      You’re welcome, Mike. It is a soft stop (not sure if that is the technical word) but you can tell when it hits the limit, although it will continue turning. Same on both ends.

  21. Trey Leitko says:

    How far does the lens extend when zooming? If the lens does not extend that much it would be perfect for me because I like to use my matte box for ND filtration. Do you remember how far the lens extends?

  22. Mike says:

    Hi Shawn,
    I have the SAL 1650, and the Zeiss 24-70.
    I primarily shoot weddings. My question is, it seems to me that there’s really not a lot of difference between the SAL 1650 and the Zeiss. Do you know of any advantages of having the Zeiss 2470 over the Sony 1650? I can’t find any. I’m thinking of selling the 24-70 and just use the 1650. Let me know what you think. thanks a lot.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hi Mike,
      Great question. You didn’t mention which camera you are using and if you are photo or video but let me assume you are using the Sony FS100 for video. The biggest difference is they are different focal lengths and that the 16-50 is parfocal and the 24-70 is not. If there is a difference in sharpness it is small in favour of the Zeiss but the advantage is lost on moving subjects. The Zeiss also has less distortion but again this advantage is lost in a video application with people in your frame. If you were shooting architecture shots on a full frame DSLR then you would care about the minor amounts of distortion and the fact that the 16-50 is not a full frame lens. At the end of the day if you can’t tell a difference in image quality between the two for a video application it is because there isn’t a big difference – the SAL1650 is a great lens.

  23. Sam says:

    Hi Shawn,
    I want to purchase a Sony NEX FS 100. I intend to use the camera for shooting short documentaries and also corporate events. Kindly advise on the best ND Filter to use, the best lens and also an adapter.


    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hi Sam,
      I’ve heard good things about the Schneider variable ND filter. The LA-EA2 adapter is better than the LA-EA1 adapter for Alpha lenses. Lenses… So many options but I like the SAL1650 for wide and 70-210 f/4 beercan for long zoom. I also use a Konica Minolta 28-75 f/2.8.

  24. VIETNAM says:

    Hi everybody.
    Does anyone know if the firmware upgrade for NEX-FS100U and NEX-FS100UK is also compatible with NEX-FS100CK. I purchased my NEX-FS100CK in China and not sure if I can do that. If not, is there any other ways to do so? Any information would be appreciated. Thanks

  25. Thomas says:

    Can you say if the lens is still sharp at F2.8 at 16 & 50mm? Some lens need to 1 stop down to have the sharpest image.

    Looks like you are from Vancouver, and me too, and just join FS100 family

  26. Thomas says:

    Hi Shawn
    I am about the get the 16-50mm and use on LA-EA2 adapter. Do you feel the lens heavy that need lens support? because I think LAEA2 is heavier than LAEA1

    besides, many people said FS100 is zero/low noise even at high iso, but i feel that it has noise even at 1600
    Here is a video sample i shoot at 1600iso and 3200 at the end, i feel it’s quite noisy

    • Shawn Lam says:

      I do not feel you need a lens support for the 16-50 on LA-EA2.

      Sorry, I don’t yet speak in ISO on the FS100. I do understand gain though. I had a look at your sample but viewing a 720P Vimeo version after you applied a Magic Bullet effect isn’t too helpful. Also you didn’t share your recording codec. I find the FS100 extremely low noise, even at high gain/iso. I don’t need to often but when I need gain I have no problems with 12db of gain or even 18db.

  27. YABA FUNK says:

    Hi Shawn
    Thanks for the info. Please can you tell me if the sony 16-50 lens has the same focusing mechanism as the sony e 18-200 kit lens . I had the sony 18-200 kit lens and sold it because I found it impossible to do precise manual focusing with it .

  28. Thomas says:

    hi Shawn

    I got the 16-50mm with the LAEA2, have you got the LAEA2 yet? i think LAEA1 will be better than LAEA2 at this time. First, the LAEA2 is larger at the bottom part. It took me very long to figure out the position to mount the manfrotto plate, which need to screw to the very end of FS100. Otherwise the LAEA2 will block when releasing to and from tripod. The auto focus is kinda useless, first it stay at F3.5 (not too bad) and second, there is no other option for focus tracking, it keeps tracing different object from the 15 focus points. The iris control isn’t very smooth, i think it’s the same like LAEA1. I hope there will be another firmware to improve LAEA2 on FS100.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      I do have the LA-EA2 and agree that you need a riser of sorts to give proper clearance when mounted on a tripod. I’m going to order a K-Tek Norbert as it will give me both additional clearance and a ton of mounts as the FS100 needs more mounts for all the wireless mics and monitor that I use. I don’t mind the f/3.5 on AF but use AF sparingly. I wish there was focus tracking or facial recognition as well. The iris control is a million times smoother than on the LA-EA1. Test for yourself again. On the LA-EA1 the iris goes full wide open with every click when you open the iris but on the LA-EA2 it goes precisely to the next f-stop.

  29. Emric delton says:


    You mentioned in Nov-2011 that you were going to try to test the 70-200mm G f/2.8.
    Were you able to do so? Any feedback? Is it a fixed aperture and parfocal?


    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hi Emric,
      I was able to test a Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G lens. It is fixed aperture at f/2.8 but I didn’t need to test the lens to verify that but I did a parfocal test and it is indeed parfocal. IQ is great but I wasn’t in love with the zoom and focus ring handling on my copy although it was a factory repair loaner so I would need to test a new copy before coming to any conclusions. More importantly, I don’t feel I really need f/2.8 on such a long lens. I’m very happy with my Minolta AF 70-210 f/4.0 “beercan” lens for this range. The issue is that when I’m that long on a shallow depth of field camera like the Sony FS100 I’m not likely to be filming at f/2.8 anyways because that is just too shallow for most applications. So I’m sticking with the old but beautiful beercans that I have (I have two) as they cost 1/10 the new cost of the SAL70200 and are silky smooth.

  30. Douglas Grillo says:

    Hi Shawn.

    I know this is a old post, but i really want to know if the Tokina 28-70 can use autofocus with the LA-EA2, i have a fs100 too but my interested is for use with Nex 5n and the LA-EA2.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hi Douglas – great question. Any Autofocus A-mount/Alpha Mount lens will auto focus on the LA-EA2 adapter. This includes Sony, Konica-Minolta, Minolta, Tamron, Sigma, & Tokina brands. The older and some third-party lenses have the old slot screw autofocus and others are through the electronic contacts on the lens but they all work. I haven’t found that autofocus speed is critically important on video as it is for photos because slower is actually is more organic and too fast and it is a bit jolting but even the slot screw ones are a bit too fast in my opinion. The only exception I found was an old Tamron 24-135mm macro f/3.5-5.6 lens that was really slow but I think that is more because the lens itself doesn’t autofocus well.

  31. Nicolaas Rahoens says:

    Hey Shawn,
    The lens hasn’t got Image Stibilization. Is this a big disadventage when you use the lens only for video? Can I by just the lens and put it on my fs100 whitout an adapter?
    Thanks very much!

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Image stabilization is important when you are shooting handheld, which the FS100 isn’t really designed for because its LCS screen sits above the camera body so you have to shoot with the camera around your nose level. This might work for you if you are exceptionally tall, but I’m not so I can’t. If you need IS then look for an A-mount lens that has in-lens IS or you can also use a Canon lens with the Conrus/Metabones EF to E-mount adapter. You do need an adapter because the FS100 has an e-mount and the Sony 16-50 lens is an A-mount.

  32. Chris Lawes says:

    Hey great article,
    2 quick questions, the 16-50 does sound like an excellent choice for FS100, but 2.8 is really faster than I need in doc shooting (can’t hold a subject in focus reliably past f/4 at the very most!) so do you know of any lens similar in quality and ideally par-focal nature to the 16-50 but longer? Like a 16-80 f/4 kind of thing?
    Also, for using the 16-50, what adapter would you recommend for smooth physical iris adjustment?

    Thanks for your expertise,

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