The Carl Zeiss DT 16-80/3.5-4.5, give it a break

July 22nd, 2008 - 09:24:58 PM:

In June 2008 I finally got me the Carl Zeiss DT 16-80/3.5-4.5, despite some critical reviews. I was expecting to do some critical testing and maybe having to return it. It didn't turn out this way.

Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT 16-80/3.5-4.5 ZA

In fact, I'm positively surprised by this lens. It's got high quality optics, and also mechanically I can find very few flaws. The only thing that's not so nice is the rough focus ring action, certainly a consequence of the very short focus throw. Other than that, it's very solid and precise. Even when comparing it to older medium aperture standard zooms, e.g. the 24-85/3.5-4.5, it is a much better lens. It feels more solid, the mechanical tolerances are smaller, and the optical quality is higher, despite the bigger zoom range. OK, it's also more expensive, but nothing in lens design comes for free.

Going back to the reviews I've read before, I think this lens has been over-criticized regarding its mechanical qualities. I get the impression that people were spending €600 on a lens and were disappointed that it didn't have €1000 quality, just because it was saying “Zeiss” on the lens. This is unreasonable. Even when you brand a lens “Zeiss”, you can't trick the laws of physics and economics. €600 will buy you exactly a lens with €600 quality, no matter what label you print on it. To keep the price down, every maker, including Zeiss, have to make compromises. If it had the full-metal body etc. that some were expecting, it couldn't cost only €600.

So, please, give it a break. Look at the lens as what it is, not as what you want it to be without also wanting to pay the price.

In June 2008 I finally got me the Carl Zeiss DT 16-80/3.5-4.5, despite some critical reviews. I was expecting to do some critical testing and maybe having to return it. It didn't turn out this way.