High Quality, High Zoom Range, Highly Affordable
I've been shooting this lens alongside the full-frame Zeiss 24 -70mm f/2.8 and Sony G 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, both of which are world-class. What I've found has surprised me: this lens has no apologies to make in that company. I bought the other two lenses only because I expect to transition to full frame in about 3 years. (I'm currently using an A550 body.) I haven't done any scientific measurements, but when I blow-up shots from this lens on a large monitor, I'm not finding any resolution issues at all. I've done shots of the same subjects with all three lenses, and simply haven't seen any loss of resolution or any color signature with this lens. Again, this is real-world shooting and subjective evaluation, not laboratory testing.
Someone commented on the lens being heavy. That's a relative thing. It is much, much lighter than the Zeiss 70-24. That's partly because the Zeiss has a wider aperture and works full frame. The 16-105 is, however, heavier than typical Minolta film camera lenses.
The feel of the build quality is impressive. It is very, very close to the subjective feel of the Zeiss 24-70, which is possibly the best made lens on the market. If you twist and wiggle the two lenses, you can detect a very slightly tighter tolerance in the Zeiss, but you have to try -- it's not readily apparent.
This is my walk-around lens of choice. I also considered the Sony SAL18250 Alpha DT 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 and the Zeiss Sony SAL-1680Z DT 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5. Based on what I've read and what I've experienced first hand, I'd say the optical quality of the lenses would place the 18-250 at the low end, this 16-105 in the middle, and the Zeiss 16-80 at the high end, with this 16-105 being closer to the Zeiss than to the 18-250. Honestly, I don't think you'd go wrong with any of the three. But if you want close to the best quality, and the 6.5X zoom range suits your needs, this lens is a no-brainer. Personally, I wouldn't trade it for either of the other two, even though it's the least expensive.
Additional comment: Several months after writing my original review above, I spent 3 weeks with my camera covering 10 stops in Europe. I took this lens and the Zeiss. I left my other lenses behind because I couldn't spare the weight budget. I'm now, more than ever, a huge fan of the lens reviewed here. I took over 2000 pictures, and my best shot -- afforded by its zoom range, was taken with this lens. This lens, matched with the A550 (or A500) body makes an absolutely formidable combination.
***Update*** I note that this lens is no longer cheaper than the 18-250. I now have both, but in most cases, this is still my walk-around lens of choice on what is now my A580.
***Update 2*** I now have the Zeiss 16-80. It is slightly sharper and the colors are slightly more saturated, but you have to look very closely to see the difference. If I were traveling with my A580 and could only take one lens, the 16-105 would still be my choice, just for its zoom range. For those that want more speed, the 16-50 F2.8 is getting good reviews. I have one coming in a couple of weeks.
***Update 3*** I now must revise what I said earlier about mating this lens with the A77. Of course it will work fine, but I now have an A77 with the 16-50 f/2.8 lens. The 16-50 lens is a better fit with the A77 because of the f/2.8 aperture. The A77 sensor is noisier than other Sony offerings due to it's high pixel density. All of the so-called SLTs lose one-half stop outright to the semi-transparent, fixed mirror. The 16-50 is a hair sharper but has significantly more geometric distortion. The A77 corrects the geometric distortion for jpegs (but not for RAW). The bottom line is that the 16-50 has become my walk-around lens for the A77. In good light, this lens has the obvious advantage of a factor of two more zoom range. It would still be my choice for anything other than the A77 or A900 and a great choice in good light for the A77.
If you only can buy one Sony Alpha lens buy this one!
I can't explain why I overlooked this lens and bought other Sigma, Tamron, and Sony lenses for my Sony Alpha camera bodies first. What a mistake! I never was satisfied with the performance of the less expensive (under $600) walk about lenses once I took pictures with the very fine Sony 24-70mm Carl Zeiss G lens. But often I found myself unwilling to take a $1500 lens outdoors or to places I was concerned about theft.
Recently I purchased and tried the Sony 16-105mm lens. I found that it produces results very similar to a G glass lens. In fact I am very impressed. I recently took portraits of 100 students during a choir tour. All the shots were taken from the aisle while the bus was moving with only a single external flash bounced from the ceiling and a small reflector positioned in the lap of each student.
When I reviewed the images on the computer I was amazed at the performance of this lens. Sharp (I look for the sharpness of the eye lashes at 100%)and beautiful colors with little need for any post processing. I love the image stabilization of the Sony alpha body. Image that sharp pictures in a moving bus with a shutter speed of 1/60 to 1/100. I liked my a700 and a55 camera bodies before but now I like them even better. A fine lens makes all the difference and I consider the Sony 16-105mm a fine lens considering it's price of $599. My only wish is that it had a lens lock.
My recommendation when buying an Alpha camera body (not full frame) would be to buy the Sony 16-105mm first, then a Minolta 50mm f1.4, a Sigma 70mm macro f 2.8 and then the very fine Sony CZ 24-70mm and 70-400mm when you can afford them. You will use these lenses the rest of your life.
By far the best lens I bought. The great focal length of this lens covers almost every shot whether wide or zoomed, it's just perfect with no moving elements when auto focusing. This is a must-have lens for your alpha.
If you can get a deal on this lens it will be a steal! This easily compares with the Sony Carl Zeiss 16-80mm lens with out letting go of several hundred more to get it.[...]I'm planning on using this for a trip and it will make a great lens for that.
Perfect travel lens
I did a lot of research and read all the reviews when I bought this lens with my new Sony SLR. It is a great travel lens and takes wonderful photos! I would definitely recommend this lens.
I love this lens.
It is great lens with very useful range and great image quality. It is light and sharp and is mounted on camera 90% of time. The image quality it produces is very great, sharp and well defined. It is a great buy.
Great lens for the Alpha DSLR cameras.
This has become my primary lens on my A580. It covers most of the range that I need, with the exception of long range wildlife photos. The images are very sharp at full magnification, nearly as sharp as my best 50mm prime lens.
A good lens for the price
I think I found the best affordable replacement for the kit lens I got with my Sony Alpha A300. The CZ 18-60mm was not in my budget. I've also tried the Tamron AF 17-50mm but had to return it because of a bad copy and it was a bit short for some of the photos I wanted to take.
I found this lens to be a good compromise of price, range and quality.
I switched from Nikon to Sony and love this lens as my walk around lens. Excellent sharpness and detail.
Great quality lens
We bought a similar lens off craigslist. Was shocked at the difference between the lenses. This gives crisp clear pictures. It is a lot of money, but slightly blurry pictures aren't worth anything.