Sony shooters get new wide-angle AF lens as Viltrox launches full-frame 16mm F1.8

Viltrox AF 16mm f/1.8 product shot
(Image credit: Viltrox)

Viltrox has announced a new ultra-wide lens for full-frame Sony E-mount cameras. Unusually for a third-party lens from a smaller manufacturer, the Viltrox 16mm F1.8 FE is an autofocus design, incorporating a stepping motor AF system that's also said to support face AF and eye AF. The optical stack consists of 15 elements arranged in 12 groups, including three aspherical elements for improving image sharpness, and four extra-low dispersion elements to help control ghosting and flare. A 9-blade aperture diaphragm can be controlled directly from the rear-mounted control ring on the lens barrel. With a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture, the lens looks ideal for low-light handheld shooting, and also astrophotography.

The new lens is the sixth in the expanding range of Viltrox autofocus prime lenses, joining the Viltrox AF 13mm F1.4, AF 23mm F1.4, AF 33mm F1.4, AF 56mm F1.4, and AF 85mm f/1.8 II.

(Image credit: Viltrox)

Another neat feature is the built-in color information screen atop the lens barrel. Little information has been given as to what lens parameters can be viewed on the screen, but we're assuming it'll act primarily as a digital focus distance 'window', assisting with manual zone focussing and determining hyperfocal distance. Traditional focus distance windows used to be commonplace on DSLR lenses, but have become increasingly rare in the current era of 'drive-by-wire' focusing. We’ll have to wait and see whether Viltrox’s digital implementation turns out to be a useful alternative to an old-school mechanical distance scale. We do know that the display itself is an IPS LCD panel, with a 160x80-pixel resolution.

Sample images

(Image credit: Viltrox)

(Image credit: Viltrox)

(Image credit: Viltrox)

Price and availability

Viltrox AF 16mm f/1.8 product shot

(Image credit: Viltrox)

The Viltrox AF 16mm F1.8 FE went on sale today for the Sony E-mount for $549 / £579. At this price point Sony itself doesn't really have a directly competing lens. Its closest alternative is the stellar FE 14mm F1.8 GM, but being from Sony's premium G-Master range, that lens will cost you around three times the price of the Viltrox - a lot for an extra 2mm of wide-angle range.

Read more:

• Which is the best Sony camera right now?
• The best Sony lenses
• These are the best mirrorless cameras today
• We list the best cameras for professionals

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Ben Andrews

Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he's in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He's also the team's man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he's a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys.