The Sony 10-18mm F/4.0 wide angle zoom lens Review.
The Sony 10-18mm or SEL1018 is a fairly large high quality zoom lens for the Sony NEX E mount system. The lens is a constant F/4.0 throughout the zoom range. The lens ships with caps, a petal shaped hood, box and a one year warranty in most juristrictions. It is compatible with all Sony NEX Cameras.
The lens specifications are as follows:
Lens Type : E-mount 10-18mm F4
Lens Mount Type : Sony E-mount
Aperture : f/4- F/22
Focal Length (35mm equivalent) : 15-27 mm
Lens Construction : 8-10
Minimum Focus Distance : 9.84″ (0.25m)
Angle of View : 109°-76° (APS-C)
Aperture Blade : 7 blades (Circular aperture)
Dimensions (Max. Diameter x Length) : 2-7/8 x 2-1/2″ (70.0 x 63.5 mm)
Distance Encoder : Yes
The lens has a threaded filter diameter of 62 mm. We tested the lens with a 6mm B+W MRC Circular Polarizer with no vignetting evident at the 10mm setting.
Sony’s reported weight is 8oz (225g), I am going to assume that this number is without caps, hood, etc… My scale shows this, and I call this bag weight:
The lens also features Sonys Optical Steady Shot lens based stabilization . Sony claims a four stop stabilization advantage for this system. The lens has internal autofocus and a non rotating front filter element. As mentioned, the front filter diameter is 62mm. The lens optical group is a complex 10 elements in 8 groups. Three of the elements are aspherical and Sony uses ultra low dispersion glass, but they do not say which elements exactly. The lens is light, weighing in at 8oz or 225g, it feels large on the NEX, but not too front heavy. Once you mount the hood, it does make the whole camera package much larger and less discrete. Sony has finally figured out that people generally want black lenses, and this lens has a nice black finish. The majority of the lens has a black metal finish, with the lens extension part being plastic. The lens mount is metal as well. The filter ring is a 62mm fitting, and it is plastic. This would be my primary beef with the lens, as it represents a possible wear point and it could be damagd by cross threading. The hood is black plastic with a non reflective coating inside.
The following image was shot at 10mm will be our test image. Flare is very well controlled, and almost non existant unless deliberately introduced. This image shows standard wide angle attributes. It is directly from Adobe Lightroom with no additional processing. The image was chosen as a demonstration image for several reasons including flare, chromatic abberations, wide angle distortion and corner sharpness.
The next image shows the top right corner. You can clearly see the amount of chromatic abberation around the street light. The lens displays some lateral chromatic abberations at these wide settings. They are in the 1-2 pixel range and lightroom easily corrects the out. This type of CA is very common in wide angle lenses, and this particular Sony lens demonstrates very good lateral chromatic abberation control. At 10mm, this is really a non event.
The second photo shows the bottom right corner of the image. Here you can see just how sharp this lens is all the way into the corner. Chromatic abberation is evident, but easily processed out.
This crop from the left hand side of the image also demonstrates chromatic abberation. CA appears to be fairly uniform which is a plus, because it aids in software removal. The left side of the image is just as sharp. In my testing, I found this sample of thw lens to be very well centered with no perceptable sharpness difference side to side. All four image corner’s demonstrated even sharpeness.
In use, the optical stabilization is seemless and not really obvious on such a wide angle lens. Sony was very smart to add OSS to the lens, because, it will allow for some very low shutter speeds or higher apertures. Generally, when shooting wide large scale depth of field is desirable and the OSS will allow the user to safely select one or additional f stops over a non OSS lens. The lens has a seven bladed aperture which should yield circular aperture as Sony claims. In our sample photos there are images showing bokeh at the wider apertures as well as stopped down. Over all, the bokeh appears relatively smooth. With such a wide angle lens at a relatively slow F/4.0 bokeh is limited due to the very large depth of field.
Below you will find a gallery of images shot with the new NEX 6 and the 10-18mm. Click on an image to launch the gallery.
All testing done by Andrew Gough.