After the first brief review of Sony SEL1018, I took the lens with my NEX 5N for some test shots. Compared to my SEL16F28 with the VCL-ECU1 mounted, the new SEL1018 has a few obvious advantages.
1. The image quality is much better. For SEL16F28, the picture is soft at all corners, especially if it was shot using aperture F2.8. It may be noticed if you look at the resized photo, but definitely obvious when you take a 100% zoom view. Compared to that, SEL1018 is much better and sharper even wide open at F4.
2. It is clearly more versatile, as a zoom lens. It helps framing the picture properly without too much hassle in cropping. 10mm is really wide and it's suitable for large landscapes and occasions when the space is constrained and you can't step back further. At 18mm it would be good for normal use as the distortion is not that dramatic.
3. The OSS is a huge bonus. Some may think it is not so important as a wide angle lens would not have much problem of handshake since the shutter speed can go as slow as 1/15s (the reverse of the 35mm equivalent focal length). However, it could still be challenging if shooting a night scenery or indoor. Therefore, although the widest aperture is only at F4, with OSS built in, the chances of capturing a good clear photo in low light is actually much higher.
Below are some shots taken by SEL1018 with my NEX 5N around Chinatown and City areas.
Crowds and lights in the Chinatown streets and CBD in the distance. Taken handheld. 14mm, F4, ISO2500, 1/60s
The yellow 'snake' lantern goes in front of the Sri Mariamman Temple. Taken handheld. 10mm, F4, ISO1250, 1/60s
The well-known Merlion and skyline behind. Taken on a tripod, using the built in HDR. 10mm, F11, ISO100, 8s
Marina Bay Sands with laser light on. Taken on a tripod, using the built in HDR. 18mm, F11,ISO100, 25s
The light trace and star burst. Taken on a tripod. 10mm, F16, ISO100, 20s
Another light trace with Fullerton Hotel behind. Taken on a tripod. 10mm, F16, ISO100, 6s
Outdoor theatre next to Marina Bay. Taken on a tripod. 11mm, F13, ISO100, 10s
Performance at outdoor theatre. Taken handheld. 12mm, F4, ISO3200, 1/25s
Something I noticed in the photos is that there will be some degree of flare if the lens is facing a strong light source. It could be annoying for some of the photographers. In addition, it is great that the distortion is well controlled even wide at 10mm.
One last thing, the recommended retail price for this lens is 1299 SGD. So..something to reflect on yourselves! If you are serious into landscape/cityscape or architecture photography and whether you often use wide angle lens, or just on demand. If yes, definitely this is the perfect companion for your NEX cameras and it is worth the investment. If you only occasionally use it, or just want to complete your 'focal range', I would still recommend the combination of SEL16F28 and VCL-ECU1. They are only about half of the price of SEL1018.
Hope you have enjoyed the review and photos. Please let me know if you have any question and I'd love to answer them!