Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Ultimate Ultra-Wide Lens for NEX cameras: Sony SEL1018 - First Impression

A few months ago, I wrote a review on Sony's ultra-wide lens converter, VCL-ECU1. It is specifically designed for the 16mm F2.8 pancake lens (SEL16F28). Having a 0.75x factor, it turns the lens into 12mm F2.8. It is really wide and helped me capture many great landscape photos along my trips. However, it does have its limitations. First the somewhat compromised image quality is still something I would notice. SEL16F28 is not a sharp lens, especially at the corners, which frustrates me a little bit. Second, it doesn't come with OSS (Optical Steady Shot). Though it could be wide open at F2.8, it's not good enough for many night shots which shutter speed can easily go below 1/10. That sometimes caused my photos blurred due to handshake. Lastly, a fixed focal length could be inconvenient at times because the lens is just too wide for some occasions and I have to adjust my position or crop the image to get exactly the view I want. 

Now Sony has a solution for all the problems I have. It's the new E-mount lens, Wide zoom 10-18mm F4.

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I was provided with this lens to feature a review. And it is really something I have been looking for! This post will be about the design of this lens and how it feels in hand.

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The black paint finish is similar to the Carl Zeiss E24, very sleek and classic. It comes with the lens hood as other Sony E-mount lenses do.

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The filter diameter is 62, constant aperture of F4 and its closest focal distance is 0.25m, very close if you include the length of the lens. 

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A group shot of the NEX E-mount lenses and my NEX 5N. From left to right, to front is SEL1018, SEL1855, SEL50F18 (Review), NEX 5N (Review) with SEL16F28 and Ultra-wide lens converter VCL-ECU1(Review)  A friend of mine at one time said this to me, "I know people buy mirror-less cameras these days, but I didn't know they actually buy the lenses. Why do you even bother to buy lens for such a tiny camera?". Well, to me, mirror-less cameras are not some complement to the DSLR, they are replacement of the latter. They have the DSLR image quality with much more compact size. I have to say, in the near feature, the market for mirror-less cameras will only be growing fast and the demand for DSLR would be shrunk and limited to photographers with niche needs, e.g. sports events. 


Okay, now back to the topic, this is what it looks like when SEL1018 is mounted on my NEX 5N. The silver body and black lens are kind of mismatch (too bad, SEL1018 only comes with black color and I wish I had a black NEX 6 or NEX 7! :( ). The lens is a little bulky and heavy (225g) compared to my other NEX lenses, but it's still much more tiny than most DSLR lenses. The zoom ring is smooth, but for my personal taste, a bit too loose. When the lens is zooming out at 10mm, the front part will extend out a bit. 

I'll be sharing some of my experience using this lens along with some test shots in the next post, so please stay tuned! :)

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