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Sony SEL 10-18mm f/4 OSS Lens Review

Sony SEL 10-18mm f/4 OSS Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the wide-angle zoom Sony SEL 10-18mm f/4 OSS lens for Sony NEX cameras.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Sony SEL 10-18mm OSS
Price : £700
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Sony E 10 18 F4 Oss Wide (3)

An ultra wide angle zoom lens for Sony NEX cameras that provides an angle of view equivalent to a 15-27mm lens on a 35mm camera. The lens also sports a constant maximum aperture of f/4, optical image stabilisation and costs around £700.

Sony SEL 10-18mm f/4 OSS Handling and features

Build and design is typical of Sony's E-Mount lenses, with high quality black plastics with a glossy finish used for much of the lens barrel construction and the lens mount is metal. For a lens providing such a wide field of view, it is incredibly lightweight, tipping the scales at 225g.

Sony E 10 18 F4 Oss Wide (7)

Auto focus is reasonably fast but occasionally it can struggle to focus accurately. This is especially apparent with subjects of low contrast, or in dim lighting conditions. The smoothly damped manual focusing ring makes applying manual focus adjustments a pleasure.

Minimum focus is 25cm from the sensor plane, which is ideal for shooting in claustrophobic environments, or for making the most of the distorted perspective wide angle lenses provide when shooting close to your subject.

As focusing is performed internally, the 62mm filter ring does not rotate, which makes the lens ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters. A petal-shaped lens hood is supplied as standard, which attaches to the lens via a bayonet fitting.

Sony E 10 18 F4 Oss Wide (2)

The usefulness of having optical image stabilisation on a wide angle lens like this is debatable, even so, the feature does allow a little more leeway when shooting at slow shutter speeds. Typically, sharp shots are possible with shutter speeds as low as half a second around half the time at 10mm, and a quarter of a second at 18mm.

Sony SEL 10-18mm f/4 OSS Performance

At 10mm, sharpness in the centre of the frame is already excellent at f/4, although the clarity towards the edges of the frame is a little disappointing by comparison, just falling short of good levels. Stopping down the aperture to f/5.6 results in a great improvement in sharpness across the frame, resulting in outstanding sharpness in the centre of the frame and clarity which is just short of excellent towards the edges.

At 14mm performance at maximum aperture drops off quite severely, with clarity in the centre barely reaching good levels and clarity towards the edges of the frame being fair. Stopping down to f/8 results in much improved performance with outstanding sharpness in the centre and very good clarity towards the edges of the frame. The lens performs very similarly at 18mm also.

Sony10 18mm MTF@10mm
Resolution @ 10mm
  Sony10 18mm MTF@14mm
Resolution @ 14mm
Sony10 18mm MTF@18mm
Resolution @ 18mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony NEX-5R using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are reasonably well controlled, barely exceeding three quarters of a pixel width at any most apertures and focal lengths. CA's just exceed 0.75 pixel widths towards the edges of the frame at 14mm. This level may be just visible along high contrast edges towards the edges of the frame.

Sony10 18mm CA@10mm
Chromatic aberration @ 10mm
  Sony10 18mm CA@14mm
Chromatic aberration @ 14mm
Sony10 18mm CA@18mm
Chromatic aberration @ 18mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony NEX-5R using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is quite pronounced fas you may expect for such a wide angle lens. At f/4 and 10mm the corners of the frame are 2.29 stops darker than the image centre and at 18mm this level drops to 1.86stops. Even with the lens stopped down to f/11, some darkness can still be seen in the far corners on some images, with illumination never really being visually uniform across the frame.

Distortion is very well controlled for a lens of this range with only 0.298% barrel distortion present at 10mm and 0.219% pincushion distortion present at 18mm. The distortion that is there is uniform across the frame, so should be relatively easy to correct in image editing software afterwards.

The supplied lens hood does an reasonable job of shielding the lens from extraneous light that may cause issues with flare. Even without the hood this lens is quite resistant to flare and retains good contrast, even when shooting into the light.

Sony SEL 10-18mm f/4 OSS Sample Photos


Value for Money

With a price tag of around £700, many may expect better performance at maximum aperture than this lens delivers.

As an alternative, Sony NEX system camera owners may also consider Sony's A-mount 11-18mm, which costs around £400 and can be used with a NEX camera with the correct adapter. This route may only suit those who already own a selection of A-mount lenses to make the extra cost of the adapter, and extra bulk of the system as a result, worthwhile.

Sony SEL 10-18mm f/4 OSS Verdict

So long as the limitations of this lens are known, and understood, then this lens is certainly capable of producing high quality images.

However, it is a shame that the performance at maximum aperture between 14mm and 18mm isn't up to the same high standard as when the lens is stopped down a little.

     

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Sony SEL 10-18mm f/4 OSS ED Pros

Good build quality
Good performance when stopped down a little
Lightweight for a wide angle zoom
Low distortion

Sony SEL 10-18mm f/4 OSS ED Cons

Lacklustre performance at maximum aperture between 14mm and 18mm
Some issues focusing accurately in low contrast and low light conditions

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  

Sony SEL 10-18mm f/4 OSS Specifications

ManufacturerSony
General
Lens Mounts
  • Sony E Mount
Lens
Focal Length10mm - 18mm
Angle of View76 - 109
Max Aperturef/4
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size62mm
35mm equivalent15mm - 27mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus25cm
StabilisedYes
Construction
Blades7
Elements10
Groups8
Box Contents
Box ContentsFront and Rear Caps, Lens Hood
Dimensions
Weight225g
Height63.5mm

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