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Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens Review

John Riley reviews one of the cheapest dedicated macro lenses available for Sony E mount cameras, the Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro lens.

| Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro SEL30M35 in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and Features

Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens Review: Sony 30mm Macro From Front

Compact and light, the Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro lens is an APS-C format optic for use on Sony E mount camera bodies. The lens is a relatively simple construction of seven elements in six groups, enhanced by one being an ED element and three being aspherical. Focusing down to 1:1, life size, it promises to be a very versatile short macro lens, with a 35mm-equivalent field of view of 45mm.

Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro Handling and Features

Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens Review: Sony 30mm Macro From Front With Lens Hood

The silver finish lens balances well on the Sony A6000 body provided for this test. It is for APS-C, so if used on a full frame camera would vignette quite heavily. 30mm is actually quite a short focal length for a macro lens, effectively it is a slightly wide standard prime in terms of its field of view. This may not be so suitable for insect photography in the field, but gives a comfortably close working distance for table top, document copying and small product photography. Magnification is 1:1 at the closest focus point of 9.5cm (3.8 inches), as measured from the sensor plane. This does take the front element very close to the subject, so we do need to be careful that we can bring enough light into the area.

Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens Review: Sony 30mm Macro On A6000 Body

There is very little to adorn the lens, just a plain smooth metal barrel with a nicely ribbed manual focus ring towards the front. In terms of handling, it's as simple as it gets, with nothing else in the way of extra controls on the lens itself. The lens takes 49mm filters, and the rather nicely designed lens hood bayonets securely onto the front. The lens hood is more of a mask than a hood, an effective design that is now used quite widely by various manufacturers. The hood does not add much bulk to the lens and as the focusing distances are so close that is a good idea. Construction quality is reassuringly solid.

There is no aperture ring, the aperture being controlled by the camera body. The rear of the lens carries electronic contacts and also has a baffle similar to the lens hood. This will help control any reflections off the back element and reduce the chance of flare within the lens. Focus is internal, so there is no change to the dimensions of the lens , nor does the front element rotate, as we focus closer.

Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens Review: Sony 30mm Macro From Rear

Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro Performance

The lens is an excellent performer in the centre of the field. The sharpness at full aperture is already an excellent standard and this holds well through to f/8, peaking around f/4-5.6. The edges fall way behind, never really reaching really good levels until a peak is reached at f/8. This does actually give a useful amount of depth of field as we focus closer as the lens is at its most even at that point. Also, as a macro lens there may be more to the story as we do move closer rather than at the distances demanded by lens testing.


Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens Review: MTF

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. 

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

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony Alpha A6000 using Imatest.


CA is very well controlled at the centre, rather less so at the edges. Edges show some colour fringing and this is quite obvious around white window frames, or branches against the sky. Flare, on the other hand, is absolutely not a problem. The baffles front and rear plus effective coatings result in a lens that is not prone to flare.


Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens Review: CA

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 Alpha A6000 using Imatest.


Focusing is fast and quiet and does not seem prone to hunting or hesitation. The manual focusing ring is firm and nicely damped, is well placed and affords an excellent grip.

Bokeh is something that we look at more closely as the character of the out of focus areas can radically alter the feel of an image. The lens performs well in this respect, but of course it depends very much on the nature of the out of focus elements in the picture.

The only negative is really the poor edge performance, where normally we would expect a macro lens to be more even across the frame. This may not matter so much in some photography, such as portraiture, but architectural shots suffer at the edges. Distortion, on the other hand, is not a problem, with just -0.453% barrelling. The CA can be tackled in software.

Moving very much closer, the macro shots did show much better overall sharpness, and so in this case we seem to have a macro lens whose design is aimed rather more at the macro shooter rather than for using the lens as a general purpose optic. In this respect, the lens does offer a very convenient path to high quality macro shots.

Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro SEL30M35 Sample Photos

Value For Money

At £175 there seems little to complain about, this is excellent value for such a well made lens. Other marques have 35mm macro lenses, such as the HD Pentax 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited at £469. Nikon have the Nikon AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G at £185. Panasonic offer the Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 Aspherical at £529 or the Panasonic LUMIX G MACRO 30mm f/2.8 ASPH. at £279. This puts into perspective how low the cost of the Sony 30mm is.

Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro Verdict

A modest cost, a small, compact lens and an excellent central performance make up this attractive lens. The edges do let the lens down at normal working distances, but this does seem to improve as we focus closer. 30mm may seem short for a macro lens, but for many applications this can be quite useful. All in all, a very good offering at a low price.

Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro Pros

Well made
Excellent central sharpness
Low price
1:1 magnification
Fast AF

Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro Cons

Edge performance lags
Focal length short for a macro lens
CA high at edges


The Sony E 30mm f/3.5 macro is a useful and inexpensive macro lens for E Mount cameras.


Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro SEL30M35 Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Sony E Mount
Focal Length30mm
Angle of View50°
Max Aperturef/3.5
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size49mm
35mm equivalent45mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus9.5cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsHood (ALC-SH113), Lens front cap, Lens rear cap
HeightNo Data

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