Sony 10-18mm Lens Review – Stuck in Customs

Sony 10-18mm Lens Review

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At around $850, it’s really the best option for wide-angle shots with the Sony E Lens system

Sony NEX – First Three Lenses I recommend

You’ll notice the 10-18mm is first in my list!

  • Sony 10-18 f/4 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – A great new lens that gives you maximum wide-angle flexibility for landscapes and architecture
  • Sony 55-210mm (Amazon | B&H Photo) – This lens is a little big but its versatility is perfect for mid-range stuff like landscapes, birthdays, sports, etc. I’ve also used it to zoom in and get shots of the moon (like you can see below)
  • Zeiss 32mm prime f/1.8 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – f/1.8 will give you some incredible depth of field. It’s great for taking photos of people, objects, or other little things you find throughout your day.

Lens Review for the Sony 10-18mm

I use this lens almost more than any other for my Sony NEX. It’s not really a 10-18mm, btw, if you’re into this hardcore crop-factor stuff. It’s actually 15-27mm with the 1.5 crop factor. That is still plenty wide for almost any landscape situation. My previous camera was the Nikon D800, and my favorite lens for that was the Nikon 14-24mm, and this Sony lens is comparable in almost every way.

The Nikon one went all the way down to f/2.8, and this Sony one is only f/4. This is not a problem for me, since I normally do landscape shots and I don’t care much about having a very open aperture, since normally I try to get everything in focus.

The Sony NEX 10-18mm on the Sony A7r

Here is a photo I took with the 10-18mm lens on the Sony A7r.

My Fortress of Solitude

I did a full comparison here of the two main wide-angle lenses that are currently available from Sony for the new Sony A7r (see my ever-growing Sony A7r Review here on the site). One of them is this NEX 10-18mm that worked so well on the cropped-sensor of my NEX system. The other is the full-frame Sony 16-35mm lens from their DSLR system. The latter needs an adapter to work on the Sony A7r.

As you can see in the video below, the NEX lens is my surprising favorite! I didn’t really expect it to be equal in sharpness and quality to its bigger full frame counterpart. One advantage to the bigger 16-35mm are that it can shoot all the way down to f/2.8. This would be valuable in low-light wide-angle handheld shooting (which I don’t do). It would also be valuable in astro-photography (which I rarely do).

But the advantages of the NEX 10-18mm are manifold! You basically get to move it between 12mm-17mm without seeing the ring around the outside. And yes, you get the full-frame goodness of the 36 megapixels of the Sony A7r! That’s much wider than the 16-35mm. The distortion is pretty much exactly the same on both cameras, as you can see in the video review. Even better, the NEX lens is over 2x lighter, 3x cheaper, and a fraction of the size. Amazing! I’m not seeing any difference in the sharpness of the lens.

So this was a pretty big decision for me — to switch to this lens when I fully anticipated using the 16-35mm until the new FE wide-angle lens for the Sony A7 launches later this year. I expect that will be a superior lens to both of these, although probably not as inexpensive as this NEX 10-18mm.

This is an example of using a NEX lens on the Sony A7r. This is the Sony 10-18mm shot at 14mm. You can see the massive coverage it still gets, and you don’t give up any of the 36 megapixels! Yes, at certain zooms like 10mm you get a ring around the outside, but I get nothing from about 12mm to 17mm — it is as good as gold. There may be a tiny bit of vignetting (darkening) around the outside, but that is a one-click fix in Lightroom! There is more about this particular lens in the video below.

Sony NEX Review

Above: Another wide-angle shot with the NEX. Even though the “Experiment” was only supposed to last until I left China, I’ve been shooting exclusively with the NEX-7 ever since!


Sony NEX Review

Above: When I got up in this situation atop one of the highest buildings in Beijing, I was used to having my old trusty Nikon system there. But, I vowed to continue the experiment and leave the D800 back in the hotel room. So it was just me and the Sony NEX-7. I wasn’t disappointed, and I am now more than confident enough in this little Asian number.


Sony NEX Review

Above: These were windy and rainy conditions in Toronto, but the NEX performed well. Because of that horrible decision to require the user to HOLD DOWN the shutter button during auto-bracketing, the photos would have come out too shaky. So, that means I did not use auto-bracketing and instead turned on the 2 second timer so I could let go and let the camera become stabilized. I had to rinse and repeat this for a few different exposures.


Sony NEX Review

Above: A low-light shot in China where I was really able to use the manual focus and focus peaking to make sure it was perfect!


Sony NEX Review

Above:  She was backlit and coming through the hallway at me. The RAW file is nice and thick and full of light… I had more than enough to get what I needed.


Sony NEX Review

Above: Here’s one of the first photos I took with the 10-18mm lens of a little path down to Lake Hayes in Arrowtown.


Sony NEX Review

Above: I’ve gotten a lot better at taking night shots with the NEX-7. It really helps if you have a tripod and set it up with the 2-second timer so you don’t get the camera shake.


Sony NEX Review

Above: The China Experiment actually ended up starting before China, while I was still in San Francisco. Here’s an NEX shot of the city from above…


More Photos with the NEX-7 and the 10-18mm lens

There are a ton of the 10-18mm lens shots in this sample gallery I made!

Sony NEX Review<