Best Zoom Sony E 18-135mm f / 3.5-5.6 OSS Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals & Sales 2020:
Concentrated on its FE optical range for 24×36 sensors, Sony had somewhat abandoned its APS-C range in recent times. An absence corrected last January, with the announcement of a new standard in E-mount for its models in the A6000 range. It is a classic focal range 18-135 mm, offering the field of coverage of a 27-202.5 mm in 24×36, which was chosen to appeal to users looking for a powerful zoom instead of the 16 -50mm f / 3.5-5.6 of the kits.
Made from 16 optical elements divided into 12 groups, the Sony E 18-135mm f / 3.5-5.6 OSS incorporates 1 aspherical lens and 2 low dispersion glass lenses to reduce aberrations. Its sliding aperture is limited to f / 3.5 at wide angle and f / 5.6 at telephoto, but it has a stabilization system that will be particularly appreciated by users of A6000 and A6300 , the stabilization of the sensor on 5 axes having only appeared on the A6500 . Its minimum focusing distance is 0.45 m for a magnification ratio of 0.29x and its autofocus motorization is of the linear type.
Best Zoom Sony E 18-135mm f / 3.5-5.6 OSS Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals & Sales 2020
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Despite its high zoom coefficient, this 18-135 mm retains relatively contained dimensions: only 67 mm in diameter and 88 mm in length folded for a weight of 325 g. The transition from 18 to 35 mm does not vary its length and the lens only lengthens by about 2 cm at its longest focal length. It is delivered with a sun visor in corolla whose fixing, although free of lock, is firm and without any play. We also appreciate the central fixing mechanism of the cover which ensures an easy handling when the sun visor is in square.
Although it does not benefit from a high-end metal fabrication, we were rather seduced by the finishes of this lens, with a sober and modern design and with a matt coating. The zoom ring is well taken in hand and has a moderate stroke, which sweeps very quickly the entire range of focal lengths, smoothly and with appropriate resistance. On the other hand, the focusing ring located at the front of the lens will be more difficult to use, because of the absence of stops and its too great fluidity which leads to a lack of precision. But Sony has no doubt said that the users for whom this lens is intended will never use it.
The absence of a distance scale will not be penalizing either for the users targeted by this objective, although it is extremely useful for us. On the side of the lens, a button easily switches from manual focus to autofocus. On the other hand, the lens does not offer any lever to deactivate stabilization – this is annoying for shooting on a tripod.
Mounted on our A6500, the Sony E 18-135mm f / 3.5-5.6 OSS has revealed all its versatility by lending itself to the production of landscapes, still lifes or portraits. The whole remains relatively compact and light, although overall much more bulky than a Micro 4/3 Olympus or Panasonic system. Its shorter focal length equivalent to 27 mm may, however, leave fans of wide fields hungry. Its minimum focusing distance of 45 cm has also sometimes limited us in our approach to the subject. On the other hand, we noted an efficient surface treatment of the lenses, which allowed us to photograph facing the sun without any significant flare or parasitic reflections appearing .
The lens hardly suffers from any distortion and there is only a slight overcorrection at the wide angle, visible on this brick wall, but imperceptible on photographs of more classic scenes.
On the vignetting side, the results are less flattering. There is a strong darkening of the corners at wide angle at f / 3.5 and it is necessary to close at f / 5.6 so that the phenomenon becomes less annoying. The telephoto position is not exempt from this problem, since the vignetting is very visible at the minimum aperture f / 5.6 and fades only at f / 8. We will therefore take care to activate the vignetting correction in the device, or to correct in postproduction using retouching software.
Finally, note that despite the poor aperture f / 3.5-5.6, it is possible to take photos with a shallow depth of field to detach the subject from its background. It is not at the level of what we would have obtained with an aperture at f / 1.8 or f / 2.8, but the circular diaphragm with 7 lamellae still gives a harmonious bokeh.
The notion of dive is quite delicate to deal with. This is what we can assimilate to the “feeling of sharpness” or to the “precision” that we observe on an image. It can be very different from one lens to another, from one focal to another and from one aperture to another. It can also vary between the center and the edges of the image. We usually say that the sharpness is optimal in the center and at the average openings (f / 8 or f / 11, for example).
We tested the Sony E 18-135mm f / 3.5-5.6 OSS on an A6500, with the APS-C 24 Mpx sensor, each photosite measuring 3.9 µm side. The shots of our target were exploited with the Imatest software.
The results firstly demonstrate good behavior of the lens in the center from full aperture, at all focal lengths. The resolving power is then at the level of what one could obtain with high-end objectives. On the other hand, this zoom cruelly lacks homogeneity at wide-angle and it is only from f / 8 that the sharpness goes up on the edges of the image. The phenomenon is present at all focal lengths, although less marked at 35 or 70 mm. Diffraction is very present from f / 16. You will see by looking at the results that Sony allows very small apertures, up to f / 22 at 18 mm and even f / 36 at 135 mm!
Our shots on stage also highlight this phenomenon: we see that the elements in the center of the scene are well reproduced, but that the target in the upper left is difficult to be transcribed. These results should, however, be put into perspective since the biggest details of the scene are well transcribed.
- Wide focal range (18-135 mm).
- Pleasant finish.
- Optical stabilization.
- Small footprint.
- Sun visor provided.
- Good lens treatment.
- Good dive in the center.
- Weak openings.
- No button to block stabilization.
- Lack of homogeneity.
This Sony E 18-135mm f / 3.5-5.6 OSS transtandard zoom lacks uniformity and brightness, but its results still pleasantly surprised us given its wide focal range. It is a versatile lens, very interesting for users of Sony APS-C hybrids who want to buy only one lens to cover all their photographic needs.
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