(Note: This is not a full review. I label these posts as “Impressions” as such since I typically do not perform formal testing on lenses until after I have shot with them in the real-world for a while)
I have owned and shot with the Sony NEX-7 for about 9 months now. Until last week, most of my lenses were old, reliable, and still optically great Nikon AI-s’. The Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS is the very first autofocus lens I have ever shot with for the native E-mount. As such, expect for near-future impressions on factors such as focus speed, OSS effectiveness, and vignetting to be subjective, since I have no other Sony E-mount lenses to compare with, and my manual focus AI-s Nikkors are designed to cover a full-frame sensor.
Let me address the elephant in the room right away: for a “standard” prime (giving a 52mm field-of-view in 35mm format), the 35mm f/1.8 ($450/€342) seems overpriced compared to Nikon’s DX 35mm f/1.8 ($200/€152) and Canon’s 35mm f/2 ($290/€220). What advantages are immediately apparent to the Sony, though? Well, it’s smaller in every way (the Canon is a bit smaller in diameter, however), it’s lighter by about 3 ounces, has a very nice shiny metal* finish, and has optical stabilization. I wouldn’t think these advantages by themselves would be worth $150 over the Canon or $250 over the Nikon. This probably means one of two things: 1. Sony is ripping off its NEX photographers or 2. Optically, this lens is top-notch compared to the Canikon offerings. Unfortunately, I do not own either of the other 35mm’s, so I’ll never know for certain which reason drives the price of this lens so much higher.*After some mix-ups with figuring out what exactly the Series-E lenses were made of, I’m not going to give any definitive answer on what this lens is made of for now.
Possible pricing issues aside, I have been shooting with this small “standard” for a couple days now. So far, I’m liking what I’m seeing. Wide-open, there’s a bit of softness, but it doesn’t detract from images at normal viewing sizes in any way. Focus seems to be mostly consistent: using flexible spot at the center, focus is usually spot-on. Sometimes, during high contrast scenes, there is unavoidable back-focus. For focus speed, I’d say it’s about twice as fast as the time it takes for me to find focus manually with my Nikkors (on static objects). I do not ever expect the 35mm f/1.8 to find focus on moving objects due to the limitations of CDAF. I may test it out a little bit to see if the lens could focus on moving subjects, but I doubt it’ll deliver.
What I am loving without a doubt on the 35mm f/1.8 is the OSS. Not only does it help give another few stops of shutter speed advantage in low light and make handheld video smooth as silk (which I already knew it would do), but it makes composing photographs surprisingly easier! Framing can be much tighter when using the 35mm f/1.8; small movements which would translate to a jerk in the liveview with a non-OSS lens move the picture around very slowly with this lens. It’s a subtle, but nice touch to keep from needing to crop and rotate a bit in post-processing.
All the following captured with the Sony NEX-7 and this Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS. A lot of these feature snow, which makes getting accurate white balance even harder (especially for me). Apologies in advance. :)
That’s all for these first impressions guys and gals, thanks for dropping by! The winter break is coming to a close very soon for me, I’m afraid. What exactly this pertains to my website I’m not sure yet, but I hope to still at least get the full review of this lens up by next weekend. :)
And hey! This is my 100th post on the website! Woo!