(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!