On this video, photographer, Christopher Frost takes a look at the new Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens.
Until not too long ago, Sony’s only options for all-around APS-C zoom lenses were the Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS and the (pretty expensive) Sony E 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS LE. Earlier this year Sony introduced another interesting option – the Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS.
This lens replaces the faster aperture of the Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS with a variable aperture (f/3.5-f/5.6) and somewhat longer reach of 135mm (it is also not a power zoom lens, unlike the Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS).
The lens seems to be pretty well built, small (but extending) and light and interestingly it has an AF/MF switch (a lot of the less expensive Sony lenses are missing these sadly).
The lens has a pretty decent stabilizer (although Frost feels it still falls short of the IS on other lenses).
As for sharpness – in the center at 18mm the center is very sharp but the corners wide open are not (you will need to stop down to f/8), at the max focal length the center is still pretty sharp but the corners are not very sharp even stopped down to f/11.
The lens has some serious barrel distortion (at 18mm) but you might not notice it since Sony cameras fix these automatically (if you shoot in RAW and edit in a software which does not fix distortion automatically you might be surprised by how much this lens is distorted on the wider side). At any rate, this should not bother most intended users apart from the fact that the automatic distortion compensation will crop the image quite a bit.
The lens has a pretty decent and sharp macro ability (although this is definitely not a macro lens), and it also fights flare pretty well.
All in all, this is a fun, small and light travel all around zoom lens with a nice image quality (in the center) intended mostly for shooting in good lighting conditions.
As for pricing, this lens is a bit pricey in our view – it cost almost as much as the faster Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS lens (yes it is a bit longer but the difference isn’t that huge) at just under $500 (compared to just under $550 for the Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS). If it was at $300~ range maybe it was easier to recommend but at this price and with less than staller corner sharpness, it is a bit harder.