This review originally appeared in my column at Digital Photo Pro, and has been edited for this site.
The Sony 10-18 f/4 OSS wide angle zoom is surprisingly lightweight and compact, taking up just a bit more space than the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 that’s one of the standard lenses for the a7. The lens is 2.5 inches long and under eight ounces, a nice combination of size and weight when working in the small-sized mirrorless format.
The lens carries a street price of around $650, which makes it a bit pricey for a lens with a minimum aperture of f/4, but the lens is f/4 across the whole focus range—many zoom lenses have a variable f-stop and end up being much less versatile at the long end. Since the lens can replace several prime lenses, it’s a good value for the photographer looking for an all around performer.
In use the Sony lens holds up pretty well, though there were situations in which the lens dramatically underperformed and scenes in which it excelled.
On a 35mm camera the lens has a 35mm equivalence of 15-27mm, which would seem to make it a good all-around lens too (after all 27mm is pretty close to a “normal” prime). The specs are pretty nice with an f/4.0 aperture through the whole zoom range, built in stabilization and an internal focusing motor that pushes three aspherical elements and Super Extra-low Dispersion glass to, which, as Sony’s site says “helps to achieve crisp, blur free images and video….[and]reduces chromatic aberration for high quality images even at maximum aperture.”
I shot the lens for several days while writing a travel piece on Lancaster, Pennsylvania for a cycling magazine, and the 10-18mm lens was one of three lenses I bought with me (the other being the 35mm/2.8 and the 50mm f/1.8 Zeiss lenses).
In use the Sony lens holds up pretty well, though there were situations in which the lens dramatically underperformed and scenes in which it excelled. In general, the lens suffers from more chromatic issues and overall softness at the widest setting of f/4.0, which is to be expected. Around f/8 the lens really shines, providing crisp detail and much less chromatic aberration.
Still, the lens isn’t as sharp and accurate as the Sony 35mm F2.8 Sonnar T* FE ZA and is much less attractive than the Sony 55mm F1.8 Sonnar T* FE ZA, which is the benchmark lens for the a7 system. But it’s currently the only compact sized wide-angle solution that was designed specifically for the Sony mount, so it’s the best choice on the market.
The lens has a retail price of around $850 and the Rokinon comes in at about $400 for the Sony E-Mount, which of course begs the question “will the cheaper lens do the trick?”
At the Photokina trade show in September 2014, Sony announced several new lenses, including the Zeiss Vario Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS. This lens has a higher price than either of the two lenses (combined) but promises much better image quality and a much wider zoom range. This might be the wide-angle lens to wait for, or the perfect wide angle for the a7 might not exist yet.
In the meantime, the Sony 10-18mm makes the better choice for the a7 shooter, thanks to the smaller size and the native autofocus, while the Rokinon is a good