Currently, this lens is in short supply in the UK. I needed this to go with a NEX-5 to take pictures during swimming galas, where distance and lighting are not the best, and to match the zoom on a Lumix TZ7.
I decided to use this as my main lens for the camera, since it can replace the 18-55 lens that is commonly fitted, at the cost of size and weight. It must weigh around half a kilo on its own, requiring support under the lens while shooting, and attracting a fair bit of attention, especially when the lens hood is fitted (included in the box).
The E-mount lens allows auto focus with the NEX series of cameras, focusing quickly in good light, and taking 1-2 seconds in poor conditions; and was ideal for an incompetent novice like myself (other lenses fitted using the adapter mount focus slower, according to feedback on the net, using the latest camera firmware).
The zoom action feels solid, the focus ring behind, with a zoom lock facility to stop it creeping and more usefully for me, to stop the lens extending when the camera is slung over my shoulder.
Quality-wise, the pictures are as good as expected from the NEX 5, distortion is apparent at the 2 extremes of zoom range according to reviews on the net, but isn't noticeable for me as a casual user.
Packaging-wise, there's only a plastic lens hood, lens cover and paper instructions in the box. No case provided or snout to fit over the lens when attached to the body, and no flash extender, which is needed as the lens barrel is taller than the camera body - this is quite poor considering the lens is almost twice the cost of the basic camera.
With the relatively high cost of outlay, I'd hope to be able to fit this lens to future E-mount cameras. Other than the exclusion of the flash extender and lack of a case to protect the lens, no real gripes from me.
Addendum: Using the lens at the Aquatic Centre in Stratford, London from the tiered seating allowed reasonable shots to be taken - the lighting at the event is far superior to the dim lights at other venues, Ponds Forge in Sheffield being an example of awkward lighting. From full zoom pictures of the winners on the podium, to using the continuous shooting mode to capture 4-5 frames from a starting block to hitting the water to the odd action shot resulted in many usable photos.Read more ›
Overall, this lens is a fantastic complement to the NEX camera, helping you to bring out the fuller potential of the camera; it is not, however, without a few (minor) compromises. For me, none of these drawbacks are sufficient to outweigh the significant benefits of this lens but I set them out for completeness in case any are deal breakers for you.
* The 18-200mm range of the lens is superb. I had found I was reverting to using my old F828 to take some shots as I just could not get in close enough to some of the action I wished to capture using the 18-55mm NEX lens. The quality of the combination of lens and camera is clearly visible in the shots and video footage I have taken since buying this lens.
* A lock is incorporated to prevent creeping but I have not found it necessary to engage this feature; even when I had the camera on my tripod taking shots almost directly overhead/underfoot the lens stayed firmly in position.
* One of my primary reasons for purchasing the NEX was the size and weight of the camera - I wanted something that would be easily portable and not feel as though I was carrying a hundredweight of equipment. This lens almost doubles the weight and size of the camera to the extent that it feels little different to its predecessor (for me), the F828, although the picture and video quality are vastly superior. The 18-55 lens and camera weighs around 570g whereas the 18-200 lens and camera is over 910g.
* Sometimes I like to rest my camera on improvised mounts to take shots, like boulders or fences. The diameter of the lens is so large that the camera body cannot sit flat and rocks to one side; that will make it tricky to take shots in that way using this lens.
* There is no integrated loop attaching the removed lens cap to the lens. Whilst this can be overcome, it is something that would have added pence to the production cost of the lens and the exclusion feels a little mean.
* Similarly it would have been nice for a lens snout to be included, particularly given that the snout for this lens is less widely available. This is clearly a policy decision because cases are not included for any camera parts.
* The flash supplied with the camera is not compatible with this lens. As the camera performs well in low light conditions even with this lens I don't find I use the flash sufficiently to be seriously inconvenienced.
This lens greatly increases the utility of the NEX5 and produces high quality images; video footage is stunning. Although the weight compromises portability I can still revert to the other lighter lenses if that is a prime requirement, otherwise I can put up with the extra weight for the reward of the shots I can capture as a result. That is, after all, my main reason for owning a camera in the first place. Overall this is a fantastic item to add to an already superb camera base.Read more ›
I finally splashed out and bought one of these a few months ago when I managed to find somewhere that had one in stock; in a few months of looking, I had only found two places that actually had stock.
In terms of build quality, the lens is fantastic. The metal body is sturdy and well made, with the zoom and focus rings well positioned, the zoom ring at the front, and the focus ring behind. The rubber rings are good to grip, and move easily. The zoom lock switch is especially useful when storing or transporting the lens, and also useful if you're worried about knocking the zoom when taking photos.
The quality of the images produced by the camera is very good. There are slight distortions at the extremes of zoom, but on most photographs these are not particularly visible. The range of the zoom is incredibly helpful, with my 18-55mm kit lens seeing far less use since I purchased this. Also, the Optical Stabilisation System (OSS) works excellently. When shooting at 200mm, all unwanted movement is stopped as soon as the shutter is half-depressed.
One of the biggest downsides to the lens is the weight. Although the camera body can support the full weight of the lens, it always feels safer to hold the lens with your left hand, just in case anything happens. The weight is a small price to pay though, as it's mostly due to the higher built quality compared to many other lenses.
The other downside of the lens is trying to use it with the supplied NEX flash unit. Due to the size of the lens, the light from the flash cannot generally make it to your subject without being blocked, giving some pretty funky, but generally undesirable results. Considering the short minimal focal length of the lens, I'd have liked it to work with the provided flash. There is a flash extension available, but considering the price of the lens, it would have been nice if it was included in the price when you purchased this lens.
All round, this is a very good lens with very few downsides. If you afford it, it's a great addition to any Sony NEX kit.Read more ›