I'm not going to attempt to describe this lens mechanically or mathematically - I'm an amateur and I'm just learning something of the art of photography. So for those who actually know what they are talking about, please pass by. For the rest here's my concise opinion.
Build quality is excellent. This lens really feels like you've spent a bit of wedge on it. That's always reassuring when you look at the hole in your wallet.
It's robust. I say that with some confidence because I bunged this on my camera for a climb up Kilimanjaro and I left the camera hanging off my neck most of the way getting banged as I went. It was covered in dust at times and generally abused and suffering down to minus 15C temperatures. When I got it home, five minutes with a can of electroclean and an air compressor - hey presto! Good as new.
Now, I bought this specifically to give me the chance to take some landscape shots on the hoof up the mountain. No chance to stop and compose of play with the settings so I left my Alpha on auto landscape and snapped away, using zoom as required. Well, I have to say I'm very, very pleased with the results. It gives a super wide field of vision with to my eye no discernible blurring or blending at the edges. The pictures are crisp and sharp with in the end some cracking wide angle views of the mountains.
In house you can take a family group picture without having to stand in the corner on top of the fridge. Makes for a better composition without the risk of breaking your neck.
So overall if you are in the mood for a wide angle lens to suit your Sony DSLR that has a zoom and is built to last then this has to be the best option on the market.
on 11 November 2012
I have stuck with my kit lens, 18-50mm, for 2 years and decided to now go for a wide angle lens.
I am not an expert photographer but just someone who wants something better than a compact digital camera with little options and poor results.
This is a brilliant lens (on a brilliant Sony DSLR). Very wide and picks up great detail in the lowest of lighting conditions. I took some photos in my street, on a late night with only street lighting and without the flash, and it produced some lovely pictures - which my kit lens would never do.
It is a good quality lens and looks great on the camera. I do not agree with those reviews who slate some Sony lenses for being 'plasticky'. This lens does not look or feel cheap.
I only wished that I purchased this lens long before - highly recommended.
The Sony 11-18mm is a cosmetic rebadge of the discontinued Tamron 11-18mm (there are Konica Minolta versions around too)
Optical design dates back a decade or so, and in it's day it was a reasonable lower cost option however with modern APS-C sensors pushing around 24 megapixel right now, the lens really was only reasonable for 6-10 megapixel sensors.
Build is mostly plastic though to a reasonable grade with a metal mount and as expected a larger 77mm filter. You go get a supplied bayonet hood due to the girth of the lens it does take up a fair bit of space in the camera bag despite being an APS-C only lens. This is a screw driven lens and as such isn't the quietest during focus, though it remains compatible with the entire range of APS-C A mount cameras.
One strong point of the Sony is the central sharpness which is maintained through the zoom range. The edge and corner performance though are not stellar, you really need to stop the lens down to F8-F11 to get passable edges, even then they're not really that sharp but might be acceptable for less critical work.
CA can be a problem it's fairly visible across the focal range stopping the lens down doesn't improve it much more of a problem at the corners and edges, and can be corrected hardly rare for an ultra wide zoom lens but worth mentioning.
There is some barrel distortion at the widest setting very much expected for a lens of this class, though not a lot at the top 18mm setting
The 11-18mm focal range give approx. a 16-27mm equivalent on a full frame camera
Min focus distance is 0.25 m or a magnification of 1:8 this isn't usually an area you'd be concerned with on an ultra wide angle lens
The front element does not rotate on focus, but the focus ring does (so take care to not touch it when AF is engaged.
I've used this lens on and off for a few years, I think honestly at the time of first release it was quite a decent option for users looking for an ultra wide angle zoom. However fast forward in time and the lens simply struggles with newer higher resolution sensors at 16mp it's really beyond the lens and the latest 24mp offerings just won't be served properly with the lens. The main problem is the distinct lack of sharpness moving outside the central area the lens never really gets that sharp and most will find it disappointing. Really it's a lens Sony should have updated or replaced a good few years ago. Considering the fairly high price and age of the lens there are a few options worth considering over this, the Tamron 10-24mm has it's own problems and weaker points but it is affordable and better value than this lens, for a bit more you can find a Tokina 11-16mm lens (optically good one of the few lenses the maker produces for A mount) or the Sigma 10-20mm. I really I can't recommend this lens unless you find a crazy low priced deal, or a very good price second hand it's possibly worth a look.
on 6 August 2013
I used this lens on my recent holiday to North Wales and found it ideal for landscape photography. On my way home I called at the RAF museum, Cosford, and found the lens essential for those shots when there is no room to move away from the subject. Once home the down loaded images looked very good on the computer screen, but be aware there is a degree of distortion of the images at the edges of the picture. The lens is of good quality, as one would expect from Sony, functions in a precise manner and appears robust, although I have not dropped it yet! Be aware that the focus ring rotates when in use, so one needs to keep ones fingers clear of it when using auto focus. So far I am very happy with my purchase and would highly recommend this lens to anyone looking for a wide angle lens for their Sony Alpha camera.