This is just one of the new Sony E mount lenses that shows how far lens production has come in the last ten years. Straight away the quality is evident, its light but you can feel reliability and sturdiness. For an interchangeable lens that is designed to fit on a compact body it is incredible. At the moment the system offers very few lens choices with more promised later this year.
The focus and zoom rings are very smooth to turn, the zoom barrel itself could have been quieter though. The Nex 5 actually has no in-built image stabilisation, so they decided to put this into the E mount lenses, whether or not this works out better or worse I'm not sure, but you can definitely see the difference in shot when comparing it to a photo taken using an old Canon FD lens fitted via adapter to the Nex.
The auto focus of the lens is very good and silent. There are times when it doesn't focus on what you want it to in a low light situation, but the focus ring is so nice to use that this doesn't bother at all. The lens handles well in low light provided that a tripod is used. In normal light the quality is superb, with beautiful saturation in both RAW and JPEG; with the Manual focus assist option bringing the best out in terms of sharpness. In bright light the lens falls down a bit though; with some of the photos coming out un-expectedly over exposed, it really surprised me when I first noticed this was in iA with autofocus on though so obviously in manual mode settings can be adjusted to compensate for this, but for someone who wants quick-on-the move photography and maybe doesn't have the time to manually set up a shot this is quite an annoyance. The lens handles macro much better than I expected: giving a magnification of 0.3x with a minimum focus distance of 25cm. It produces nice smooth bokeh when at its 3.5 apature.
So overall, this kit lens is very good to use, producing sharp images. Don't expect to be able to slip the camera and lens into your pocket though because it is bulky on the Nex body. I can only imagine what a fully extended 18-20mm looks like in comparison! But as kit lenses go this is quality.