Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM A-mount lens review by robberly12

reviewer#11681 date: Feb-5-2014
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Tamron 10-24
Sigma 18-250 HSM
Sony 18-135
price paid:195 USD (new)
positive:Sharp
Small & light
Fast accurate focusing
Good colors
Great value
negative:Max aperture of f1.8 only available in A & M modes
Susceptible to flare (if not using lens hood)
comment:I was wanting a small, fast lens capable of taking high quality indoor photos without flash. The SAL-35F18 fits the bill. Photos are tack sharp in the center and corner sharpness is very good when stopped down a stop or two.

Auto-focus is quick and accurate. While not totally silent, the focus motor seems quieter than other SAM lenses I have owned (such as the original Sony 18-55).

For a inexpensive, all-plastic lens, build quality is good. In order to keep cost low, I suspect, this lens has a plastic mount. With reasonable care, I don't see this as a problem on such a small, light lens.

A nice lens hood is included, which should be used for all outdoor photos where flare can be an issue. The focus ring includes a distance scale, and turns easily (almost too easily) which facilitates manual focusing. Unfortunately, the ring is very narrow, making it somewhat difficult to find quickly. Auto-focus is so good, though, that there is little reason to use manual focus.

A quirk of the lens is that the full aperture of f1.8 is only available in A and M modes. In other modes, the maximum aperture available is f2. I'm not sure if this is a limitation of the camera or the lens, but all three of my Sony cameras do this. In general, it's not a big deal but worth noting.

In summary, the SAL-35F18 is a true bargain; I bought it on sale for less than $200. It pretty much matches the image quality of the $1500 Sony 35 f1.4G!

[Peripheral comment/update: As an after-thought, I tried using this lens with the Kenko DGX 1.4x teleconverter. This would make the lens operate as a 50mm f2.5 lens, which I thought could occasionally be useful. The fit was very tight because of the how much the lens mount extends into the TC, so I aborted the experiment. It was the first of a dozen or so lenses I've tried that didn't work easily with the Kenko TC.]
[Comment/Update #2: I ultimately was able to try it with the Kenko DGX 1.4x teleconverter. Unfortunately, it made no attempt at all to autofocus. My A77 immediately went into MF mode, and my A580 displayed the aperture as "--" and made no attempt to AF.]

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 100
  • sharpness: 4.72
  • color: 4.64
  • build: 3.41
  • distortion: 4.48
  • flare control: 4.39
  • overall: 4.33
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