Sony 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS E-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#39925 date: Aug-19-2017
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.4
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Sony DT 16-50 F2.8 SSM
Sony E 16-50 F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS
Sony DT 16-80 F3.5-4.5 Vario-Sonnar
Sony DT 16-105 F3.5-5.6
Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM
Tamron SP 17-50 F2.8 XR Di
Sony DT 18-55 F3.5-5.6 SAM I & II
Sony DT 18-70 F3.5-5.6
Sony DT 18-135 F3.5-5.6 SAM
Sony DT 18-200 F3.5-6.3
Tamron 18-250 F3.5-6.3
Canon EF 22-55 F4-5.6 USM
price paid:65 USD (used)
positive:Fit and Finish
Smooth controls
Relatively fast
Internal Focus
Precise manual focus
Non-rotating filter thread
Petal Hood
negative:Curved focus plane at long end
Heavy lateral CA at 35 mm
comment:The first SEL1855 is a kit lens included with a mint condition silver NEX F3 for $127. The retail price is $300, $50 less than the power zoom 16-50 OSS, but that lens is often on sale for the same price. These are selling used for about $75-$150. There is also a more basic, non-stabilized 18-50 F4-5.6 that is the kit lens for the A3500. "MADE IN THAILAND"

This lens optically reminds me of the Carl Zeiss 16-80 and Sony DT 16-105 lenses--very sharp in the center of the frame wide-open at all focal lengths, but fairly curved focus plane especially at the long end. It performs better than my current beat-up DT 18-55 SAM II at most focal lengths. It definitely has better center sharpness than the 16-50 power zoom, especially at the long end.

F3.5 at 20 mm
F4 at 32 mm
F4.5 at 44 mm
F5 at 54 mm

This lens is optically faster than the other APS-C kits lenses, despite the 49 mm filter size and small front element. It matches the speed of the CZ 16-80 at most focal lengths. Only at the very end does it show F5.6.

Low distortion seems to have been a design goal of the early NEX lenses including this zoom. There is a moderate amount of complex barrel distortion at 18 mm, minimum distortion at 24 mm, and increasing pincushion distortion at longer focal lengths.

It looks and feels better built than the A mount APS-C zooms. Though the plastic mold seams visible on the extending barrel belie that impression.

Overall an impressive little APS-C kit zoom. I much prefer using it instead of the power zoom 16-50mm.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 10
  • sharpness: 3.90
  • color: 4.40
  • build: 4.40
  • distortion: 3.70
  • flare control: 4.00
  • overall: 4.08 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania