Sony AF DT 30mm F2.8 Macro SAM A-mount lens review by Phil Wood

reviewer#44208 date: Jan-12-2019
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.7
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 own this lens
compared to:Minolta 28mm f2.8
Sony DT 35mm f1.8
Minolta AF 50mm F2.8 Macro
Minolta AF 50mm F3.5 Macro
Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM
many other zooms
price paid:115gbp (new)
positive:Sharp, light, 1:1 macro
negative:APS-C only, stupidly close focus for 1:1, plastic build
comment:One of Sony's interesting set of low cost DT primes and the only macro prime they have introduced for A mount (the others are Minoltas with minor tweaks).
It's problem as a macro is that you have to get so close to the subject at 1:1 that it is difficult to light it without the lens shadowing it - pretty useless for shy bugs etc.
Step back a bit and it's a nice lens for close work - product photography and the like.
Ignoring the macro tag this is also a nice walkaround prime on APS-C, the 30mm FL is equivalent to 45mm on FF, almost the perfect FL for distortion-free images. It is so small, so light, that you hardly know its there, coupled with a small body like the A58 it's almost pocketable.
IQ is very good, this is a very capable lens. While it is nice to have such a small, light lens the downside is the plastic build, plastic mount etc. I have had no problems with mine but I do wonder if it will still be working in 30 years like my old 28mm.
However, there are downsides - it is APS-C only, it is no use for FF, there is a decent lower cost alternative in the Minolta 28mm f2.8 - no macro and perhaps not quite the IQ, but a good lens that works FF as well. On APS-C the competition also comes from the Sony DT 35mm f1.8 - in my opinion the best of Sony's DT primes. On the macro front the nearest competition is the Minolta 50mm macros, which are better for macro work owing to the greater stand off and work well on APS-C as well as FF (the 50mm f2.8 macro is one of my top favourite primes).
It's a prime, so it beats all zooms I have tried for IQ, with the possible exception of the Sony 16-50mm f2.8 SSM - zooms are, of course, more flexible, but there is no comparison in size and weight. That said the zooms I have that cover 30mm are older and/or cheaper kit lenses or wide ranging hyper-zooms none of which can be expected to fair well in comparison to a prime.
In short the 30mm is a good lens, but not necessarily the best choice. As an APS-C walkaround the DT 35mm f1.8 is the better lens, as a macro any of the Minolta/Sony 50mm macros will serve you better - however, as a compromise between the two, it works.
Update: One aspect that I missed in my review was the advantage a wide angle macro gives with greater DOF - it might not be huge difference, but it is a real advantage over the 50mm alternatives.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 40
  • sharpness: 4.69
  • color: 4.63
  • build: 3.43
  • distortion: 4.48
  • flare control: 4.50
  • overall: 4.34 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania