Some thoughts on the Sony SEL1018

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I genuinely thought, at about 1:30pm this afternoon, that this post was going to be about how good this lens was and how great the output looked….

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I should start by saying I love ultra wide angle zooms. I’ve owned a number of them in my time. My regular UWA zooms for M43s are the 9-18 (tiny and good) and the 7-14 huge (relative to other m43s lenses), brilliant IQ, but flawed (flare issues).

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I was really excited when I saw the SEL1018 zoom for NEX announced. Ordered one and it turned up yesterday. In many ways I’m really impressed with the lens and the output.

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The lens is light (it has a magnesium alloy skin around a plastic barrel). I’ll confess it doesn’t feel super high quality, but then the 7-14 for M43s is all plastic and that originally retailed for £1300 odd. It’s certainly no worse than the SEL50F18.

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The zoom and focus rings are solid and smooth. I actually think the overall build quality is good.

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As to the image quality, well there are two issues: chromatic aberration (easily fixed); and, unfortunately, the lens profile (if any) for this lens on the NEX-7 is flawed as it suffers (relatively badly) from magenta cast. If you look at most of the samples here you will see it. My lightroom processing normally involves some vibrance enhancement but I couldn’t do that here. I understand there are workarounds for the magenta cast issue, but I do not understand why one would have to do that for a native E-Mount lens.

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The good news is that this ought to be soluble in a firmware update for the NEX-7 and shouldn’t affect other NEX bodies. The query is whether Sony will bother to do this (they don’t have a great record in this area).

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Aside from the above, I think the image quality is good, potentially very good (I didn’t have the best light to work with today). The OSS seems very good, I was impressed with the sharpness and I can imagine that if I were using this with a NEX-6 I would be itching to head to the coast to test it out on some land and sea scapes.

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However, as I’m a NEX-7 owner I’m left wondering wether to return the lens or to wait for firmware updates. I can see why those who’ve tested the lens on the NEX-5N and 6 have raved about it but (at the minute) it isn’t ready for primetime on the NEX-7. How annoying!

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9 thoughts

  1. and the 7-14 huge, brilliant IQ, but flawed (flare issues).

    Huge? Are you serious? Really?

    The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 is huge. The four thirds Olympus 7-14mm f/4 is huge. The Panasonic 7-14mm? Bigger than the Sony, yes, but it’s definitely not huge.

    If you’re talking about the purple flare issue, then that’s an OM-D issue. Even the 9-18mm can get the same purple problem to a lesser degree.

    • Mike, you are right to pull me up on that comment. The missing word there is “relatively”. The SEL1018 is smaller (at least in length) than the Panny 7-14mm and the Panny is much bigger than the Oly 9-18mm. It’s nowhere near the size of the Sony 16-35mm lens I used to own for my old (now sold) A900.

      As to the flare issue I’m sorry to report that the 7-14 does suffer from flare issues with both my E-M5 and the G5. There is a weird artificial light issue with the E-M5 that is peculiar to that camera but both brands suffer from flare in sunlight when used with the 7-14mm, to a much worse extent than the Oly 9-18mm (though I think you acknowledge that last point).

    • Fair enough. I was unaware that there were any real flare problems beyond the purple stuff with the E-M5. Dpreview’s review of the lens says it does quite well with flare. But since you have the lens and I don’t (I just have the 9-18mm), I’ll take your word for it.

  2. I’m real estate agent in Paris, I realise mainly interior photography. Actually I use an easy compact Cyber-Shot HX5V, and I want to buy an UWA + camera. I hesitate between the 2 solutions (Lumix GF5 / GX1 + 7-14) or (new Sony Nex3N + Sel 1018)… I’d like to hear your point of view. Thank you for your help

    • Christophe,

      If I’m honest I wouldn’t use any of those set ups myself because I think the UWA lenses would be unbalanced. The best camera you’ve mentioned is the GX1 but I would pair it with the Olympus 9-18 lens because it’s all you would need for interiors. However, I would recommend a combination of the G5 and the 7-14 if you can afford it, or alternatively the E-PL5 and the Olympus 9-18mm. The NEX-3N isn’t one I would recommend in that it has a small body with a tiny grip and the 10-18 is a very big lens.

      My cost effective combination for NEX might be a NEX-5N (assuming you don’t want a viewfinder) and the SEL1018. However, the SEL1018 is a big and expensive lens and not as good as the Panasonic 7-14mm. Personally that’s why I think the Panasonic G5 and 7-14 might be good if you are on a budget.

      The G5 is a great camera (and available at great discounts too because the G7 is probably about 1-3 months away) and the jpegs are great too if you aren’t going to process from RAW.

      Also, the fact panasonic bodies do chromatic aberration correction (the nasty purple edges you sometimes find in photos) in camera is a big deal. I like the GX1 too but it’s a harder body to hold in conjunction with a large UWA lens. That said, if you can get a great deal on the GX1 and the 7-14mm and you don’t care about a viewfinder, go for it.

      I hope that helps!

  3. Thank you very much for your answer.

    As you understand, I’m not a specialist or a professional. I don’t need a viewfinder and don’t want a big camera. I sensed the 7-14 is better lens compare to Sel1018, you confirmed this point.
    So the good combinaison for me, could be G3 (smaller than the G5) / GX1+7-14 or EPL5+9-18.

    Thank you again for your time.

    • I think all of the combinations above would be good, but the 7-14 would give better results that the olympus because of its wider aperture. Basically, the 7-14 will give better results in low light. Both the G3 and GX1 would do fine and are very reasonable

  4. Pingback: Owners of the 10-18 f4...how do you like your lens? - Page 5

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