Sony E 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS (Sony NEX) - Review / Lens Test Report
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha/NEX (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published August 2010

Introduction

The Sony NEX system is among the hottest products of the season (2010). However, so far there aren't really many lens options and neither the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit zoom nor the 16mm f/2.8 pancake lens did really impress. The Sony E 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS is the third lens and the first one with a reach into long focal lengths. In classic full format terms it offers a field of view equivalent to about 27-300mm (11x zoom ratio) so it's a true universal zoom lens.

The build quality of the Sony 18-200mm OSS is excellent. In a sea of cheap plastic extreme zoom lenses it really stands out with its stylish metal body and everything is tightly assembled. The focus ring operates exceptionally smooth. The lens has no focus distance indicator/window. The rubberized zoom ring turns smooth but it's also bit stiff which also helps to suppress zoom creeping. The lens has a duo-cam design so it uses two inner lens tubes to extend the lens towards longer focal lengths. The front element does not rotate so it's suitable for using polarizers. A lens hood is also part of the package.

The Sony lens features a basically silent linear AF micro-motor for focusing. The AF speed is pretty good for a contrast detection system but it's certainly not a speed demon from a conventional DSLR perspective. DMF ("direct manual focusing") in single shot AF mode is also supported. Manual focusing is performed "by wire" - the focus ring is coupled to the focus motor rather than directly coupled to the focus gears. Some users may not like this approach but if you ask me - well, it's just fine really. The NEX cameras have no body-side image stabilizer like Sony Alpha DSLRs - probably to keep the camera size as small as possible - so the OSS ("optical steady shot") has been moved to the lens. It is capable to giving you an extra potential equivalent to about 3 f-stops.

There have been some debates over the size of the Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS. Coupled to the tiny NEX-5 it is indeed a bit of an odd view especially when extending the lens to the max ...

However, Sony can't really beat physics and the lens is actually just as small or just as big as comparable lenses. The Panasonic 14-140mm OIS is slightly more compact but micro-four thirds sensors are also simply smaller than the APS-C sensor used in the Sony NEX. The Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm VR II, an APS-C lens for Nikon DSLRs, has a similar size and weight. So the Sony 18-200mm OSS may be big in relation to the camera but size- and weight-wise it is simply a typical representative of its species.

Sony E
18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS
Panasonic
14-140mm f/4-5.8 OIS
Nikkor
AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II
APS-C: equivalent focal length and aperture (in terms of depth-of-field) "27-300mm f/5-9" "28-280mm f/8-11.6" "27-300mm f/5-8"
Elements/Groups 17/12 17/13 16/12
Special Elements 4x aspherical + 1x ED 4x aspherical + 2x ED 3x aspherical + 2x ED
Image Stabilizer Efficiency (*) 3 f-stops 2-3(?) f-stops 4 f-stops
Aperture blades 7 (circular) 7 (circular) 7 (circular)
Min. focus (magnification) 0.30m-0.50m (1:2.86 @ 200mm) 0.50m (1:5) 0.50m (1:4.5)
AF motor linear micro-motor linear micro-motor Silent-wave drive
Size 76x99mm 70x84mm 77x96mm
Weight 524g 470g 565g
Filter size 67mm 62mm 72mm
approx. Price (EUR) ~700€/US$ ~700€/US$ ~600€/US$




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