Is the 18-55 (SEL1855) as bad as the reviews show?

Started May 5, 2013 | Discussions thread
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jfriend00
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Is the 18-55 (SEL1855) as bad as the reviews show?
May 5, 2013

I've been contemplating getting a NEX-7 with the 18-55 bundled kit lens for a major (3 week long) backpacking trip where I want something lighter than my Nikon D300/17-55.  But, I started looking into the quality of the 18-55 and it seems pretty mixed.  Is this what the general experience has been?  Is the newer 16-50 collapsible zoom any better?  Or, do you just have to shoot with primes to get good IQ across a wide landscape shot.

The DPR test results are not impressive at all as the lens looks bad at 18mm pretty much everywhere except the very center.  At other focal lengths, it's OK around f/5.6-f/8, but still falls off a lot in the corners.

SLRGear shows pretty similarly poor results in their test of the 18-55.

Somewhat similar conclusion at PhotoZone and the conclusion is that this lens doesn't keep up with the 24MP sensor in the NEX-7.

Similar conclusion at lensrentals.com.

DXOMark hasn't tested this lens.

Something I don't understand is that the Sony 18-200 looks way better than the 18-55 on SLRGear in the common range (even beyond the common range).  Is this really the case?  Is the kit 18-55 just made to be cheap so it doesn't really perform?  Is there any good zoom that covers this range that is reasonably compact?

I was about the make the leap to a smaller mirrorless (and away from my Nikon lens inventory) with the NEX-7 and now I can't find any decent zoom lens to put on it.  I am now wondering if I will just end up with a Nikon D3200 and 16-85 zoom as the lightest APS-C solution that gets me this zoom range and good IQ.  Am I nuts here or is this just the reality of Sony E mount zoom lenses?

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Nikon D300 Nikon D3200 Sony Alpha NEX-7
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