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Conclusion - Pros

  • Extended focal length range compared to other kit lenses (70mm vs 55mm)
  • Extremely low light falloff
  • Generally consistent image quality across most of the range

Conclusion - Cons

  • Chromatic aberration from 18mm to 35mm
  • Soft corners at most focal lengths and apertures
  • Poor manual focus ring

Overall conclusion

The DT 18-70mm is an inexpensive and reasonably capable lens, which will at least give new owners a starting point for their adventures into DSLR photography. The slightly extended telephoto range compared to other manufacturers' equivalents is welcome for portrait work, and it must be said that in some areas this lens performs very well; it's unusually resistant to flare, and shows very little light falloff towards the corners of the frame even wide open at 18mm.

Unfortunately the one area where the lens does fall short is that of resolving power, as it struggles to deliver sufficient detail for the latest generation of 10-14 megapixel sensors. The fundamental problem is that, whilst it can give quite sharp results in the centre of the frame, it simply doesn't deliver sufficient resolution towards the edges and corners. This becomes especially noticeable when using it on the 14.2 MP Alpha 350, which ends up merely amplifying the lens's imperfections when viewing files on screen at 100%.

So the 18-70mm finds itself in a slightly uncomfortable position, as an aging design with insufficient resolution for the latest cameras. It simply can't match the optical quality of the other manufacturers' kit lenses, and has become the limiting factor in overall image quality when paired with Sony's new DLSRs. This in turn means that buyers who choose the Alpha 350 in the 18-70mm kit will likely be somewhat underwhelmed, and see effectively no increase in quality compared to the 10Mp Alpha 300 under most conditions. Indeed this highlights a fundamental issue with the megapixel race in APS-C DSLRs; there's not much point in increasing sensor resolutions if the lenses most users will be employing can't deliver sufficient detail, and Sony really need to update their kit lens to keep up.

In summary, the 18-70mm is perhaps a reasonable starter lens, but if you really want to get the most out of the latest 10Mp+ DSLRs, you'll certainly need to find an alternative which can deliver the resolution the sensor demands. Personally I'd suggest anyone buying a new Alpha DSLR should look elsewhere for a better performing lens.

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Build quality 6.5
Ergonomics & handling 6.5
Features 7
Image quality 6
Value 7

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Sony DT 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 Review Samples

20 images • Posted 13 March 2008 • View album
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