An unfairly unloved UWA zoom

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Kharan
Kharan Senior Member • Posts: 1,337
An unfairly unloved UWA zoom
5

Let me preface this review by getting a couple of things out of the way:

1) Yes, this thing is expensive. But it's still smaller and cheaper than the comparable Fuji lens, for instance, and blows any MFT alternative out of the water. Nowadays there's good value in getting a used one.

2) Like most early E-mount lenses, it's subject to wild variability. I think I got an excellent copy, judging by the samples I've seen online (some of which are horrid). My lens is from 2017, so that might have a lot to do with it; apparently Sony have vastly improved QA in their China factory in recent years, rumored to be thanks to LensRentals. Don't take my word for it, though, this is just hearsay.

3) It's a lens with tradeoffs. Honestly, I'd prefer the Canon 11-22mm IS STM, if I could mount it on my A6300, as it's half the price, a little smaller, and has a more useful range for me. But it has to be said that the 10-18mm f/4 OSS offers a massively wide FoV, is better built than the Canon, includes a really clever hood bayonet (typically used for macro lenses rather than ultrawides), and it doesn't have that stupid retracting system with a catch (I've come to hate such lenses).

So, with that out of the way, I'll try to make my review as short and focused as possible. I have to say that I've owned this lens for only two weeks, but I've put it through its paces, and thanks to my previous experience with other similar lenses I've gotten a good handle on it by now.

Build: The best of any such lens that I've tried. Sure, the metal barrel is cosmetic, but it feels quite nice. The rings are well-dampened, and I never grabbed the focus ring instead of the zoom by accident, despite both being very close. The hood and bayonet are great; while the zoom extends going wide, the hood remains in place, meaning it covers less at 10mm than it does at 18mm. It's therefore oversized, and much better than most hoods for this type of lens.

Chromatic aberrations: Fairly well controlled. There's some purple fringing in high-contrast areas, and some lateral CA in the edges corners at 10-11mm, especially wide open. Fortunately, all of it is easily correctable in post, and is head and shoulders above the typical Tokina.

Flare: Speaking of Tokina, the Sony is their antithesis. It has excellent flare resistance, holding onto detail even in extreme backlight. The few blobs of green reflections that appear are quite predictable and easy to manage.

Coma: I haven't tested this aspect much, but it looks decent. It's not very pronounced, even at 10mm.

Stabilization: The stabilizer is quite 'meh'. It doesn't do much in video, and could certainly be better in stills. 1/3 of a second is easily possible at 10-12mm, but 1/5 is the minimum acceptable shutter speed at 18mm. So, it works at around two stops.

Resolution: This is the most complicated aspect to review. The lens is always sharp in the center, at any focal length and aperture (within the diffraction limit). The borders... let's just say that the lens seems to have some field curvature, but it isn't constant across the range. The corners are always soft at 10mm, no matter what I do, but that doesn't surprise me. Some elements are obviously tilted, since the resolution of the left edge is consistently superior over the right edge.

At f/4, the subject of the photo is sharp enough. At f/8, most of the frame is very sharp, no matter the FL, and that's good enough for me.

Conclusion: My copy of the lens is very nice. It does almost all of what I want it to do in an UWA. Its small size and great build make it feel like the premium lens that it is. It renders colors beautifully, and its excellent flare resistance make it very well suited for my favorite type of landscape shot - contre-jour. I can't say that the lens is perfect, but it's definitely head and shoulders above the Canon 10-18mm IS STM that I had, and also better than a Tokina 12-24mm that I used. The only fair criticism that I can direct at the 10-18mm f/4 is the price. In my country, the difference between a new Sony OSS and a new Canon STM is 50%, much less than in other markets; I bought my copy used for around $600, which is less than $100 more over the Canon, something that made the purchase quite attractive. But this isn't valid for most users, and so, you'll have to gauge yourself whether the Canon + Viltrox adapter is good enough or not.

Unless I was going mostly for astro-landscapes, or got an irresistible deal, I'd pass the RokiBowYang 12mm f/2 in favor of the Sony zoom. My copy of the Sony is flawless at 12mm, and the two stops of aperture can be recovered by the stabilizer (not to mention the far more versatile nature of the Sony lens).

This is an almost 360-degree panorama made with the lens at 10mm, horizontal sweep. Impressive, isn't it?

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"Chase the light around the world
I want to look at life
In the available light" - Rush, 'Available Light'

 Kharan's gear list:Kharan's gear list
Sony RX100 IV Pentax Q Olympus PEN E-P3 Sony a6500 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4-5.6 +8 more
Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS
Wideangle zoom lens • Sony E • SEL1018
Announced: Sep 12, 2012
Kharan's score
4.5
Average community score
4.6
Sony a6300 Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS
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