Review of Sony 30mm Macro with Samples

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Shiny Object Regular Member • Posts: 447
Review of Sony 30mm Macro with Samples

I've had the Sony 30mm macro (SEL30m35) for about 2.5 years. At the time of purchase, I was pretty new to photography and it has been largely unused until recently (since I needed to learn a lot about photography in general before really trying macro). I used it minimally on an A6000 and more on an A6300.

Have taken a few hundred frames over the past couple months. Here are my impressions...

General (non closeup/macro) shooting: Pretty sharp in the center, not so nice as you move out of the center. No better than the kit lens. Not abysmal but pixel peepers won't like it.

Feel/Look. So light that it seems like a toy. Some might not like the silver color on a black A6xxx series, but it doesn't matter to me. Easy to carry attached to an A6xxx body in a jacket pocket.

Lens Hood. Same as for the Sony 16mm and Sony 20mm. Very low-profile. When shooting macro, it will often knock into a flower, plant or other object, but it's easy to remove. Seems effective.

Focusing Ring. Reasonable. I like the feel of the MF ring on the Sony/Zeiss 24mm better. But that lens costs about 4x more than the 30mm macro, so you can't expect perfection. Reasonably responsive MF without being too loose/quick. Maybe a bit stiffer than I'd prefer but it's usable without too many complaints.

Autofocus: Pretty good. I've been really surprised with its ability to AF at about 1:2 or 1:3 magnification - sometimes handy for insects or flowers. Not perfect, but often in works well. While manual focus is usually a better idea, AF can be handy when trying to catch action and not having a lot of patience to wait for your subject to land in whatever you've set as your focus zone for MF.

Focus Peaking: This is not dependent on the lens, but using focus peaking is a godsend for macro photography! Makes life much easier.

Macro: I've used it from close to 1:1 to about 1:4 in most shots. Performs much better closeup than as a landscape lens. I usually use DMF or MF, though I've sometimes done okay shooting AF-C up to about 1:2 or 1:3. Pretty sharp though not mind-blowing. Colors render nicely and aberrations seem minimal. But when stopped down for shooting macro (often f11 or more), I suppose aberrations should be a non-issue for any lens. Stopping down does not cause a big sharpness penalty when shooting very close (1:4 to 1:1), in my subjective evaluation. But of course I'm not shooting test charts.

Downsides30mm focal length  = you're bumping into plants, flowers, and other objects when getting close to your subject, which can make your subject move all over the place. Most insects run as you get near, as the minimum focusing distance is basically touching the subject. I'd love to have more working distance, image stabilization, and a bit sharper results (with sharpness being the least of these) - so the Sony 90mm macro sits atop my fantasy list.

Flash: When I'm not lazy, I attach the Nissin i40 flash via a cord, covered with a diffuser. One hand on the camera, another on the flash, allowing me to position the light however I please. Easy to do with a light camera/lens combo. The pictures turn out much better with a flash. There are other, cheaper flashes that could achieve the same results. If you get this lens, please use a flash with a diffuser when available light is suboptimal. It will keep your ISO low, freeze subject motion to a substantial extent and provide good lighting.


 Shiny Object's gear list:Shiny Object's gear list
Ricoh GR Sony RX10 III Sony a6000 Sony E 16mm F2.8 Pancake Sony E 30mm F3.5 Macro +6 more
Sony a6000 Sony a6300 Sony E 30mm F3.5 Macro
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