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on August 9, 2012
Lens was examined with SLT-A57. Surprisingly this is a decent lens.
- It's body is plastic with a metal mount and it is Made in Japan.
- It covers the 27-200mm range for Sony's APS-C 1.5x crop factor on the SLT-A37/57/65/77.
- The zoom ring is smooth and barrel did not slide open when pointed down.
- The focus ring is free turning since it is made for direct manual focus, but there is no distance scale.
- Autofocus is fast and quiet, close to the 16-50mm f/2.8.

Compared to the Sony 16-105mm:
Tt appeared that the 18-135mm had more distortion on the wide end, but perhaps that had to do with in-body correction.
The resolution compared well at the other focal lengths. I didn't pixel peep, but jpegs looked sharp on both lenses.
I didn't see any noticeable fringing. The 18-135 seems a bit larger in diameter, but lighter and keeps the 62mm filter size.
If you don't have the 16-105, then this is a lower price alternative although you trade the 24mm equivalent perspective for 27mm.
After seeing this lens, the 16-105mm isn't good enough to justify the price any more.

Compared to the Sony 18-250, this lens beats that one optically, AF, and in build quality. There is no question.

In video mode on the A57, this lens beats both 16-105 and 18-250 with faster quieter AF and smooth zoom.

The lens design is very improved and provides an excellent general purpose focal range kit for Sony's SLT Alpha line.
Even though I mostly use Canon, I've never tried the EF-S 18-135 to provide a comparison.
33 comments|41 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 5, 2012
Wasn't sure this long zoom lens would deliver the image quality that I like. First, coming from Canon DSLR with multiple lenses, 17-85mm, 24-105mm, 50mm F1.8, 85mm F1.8, 70-200mm F4. I was totally sold on Sony system when I purchased NEX-5N with 18-55mm kit lens last November. The image quality produced by the camera surpassed all my Canon set up, especially at 18-45mm range. At 55mm, the lense is some what soft. Later I bought a Sigma 30mm lens, which is a super sharp lens.

Since Nex-5N does not come with viewfinder, I found myself miss it very much. Since I don't like the imge quality of Nex-7 as much as Nex-5N(softer at 24M), and it also costs $600 more, it is ruled out early. In the meantime Sony is also coming out with Nex-6 soon, with 16M and viewfinder. Not sure its selling price at release time, but adding a walk around lens with more reach than 18-55mm leaves no choice but Sony or Tamron 18-200mm, it alone costs about $800.

Luckly saw Sony A57 and 18-135mm combo on Amazon, at price that is just little more than a nex lens alone. Ordered it and tested it. The result is that image quality with 18-135mm even surpasses NEX-5N at 18-55mm, sharp, contrast and artifact free. The image quality at 30mm is very close to Sigma 30mm. This has been a nice surprise and total joy for me. I do recommend it without any reservation.
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on September 1, 2013
This lens comes close to rating 5 stars for anything except professional landscape scenes on full frame cameras. I was lucky enoughto get a good used copy on Amazon. It's as sharp as the best of them in the center and along the sides (camera in landscape orientation) of the image. Only the corners are slightly soft if you "pixel peep" at 100% magnification, but in normal use this will never be noticed. It focuses much more quickly and easily than my Sony Zeiss 16-80Z lens or the Sony 55-210 E mount lens I had (and returned). Colors and contrast are excellent. It has no internal image stabilization, but that's not a serious limitation unless you feel the need to hand-hold the lens at shutter speeds "slower than the focal length". For shutter speeds equal to the focal length (example - focal length 100mm, shutter speed 1/100th second), I can hand-hold this lens and get sharp images reliably. I'll be 80 years old in a few weeks, so if I can hand hold it, so can you. Highly recommended.
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on September 9, 2012
I used this to photograph a friend's wedding. I am very happy that I bought it. The photos came out great and the zoom range (18-135) was perfect. Not too skimpy, not too large. Just right. The lens is substantial. Does not have that "cheap" feeling that some other lenses (including some SONY models) have. To top it off, it was MADE in JAPAN - Bravo! I think Japanese optics are the best. I don't know if all copies of this model are made in the same factory, but mine was made in Japan. I recommend getting a 62mm UV filter to protect the front of this valuable investment.
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on March 30, 2013
I love this lens, this is my "go-to" lens
and my "walk around" lens.
First of, its one of the few Alpha lens that
is made in Japan. The Quailty is there, and I like that
it matches the black finish of my Sony A77. Unlike other
lenses I've tried, this one balances very well with the
Magnesium alloy body of the A77. (not heavy, not light either-just right!)
I'm a hobby photographer, and this lens well exceeded my expectations.
I'm also very amazed of how QUIET the SAM motor is compared to the
SAL 18-250 lens. This translates to a very usable lens for video using AF or Manual mode.
I also like the fact that you can go from AF to Manual focus without
using the switch, by simply adjusting the lens focus ring.(not a lot of lenses have this feature)
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on February 21, 2013
The lens has a nice feel. Sam II auto focus is still a little noisy and wants to hunt unless in bright sunlight.
Thought it would be sharper than my Sigma 18-250 HSM but it is not. Will stick with the Sigma as the IQ
is as good as the sony 18-135, it has more range and the auto focus is much better,faster and pretty quiet.
But the 18-135 is a good lens if you don't have any thing other than a OEM 18-55
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on February 21, 2013
I got this at Christmas time when Sony and Amazon were offering this lens for an extra $200 compared to buying the A57 camera with the kit lens. I'm so glad I did. The extra money was well spent. I can make this comparison because I had spent a lot of time playing around with the kit lens at my local camera store (I brought in my own memory card and I took lots of pictures in the shop and then went home and looked at them). I was happy with the camera with kit lens, but not ecstatic. So, I did some research. I fairly quickly found that this lens gets much better reviews as well as offering more zoom range. I think its very nicely made and sized, and overall fits the camera well. Put together the camera and lens seem to be a perfect match.

By the way, I also bought Sony's 50mm f/1.8 prime lens (a real bargain at $150) which I think is very nice supplement to this lens because it is both brighter (i.e., for shooting in low light without flash) and is somewhat sharper than this zoom lens when set to 50mm. In summary, if I had to do it all over again, I would not hesitate to spend the extra money to buy this 18-135mm lens over the kit lens. I decided to buy an A57 over both the A37 and A65 because I felt the 57 has the best feature set at the best price (i.e., best overall value for $750). This step-up lens really helps the A57 to show off its capabilities. Buy one!
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on December 4, 2014
Having read some online reviews on this lens I noted Kurt Munger's review and didn't feel inspired by what I saw. However having had the opportunity to try the lens myself I can report that the lens is almost an entirely different animal to the online review I read.

I wasn't exepecting much, but it has to be said this is really a very good lens on an optical level and offers a very useful focal range.
I'll start with my pros and cons list as per usual, please see the uploaded images for real world examples at various focal lengths.

Pros
+ Very useful equivalent on an APS-C camera of 27-202mm
+ Sharpness is excellent in the central region at all apertures and focal lengths (and good across most of the frame) bar extreme corners (at 18mm my samples was very good across the entire frame with just very slight softening in the extreme right and left areas, though only a little)
+ Good build quality, in fact almost very good. Nice quality plastics, decent hood, metal mount (aluminium). The zoom ring and MF ring are smooth and tight fitting.
+ Has a lens zoom lock at the 18mm mark, useful if needed possibly later on
+ Superb contrast and colour rendition, Sony really nailed it here.
+ New SAM motor is surprisingly fast in operation (though not entirely silent)
+ Not too heavy for a walk around lens, and size is quite compact with a 62mm filter
+ CA is well controlled and rarely an issue. Some pincushion tele end (stronger at 50mm but not much at 135mm) quite a bit less than say a Nikkor 18-105mm. Vignetting not a serious issue (can be seen in some cases ie bright sky but it's not much overall)
+ Full time manual focus/DMF with the focus ring (simlar to Nikon's AF-S lenses) Rotates freely in either direction, mechanical focus not focus by wire (which is good!)
+ In most cases background out of focus areas had a fairly pleasant blur effect which I found better than average and better than the Nikkor 18-105mm I used to own, smoother transitions and more pleasing (subjective of course) Rounded aperture blades might help a bit too.
+ Front element does not rotate on focus, 62mm filter shared with a few other lenses

Cons:
- SAM motor is a fair bit quieter than previous SAM lenses I've used, and screw drive lenses, but it's not silent and it's clearly audible (mostly if the AF goes through the entire range, it's pretty quiet for small AF adjustments) Bear this in mind with video shooting (ie with normal background noise likely to not be noticed, for quiet areas an off camera microphone might be advised). An improvement but it's not SSM or AF-S Nikkor quiet.
- Fairly hefty barrel distortion at the 18mm mark, not unexpected for a lens of this type (can be corrected in camera or in post)
- Min focus distance is about average (not really a con just worth a mention) around 0.25x good enough for close up shots though.
- Some softness at f5.6 towards the tele end but only in the far edges and extreme corners, central area is very sharp still at f5.6 (and about 90% of the frame is very good sharpness wise at 135mm). Extreme edges and corners improve stopping down the lens (this is quite different from the review I read and an important area)

So overall quite a surprise as I often expect superzoom lenses to be compromised in many areas. This has some (distortion being the most obvious at the wide end), but a lot less than a full range superzoom (they tend to have very weak focal lenghts and can have poor central sharpness in some ranges)

The Sony lens is a bit of an unexpected delight, and compared to the normal 18-55mm this is clearly a much better lens at all focal lenghts. Contrast and micro contrast are verging on some of the best I've seen on a lens (really that good) I have had the benefit of using some similar lenses from other makers. I tried the Pentax 18-135mm WR lens, that's WR which is great but I have to be blunt here, the Sony completely destroys it's Pentax rival in every regard, sharpness, CA (quite bad on the Pentax) and that lens has poor performance not very sharp in the middle and very weak tele end even fully stopped down. The Sony is by comparison stunningly sharp and a vastly superior lens that's in a different league.

The Nikkor 18-105mm is a lens I quite liked it's a pretty sharp lens across the range and it holds slightly faster apertures than the Sony at equivalent focal lengths, but has more distortion and pincushion, more CA, and though probably a bit more consistent on the edges it can't match the Sony's quite excellent central sharpness. The rattle prone hood, and plastic mount and cheaper build let the show down.

For reference the apertures are approx as below at the focal lengths:
18-20mm f3.5
20-30mm f4
30-45mm f4.5
50-60mm f5
Over 60mm f5.6

In conclusion bar some minor niggles, really only a better very quiet SAM motor would make it hit the 5 star rating. As it stands right now I'm impressed (least with this sample) Sony got right what Nikon and Pentax got wrong. Nikon had some good optics let down with cheap build and a nasty plastic mount, Pentax had a decent build lens, with crushingly mediocre optics. Here we have good optics, with good build and a fair price it's a winner in my view.

Of course this isn't going to replace a faster lens, but an all in one "handy" range this deliver and it does it very well for the price. If you're tempted to give it a bash in a kit bundle, you're in for a treat. Even at around £250 odd, this is a pretty fair price. Well worth investigating and a very decent worthy lens. I've seen this go for a £100 on top of an A65 bundle v the 18-55mm SAM, you would really be missing out if you passed a deal like that up. I would have no hesitation using this even for important photos such as group shots and general purpose shots, it's useful range makes it ideal as a travel lens (add a fast prime and you have a 2 lens solution for general and low light)

Update 11/2013:
Lens is working fine, but dig around for the best prices on this lens, I think a Tamron 17-50mm would be a better first bet (I have both myself- they are quite different lenses for obvious reasons one has the range but is slower, the Tamron has a shorter reach but a bit wider and f2.8 is faster). It's still worth adding this lens at some point or when the price drops a bit, or looking out for a deal/bundle.
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on November 23, 2015
Purchased for the flexibility to photograph a friend's wedding. The motor focuses quickly and quietly. The depth of field was surprisingly much better than I expected. The largest aperture allowed nice portraits with the background out of focus. Overall, the photos were a hit with the bride and groom, and the lens is a keeper - now a favorite staple with wide range of telephoto, but it travels next to my 50mm 1.4f for portraits.
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on April 7, 2014
I bought this to replace the 18-55 kit lens on my Sony A57. I get sharper, and brighter images from 30mm on up to 135. I also noticed at 18mm, the photos take on an almost 3d look to them, the sky looks great with good depth. It has a very useful zoom range for a walk around lens, plus, you can combine it with Sonys excellent in camera 2.0x zoom, and double the lens reach from 135mm to 270!

I highly recommend it over the Sony 18-55 kit lens for great pics!
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