Most helpful positive review
99 of 101 people found the following review helpful
The best "bang for the buck" in the current Sony E-mount repertoire.
on December 31, 2011
In my opinion, this is the best way to spend your hard-earned money on an NEX system lens. Sure the Sony Zeiss 24mm f1.8 is optically superior making this only the 2nd best lens in the current E-mount lineup (as of December 2011), but the Zeiss is $1000 and this is a steal at $250, AND it can do macro at 1:1 magnification with minimum focus distance of only about an inch. While not ideal focusing distance for many macro shooters, it's still a very nice capability to have and quite fun to play with on my NEX-5N.
It's labeled and marketed as a macro lens but like the heavier and more expensive Zeiss 24mm 1.8, it's actually a very versatile "do-it-all" lens as well. You'll be able to take nice portraits (though defocus bokeh will be limited by the 3.5 maximum aperture opening) as well as landscapes, "street" photography, and of course macro. The focal length is a very useable 45mm equivalent taking into account the NEX sensors' 1.5x crop factor.
This is an impressively sharp lens, and is only bested by the Zeiss 24mm in the current E- mount lineup. I have yet to try the 50mm 1.8 OSS though, so I can't compare it to that. I've also been spoiled by the best Leica and Nikon optics which is why I'm even more amazed by what Sony has brought to the table and made very affordable in this fine piece. Although some have commented that it feels cheap because it's light, I don't necessarily think being light means that it's poorly built. In order to sell it at this low price point, plastics had to be used in lieu of metal (unlike the all-metal Zeiss) but at least Sony has given it a metallic-like finish to look the business. The focus ring turns smoothly and quietly, and after several weeks of heavy use, removals, and remounting on the camera body, I'm so far convinced that it's a well-built product. A quality piece given the low price.
If you already have the Zeiss 24mm 1.8 (or planning to buy one) then there's no need to get this lens unless you actually need the 1:1 macro capability. The focal length is similar enough that they fill the same void in most people's everyday shooting needs. If you don't own the Zeiss (or don't think you'd ever spend that much on a prime lens) then by all means buy this 30mm 3.5 macro lens! It is the 2nd best lens in the current E-mount lineup. And considering how well cameras like the NEX-5N and NEX-7 can shoot at high ISO, the maximum aperture opening of f/3.5 is actually good enough for most low-light situations. Perhaps built-in optical image stabilization would've been nice to have, but I guess that's asking too much for a $250 lens. It's still by far the best bang for the buck you can get for your NEX camera. If you could only have one lens to have for your NEX, it's either this or the Zeiss. In my opinion, they are the only two E-mount lenses that do the new Sony sensors' justice.
UPDATE 2/25/13: with the addition of a few very good new lenses in the NEX line-up, like the 35 f/1.8 and the 10-18 f/4, and since this review, the 50 f/1.8 from last year, this lens has been bumped all the way down to be only the 5th best Sony lens in the NEX line-up. It's still one of the best values in NEX lenses, not counting the Sigma E-mount lenses, but at least in my camera bag, it's been relegated to the shelf at home. I seldom use it anymore as the trio of the 24mm Zeiss, the 35 f/1.8, and the 50 f/1.8 have become my do-it-all kit of primes. Thus I have reduced my star rating to 4 as NEX shooters can now benefit from a greater selection of excellent E-mount lenses.