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on January 21, 2013
EDIT #2: I have gotten ahold of and thoroughly tested the new Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8, with a review both here on Amazon and my website. Though the below review still stands, the Zeiss is overall an optically better lens. For handheld low-light and video applications, the Sony inches ahead.

EDIT: As of February 4th, Sony has officially announced the release of a firmware update to the NEX-5r/6 to allow this lens (and many others) to function with the on-sensor PDAF. There is now even less to complain about on this lens' performance. END EDIT

Original Review:

I've already written a rather extensive review of this fine lens on my website (look up Matthew Durr Photography if you want to read more detailed information), but let me distill down the lens' major high points and bottom low points:

The Good:
-Even on the NEX-7, the 35mm f/1.8 provides good to great sharpness at most apertures
-The OSS gives about 3-4 stops of shutter speed advantage, depending on how steady your hands are
-Out-of-focus areas are generally pleasing for a lens of this type, save for some busyness with complex backgrounds (tree branches, for example)
-Extremely compact, focuses quick, and is a good value for the money

The Bad:
-Even being a good value (the OSS is accounting for a majority of the lens' cost), $450 for a 52.5mm f/2.8 equivalent Field-of-View lens (on a full-frame 35mm sensor) is pretty high
-Longitudinal chromatic aberrations at the wider apertures, mainly in the backgrounds, can be distracting (but can mostly be edited out)

Okay, so why did I give it five stars with the above listed cons? It's simple. In nearly every shooting situation that calls for the 50mm field-of-view, this 35mm f/1.8 delivers. Low-light? OSS. Subject separation? f/1.8 Sharp landscapes? Shoot at f/5.6. Traveling? It's a compact kit!

Ignore the naysayers griping about how it's not compatible with the NEX5r/6's PDAF yet, or that it's "just as good" as the kit lens at 35mm. For one, Sony will surely come out with an update eventually to allow the PDAF to function (though it isn't needed for anything besides moving subjects). Secondly, this lens lets in over five times as much light wide-open than the kit lens does at 35mm. This means that, all other image parameters made equal, a shot taken at 1/10 with the kit lens can be accomplished at 1/50 with this lens. Or, given the same shutter speed in a low-light scenario, the 35mm f/1.8 can shoot at ISO 400 while the kit lens' camera has to go up to over ISO 1600.

Bottom line? The 35mm f/1.8 is a great lens that provides excellent image quality at the "normal" field-of-view that so many NEX photographers have been waiting for since the camera line's inception.
1414 comments| 175 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 4, 2013
Best lens for the NEX cameras. I keep it on most of the time on my NEX-6, and rarely switch to the pancake kit that it came with. In fact, the pancake zoom has failed to work recently, after only about 4 months, whereas this is still going strong. No zoom that needs to be extended on power-on, so you can take turn your camera on and start taking shots very quickly. DOF is great, and I love the 50mm equivalent that this provides. I used to have a Fuji X100 but didn't really like the wider 35mm standard, wanted something more equivalent to 50mm, so I sold it and go this combo. I do wish the lens was flatter though. It's somewhere between the pancake zoom and a standard NEX kit in size. Focus ring is smooth. Construction is solid metal. Comes with a lens hood. Only complaint is focusing is kind of hard if the lens hood is stowed inwards, so often times I just leave it off. Having the lens hood on adds bulk anyway, and I bought the NEX series to reduce bulk.

If you want to see my photos I've taken with this lens, you can check them out here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/willtung/tags/35mm
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on January 28, 2014
MAKE SURE you update your lens' firmware (and camera firmware) to get the most from this lens.

I have this, and the 50mm prime from Sony and I love both of them. I'm not an expert but I can tell you practically what these lenses are good for:

- the 35mm is better for making sure you get SHOTS IN FOCUS (much more forgiving depth of field), it's better for video (because you don't want to use autofocus for video), and it gives you a wider field of view of course. It is similar to a 50mm on a 35mm.

- the 50mm has more "reach" (zoomed in more if you like) and a smaller field of view. However, you get a MUCH shallower depth of field which makes getting beautiful bokeh very easy. That said, it can also make it a royal pain to get things in focus because especially at close range, the depth of field is super shallow. Still good for video, when you can't be right up in the action, but less useful than the 35mm. The 50mm is also going to show more hand movement (even with OSS) than the 35mm though OSS is EXCELLENT on both.

The 1.8 aperture is good for indoors and low light situations, again, with the depth of field issue in mind for the 50mm. In confined spaces the 35mm would be better for both field of view and depth of field reasons ESPECIALLY in low light. I can generally shoot video at 1/50th at ISO 100 or 200 with some help from some small portable LED lights with no issues whatsoever. If you have any of the NEX cameras, then you probably know that you need to stay below ISO 400-800 for video unless you're a fan of noise. While it's fine up to ISO 1600, you really get a much nicer quality video in the lower ISO numbers. Past ISO 1600 you might as well be using a cheap camcorder.

The 1.8 really opens up that door and when used properly can produce some really nice looking video. The 35mm also doesn't SEEM to moire as badly as the 50mm. I'm not sure if my 50mm is sharper than my 50mm or what the technical reason is, I just know that while moire is still present (that's a camera body issue not a lens one), it's not as bad in stuff I shoot with the 35mm.

While I prefer my 50mm for the image it produces raw, I usually reach for my 35mm when I'm going to be walking around or maybe covering a birthday party or something silly like that. Mostly because I find that 35mm is wide enough for most indoor shots, though I might take my 16-50 with me in case I really need that super wide angle for some reason.

If you can only pick one, between the 50 and the 35mm. I'd say that if you do a lot of video or shooting in something like a bedroom sized room (10x10) that you might want to grab the 35mm. It's more flexible than the 50mm. I do use the 50 quite a lot though. Oh, and the 35mm is roughly the size of the 16-50 kit lens, the 50mm is much larger and heavier to boot.

That said, if you want that delicious bokeh, the 50mm is better for stills imho.

As far as image quality...well, I'll leave that up to the pixel peepers and lens experts to explain. They look pretty sharp to me and BLOW THE KIT LENS AWAY.
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on May 27, 2014
Bought this lens with the Sony A6000 and instantly fell in love shooting with a prime. It's always been said that you unlock a camera's potential with the glass you attach to it, and this lens further drives that point home.

I'm not a pixel peeper, so I can't comment on the nitty gritty of the lens. But I can tell the difference between kit lenses and this, hands down. The f/1.8 makes bokeh incredibly smooth and gives you much more latitude than a kit lens would to get creative with your aperture.

To me, learning to shoot with a prime should be at the top of the list if you're looking to improve your photography. This lens is a great place to do so.

For the hobbyist/ametuer, there's little reason to blow nearly twice the money for the ziess prime. Look no further than the SEL35F18 if you're looking to take your photography to the next level.

Between my A6000 and this lens, the weak point in the setup isn't the equipment, it's me. Plenty of room to grow into my kit, but also not intimidating, which is equally important.
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on December 3, 2015
This is absolutely my go-to lens for everything and anything Sony Nex-7 (yes, of course I want to upgrade to the latest alpha series micro camera in the Sony line, and yes, I do want to get one of the a7r ii models, but I purchased my Nex-7 body years ago, and it's still holding up well!).

I mainly use this camera to shoot product photography for clients (I work at a marketing and advertising agency), for event photography (when I'm covering events for clients), for portraits of friends and family (kids, parents, etc), and basically, EVERYTHING and ANYTHING.

I've attached some photos to give you an idea of what it's capable of. I've sharpened the images for web use, so they might be slightly distorted here and there, but this should at least give you an idea of what it can handle when shooting images with JPG Fine settings at 16:9 on my Nex-7. It's perfect for a creamy background, and the 1.8 aperture makes it so much easier to stop down when I need to!

I tend to shoot video with this lens every once in a while, but the video obviously needs a little post-processing, especially since the auto-focus motor can be a little loud (not too annoying for a casual shooter like me who needs video in a pinch, but definitely so for the audiophile). Would recommend! :)
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on November 25, 2015
One of the best lens I have ever owned. Very sharp, even at f1.8, and very fast.
Untouched jpegs shot with a6000 are below. It even beats my Zeiss 1670z at several f stops.
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on December 12, 2014
This has become my go to lens. Its almost always the lens I leave attached on my camera. As an enthusiast, and not a pro, I don't have much to say about the technical brilliance of the photographs I can take with this lens. But I can say that it is brilliant at taking night shots, the bokeh is really pleasant, and I've got very pleasing portraits and landscapes with it. The OIS is very good, and results in eerily steady videos despite the fact that I don't take too much care to keep my hands shake free.

The lens is quick to focus, and was readily compatible with the a6000's PDAF.

Build quality wise, I love the old heavy lenses. This lens lacks that comforting heft, but the lens is light yet sturdy. It certainly doesn't feel cheap.

With respect to cons, I would say that the "fly by wire" focus ring, which is an unfortunate presence in all Sony lenses, can sometimes be a pain. Its great to silently alter focus while taking videos, but not so intuitive when you need to quickly take some stills. The distance indicator in the new a6000, however, has gone a long way in making this length more usable.

This, along with the SEL 50f18 are my two most used primes on my camera. The 35f18 is somewhat pricey, but I'd say it easily delivers all I could have hoped for at this price.
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on January 6, 2013
I got this lens with a hunger for a good prime for my NEX-7. It is a good lens, but I hold back my 5 star rating for it for two reasons:

1: Although it is a fairly good and sharp lens, I do not believe it is worth the ~$450 that I paid for it.
2: It is supposed to be a low-light fast performer, but I did not find that the image quality I got from it was better than the 18-55 NEX kit lens. I know that sounds crazy since the kit lens is 3.5F at its widest focal length, but it is true.

I got this lens to compliment my small collection of E-mount lenses with a wide aperture lens capable of doing more than the kit lens. And that is just not the case, so I am returning it.

I also did not notice any improvement or difference in camera shake blur with the optical steady shot technology.
I love my NEX-7 and I think this 35mm a good all-around lens at this focal length. This lens IS SHARPER THAN THE KIT LENS, let that be known.
However, At its widest aperture, the bokeh is not as nice as you would expect from a 1.8F, it is more of a blur than a creamy bokeh, which can be achieved with post-production software and save the $450.

Build quality is not the greatest for this price range, but is not bad, all metal (aluminum), but it feels light, perhaps TOO light. The kit lens feels sturdier and more solid.

Still, like I said, it is a good lens, produces good/sharp images, it is more compact than the kit lens, comes with a lens hood, and it is light on the camera. If this was priced at around $150-200 then it would be a 5 star, but at $450, I do not think is worth the money. Save your cash and continue to use the kit lens or try the SIGMA 30mm, I have not yet tried the Sigma, but it has good reviews.
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on February 11, 2015
This lens is both a marvel of modern engineering for its size and weight, and a tack sharp, fast "nifty 50" equivalent lens. The main criticism you'll read about this is that it is overpriced. I don't think that's the case. You can't find another lens of this quality and at this size and this speed (for mirrorless cameras) anywhere else. Not to mention the built-in Image stabilization which gains you an (approximate) extra stop. I recently purchased this for my Sony a6000 and used it as my primary lens during a vacation. It was perfect for capturing just about everything except really wide landscape shots and tight interior spaces for which it felt a bit claustrophobic. I will say that if you're like me, and you do a lot of manual focusing and/or aperture adjustments, this lens is slower to use then and adapted "old-school" manual lens. Because you need to adjust the aperture with the camera, instead of a ring on the lens, and the focus by wire nature of this lens can be a bit slow (as I feel they have got the ratio off by a small amount). In other words, you have to turn on ring on the lens way more than you should have to. This is great for very very fine adjustments, but for large adjustments it can be tiresome. The autofocus, on the other hand is an absolute delight. Fast. Silent. Enough said.
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on May 7, 2014
This is my favorite E mount lens for my Alpha 6000. It is very sharp when stopped down a bit and has wonderful contrast and color. Great fast auto-focus and also optical stabilization. This is my favorite lens for my Alpha 6000. My only issue is the chromatic aberration when wide open at F1.8. You can get some purple and green tinges around contrasty areas.

This lens excels at portraits (just KILLER skin tones and color reproduction). Fantastic for inside shots where you need to grab all the light you can. I also adore the black and white (Alpha 6000 setting) this puts out. I don't know whatever formula Sony uses to do B&W but man, this lens reminds me highly of old Leica film black and white images. Yes it is that good.

For the price this lens is a must have for any E mount user. It will compete with lenses in the thousand dollar range.
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