August 30, 2021

Alphatracks

Sony and Minolta SLR Weblog

Scoping out the Sony E-Mount Lenses

Sony will launch the NEX camera line with three available lenses. Which lenses should you choose?

E-Mount Lenses for the Alpha NEX series

May 17, 2010 Sony has introduced a brand new lens mount for the NEX series, which will be known as the E-Mount. Older A-mount lenses from Sony and Minolta can be used through the LA-EA1 NEX Alpha Camera Mount Adapter, but if you want Auto-Focus and Image Stabilization, you will need E-mount lenses,

Sony is introducing the NEX cameras with catalog of three lenses. Undoubtedly the E-mount lens line will grow, but for the time being the available lenses include:

16mm f/2.8 Pancake lens

No it isn't a teleconverter -- it's is the NEX 16mm low profile lens. The smallest and fastest of the NEX lenses, it also has the widest angle of view.
No it isn't a teleconverter -- it's is the NEX 16mm low profile lens. The smallest and fastest of the NEX lenses, it also has the widest angle of view.

The smallest and lightest E-mount lens is the 16mm f/2.8 pancake prime lens. The term pancake referrers to the narrow appearance when attached to the camera. This is one of the two “kit” lenses offered for the NEX series.

Like all cameras with APS-C sensors, the 16mm focal length doesn’t provide as wide a view as a 16mm lens on a 35mm, full-frame camera. The crop factor is 1.5, which means that the 16mm lens will provide the view of a 24mm lens on a 35mm camera.

Besides being the widest lens in the E-Mount series, the 16mm lens is also the fastest at f/2.8. This is suitable for shooting in poor light, but you will need to increase the ISO to match the low-light capabilities of the f/1.8 or f/1/4 A-Mount dSLR lenses.

Unlike the Sony Alpha dSLRs, which have in-body image-stabilization, the NEX cameras require in-lens stabilization. Sony has built stabilization into all of the initial E-Mount lenses, including the 16mm f/2.8

You should consider this lens if you want to shoot with available light, shoot wide-angle views (real-estate interiors, scenic vistas) or want to carry your NEX camera in a (large) pocket.

The SEL16F28 will list for $250.

Sony has announced two auxiliary converters for the NEX 16mm f/2.8. One converts the lens to a fisheye, while the other creates a much wider view. I’ll discuss the converters in another post

18-55mm f/F3.5-F5.6 zoom lens

18-55mm zoom serves as one of the two kit lenses available for the NEX series.
18-55mm zoom serves as one of the two kit lenses available for the NEX series.

The other available kit lens is the 18-55mm f/3.5-5/6 zoom lens. Although not as wide or as fast as the 16mm pancake, the 18-55mm lens offers a convienent wide-angle to short-telephoto zoom range. At the wide end, the 18mm setting will yield roughly the same field of view as a 27mm lens on a 35mm camera. At the other side of the scale, the 55mm length will be equivalent to 82.5mm on a full frame SLR.

The lens isn’t a speed demon, as the maximum aperture at the wide end is f/3.5, while at the telephoto side the aperture drops to f/5.6. Still, with the built image stabilization, the lens should be fast enough for most photography situations.

The minimum focusing distance is a respectable 9.8″ (0.25m). The filter ring diameter is 49mm.

Chose this lens for portrait or all around shooting in good light. It is isn’t as pocketable as the 16mm pancake, but it offers more versatility.

List price for the SEL1855 lenses will be $300.

18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 zoom lens

18-200mm zoom gives great range and inclkudes Sony's premium Active Stabilization, claimed to allow users to shoot movies while walking.
18-200mm zoom gives great range and inclkudes Sony's premium Active Stabilization, claimed to allow users to shoot movies while walking.

If you want or need longer telephoto capabilities, Sony will be adding a 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 zoom to the E-mount line up in the fall of 2010. This will not be offered in a kit package, at least initially. Since Sony currently doesn’t market the NEX models in a body-only package, buyers will need to buy a camera with a lens, then purchase the 18-200mm zoom as an accessory.

Since the big zoom completely overlaps the 18-55mm lens, it makes little sense to buy the 18-55mm kit lens, then buy the 18-200 zoom. To my mind, it would make much more sense to buy the kit with the 16mm prime lens if you plan to buy the 18-200mm zoom.

The crop factor on this lens makes it equivalent to 27-300mm lens on a 35mm camera. This lens also features the Active Mode image stabilization that Sony claims makes it possible to shoot movies while walking.

Of course all lenses are compromise and the big zoom has a slow maximum aperture of f/6.3 at the 200mm focal length. That is fine for outdoor shooting in bright sunlight, but don’t expect to shoot indoor basketball action at f/6.3.

The SEL18200 zoom lens should be available this fall for about $800.