Discussion in 'Sony Lenses' started by Streets, Apr 4, 2016.
Wild Shamrock flowers. Macro range in natural light. Lens says "made in Japan".
aka "DT 3.5-5.6/18-55 SAM"
Bought from eBay.ca ("henrys.com"), used, current price US $29.75 + $6.60 shipping (Canada or US only) = US $36.35, including a 3 Year "Help" warranty (which I do not know about).
This is my latest used "Sony A-mount" lens but I am not planning to use this lens on my a5000 very much. It was actually bought to be used on my "micro 4:3" mount cameras.
Explanation (with 35mm equivalent values):
I currently use 3 zooms for M43 cameras. I have my Panasonic "G Vario" 12 - 32 mm (eq 24 - 64 mm) F3.5 - 5.6 pancake standard zoom lens (H-FS12032), which is a full lens shift stabilized, auto focus (and aperture) kit lens, which is "ok". I also use a 12 - 40 mm (eq 24 - 80 mm) F3.5 - 5.6 Xiaoyi kit zoom lens which is auto focus and auto aperture, but without lens based stabilization, which is also "ok", and then I also have a Olympus M.Zuiko ED 40 - 150 mm (eq 80 - 150 mm) F4.0 - 5.6 R telephoto zoom lens, which is auto focus and auto aperture, but not stabilized, which is "pretty good".
So I have "normal" kit zooms that end at around "eq 80 mm" and a "telephoto" zoom that starts at "eq 80 mm". All the camera makers seem to "plan" this pair of zoom ranges for their budget zooms, which basically "covers" the focal lengths but have little overlap. This lack of overlap in these "lens plans" is not a huge problem because you can always crop the picture in post. You can use the "normal" range zoom and take pictures at the far end zoom limit ("eq 80 mm") and then crop the pictures for the eq composition as if you used an eq. 100 mm or maybe an eq. 120 mm. Some resolution and theoretical detail is lost but it is generally not a problem on modern cameras unless you are making an unusually large print.
But I prefer the idea of having this 18 - 55 mm lens which, on the M43 cameras will give me an eq 36 - 110 mm zoom range as a starting point before cropping, which leaves me even more cropping / compositional leeway later. On the one hand, buying this particular adapted lens, there never was stabilization on it (the Alphas use "in body" stabilization), and I am giving up auto-focus and auto-aperture, but at a cost saving of maybe around $400 US, depending on how I look at it. All this depending on whether I can get reasonable optical performance (and general usability) out of it.
I have done some research on this lens and I am fairly confident this is going to turn out well.
Imaging Resources Review:
"Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 DT SAM SAL-1855 Review"
Basically, as I read this review and compare it to others, the lens looks "pretty good".
This lens debuted in 2009. It was replaced in 2013, but the later version (still available) only adds slightly better baffling for the rear element to improve control of "flare and ghosting".
Reading the Imaging Resources review of "Sony E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS SEL1855", on the E=mount which adds "in-lens" image stabilization, it appears that the "E" version is optically just a bit inferior overall. Moreover, for all versions Sony's lenses of this focal length range (SAL1855, SAL18552 and SEL1855) there is reason to believe that production line inconsistences result in noticeable variations in quality. In other words, my lens might be noticeably better or worse than the one that was next (or before it) on the assembly line.
What I Am Planning:
Since I have the LA-EA3 adapter, I can do some preliminary testing on the a5000, which is a nice bonus. I will not be posting much about this lens because the above noted review is enough of a reference for people interested in it. Mainly I will post what I find out which is not covered in review(s), and I hope to post a couple of pictures -- but I will probably not post much of my own from the a5000. I will more likely, eventually, post M43 camera images taken with it.
Considering that a pro-review has already been done, this might be the only thing I have to say about this lens that is new:
I have already played with it a bit on a5000, and as noted in the reviews, focussing the lens manually is a bit touchy because of the helix ratio. This is almost the same issue as I noted in the Minolta 28 - 100 Maxxum zoom lens. The difference is that the Maxxum zoom did not have a manual clutch to disengage the focus motor. It used some method of automatic clutch which gave it a "notchy" feel. So far I think the Sony SAM lens with the manual clutch seems to be focussing a bit easier. On the other hand, the Sony SAM lens does not have a aperture ring. I should be able to adjust the aperture manually via software menu access, and of course, there still does not seem to be any method of previewing depth of field using the LA-EA3 adapter.
There is also a noticeable amount of focus drift during zooming, though I think that it looks like it is less than on the Maxxum 28-100 zoom.
Also, I have already bought a "Cameron" (Henry's store brand) Alpha mount adapter for M43 mount, but the quality control on that adapter did not turn out good enough. The Alpha mount on the front is poorly aligned and requires too much force to mount the lens on it. I think the plastic mount on the lens will be damaged if I use this adapter, so I will probably buy yet another one.
Final note: Unfortunately, I am very busy right now, so it will probably be "a while" before I have any pictures to post from this lens/camera setup.
Lens: SAL1855 (18 - 55mm, F3.5 - 5.6 SAM)
I have a sort of happy dilemma. I explained that I had bought this lens to fill in my Micro 4:3 lens collection. I now know that it will do fine in this role. However, I have found that the performance of this lens compares well against my 16-50 kit zoom, which could make my gear choices for the Sony a5000 a bit more complicated.
My Maxxum 28-100 zoom is weak at the wide-angle end anyway, so there is no doubt that I would want to use another lens that takes me below 30mm. The 16-50 kit zoom (all three of these lenses have been "kit" zooms at some point in Minolta-Sony history) goes the widest, but its performance from around 20mm and down was marred by barrel distortion (correct automatically in the JPEGs), which in turn is reflected in decreased corner sharpness, and also marred by vignetting. The 16-50 and the 18-55 both have chromatic aberration at the wide end, but neither is terrible. So generally the 18-55 is optically a better lens, but lacks autofocus (unless I upgrade my adapter to the LA-EA4), stabilization and power zoom, and is less compact.
So while it will do well on the Micro 4:3 bodies, it is almost a shame to not use it on the a5000. The optical benefits over the 16-50 are not huge, but there is enough to make an argument.
Realistically, I will tend to carry a Micro 4:3 camera using it as a supplemental still camera to whatever I am using for video work. The a5000 tends to be used on my leisurely "unplanned" days, or on the rare time that I really am out mainly for still pictures. In those cases, I expect to stick the Maxxum 28-100 on the body. But the 18-55 on the LA-EA3 adapter is working so well that I actually want to go out and look for appropriate subject matter specifically to use it.
This past Winter I have been busy with other things, so I only took the a5000/SAL1855 out a few times, and only once to use for a real project. I am looking through the results for a small number of pictures to post. In the long run I expect to post three or four, and I have already posted one "elsewhere" which I will discuss later.
For now I will only say that the composition including the foreground tree branches is a deliberate experiment. I will write more about this later.
Date and time: February 26, 2018 17:41:51
Image width 5504
Image height 3656
Planar configuration Chunky
Pixel height 3632
Pixel width 5456
Component config YCbCr
Color space sRGB
Exposure program Normal program
Scene type Direct capture
Scene capture type Standard
Exposure mode Auto bracket
Exposure bias -1.30 ev
Exposure time 1/200 sec.
F number f/7.1
Max aperture f/4.0
Focal length 20.0 mm
Focal length in 35mm 30 mm
ISO speed 100
Metering mode Center weighted average
Processing: ASUS M32BF w/AMD A8-6500,
Windows 8.1, Corel PaintShop Pro 2018
This image is more heavily processed than my usual lens sample images but I have deliberately avoided tampering with the most basic lens related problems. Specifically, I did not use noise reduction, sharpening, nor color fringe removal. Also, specifically, there was no distortion correction. The original exposure was lowered 1.3 stops to maintain sky colour, in accordance with my "zebras" setting. I think that this was a mistake. I ended up re-brightening the file 1.7 during the conversion and then again during the "Smartfix" corrections. Overall, this probably resulted in unnecessary noise in the shadows. I probably should have exposed a bit higher and "recovered" the blue sky with saturation.
But this has not detracted from the lens performance. Thanks, in part, to the F7.1 aperture setting, and the very good performance at the 20mm focal length (almost maximum wide angle), very good corner to corner performance is demonstrated.
Focus 0 [28 Recommended]
Resize 1640 "Smartsize"
[Detail crop file, JPG compression set for maximum detail retention.]
Crop01 from 0,1300
This crop was made before the "Smartfix" corrections directly from the conversion from the raw file, so the colours are not quite the same. But that should not cause difficulty identifying it. The only points of interest are the very small buildings at the far left. Sharpness, detail, linearity and contrast are all present. Only chromatic abberation detracts from the image, and everything considered, it is not bad.
[21:10 typographic corrections.]
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