I’ve had the Sony Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 lens for almost a year now. I shoot it on my A7SII and I’m very pleased with it. Perhaps a bit weak around 35mm but on the other hand very sharp and contrasty from 16mm to 24mm. It’s a solid performer in my eyes and I use it a lot.
I love ultra wide angle lenses and the way you can play with perspectives and also for the challenge for compositions they provide. It’s not easy shooting UWAs but that’s part of the fun. Accordingly I sometimes felt that 16mm wasn’t wide enough.
Going wider that 16mm on Alpha full frame means you have to look at third party lenses, or so I thought. There is the new Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D and the Voigtlander 10mm f5.6. Both are manual lenses but comes with E-mount. Or you could put on an adapter and go for something like a Canon or a multitude of other options.
But then I read an article on the net (I don’t remember where) that stated that the Sony 10-18mm f/4 zoom actually works from 12-16mm on a full frame sensor. Initially I thought this sounded too good to be true. And if you, as I, have a second APS-C body (in my case a NEX-7) you would also get, except the extreme 12mm perspective on the full frame, a respectable 15 to 27mm equivalent APS-C zoom.
And all this for a in Sony terms very reasonable price.
I had some luck and one of the shops in Stockholm actually had a second-hand lens for me to try. The first thing you need to do is to turn off the automatic switch to use a cropped sensor when using a APS-C lens. This is done in but turning the menu item APS-C/Super 35mm to off in the menus. From there on the lens behaves as a 10-18mm full frame zoom. And it works great.
So what can you expect?
Perhaps not perfect corner sharpness, even though it’s only the extreme corners that get really smudged. And light fall-off that never really goes away when stopping down.
On the other hand you get good central and mid frame sharpness, great contrast and colors, nice sunstars, very good flare handling, low weight and size and of course those wacky wide perspectives.
Positives (overall and on full frame)
- Works from 12-16mm without hard vignetting on full frame
- Very good central and mid frame sharpness
- Nice color rendering
- No magenta color cast in the borders on A7SII (this has been reported on older models of Alpha cameras)
- Nice sunstars
- Very good flare handling
- Low weight and size
- Auto focus (when you need it)
- Fairly good build quality
- Fly-by-wire manual focus
Negatives (on full frame)
- Sharpness (or lack thereof) in the corners
- Heavy light fall-off in the corners (never goes away completely even when stopped down)
- Lens hood can not be used without hard vignetting.
- Complex distortion on full frame. Not easily corrected.
This is not a combination for everyone, I’m sure. For example, if you need sharp and well lit corners at the same time as extreme angles then you should stay away. Distortion is also complex and not easily corrected in post.
Personally I have come to love this little zoom. There is something very pleasing with the way this lens captures. On top of that the size and weight, and that it can double as a very respectable UWA zoom for my second APS-C body, secures that there’s always a place for it in my bag.
All taken with the Sony 10-18mm on a A7SII. All images are post-processed but uncropped. Click for full samples.