Since the initial launch of the Sony a6000 lineup, the company (along with third party manufacturers) have pumped out dozens of fantastic lenses for the system.
One of those lenses was the Sony 10-18 F4, a rather old lens that released back in late 2012. Still, despite its age, the lens has a bit of a cult following among landscape photographers and ultralight packers.
So, how does it stack up to more modern options? Is it worth the hefty price tag? Let’s dive in.
Looking for a quick summary before jumping in?
- Versatile focal range for wide angle work
- Silent AF and image stabilization
- Great for ultralight packers and/or vloggers
- The only ultrawide lens with AF/OSS for Sony APS-C
Size & Weight
First of all, let’s talk about the biggest advantage to this lens: the size and weight.
The Sony 10-18mm F4 weighs in at roughly 7.94oz (225g) and measures only 2.76 inches (7cm) in length. This is comparable in size to even many compact prime lenses.
The size alone helps me realize why so many landscape photographers use such an old lens to this day. When coupled with my a6000, it creates an easily pocketable setup (which is also fun for discreet wide angle street work).
Is the lens well built?
Next up, we’ll talk durability. What good is a landscape-focused lens if it can’t survive rough conditions?
Build quality is just alright. I won’t say it feels cheap by any means, but it lacks the heft and feel of the more modern Sony lenses within the same price range.
The lens lacks any sort of weather sealing (dust or splash resistance) which is rather surprising given its steep price tag. It does, however, support 62mm filters. This is a big advantage, as many wide-angle lenses have too much of a curved optic to support thread-on filters.
Going forward, the included lens hood is actually rather massive, which does a great job at protecting the front element against bumps and flaring.
Overall, I’d say the lens is still probably built to last. The lack of weather sealing is a bit of a bummer, but fair-weather photographers shouldn’t have any issues with durability and longevity. The lens is around a decade old at this point and you can still find them all over in great condition.
Aesthetics & Ergonomics
Aesthetically, the Sony 10-18 F4 is very simple, offering 2 rings and a focal length scale on a black metal lens barrel. It’s a simple design that looks both minimalistic and functional.
Ergonomically, its a joy to use thanks to the small size. The zoom ring is a bit constricted, but if you’re not constantly zooming in and out its not an issue. The focus ring is tiny (more on that later) which is definitely a bit of a damper for those who use manual focus.
Regardless, this is the kind of lens that you can keep on your camera during an all-day photography session and not feel fatigued or weighed down.
Next up, let’s talk sharpness. While my tests aren’t very scientific, there’s a lot to unpack here across the small zoom range.
At 10mm F4, the Sony renders perfectly sharp centers, but there is some major softness in the corners. Incrementally stopping down solves this issue, and images are razor sharp from edge-to-edge at F8.
At the other end of the zoom range, 18mm shows similar results. F4 renders sharp centers and substantially softer corners. Once again, stopping down resolves the softness issues, leading to a perfectly sharp image all the way throughout.
Optical Quirks & Flaws
As for optical flaws, the Sony 10-18 F4 doesn’t suffer from much besides distortion.
At the wide end of the focal range, the distortion is rather wavy, making it somewhat difficult to correct in post. At 18mm, however, distortion renders in a more spherical way, which is much more easy to fix in post-processing.
Otherwise, vignette is minor and easily fixable, flaring is hardly an issue, and chromatic aberrations are extremely subtle.
Overall Optical Performance
Overall, pretty respectable optical performance. The distortion could pose some issues, but is largely fixable in post processing.
Some photographers may turn their nose up at the fact that this lens needs to be stopped down to F8 to get crisp edge-to-edge sharpness. It’s important to remember, however, that this lens is widely used by landscape photographers, who tend to shoot at high apertures anyway (due to bright sunlight).
Next, let’s talk about autofocus. AF is generally accurate and fast, rarely having issues with hunting, even in lower light situations.
Remember that this lens was released in 2012, so it won’t be nearly as fast as newer lenses. However, it still gets the job done well.
For those who like to manual focus, the Sony 10-18mm F4 is pretty typical of modern AF lenses. The focus ring feels a bit sluggish and has no hard stops.
Still, you’re likely not buying this lens for manual focus. In fact, there’s plenty of cheap wide angle lenses that are manual focus only if you’re into that (more on those in a moment).
Optical Image Stabilization
One huge thing this lens does have is optical image stabilization.
The OSS helps off-set that rather lackluster F4 aperture when shooting in dark conditions, and it also makes this lens fantastic for vlogging work.
My Final Thoughts
So, at the end of all my reviews I tend to give alternatives. There’s quite a few to look at here, but they are all manual focus.
First up, the Rokinon 12mm F2.0 is the most “direct” competitor to this lens. It offers fantastic image quality, a really nice build, and a (substantially) lower price.
Second, the Laowa 9mm F2.8 is a rather unique lens in the fact that it claims “zero distortion”. For photographers looking to shoot architecture or other straight lines, consider the Laowa over this Sony lens.
Third, the Rokinon 8mm F2.8. It’s technically considered a fisheye, but with the correct distortion correction becomes a mighty ultrawide and ultralight lens. It’s also dirt cheap.
To finish out this review, I want to give my honest opinion on the Sony 10-18mm F4 as I don’t think it will be worth to price for some users.
If you don’t care about low weight, or if you don’t care about having a zoom range, then this lens might not be worth it for you.
However, if you’re an ultralight hiker looking for the perfect compact lens? This Sony would be a great pick.
Then, the other crowd: video shooters. The focal length of this lens is incredibly versatile, and the OSS plus silent autofocus makes it fabulous for on-the-go vlogging types.
So, if you’re in one of those two crowds (ultralight packers and vloggers), then this lens is the best wide angle you can get for Sony APS-C cameras. The Sony 10-18mm F4 is expensive, but its a classic case of “you get what you pay for”.
If you’ve decided to pick one up yourself, I’ve included purchase links below. Thanks for reading.
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