As the little lizard selling insurance will tell you “bad” is good and “mama jamma” defines something (or someone) having fine-looking, sexy lines; it’s the “boss.” It may be difficult to describe the Sony E 18–200mm f/3.5–6.3 OSS zoom lens as sexy, but it does have a chic metal body design and it is certainly the boss of Sony’s E lens line-up for its Alpha NEX cameras, NEX-C3, NEX-5 and NEX-7.
Read real customer reviews of the Sony E18-200mm Lens here.
Since those NEX (interchangeable lens) cameras made such a big splash during 2010, photographers who love the camera have been waiting for more lens choices than the 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 kit zoom or the 16mm f/2.8 pancake lens. The 18–200mm f/3.5–6.3 gives them what they’ve wanted. It’s just about a perfect all-purpose lens for the NEX series, with a full-format equivalent of 27–300mm focal length range.
The well-constructed metal body is what catches the eye first. This alone distinguishes the Sony E 18–200mm from its competitors, which are more likely to be built from inexpensive plastic parts.
Hold this lens in your hands and its “mama jamma” qualities become even more evident. The focus ring and zoom ring require little effort to turn and the extra firmness in the zoom ring is actually a benefit, since it reduces the likelihood of zoom creep. The physical zooming function, when selecting longer focal lengths, occurs with the movement of two inner lens tubes; however, the front element is static, so you can attach a polarizing filter.
Some photographers are a bit skeptical when they see any of the small NEX bodies paired with the E 18–200mm zoom lens. After all, the lens weighs 18.5 oz. (524g) while the camera bodies are approximately 7.9 oz. (225g) for the NEX-C3, approximately 7.4 oz. (210g) for the NEX-5 and approximately 10.3 oz. (291g) for the NEX-7. Surprisingly, an NEX body and this lens create a very acceptable balance, with more of the weight frontloaded in the lens, which is not necessarily a bad thing. In reality, the lens is no bigger than competing lenses from Panasonic and Nikon.
Sony also wanted to keep its NEX camera bodies “bad mama jammas,” sleek and slim, so an image stabilization system wasn’t added. Instead, the E 18–200mm’s OSS, or optical steady shot technology, is inside the lens, allowing you to shoot approximately 3 f-stops slower than without the OSS. This results in sharper images when you are shooting hand-held in low-light conditions with this long lens on a slinky NEX body. The auto-focus system motor is very quiet and achieves above-average performance for contrast detection. Many photographers have grown to appreciate Sony’s “wire connection” for manual focusing. The focus motor controls the focus ring with the “wire” instead of the focus gears.
The Sony E 18–200mm f/3.5–6.3 OSS zoom lens also has very comparable optical characteristics to its competing Panasonic and Nikon lenses. The E 18–200mm is constructed with 17 elements in 12 groups. Four elements are aspherical and one is ED, or Extra low-Dispersion. These types of elements help to correct aberrations.
Lens aberrations on this Sony lens are generally in the range of what is to be expected from a lens of this type and price point. This lens is an extreme zoom type and they typically exhibit barrel distortion at the shortest focal length (18mm). It essentially disappears by 24mm, which is apt to be used much more than 18mm. Difficult-to-detect pincushioning occurs from 50mm to the longest focal length; however, you must actually test the lens in a laboratory setting to see it.
The Sony E 18–200mm f/3.5–6.3 OSS Zoom Lens is available from B&H Photo Video for $799.99. For more information, visit http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=Sony+E+18%96200mm+f%2F3.5%966.3+OSS+Zoom+Lens&N=0&InitialSearch=yes.
Vignetting is also barely noticed, when the camera is set to a maximum aperture and the lens is racked to either 18mm or 200mm. As soon as you back off from f/11, the vignetting has essentially disappeared.
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