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Review: Sony 24mm f1.8 (Sony NEX E Mount)

As the current creme-de-la-creme of Sony’s NEX lenses, the 24mm f1.8 renders a near 35mm field of view on the 1.5x Crop APS-C sensor inside of their NEX cameras. When the NEX 7 came in for review, we nearly had it constantly mated to the camera. Plus, when the F3 was announced, the lens spent its fair amount of time on the camera.

When I say we, I mean that I and a little more than half of the staff took it for a run.

And we essentially all thought nearly the same thing.

Tech Specs

Information taken from the B&H Photo listing of the lens

Performance
Focal Length 24 mm
Comparable APS-C Focal Length: 36 mm
Aperture Maximum: f/1.8
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Sony (E Mount for NEX)
Format Compatibility DSLR (APS-C Sensor)
Minimum Focus Distance 6.2″ (15.75 cm)
Magnification 0.25x
Groups/Elements 7/8
Diaphragm Blades 7
Features
Image Stabilization No
Autofocus Yes
Tripod Collar No
Physical
Filter Thread Front: 49 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 2.48 x 2.58″ (63 x 65.5 mm)
Weight 7.9 oz (224 g)

Ergonomics

The lens isn’t really that large, and indeed the lens hood does make it seem larger than it really is. It fits well in the hand and is characterized by the Zeiss branding and a giant manual focus ring in case you would like to do so.

That’s really all there is to this lens.

Autofocus

This lens never ceased to amaze me. It was super fast to focus on Sony’s NEX 7 and nearly always nailed the subject perfectly in focus. That is a big concern for street photographers or those capturing candid moments: such as photojournalist shooters. If by any fluke of a chance you are a Sony photographer that also shoots weddings, it is nice to know that you can rely on these to act almost like a Leica the way the old masters used to.

In fact, Sony has touted the NEX 7 and the lens as a Leica killer. Providing that the NEX camera of your choice nails the correct area to focus on (and they usually do, based off of your composition of the scene) you’ll have no trouble at all.

A good thing to know is that the lens is also super silent to focus and one cannot feel the internal mechanisms moving at all. That’s great to know and also quite reassuring if you happen to get up into the face of a snake…

Not that we’d ask you to.

Image Quality

It needs to be known that this lens color fringes wide open, but so what? I could have fixed that in post in the photo above if it bothered me terribly. That photo is from our Pentax WG2 post here. The NEX 7 and 24mm f1.8 worked together as an excellent combination to shoot some of the stunning photos in that post.

With that said though, I need to say that the bokeh quality of this lens is absolutely wonderful at f1.8. It doesn’t remind me of anything that Zeiss makes though nor does it have their characteristic micro-contrast.

Most users will be pleasantly surprised with the capabilities of this lens. Not only is the image quality an absolute beaut, but it also focuses extremely quickly.

For a mirrorless camera system, this has to be one of the sharpest lenses I’ve also ever tested. But more on that will come later. Here are some more image samples shot with the 24mm.

Sharpness

Despite the fact that I didn’t really want it to, the image above was focused on the ice. And man, did it come out crystal clear and super sharp. Once again, we don’t do charts here on the Phoblographer, we only show what someone might actually shoot in a real life scenario.

Here is a video sample with the NEX 7 and the 24mm f1.8 lens:

Quirks

To be very honest, I’ve got no complaints about this lens. The only problem that someone may complain about is the fringing wide open, but otherwise it is perfectly fine. I saw little to no vignetting while wide open as well.

Once again you all need to relax: these can be corrected in post-production.

Conclusions

Here is a fair disclaimer: I’m purchasing this lens with the NEX 7. I’ve fallen in love with the 35mm field of view a while back and this lens renders that view perfectly. It is an absolutely amazing lens with fast focusing capabilities, an all metal build quality, excellent sharpness, terrific color rendition, and the list can go on and on. Pack all of that into a super small and portable package and you’ve got a winner.

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