Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 Review
The Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 is a moderate-wide-angle prime lens for Sony Alpha full-frame and APS-C E-mount mirrorless cameras.
It features 11 elements in 9 groups including one aspherical element to help reduce aberrations and field curvature, is dust- and moisture-resistant, and has a minimum focusing distance of 22cm with a maximum magnification of 0.24x.
It features a near-circular 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out-of-focus areas of the image, a customizable focus hold button, and an internal focusing mechanism which means the lens barrel doesn't move.
The Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 lens is available now priced at £630 / $750 in the UK and the US, respectively.
Ease of Use
Weighing in at 281g, the aluminium alloy bodied Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 is light for a full-frame lens. Its overall size complements a body like the Sony A7 III body that we tested it with, as shown in the photos below.
Build quality is very good, not quite up to the standard of the flagship GM lens range, but not too far off. The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G has a sealed dust and moisture resistant design, although Sony stops short of saying that it's 100% weather-proof.
The Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 lens has a metal lens mount. It accepts 55mm filters via metal threads on the front of the lens.
The lens has a customisable focus hold button which keeps the lens locked to the current focusing distance, useful if you're auto-focusing and don't want the lens to try and find focus again. It can also, amongst other things, be usefully set to Eye AF.
The lens doesn't feature built-in optical image stabilisation, relying instead on the camera body's stabilisation system.
The Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 lens has a fairly wide, ridged focus ring. Manual focusing is possible by using the focus mode switch to toggle between AF and MF.
There are no hard stops at either end of the range, making it a little more difficult to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 55mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.
The Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 lens utilizes a linear motor to produce quiet and smooth focusing, making it well-suited to shooting video, with the overall lens length remaining constant during focusing.
Sony's near flawless Eye AF worked perfectly with this lens, quickly locking onto and tracking the subject's eye despite the wide-angle view.
The Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 lens is commendably supplied with both a soft case and a fairly good quality plastic petal-shaped lens hood (ALC-SH159).
The 35mm focal length provides an angle of view of 63 degrees.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as blue or purple fringes along contrasty edges, were not very apparent in our test shots, only appearing in high contrast areas. The examples below show the worst-case scenario.
Light Fall-off and Distortion
With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/1.8, there is very obvious light fall-off in the corners, requiring you to stop down by at least 3 f-stops to prevent it.
There's quite a lot of barrel distortion evident at 35mm in the RAW files - the Sony Alpha A7 III automatically and successfully applies corrections to the JPG files.
The Sony FE 35mm F1.8 is capable of producing quite nice sunstars when stopped-down to f/16, as shown below.
The Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 isn't claimed to be a macro lens, but it does usefully offer a minimum focusing distance of 22cm with a maximum magnification of 0.24x. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject.
Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc.
In the FE 35mm f/1.8 lens, Sony have employed an iris diaphragm with nine rounded blades, which has resulted in appealing bokeh for a moderate-wide-angle lens.
We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several examples below for your perusal.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.