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Sony 18-55mm OSS
f/3.5-5.6 NEX E-mount
© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

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Sony 18-55mm OSS

Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS for NEX 16x24mm sensor cameras (49mm filters, 6.767 oz./191.8 g, 0.8'/0.25 m close focus, about $300). enlarge. My biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this link directly to it at Adorama or directly to it at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken.


November 2012   Sony Reviews   Sony   Canon    Fuji    LEICA   All Reviews


Introduction         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

I use these stores. I can't vouch for ads below.

Sony Sony 18-55mm OSS is a kit lens that works swell with the electronic lens corrections of Sony's E-mount NEX cameras like the NEX-5R.


Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations


Optics        top

11 elements in 9 groups.

4 aspheric surfaces.

Multicoated mostly in green.


Focus        top

Stepping motor.

Manual focus override simply by grabbing the ring, but sadly the ring is just an encoder to the computer that eventually drives the stepper motor; its not instant or direct.


Diaphragm        top

7 rounded blades.

Stops down to f/22-32.


Coverage        top

16x24mm half-frame.


Focal Length        top


When used on an NEX camera, it gives angles of view similar to what a 28-85mm lens gives when used on a real 35mm camera.


Angle of View        top

76° ~ 29 ° on NEX (16x24mm half-frame).


Close Focus        top

0.8 feet (0.25 meters) from the image plane.


Maximum Reproduction Ratio        top

1:3.3. (0.3x)


Hard Infinity Focus Stop?        to


You have to let the AF system focus at infinity.


Focus Scale        top



Depth-of-Field Scale        top



Infra-Red Focus Index        top



Aperture Ring        top



Filter Thread        top

49 mm, plastic.

Does not rotate, but does pump in and out with zooming.


Image Stabilization         top

Sony's OSS (Optical Steady-Shot) claims 4 stops improvement.


Size        top

2-7/16" diameter x 2-3/8" long.

62mm diameter x 60mm long.


Weight        top

6.767 oz. (191.8 g), actual measured.

Sony specifies 6.9 oz. (194 g).


Quality         top

Made in Japan.


Announced        top

Probably 2012 or slightly before.


Sony Product Number        top



Price, USA        top

$300, November 2012.

Artificially inflated to make people think they're getting a deal when buying a camera with this lens as part of a kit; it's really only worth $99 as you pay for it with a camera body.


Sony 18-55mm OSS

Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS. enlarge.


Performance         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

Overall    Autofocus    Distortion  Ergonomics   Falloff

Lateral Color Fringes    Macro    Mechanics    Sharpness 

Sunstars   Survivability


Overall       performance     top

This Sony 18-55mm OSS lens isn't very good by itself. By itself, it's softer and has more distortion than the Nikon 18-55mm VR.

However, shot on an NEX camera like the Sony NEX-5R which can correct distortion, corner darkening and lateral color fringes electronically, this lens performs very well.

In fact, I compared shots taken at the test range at 16MP with the 18-55mm OSS with shots taken with the LEICA SUMMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH mit floating element ($5,000) and adaptor ($5~$40), and they were pretty much the same!

The biggest visible difference is that the images from this Sony lens have better color rendition. This Sony lens is warmer, while the LEICA lens was cooler (bluer).

Here are crops from 100% 16MP images from each of these lenses:

Sony 18-55mm OSS
LEICA SUMMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH with floating element group
Center of image from Sony 18-55 OSS
Center of 35/1.4 ASPH FLE image


Sony 18-55mm OSS
LEICA SUMMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH with floating element group
Far right edge, Sony 18-55 OSS
Far right edge, 35/1.4 ASPH FLE

If each of these are about 3" (7cm) wide on your screen, the complete printed image would be 50" (1.3 meters) wide.

I prefer this Sony lens for its better color balance on this camera, as well as having autofocus and auto aperture control over the clunky manual lens and adapter.

With electronic lens correction, the NEX-5R makes the Sony lens look almost as good as the LEICA lens (the NEX-5R can't correct the LEICA lens). The small sharpness difference isn't worth the inconvenience and inferior color balance of the $5,000 LEICA lens.


Autofocus       performance     top

Autofocus is super-fast on the NEX-5R. It never gets in the way of a shot.

The NEX-5R's face detection often nails the subjects eyes perfectly:

Katie at the Park 30 Oct 2012

Katie at the Park. (Sony NEX-5R, 18-55 OSS at 50mm, automatic lens corrections all ON, f/5.6 at 1/200 at Auto ISO 100, Auto A4 white balance, greatly warmed in Photoshop CS6 since it was still too darn blue.) bigger.


Manual Focus

Manual focus is a pain, using an electronic ring to talk to a computer in the camera.


Distortion       performance     top

Uncorrected, the Sony 18-55mm OSS has more distortion than any lens I've ever measured. It has ridiculous barrel distortion at 18mm, and loads of pincushion distortion at 35mm.

Corrected electronically in the NEX-5R, it's invisible. How about that?

Try these figures in Photoshop's Lens Distortion Correction filter to remove it. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.

At 10' (3m)

Correction factor with uncorrected images

Correction factor to use with images made with correction ON in NEX-5R

© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

* Some waviness remains.


Ergonomics (handling and ease-of-use)       performance     top

Ergonomics are iffy. The metal lens barrels are not that grippy compared to most other lens' rubber grips.

Oddly I usually grab the focus ring instead of the zoom I need because the zoom is so close to the mount.


Falloff (darkened corners)       performance     top

Uncorrected, falloff is visible wide open, and goes away a stop or two down.

Shot on a camera which corrects it electronically like the Sony NEX-5R, it's never visible at any setting.


Lateral Color Fringes       performance     top

Uncorrected, green-magenta color fringes are visible at 18mm, and go away in the middle and long ends of the zoom.

Shot on a camera which corrects it electronically like the Sony NEX-5R, lateral color fringes are never visible at any setting.


Macro       performance     top

The 18-55mm OSS gets very close:

Sony 18-55mm OSS Macro performance

Sony 18-55mm OSS at closest focus distance at 55mm at f/9 on NEX-5R.

But it's not as sharp as a real macro lens if you're splitting pixels:

Sony 18-55mm OSS Macro performance

Crop from above image at 100%. If this is 6" (15cm) wide here, the complete image would print 36" (1 meter) wide. This shot on an NEX-5R at its 8MP (3,568 x 2,368 pixel) setting.


Mechanics and Construction       performance     top

Sony 18-55mm OSS

Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS. enlarge.

The Sony 18-55mm OSS is a plastic lens covered in metal. It's not tough, but it might feel like that from the outside.


Filter Threads



Hood Mount



Barrel Exterior



Focus Ring



Zoom Ring










Laser engraved.


Mounting Index Dot

White plastic pip.


Serial Number

Sticker glued on the bottom of the lens.


Rain seal at mount



Noises When Shaken

Mild clunking.


Made in



Sharpness       performance     top

Warning 1: Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens.

Warning 2: Lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers.

With those caveats, the Sony 18-55mm OSS is more than sharp enough for the purposes to which NEX users will put it.

With lens corrections ON in a 16MP NEX-5R:


At 18mm

The center is always sharp and contrasty.

The sides and corners are much softer, and improve a little as stopped down.


At 32mm (the zoom's logarithmic midpoint)

The center is always sharp and contrasty.

The sides and corners are pretty good at every aperture, improving a little as stopped down.


At 55mm

The center is reasonably sharp and contrasty at f/5.6 wide open. It gets a little better at f/8.

The sides and corners are much softer at f/5.6, and much better at f/8.


Sunstars       performance     top

With its rounded 7-bladed diaphragm, I was never able to get any sunstars on brilliant points of light.


Survivability       performance     top

The Sony 18-55 OSS has a lot of electronics and motors and encoders inside, and if any of them break and Sony decides not to supply parts, your lens is dead.

I'd expect plenty of these to be in the trash in ten years, but who knows.


Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

If I were buying a Sony NEX and wanted a zoom, this is a swell little lens. It's small and light and covers a very useful zoom range, and used on newer cameras like the NEX-5R, most of its optical limitations are rectified electronically, making its performance near state-of-the-art in many ways.

If you've found all the time, effort and expense I put into researching and sharing all this for free, my biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this link directly to it at Adorama or directly to it at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live.

Thank you!



Help me help you         top

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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


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