Sony E 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens Review

This is a guide covering Sony E 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens Review.

A section of photographers prefers to have a single lens that they can use across a variety of photography situations. It allows them to photograph in any situation without having to worry about having to change the lens.

Wide-zoom lenses in the region 18mm to 200mm are designed for them. There are several wide-zoom lenses in this segment. One of them is the Sony E 18-135mm. 

In this discussion, we shall take a detailed look at the specifications and performance of the lens and in the process find out if it is a good match for your photography style.

Let’s dive in.

Sony E 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens Review

In a hurry? Here’s the quick summary

Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS

The overall performance of the lens is satisfactory. This is a perfect kit lens for someone buying an a6400 or any other compatible camera from the Sony E-mount segment and using the APS-C sensor format.

This lens should also suit someone who is packing light and want to carry just one lens for the trip.

I am happy to say that if you are on a tight budget and are looking for a single lens to serve your wide-angle and portrait photography requirements, then this is a great lens to boot.

Introduction

A section of photographers prefers to have a single lens that they can use across a variety of photography situations. It allows them to photograph in any situation without having to worry about having to change the lens.

Wide-zoom lenses in the region 18mm to 200mm are designed for them. There are several wide-zoom lenses in this segment. One of them is the Sony E 18-135mm. 

In this discussion, we shall take a detailed look at the specifications and performance of the lens and in the process find out if it is a good match for your photography style.

Pros and Cons Sony E 18-135mm

Pros
  • One lens does it all. From wide-angle to telephoto.
  • Comes with Optical Steady-shot (OSS) built-in which comes in handy when shooting hand-held and especially in low light.
  • One of the least expensive wide-zoom lenses out there.
  • Works with Sony’s E-mount camera systems
  • Extremely lightweight lens weighing only 326 grams
Cons
  • The maximum aperture is only f/3.5 and it further drops to f/5.6
  • Does not have weather sealing built-in 

Sony E 18-135mm Specs

The Sony E 18-135mm is a general-purpose zoom lens designed to be your go-to optics for a range of photography situations. This lens is designed to work with Sony’s E-mount APS-C camera systems. Compatible cameras include the Sony Alpha A6300, the A6500, and the Sony Alpha ZV-E10.

The fact that it is designed for Sony’s E-mount APS-C camera systems means the effective focal length will become longer. On 35mm format equivalence that is 27 to 202.5mm. 

However, please note that the actual focal length remains the same. It is just that the lens is mounted on a small sensor camera only the central part of the image is utilized which gives the effect of zooming in.

The angle of view of the lens is 76 degrees (when fully zoomed out) to 12 degrees when fully zoomed in.

Bokeh Effect

The aperture diaphragm of the lens is built with 7 rounded blades. Naturally, at this point, you may ask how’s the out-of-focus effect with this lens? The quality of the focus effect of a lens (also known as Bokeh) is determined by more than one factor. 

That said the shape of the bokeh, whether it will be round, or oblong will depend on the number of aperture blades and also the shape of those blades. The more the number of aperture blades the more roundish the shape of the bokeh.

The bokeh quality of the Sony E 18-135mm is decent but not the best that we have seen from Sony. 

Remember, the reason why people will buy this lens is that it does the job of several lenses in one. The focal length of 18 to 135mm (27 to 202.5mm in 35mm format) is decent enough for landscapes, street photos, group shots, portraits, and everything in between. 

The only time the lens will find itself out of its breath is when you are trying to photograph fast action or sports photos. It will also find it difficult to keep pace when shooting bird photos and fast-moving wild animals.

The reason is the slow aperture and the built-in optical image stabilization that is not commensurate with that kind of photography.

Aperture

About the aperture part, the maximum aperture of the lens is only f/3.5 when fully zoomed out. When fully zoomed in the maximum aperture is only f/5.6.

In good light, the lens will have no issues capturing sharp crisp photos, but in poor light, you will have to bump the ISO or use a slower shutter speed to compensate.

Sony E 18-135mm Design

The Sony E 18-135mm is a lightweight lens designed for entry-level photographers and primarily aimed at photographers who are looking for one lens to do it all. You can also tell that the Sony engineers did not mean this lens to be the best in the business by looking at the price tag and the weight of the lens.

This is an inexpensive lens and that means there has been some cutting of corners. One of those areas is the build quality. 

At 326 grams, this is a lightweight lens. It is crafted well but not built like a tank.

It can withstand the odd knock and bump but if you drop this lens, the optical system will be damaged. Also, it is pertinent to remember that the lens is not weather-sealed and that means if you expose it to rain or snow or an extremely dusty environment it is likely going to be affected.

Pro tip – Never change your lenses in a dusty environment. Always have the preferred lens on your camera body before you leave your home/hotel room.

One more thing that needs to be mentioned is that the lens has an internal focusing mechanism and that means nothing gets sucked in as the lens focuses. 

Autofocusing is decent but not something that I should go overboard with joy. The lens comes with a built-in autofocusing motor and that is always a good thing especially when you consider that people these days don’t prefer to spend too long trying to take a picture.

It always shoots first and thinks later for a majority of them. And for them, autofocusing is a must-have.

That said, the lens does come with an AF/MF button. As you can imagine it allows for fast switchover from Auto to Manual focusing.

Autofocusing is decent. The system is compatible with Sony’s Eye-AF system, and it works accurately to determine where the eye closest to the camera is and locks on to it.

There is a manual focusing ring as well. The lens uses a focus-by-wire technology and for those who are not used to this system, it may take a while to get used to it.

It is not the same thing as focusing with a physical system that uses gears linked with the manual focusing ring. The lens’ manual focusing ring will appear a bit too ‘loose’ for first-timers. 

Speaking of autofocus, the lens appeared sluggish when we tested it in poor lighting. I mean, indoor conditions.

In outdoor conditions with good light, the lens locks focus on a snap. You hardly find any issues with it. But indoors – it is a different story altogether.

Sony E 18-135mm Image Quality

The Sony E 18-135mm is pitted as an all-rounder. How good is the performance of that lens in real life? Let’s find out.

In bright light, the Sony E 18-135mm produces sharp crisp photos. Out of the camera, the JPEGs do tend to show barrel distortion when shooting at 18mm.

We recommend shooting in RAW and using the right lens profile to correct this issue.

When shooting at the tele-end of the lens you will find there is a bit of light fall-off at the edges. Again, this is not a major issue.

This can be easily corrected in post-production.

The construction of the lens consists of one Aspherical element and two ED extra-low dispersion elements. The job of the first element is to correct spherical aberration improving contrast and producing better sharpness. 

The job of the second lens element is to ensure that the chromatic aberrations are suppressed. It also improves contrast and sharpness.

Low light Performance

Optical Steady-shot image stabilization does a decent job of extending the capabilities of the lens in low light. You can still get away with some sharp photos in low-light conditions.

In very low light conditions such as when shooting with a streetlight, the lens will struggle.

Out of focus effect

Another negative aspect of the aperture is that you won’t get that fantastic out-of-focus effect that is possible with f/1.8 and f/2.8 lenses. The 18-135mm covers the essential portrait focal lengths and a lot of users would love to use the lens for portraiture.

But the results will leave them a little disappointed.

As long as you don’t compare the performance of this lens with an 85mm f/1.8 prime and or a 50mm f/1.8 prime, you will enjoy using it. This is a one-lens-does-it-all solution and therefore there will be some cost-cutting.

Sony E 18-135mm Overall Performance

The overall performance of the lens is satisfactory. This is a perfect kit lens for someone buying an a6400 or any other compatible camera from the Sony E-mount segment and using the APS-C sensor format.

This lens should also suit someone who is packing light and want to carry just one lens for the trip.

I am happy to say that if you are on a tight budget and are looking for a single lens to serve your wide-angle and portrait photography requirements, then this is a great lens to boot.

Final Verdict

Overall, the Sony E 18-135mm is a great kit lens. It is a Great lens for anything that you can shoot in bright outdoor conditions.

Great for outdoor portraits, great for landscape, street and travel photography. Not so great for shooting indoors and especially in very poor lighting conditions.

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