Sony has been a strong contender in the camera lens industry for years. They have many different lenses to suit all types of photography, and their 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS is one of our favorites! This Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS review will cover the features and performance so you can decide if it’s right for your needs as well as some other alternatives that may be better suited to what you’re looking for!
Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Overview
The Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS is a versatile lens that can be used for both stills and video production. It has an improved optical stabilization system, which allows it to shoot clear videos with minimal camera shake. The angle of view is decent enough for most purposes, though the telephoto end does have some distortion at the edges of the frame when shooting wide open.
Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Specifications
The Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS was first announced on 01/05/2018 with a Sony E mount type. Below is a summary of this len’s specifications:
Indicative Price: $600
Focal Range: 18-135mm
Aperture: F/ 3.5-5.6
Filter Diameter (millimeters): 55
Maximum Diameter (millimeters): 67.2
Number Of Lenses: 16
Length (millimeters): 88
AF Motor: Linear Motor
Zoom Type: Ring
Tripod Mount: None
Colors Available: Black
Full-Time Manual Focus: None
Weight (grams): 325
Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Performance
The Sony E 18-135mm F/35-56 is a great lens for the price. It produces sharp photos when used properly, which can be difficult to do when shooting video due to its narrow focus ring and somewhat rickety manual focusing mechanism in general. The autofocus does work very well if you’re using it on a Sony Alpha mirrorless camera that has phase detection, but it doesn’t compare with an actual full frame DSLR or professional level lenses in terms of speed or consistency.
Build and Handling Quality
The Sony E 18-135mm ƒ/35-56 ships with a 55 mm lens cap and a soft carrying case. It has an aperture ring, focus distance window (and scale), zoom ring, and the power switch for OSS is all located on the exterior of the barrel near where it mounts to your camera body. There’s also no tripod mount which isn’t unheard of in this class but it does make shooting video more difficult as you’ll need to be sure to keep steady when operating handheld or lean on something if possible; we’d recommend using monopods or tripods whenever possible even though they do add some weight and bulkiness.
The Sony E 18-135mm performs well in most situations. The autofocus, though it does have a bit of trouble locking onto subjects that are moving quickly or erratically at times, can still deliver great results overall and is very quick when set to AF-S mode with the right camera body (we recommend using high end cameras like the A77 II as those tend to be better for video).
The Sony E 18-135mm is a bit soft wide open at the 55 mm end of its range, but it does sharpen up nicely as you stop down. At 135 mm edge sharpness isn’t bad even when shooting wide open, though there are certainly sharper lenses available if that’s important to you – however this lens will give your photos more depth and background blur than most other lenses in this price range which can be beneficial for certain types of shots.
As you can see in the sample photo below, there is some vignetting at F/35 which isn’t too bad but it is something to keep an eye on and could potentially be noticeable if your photos don’t have a lot of depth or color.
The Sony E 18-135mm ƒ/35-56 also has noticeable chromatic aberration under certain conditions (bright backgrounds or high contrast situations), though it isn’t as bad as what you’d expect to see with lenses that are several hundred dollars cheaper than this one; distortion is another issue which may be present depending on your shooting style and camera model, especially at longer focal lengths where there can be a bit of vignetting at maximum aperture.
There is also some slight barrel distortion that appears when shooting wide open near 18 mm, though this lessens as you stop down – by 24-28 mm distortion has mostly disappeared. If this bothers you then using auto corrections are possible depending on what software package you’re using (Lightroom will remove it automatically).
Photos taken with this lens show decent sharpness throughout its zoom range but not enough so that we’d advise stopping down further than f/22 on an APS-C sensor as there’s some noticeable softening around all edges of your frame even then; you’ll likely notice just as much if not more of this softening when using the lens on full frame cameras like the A6500, but for some reason it’s less pronounced.
Bokeh is smooth and creamy, especially at 135 mm where the depth of field can be very thin; it’s not as pronounced as what you’d find with a fast 85mm portrait lens but should still look nice in portraits or other photographs taken from medium distances away.
How Does The Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Score?
Below are the lens metric scores we’ve measured for this specific lens:
- Performance and Image Quality: 7/10
- Features: 7.5/10
- Bokeh: 8/10
- Build Quality: 8/10
- AutoFocus Quality: 8/10
- Handling: 7.5/10
- Value: 8/10
Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Pros and Cons
Below are some of the pros and cons regarding this lens.
- Wide zoom range
- Good sharpness across the frame – even at wider apertures
- Smooth bokeh for certain types of shots (portraits, etc) especially when shot at longer focal lengths.
- Some vignetting and chromatic aberration present depending on your shooting style or camera model.
Overall this is a very solid all-around lens for Sony E mount cameras, capable of capturing landscapes and portraits with ease. It’s also an excellent choice if you’re new to photography or are interested in getting more involved but don’t have the money to invest too much into your first camera system – it isn’t as sharp as some lenses on higher end bodies, nor does it handle chromatic aberration quite as well even when stopped down, but these issues can be easily corrected using standard editing software like Lightroom at any time after you’ve taken your shot.
The bokeh produced by this lens looks nice enough that we wouldn’t hesitate recommending it for portrait work either; keep in mind though that there may be significant vignetting at wider apertures (f/35) depending on your camera model, and it’s not the fastest lens around either – if you’re planning to take shots in low light or at faster shutter speeds then this may be an issue. If that isn’t something you run into often though then we’d say go for it!