Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Review SELP18105 -Part 2- Real Pixel-peepin' stuff, compared with SEL1018-1650-1855-(1670)-FD35-FD100

Update 18.2.2017 With Capture One v10, Distortion correction works now excellently. One can pick either the Phase One profile or the embedded one.
Update 6.5.15: I compared distortion-corrected JPGs against other lenses and found that for the 18105, this results in approximately 18mm of the 18105 being about 19mm in other lenses, 22->24mm, 35->38, 46->50mm, ...and 101->103 mm.
Update 8.5.15: There is another comparison with 1670 and 1650 now available  
Update 16.9.2015 The current Capture One does a better job in terms of lens correction for the 18105.

Alright folks, for all of you fellow-addicted pixel peepers out there, here is some real stuff to wear your eyes out with. 
The test candiates

What I did.

I shot my standard scene with the A6000 on tripod, OSS off using most of the lenses available to me, among them the zooms SEL1018, SEL1650, SEL18105, SEL1855 as well as two FD primes, the FD35/2.8 and the FD100/2.8. For the zooms I went through most setting of the available range, like 10, 12, 16, 18, 24, 35, 50, 70, 90, 105 mm and apertures mostly f4, 5.6 and f8.

I then cropped the left upper edges and compiled a comparison JPG file. In another file are the center crops. From my previous test of the SEL1670, I added some crops, too, though of course weather and light conditions were different then, thefore no comment on those. Some few shots apparently were shaken like the 50 mm f5.6 and 70mm f4 18105 shot, probably by accidentally touching the tripod.

There is also a special section on the distortion of the SELP18105 which may be of interest.
The scene at 10 mm

How to properly peep.

To not get lost in the complexity of the available pictures, check the legend where which lens is located. It follows (my weird sense of) logic, so it can be understood with some effort :-)

The resulting files are large and blogger does not render the images properly. Therefore it is best to download and view locally. For comparison, I recommend to open and crop to the lens you are interested in, and then do the same once more with the lens you want to compare it to.

The roadmap where which lens is located

What I noticed aka Executive Summary.

The SEL1018 is a good lens, should be used at f5.6 to f8. At 18mm it has the best edges but the weakest center.
My SEL1855 is ok from 18 to 35 mm but needs stopping down and still has the lowest contrast and sharpness.
The SEL1650 is good when stopped down once, at f8 it is about equal to the SEL18105. The latter however usually is as sharp at about one stop more open.
6.2.15 Update after comparing both 1650 and 18105 in a landscape test f4-8, 18-50mm: From 18-35 mm edges are better with the 1650 with most improvement seen at 18mm and then declining. At 50 mm things have inverted with the SEL18105 clearly sharper than the SEL1650. So if you own both, you might prioritize to use the 1650 from 16-35, and the 18105 from 35 to 105mm.
The SEL18105 is better at 105mm f4 than the FD100/2.8. The latter is sharper at f5.6 and f8.
The SEL18105 can be used all over its range. Recommended aperture is f5.6 to f8. AF-C sets this lens at f4.5 and this will already deliver sharp results within the zooms range. Lens distortion is not corrected well from 24-35mm, see section on distortion.
The inexpensive, light weight FD35/2.8 is one great lens from 2.8 to f8. A FF lens that can be well used on a high-resolution APSC sensor.

The files.

Remember to download and view with your viewer of choice since blogger/google messes up JPGs.
Center crops

Download (30 MB!)

Edge crops
Download (37 MB!)

Distortion of the SELP18105.

The SELP has quite a big range at a low cost, especially compared to the SEL1670. This apparently was achieved by using more inexpensive optical design, mandating a stronger degree of SW based lens distortion correction to compensate. A similar approach as with the SELP1650.
This can be done either incamera, using firmware information from the lens, or in post-processing in the raw converter.

So far, so good.

However, the implementation of Sony seems to be not that effective. Taking into account that my setup may not be perfectly rectangularily aligned to the building front, the distortion at 24 and 35 mm is weird, to say the least.

In my view, Sony should update the lens firmware with a more accurate correction profile.

18 mm
24 mm
35 mm
50 mm
70 mm
90 mm
105 mm
Well, so why doesn't knock this distortion my shoes off in horror?
- it is SW correctable in Adobe Camera Raw and in Capture One
- it is not that noticable in real life shots

Here what ACR does at 24mm when you set lens correction to 134%:
24 mm from RAW with Adobe CR, 134% correction
Unfortunately, Capture One does not perform quite as well, more like the Incamera implementation. Since Capture One uses the profile embedded in the ARW files that should not be a surprise.
Update 18.2.2017 With Capture One v10, Distortion correction works now excellently. One can pick either the Phase One profile or the ARW-embedded one. The Phase One profile additionally allows to correct sharpness dropoff at the sides of a lens.
24 mm from RAW, using Capture One with Lens correction
Here another shot to illustrate that usually you won't notice it that much, straight from the camera at 35mm:
35 mm, out-of-camera
So what is the conclusion on that? I still like my SEL18105, but wish that Sony would provide a better firmware to have less effort when using the lens to its full potential.

Back to reality.

Taken by an imperfect human,
using imperfect equipment.
Have fun.


  1. Thanks for your review of this lens. I just ordered one from Amazon Japan for our upcoming Canada-Alaska cruise in September. I really was going to get the Sony 18-200 (SEL18200LE) for this trip to have zoom (reach) for things like whale watching, that bald eagle perched up high in a tree, etc. But the more I read and watch, (John Sison's YouTube review of both lens, Amazon owner / reader feedback comments, etc), this seems the better lens to have but at the loss of some zoom reach. I reckon that can be somewhat be recoovered throgh digital zoom application if desired.

    I primarily shoot photos but also treat video and videography equally as important nowadays. And,with regard to video, it's only Sony or Panasonic as they are superior with the video factor. I've owned cameras from both companies, but since Sony has the larger APS-C sensor and is basically 'king' with sensor technology, I tend to lean more towards Sony camera equipment. I have the same A6000 as you. It's an excellent compact camera for the technology gained versus the price. Cheers,
    Jerry Suppan
    Tokyo, Japan

  2. Hi Jerry, Thanks for your kind words! Having f4 really is a help since it reduces noises and allows to keep shutter speed higher. Also a help with video in lower light. 105mm (eq. to 155 mm full frame) is enough for me. And you are right, with the 24 Mpx you still can zoom in a lot by croppign without the picture quality going downhill. Have fun! Chris

    1. Yes, having the f4 will be better then the f3.5-6.3 of most zooms except the 16-50mm with f3.5-5.6. Whether or not 155mm equivalent zoom will be enough for my satisfaction, well, I'll find out from now. I was thinking more of the digital zoom in the camera to complement the 155mm reach, rather then optically shooting at 155mm and cropping in. In general I try to avoid using digital zoom but it is an option.

      To compensate, I did purchase the Nikon P610 on the cheap which will provide a whopping 1440mm! And, at ¥36,800 JPY (approx. $297.00 USD) it's reasonable and provide any sort of reach I might want. its not quite the 2000m of the new P900, but then, I don't plan to shoot the moon every day to prove a point. I previously had the the Panasonic FZ1000 f2.8-f4.0 24-400mm which regrettably I sold. I usually stay away from 1/2.3" sensor-equipped cameras these days unless it is a smartphone, which by design and current technology can not be avoided. Anyway, it's better then nothing. My SELP18105 will arrive soon betwen 8/14-8/18.

      One idea I thought of is to get the 24-240mm FE lens and future proof myself. That would become a 36-360 on the A6000 and then sometime, should I ever be able to afford the A7R-II I have a lens for it. But then, I hear there is a successor to the A6000 (A6100? A7000?) to be soon announced. Cheers,

    2. Hi. Thank you for your feedback. Something very, very strange and ironic. I am just now reading your reply to my post from two (2) years ago almost. Apparently I never received notification of replies to comments to my email inbox or, perhaps a complete oversight on my part. Well, the story since then....

      I did buy the lens for the Alaskan trip in September 2015. After the trip I ended up selling the lens after a short passage of time. Then, I subsequently regretted that action. I recently now purchased the recently released α6500. I still have the 16-50mm pancake from before but now wish I did not sell the 18-105mm. So, what will I do? Repurchase it! Sort of odd, silly I guess, huh?!. But, there are things good about that lens to not have it as the companion to the all-around, practical, 16-50mm street lens. The internal zoom, the further reach, and having PZ for smooth operation during video. The lens now is 3 years old, but I reckon it should still be very a very capable lens for photos and video.

      As an aside, I have also become interested in M4/3 once again. Shall I say interest renewed as I had Panasonic GH1 and GH2 in the past. I currently have Olympus OM-D E-M10-II. I do want the brand new flagship Olympus E-M1 Mark-II just released. That camera is awesome! (You can read all about it at DPreview or YouTube.) Reason I like M4/3 as a second system is because it offers more compactness, lighter weight, and still provides excellent photography. Actually so does Sony α6500 offer compactness for that matter in spite of being APS-C sensor-sized camera. But the other thing about Olympus is, the touch screen. It is just awesome and I do use it quite a bit. For one, in certain scenarios it is convenient for low level shooting or to just be less obvious when taking a photo. It has almost instant AF and simultaneous shutter release in one light tap, almost in a heartbeat. Although α6500 adds touch screen (finally) to the camera, it is still half-baked. It allows selection of the AF point, but does not support shutter release. Anyway, that is just as an aside comment.

      Thanks again for the review of the SEL 16105mm. I picked up on your review of this lens by revisiting DPreview's introduction of the lens. I saw your comments there. Cheers...

  3. Thanks, very useful and informative.

  4. Thanks vic! Interesting shots of that wind power

  5. thank you for your contribution to the community regarding the 18105

    1. Thanks for your kind words, glad to have been of some help.