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Recommendations for APS-C Travel Zoom

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Lenses' started by Hawkman, Nov 6, 2015.

  1. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount Top Veteran

    941
    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    Not long ago I posted a thread asking for thoughts in comparing the two (or three, or four, depending on versions) all-in-one long zooms for the E-mount system, the SEL18200 (and so also the SEL18200LE, but not the SELP18200... confused yet?) and the newer FE SEL24240.
    https://www.talkemount.com/threads/14287/

    My question came from my experiences on various vacations with my A3000 and now A6000 and combinations of the SEL1855 kit and SEL55210 zoom. Too often I have chosen the 55-210 on a vacation outing thinking I would need the long telephoto end but found I needed something wider more often. And as much as I'm capable of and not averse to swapping lenses on the fly, there are just times when it's not convenient or even workable. As such, I am thinking more and more about getting a more comprehensive one-lens travel solution (especially for a possible Thanksgiving weekend trip coming up - maybe a cruise, or maybe a jaunt up to NYC for the big parade).

    After perusing the forums here and looking for information on the various options, I believe I have narrowed it down to two lenses:
    - the SEL18200 (the original, silver, "fat" version - or perhaps the Hasselblad rebadged version now on sale at B&H), and
    - the SELP18105G.

    I've looked at many threads, including the following very helpful ones:
    https://www.talkemount.com/threads/14343/
    https://www.talkemount.com/threads/22/
    https://www.talkemount.com/threads/5613/
    https://www.talkemount.com/threads/6566/

    For the SEL18200 f/3.5-6.3 OSS, the obvious advantage is the nearly 11X range of zoom for a 35mm-equiv. of 27-300, covering about everything you could expect on a trip, except the ultra-wide range from say 10-18 (but that's a different issue, and a different lens). The downside seems to be the variable aperture leading to slower speed at the long end - it apparently hits f/5.6 around 50mm, and f/6.3 at 140mm. And some reports indicate softness at or near the long 200mm end.

    For the SELP18105 f/4 G PZ OSS, you sacrifice some range, between 105 and 200mm, but gain speed at the long end, where it remains a constant f/4 across the range. As a "G" lens, it reportedy has great color and good sharpness. But the downside is the noticeable distortion at the extreme wide and telephoto ends, and perhaps across the full range. Obviously distortion is not an issue for corrected JPEGs, but it's worth considering for RAW and possibly video.

    So, I'll throw it out to the esteemed members of the forum here, what are your thoughts on the 18-200 versus the 18-105G for all-in-one travel lens use? Anyone have and/or have used both?

    Thanks again in advance!
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2015
  2. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick
    I don't think the distortion of the 18-105 G really bothered me when I had the lens because it was just a click to fix in LR. And its more noticable on the wide end. I shot a lot at its wide end and yes it did crop the image some after distortion correction (which I guess can be a little frustrating since your 18mm isn't really 18mm) but I don't remember the lens to distort that much at its normal to tele FLs (unless I don't remeber correct). Can't speak for video, since I never shoot video. Everything else you said about the G is correct (colors, sharpness etc) :)
    That said, I guess I can't be of much help since I never owned the 18-200, but in all honesty I don't think either lens is good for low light, so the aperture difference needs some thinking :) In good light the G shines and f/4 gives a nice bokeh for head/ half body portraits. Tough decision...
     
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  3. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    If it's the same as every other E-mount lens, the lens profile crops it to 18mm. In other words, the original, uncropped raw image is wider than 18mm, and the crop merely restores that field of view.
     
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  4. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount Top Veteran

    941
    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    Thanks Nick... good to know. And I understand David's point about the crop yielding 18 rather than making it more than 18.

    And it is indeed a tough decision... so I think I'll take my time with it as either lens will be at least twice what I've spent on any other lens so far.

    If and when we do take another trip, I may try renting one of these two lenses and see how it works out (if I have enough advance warning to make the right lens choice).
    I admit I'm leaning towards the 18-105G in large part because of the many excellent sample shots posted by @NickCyprus@NickCyprus , @Amamba@Amamba , @dragion@dragion and @WestOkid@WestOkid , among others. Then again, in the 18-200 threads I've seen some great shots by @slothead@slothead , @dbmiller@dbmiller , @fractal@fractal , and others... which all makes the choice oh so close. I'm sort of thinking I'd like to rent the 18-105 first and then see if there are many times I'd miss the extra 95mm of range. Plus, knowing I still have the 55-210 for those times I am certain to want the extra range helps too.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
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  5. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick
    Definately go the rental way! I wish we had that option here ;)
     
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  6. slothead

    slothead TalkEmount Top Veteran

    544
    Mar 1, 2015
    Maryland
    Tom
    David, I know that I am frequently confused with APS-C cropping and the relationship between actual lens focal lengths and equivalency, but doesn't the cropping result in the "equivalent" focal length (in other words the 18 * 1.5, or 27mm) rather than the 18mm FL? If I were to put that 18-105 lens on my A7 (assuming that it would fill the frame - which it won't) then it would display the 18mm FL, but when cropped (or used on the APS=C sensor), then it would display the 27mm view. Do you not agree?
     
  7. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
    Chris
    As you know, I had the SEL 18-200mm and it's a very good "all-purpose" lens. If I were in your shoes however, and knowing you have the 55-210, I would go with the 18-105G due to the constant aperture and from the shots I've seen I like the color rendering better than the 18-200. The difference between the 55-210 vs. the 18-200 on the long-end is not much, and the 55-210 seems sharper above 150mm.

    The 18-200 is a great video lens, but I believe so is the 18-105 (if that's important) so you're not given up much there.
     
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  8. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Yes, that's correct. But what I was referring to was the cropping done by the raw developer's lens profile, not the cropping that's due to the smaller APS-C sensor.
     
  9. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    Unless you're into some serious tele work, the 105mm combined with cropping ability of the modern high resolution sensors should be sufficient 99% of time.
     
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  10. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount Top Veteran

    941
    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    Thanks Chris, those are good points all. And knowing myself, even if I bought an 18-200, the odds are that I'd still keep the 55-210. With an 18-105G, I almost certainly would keep the 55-210 around for that extra reach when I absolutely KNOW I'll need it and not a wide angle.

    Amamba, I've been thinking something along similar lines. For the majority of uses, I suspect 105mm with some judicious cropping would be good enough if the image quality is there.
    Now, if/when I next get to shoot rocket launches from Cape Canaveral (an eventual retirement dream of mine), then I'll likely want to upgrade to a longer, faster telephoto... which means adapted lenses at the moment... but that's way off the subject. ;)
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
  11. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount Top Veteran

    941
    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    While I have held my impulse to buy a new travel zoom in check - in part because our short-term travel plans are on hold - I saw a link today (via SAR) to a new review by DxOMark of the Sony 18-105 G f/4.
    Sony E PZ 18-105mm F4 G OSS lens review: Attractive option | DxOMark

    Between today's 18-105G review and another review of the Sony/Zeiss 16-70 f/4 two days ago, DxO seems to be on a Sony E-mount run lately.

    Anyhow, while I know that many wisely recommend taking DxO's conclusions with a grain of salt, as should be true for just about any lens "test" or "review", their conclusions are interesting and seem to be in line with what many on this forum have said:

    "It might not have the Zeiss badge, but the Sony E PZ 18-105mm F4 G OSS has good center sharpness throughout the whole zoom range, and that includes the initial aperture where zooms like this are usually poor, and particularly so at the longer end of the range. The downside is that it’s not as well corrected in other areas as the Sony Zeiss E 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS, with which it is often compared. It still wouldn’t be an easy choice, even taking into account the $400 premium for the Zeiss. However the longer reach of the Sony is attractive, and for video users especially, the power zoom option may just swing it."

    However, the most interesting thing in their multi-page review - to me, at least - was this image...
    Sony_E_PZ_18_105mm_F4_G_OSS__Score__920.

    What caught my eye was the inclusion of the grand-daddy of E-mount zooms, the 18-55 kit lens, in third place from the top. I believe this image is the first time this lens has shown up in their testing... you can't seem to find it anywhere in their test database otherwise. And... it appears to have tested quite well for them - note its 9 P-Mpix score for sharpness that seemingly matches the 18-105G. Does this mean DxO will finally post an 18-55 test/review in the coming days as well?

    I am spending more time with my 18-55 lately and finding that under the right conditions - decent light, and used between 20 - 35mm - it can be quite decent.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
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  12. starmite

    starmite TalkEmount Regular

    40
    Dec 20, 2012
    From the chart, you can see the SELP18105G outperforms the SEL1670Z in almost every category other than distortion. Since the distortion is easily corrected by LR, I would advise that your choice ultimately be based on the range you need at the top end. Other than that, it appears that the end result photos will be quite comparable. It's good to see that DxOMark has finally gotten around to looking at these lenses.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2015
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  13. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    I agree with the chart. I think my copy of 18-55 is actually slightly sharper in the center than my copy of 18-105, but is far more prone to the loss of contrast due to the backlit situation, has much duller colors, and a very nondescript bokeh. Overall, 18-105 is like a super 18-55.