Sony debuts compact, affordable FE 35mm f/1.8 prime lens, and we have sample images!
posted Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 10:00 AM EDT
Click here to browse the Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 Gallery
When it comes to prime lenses for Sony's full-frame E-mount cameras, the company has two product lines: a high-end "f/1.4 series" and a lighter, more affordable "f/1.8 series." Aimed at professional and high-end photographers, the f/1.4 series, which hits the popular focal lengths of 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm, are all designed first and foremost for optimal image quality performance, with less regard for size, weight and price point. Meanwhile, those looking for a fast Sony prime lens without breaking the bank had minimal offerings, until now, as they offered only f/1.8 lenses in 55mm and 85mm flavors. If you wanted a wider prime, there was the tiny FE 35mm f/2.8 Zeiss lens and the FE 28mm f/2, though both featured comparatively dim apertures.
(Note: the FE 135mm f/1.8 GM is a bit of an outlier, as it's undoubtedly a professional-tier G Master lens, yet features an f/1.8 aperture.)
Sony's new FE 35mm f/1.8 prime fits into that missing gap in their lineup with a compact, lightweight and affordable wide-angle prime with a bright f/1.8 aperture. With an overall design and build quality reminiscent of the 55mm f/1.8 and the 85mm f/1.8, the new 35mm f/1.8 is small & light, yet still durable thanks to its construction comprising a combination of aluminum and sturdy polycarbonate plastics. Weighing in at just 280g (0.62 lbs) the lens is lighter than both the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 and Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S. And while the lens does not feature a rubberized gasket around the lens mount, like the higher-end GM-series lenses, Sony does state that the 35mm f/1.8 lens has some degree of dust and moisture resistance.
In terms of the optical layout, the FE 35mm f/1.8 features a total of 11 elements in 9 groups and includes an aspherical element to help combat aberrations and to increase resolving power. The 9-bladed aperture, meanwhile, combined with the bright f/1.8 maximum, create smooth bokeh and excellent subject isolation.
The internal-focusing lens uses a similar linear focusing system as on the 85mm f/1.8, which provides fast, quiet and precise focusing performance for stills and video. And when it comes to manual focus, Sony says the lens has a linear response MF design, which should provide increased responsiveness and precision for manual focusing, despite the electrical focus-by-wire design. The lens has an AF/MF switch on the side as well as a focus hold button that can be customized and assigned for other functions in the camera body. And though it's not a macro lens, it features a minimum focusing distance of 0.22m and a 0.24x magnification factor, making it great for close-up photography.
Scheduled to go on sale in August, the Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 has an estimated retail price of $749.99 USD.
We've just recently received our review sample of the lens and had an opportunity to collect a batch of real-world gallery images using the A7R III ahead of the announcement. If you'd like to get an initial look at the lens' image quality performance, head over to our Sony 35mm f/1.8 Gallery Page for a selection of sample images.