Sony 35mm f/1.8 Review
I have been searching for the perfect 35mm lens for Sony E-Mount full frame lenses and I think I’ve finally found it! The Sony 35mm f/1.8 strikes a perfect balance of size/weight and cost/performance.
When it was released in 2019, I was lucky enough to have a chance to use this lens for several weeks and made my decision that it is the best Sony lens option in the 35mm focal range for E-Mount.
It has amazing performance and serves my needs as an adventure and wedding photographer extremely well.
The 35mm focal length is my default lens when I am documenting a variety of things. I do use other lenses when I know exactly what I’ll be shooting, but a 35mm makes a perfect walk-around lens for almost any subject.
The Sony 35mm f/1.8 fits my needs in this category perfectly because it offers amazing low light performance as well as being compact and light enough to carry around all day long.
Sony 35mm f/1.8 Specs
- Sony E-Mount/Full Frame Lens
- Aperture Range: f/1.8 – f/22
- Minimum Focus Distance: 8.7″ / 22.1 cm
- Weight: 9.9 oz / 281 g
- Length: 2.9″ / 73 mm
- Diameter: 2.6 / 66mm
- Filter size: 55mm
Build & Ergonomics
- compact size
- lightweight design
- low light performance
- excellent value
- no image stabilization
- unpleasant flare
When the Sony 35mm f/1.8 was first released, I suspected it would be the lens I had been searching for. In the past, I have tried almost all the other options for a Sony E-Mount full frame 35mm lens but was never satisfied.
All the previous options were either too large and heavy, or so compact that they didn’t have a large enough maximum aperture.
Even at f/1.8, this lens is light and compact, but also has almost 1.5 more stops of light than the Sony 35mm f/2.8 Zeiss lens I had been using.
It is not the smallest lens available in this focal length but it is smaller than most lenses I own (very similar to the Sony 55mm f/1.8). It strikes a nice balance in size/weight.
Designed with a metal barrel, this lens feels like it is built to last. Time will tell but so far, it has proven very durable.
The Sony 35mm f/1.8 is minimalistic but maintains two key features that I find useful: a manual/autofocus switch and a focus hold button. The focus hold button can be programmed to a wide variety of functions (most popular being: eye auto focus).
I appreciate the manual/auto focus switch because it can be handy when shooting video or when the camera is on a tripod and you don’t want the focus to move if you accidentally press a button (like when shooting astrophotography).
The only thing missing from this lens is optical image stabilization (Sony calls it Optical Steady Shot – OSS). This would have made this lens even more appealing, but with a max aperture of f/1.8 this feature isn’t essential.
Being a relatively small lens, the Sony 35mm f/1.8 balances nicely with all the best Sony camera bodies in the a7 range. Overall, I was very satisfied with the build and functionality of this lens!
In line with all the recent lenses released for Sony, auto focus performance is superb on the Sony 35mm f/1.8.
It felt snappy and as fast as any other lens I own (including several G-Master lenses).
I feel like we’ve reached the point where most people won’t be utilizing the maximum speed of auto focus on lenses/cameras because they are so fast!
The system has reached a point where getting sharp photos isn’t really an issue anymore. This lens tracked and locked on to subjects extremely well.
You’ll see in the photo above, my daughter was running full speed through the house and this lens kept up with tracking her. The little bit of blur you see was due to a slow shutter speed.
Working completely silently and extremely fast, this lens will keep your subject tack sharp in almost any situation!
The image quality of the Sony 35mm f/1.8 is very impressive considering its size and price point. I would say that it outperforms its price point, giving you the quality of a much more expensive lens.
To summarize the image quality, it is: extremely sharp even at f/1.8, has beautiful bokeh (especially if your subject is close), and has no issues with distortion. I read some reports of color fringing but didn’t experience the issues myself.
Now let’s talk about lens flare – since I find myself shooting into the sun regularly, I am particular about getting good lens flare.
Unfortunately however, the Sony 35mm f/1.8 doesn’t give the best sun flare when shooting directly into a sunset. It has some green bulbs that appear at higher apertures and the sunstars (f/11 and above) have some greenish lines extending further than I’d like.
If shooting directly into the sun is your style, I might look at some of the other more expensive offerings like the Sony 35mm f/1.4.
Although this is an issue for me, I plan to work around it because having a smaller/lighter lens is a higher priority for me.
Value for Money
At under $800, this lens is a great option for photographers that shoot events or want a fast lens to shoot in low light.
It performs exceptionally well in most conditions giving excellent image quality, especially for its size.
If you have a Sony a7III, the Sony 35mm f/1.8 makes the perfect combination for a balanced feel. It is nearly half the price of some alternative 35mm options but only about half a stop slower. This makes it a great buy!
When it comes to size/weight vs quality, this lens far outpaces the competition.
For that reason alone, I think it’s the best value lens in the 35mm focal range for Sony E-Mount.
Sony 35mm f/1.8 Review | Conclusion
Although I used a loaner lens for this test/review, I’ll definitely be buying this lens for my kit. It is a phenomenal performer and a great value.
The Sony 35mm f/1.8 is extremely compact and fits into a nice trifecta of prime lenses for my kit: Sony 35mm f/1.8, Sony 55mm f/1.8, and Sony 85mm f/1.8.
If you’ve been using a zoom lens or kit lens and are ready to try a fast prime, I highly encourage you to check this lens out. It is a great all around lens for shooting travel, sports, weddings and events.
Many people recommend a 50mm as a starting point when jumping into prime lenses but I’d highly suggest a 35mm. It feels a bit more versatile and closer to what the human eye sees.
In addition to adding this lens to my kit, I suspect it will be mounted on my camera about 80% of the time because it is so versatile!
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.