A good, but not great, wide-angle APS-C prime


The Sony 11mm f/1.8 is the wide-angle prime with an equivalent focal range of 16.5mm. Will this wide-angle prime lens steal the hearts of APS-C vloggers and landscape and architectural photographers? Find out in our full review.

Pro

  • Compact and light
  • Pleasing color rendition
  • Minimum focusing distance
  • Nice bokeh for a wide-angle lens
  • Rapid autofocusing
  • Excellent chromatic aberration control
  • Decent price

Cons

  • No aperture dial
  • Lots of barrel distortion
  • Some ghosting

Sony 11mm f/1.8 — Technical specifications

Sony provided all technical specifications for the Sony 11mm f/1.8:

  • Three aspherical elements
  • Minimal focus breathing
  • Linear manual focus
  • 4.72-inch minimum focus distance
  • Seven aperture blades
  • 2 Linear AF motors
  • Weights 0.39lbs
  • 2.26-inches long
  • AF/MF switch and custom control button

Sony 11mm f/1.8 — Ergonomics and build quality

The Sony 11mm f/1.8 is a compact (2.26-inches in length), lightweight (0.39lbs) wide-angle prime that feels great when paired up with Sony’s APS-C camera offerings. On the loaner a6600, I had to complete this review, the combination did feel a little back-heavy, but it was easy to account for after a short while with the pair. The lens is all plastic except for the mount. Still, like other Sony lenses, this 11mm f/1.8 option feels well made. The composite materials feel rigid, there’s a slight texture to them to help with grip, and there’s no flex.

The Sony 11mm f/1.8 does feature some weather sealing. However, during my time with the lens, I was not able to test it in inclement weather. I have spent a lot of time with other G lenses, though. So, I am confident that this lens will be fine in light rain showers. The lens has three physical controls: The manual focus ring, an AF/MF switch and a customizable control button. The custom button and the switch are located on the lens’s left side and are easy to reach and use.

The Sony 11mm f/1.8 is impressively compact for what it is — a relatively fast, wide-angle prime — and it has a basic design that makes it easy to hold and use. Even though the front element is slightly bulbous, the lens can still use filters in the flavor of 55mm. Overall, Sony has done an excellent job in the ergonomics department.

Sony 11mm f/1.8 — In the field

Like the Sony 15mm f/1.4 G (read our review here), the Sony 11mm f/1.8 is a pleasant lens to use thanks to its compact size and incredibly low weight. On Sony’s APS-C cameras, this 11mm lens gives you an equivalent focal length of 16.5mm. This means this lens is plenty wide. The lens itself is easy to use. Just slap it on your camera and you’re good to go. However, if you’ve never used such a wide-angle before, it might take a little time to get used to it.

I’m disappointed the Sony 11mm f/1.8 doesn’t feature a dedicated aperture dial like the 15mm f/1.4 G. For a lens marketed to photographers and videographers, I feel this is a miss. In addition, there is no optical image stabilization. You can rely on the IBIS in the Sony a6600, though. However, you’ll have no stability if you use any other camera in the a6XXX range. Fortunately, wide-angle lenses are pretty easy to use without stabilization.

There’s not much in the way of controls on the lens. You’ll find a smooth manual focus ring. There’s also a customizable control button and a manual and autofocus switch. The Sony 11mm f/1.8 is a basic lens that’s easy to use once you get the hang of shooting wide. You’ll be creating images with unique perspectives in no time.

Sony 11mm f/1.8 — Focus performance

Wide-angle primes are usually speedy characters when it comes to autofocus. I’m pleased to say that the Sony 11mm f/1.8 is no exception to this rule. Transitions from near to far are swift. Paired with the a6600, which has a great autofocus system, I felt like I could really on the combo 100% in good and low light situations. Autofocus is fast and accurate.

Like the Sony 15mm f/1.4 G, Sony is touting the 11mm f/1.8 as a lens for video production. Videographers will be pleased to know that there’s very little focus breathing when manually focusing. You’ll be able to pull focus and create excellent clips with ease when using this lens. Overall focusing performance is excellent.

Sony 11mm f/1.8 — Image quality

The Sony 11mm f/1.8 has some admirable qualities, but distortion and, therefore, soft corners become issues for this wide-angle prime. We’ll break down multiple points about image quality in the sections below.

Distortion control and vignetting

We expected the Sony 11mm f/.8 to have some barrel distortion. Distortion is just the nature of the wide-angle lenses. However, we didn’t expect distortion that was so pronounced. The images above tell the story. Barrel distortion (where the image bows out from the center and distorts the edges and corners) is very apparent.

It doesn’t help that image editing suites did not have lens profiles available while writing this review. So, you may well be able to bring distortion under control later on down the line. I can tell you that most images I tried to fix manually needed major distortion correction applied. Overall, distortion control is not good. As for vignetting, wide-open, there’s heavy vignetting. Still, stop down to f/4, and it’s mostly under control.

Ghosting, flaring and chromatic aberrations

Ghosting and flaring are controlled nicely on the Sony 11mm f/1.8. While there is some flaring and ghosting present at every f-stop, it doesn’t really start to pronounce itself until f/6.3.

From there on out, the levels of ghosting increase until you hit f/16. Even then, it’s not terrible and certainly not as bad as the Sony 15mm f/1.4 G. When it comes to chromatic aberrations, you’ve got nothing to worry about. I looked hard at all of the images I created with this lens, and I didn’t find any. For a wide-angle lens, the Sony 11mm f/1.8 performs well.

Sharpness

The center of the Sony 11mm f/1.8 is sharp when wide-open. However, the edges do suffer due to the distortion the lens introduces. Stop the lens down to f/5.6, and images do sharpen up across the frame; However, the corners never achieved what I would call critical sharpness.

You can shoot down to roughly f/10 before the effects of diffraction show. The Sony 11mm f/1.8 isn’t the sharpest lens I have ever used, and the corners are a little underwhelming, but I think this level of performance is OK for a lens in this price range.

Bokeh

The Sony 11mm f/1.8 delivers surprisingly lovely bokeh for a wide-angle lens. With a minimum focusing distance of 4.72-inches, you can get nice and close to subjects. Set the lens to f/1.8, and you can create some excellent subject separation.

As I always say, you don’t buy wide-angle primes for their bokeh. However, this lens can produce nice bokeh when called into action. Out-of-focus areas aren’t entirely smooth, and specular highlights are Catseye in shape, but overall, it’s not bad for a wide-angle prime.

Color rendition

I like the colors that the Sony 11mm f/1.8 G rendered. I found that the colors were neutral, meaning they didn’t shift to the warm or cool side of the temperate spectrum. Upon closer look on my computer, the colors represented the colors I remembered during the shoot.

As a note, all of the images you see here have had minimal editing in post-processing. Changes were only made to overall exposure settings. The Sony a6600 was set to standard image profile. The white balance was set to auto. Of course, everyone has a preference when it comes to colors, so I’ll leave you to make up your mind about them.

Sony 11mm f/1.8 G — This could have been a great lens, but it will have to settle for a rating of good

The Sony 11mm f/1.8 is an interesting lens. This well-made, weather-sealed wide-angle prime will appeal to many, especially those who love landscape photography, architectural photography, selfies and videography. The equivalent 16.5mm focal length is a useful one. With the fast maximum aperture of f/1.8, Sony APS-C camera users could use this lens for astrophotography and many other genres requiring a bright aperture.

The colors the lens renders are excellent, and so is the bokeh. Flaring, ghosting and chromatic aberrations are well controlled, and the lens focuses like a champ. Unfortunately, it’s hard to look past the levels of barrel distortion. Intermediate, with a price of approximately $550, the Sony 11mm f/1.8 is an interesting option for those who need a fast wide-angle prime for their Sony APS-C camera.

You’ll likely enjoy what this lens offers if you can live with the distortion until updated lens profiles arrive. On the other hand, if you don’t need an aperture that’s quite so fast, but you still would like to have a wide lens, you might want to check out the recently announced Sony 10-20mm f/4 PZ G (read our review here), which I found to be rather excellent.



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