This little lens caught my eye when first announced last summer. My experience with the Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 has kept my lens-snobbery in check and I’ll always look at new offerings to see if there’s another screaming price/performance bargain just waiting to be discovered. When stock in the Sony E-mount showed up and the price was was announced at $70, I figured free shipping from Prime and free returns was worth the risk. At the very least, I figured it had to be better than the $30 CCTV lens I adapted to the A6000 a while ago.
The significant things:
Unbox : Nice quality cardboard box factory sealed with tamper-proof tabs. The lens was nestled in fitted foam inserts and was very well-protected. Also in the box was a small microfiber lens pouch, a warranty card printed in Chinese and instructions that provided basic info and some amusement. There was a nice photo of the lens with numbered arrows pointing to features and absolutely no reference to the numbers or features anywhere in the text. The English instructions were not the worst I’ve seen and actually included a warning to remember to set “release without lens” in the camera menu. The rest was mostly decipherable and I will freely admit that the person translating it was better at English that I am at Chinese.
The lens is tiny! It’s about the same diameter as the lens mount itself and only a little over 1¼” (32mm) long. At 5 oz. (143g) is still manages to feel solid with it’s all-metal construction. The finish is even and the etched markings are fine and very crisp. The glass looks good and fiddling with the aperture ring brought something to my attention that I had forgotten reading about. The aperture has 12 blades and is smoothly rounded. Good first impression.
In use: The A6000 was my choice for testing since the better AF on the A6300 was moot and I tend to favor it as a platform for the Lensbaby and other full manual stuff. Mounting it was smooth and there was no wobble in the mount after the click. The excellent finish and markings keep it form looking like a toy but it really is small. Jacket pocket street camera? Seems like it might serve well in that role. The focus and aperture rings move smoothly with good dampening and turn in exactly the wrong way compared to my other manual lenses. Not a deal breaker in any sense. The aperture is clickless and requires a visual confirmation if precise settings matter to you. Minimum focus looks to be about 4″ (100mm) and while it has an infinity stop, it goes a little past infinity focus. This may be to compensate if used for infrared photography or it may be a tolerance issue. The fit and finish of the lens suggests the former.
Shooting: I spent some time shooting some samples shown below on a trip to Chicago for work. All I took was the A6300 with the 25mm mounted on it and yes, it spent a lot of time in my jacket pocket. So far it’s a keeper and will be going on my next real trip for some serious walkabout work. If you enjoy playing with manual lenses on the APS-C Sonys, I don’t see any reason not to recommend it so far. I have spent more on a trip to Total Wine & More to restock the craft brew fridge, so unless the front falls off or the coatings all peel off, I don’t see any reason not to recommend it as a fun and surprisingly useful addition to your gear bag.