Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM: Test and review of an inexpensive Sony prime lens

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lens Review
Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM: Test and review of an inexpensive Sony prime lens

The Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM, a budget-focused prime lens, is only suitable for use on APS-C dSLRs, but it could be a pretty good choice if you own a Sony APS-C body and don't want to spend too much money on a wide-angle prime lens. Let’s take a closer look.

As usual, we tested this 35 mm lens on many Sony Alpha cameras. On a Sony A580 camera body, for example, the Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM lens showed a globally good performance from f/1.8 to f/5.6. The resolution is homogenous over the field of view at f/5.6 and f/8 — satisfactory for an APS-C lens.

Although vignetting is an important problem at f/1.8 and f/2, it disappears between f/2.8 and f/22. And there is only a negligible amount of distortion and chromatic aberration.

Side-by-Side Comparison:

Compared to a similar budget prime wide-angle lens from Nikon, the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G on a Nikon D300, the DT 35mm F1.8 SAM is very close in term of overall performance, with scores of 16 for the Nikon and 17 for the Sony. If we look closer at the specific scores, we see that the Sony has less chromatic aberration than its rival (one of the known weaknesses of the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX). But the Sony’s better score for chromatic aberration is offset by greater vignetting.

Conclusion

Some photographers may find the all-plastic construction of the Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM somewhat off-putting (even the mount is plastic), along with its lack of direct manual focusing. Apart from these points, however, its performance is perfectly adequate for an inexpensive, light-weight lens.