Review: Sony SEL18200LE
SEL18200LE on Sony NEX-6

Review: Sony SEL18200LE

Introduction

Sony had introduced three full-range zoom lenses into its E-mount camera system. They are the SEL18200, SEL18200LE, and the SELP18200. The SEL18200 is the largest and heaviest among the other two brothers, and it comes with a silver chrome body. The SEL18200LE is the lighter edition of the SEL18200, which is smaller and lighter and comes in a black body. Both of them use a mechanical zoom ring, while the SELP18200 uses the power zoom, which comes in a black body.

SEL18200LE
SEL18200LE

The lens that we are going to review today is the SEL18200LE. Due to the full focal length coverage by the SEL18200LE, this review is extremely long. Please be patient and ready to go through the rest of this post to see how does this lens perform 😉 I provided a summary at the top of each testing section if you want to get the result at a glance.

Pros & Cons

  • Full range focal length from wide-angle to telephoto
  • Well built quality
  • Mechanical Zoom
  • Distortion found at the entire focal length range
  • Focusing issues from focal length 100 mm and longer
  • Not constant aperture, small aperture from 100 mm and longer

Key Specification

Aperture (Max.)F 3.5- F 6.3
Aperture (Min.)F 22 – F 40
Focal Length (35mm equivalent)27mm – 300mm
Filter Diameter62mm
Lens Groups-Elements13 groups, 17 elements (4 aspheric surfaces, 2 ED)
Minimum Focus Distance1.64ft (0.5 m)
Aperture Blade7 blades (Circular aperture)
Dimensions (Max. Diameter x Length)2-3/4″ x 3-7/8″ (68 mm x 96.7 mm)
Exterior Finish
Internal MotorYes (Stepping motor)
Lens Weight16.3 oz (460 g)
Maximum Magnification0.27x
Mount MaterialRubber
SEL18200LE Specification

Besides the official specification of the lens, I also include the largest and smallest aperture for each focal length that is stated on the lens.

Focal LengthLargest ApertureSmallest Aperture
18 mmF 3.5F 22
35 mmF 4.5F 29
50 mmF 5.6F 36
70 mmF 5.6F 36
100 mmF 6.3F 40
200 mmF 6.3F 40
SEL18200LE Aperture Values at Different Focal Length

Look & Feel

The SEL18200LE is a well-built piece of glass. It is solid and heavy. It fits on my Sony NEX-6 (read the review here), and the black color on both lens and camera body match each other nicely. The focus ring is located close to the camera body, and it is buttery smooth.

SEL18200LE on Sony NEX-6
SEL18200LE on Sony NEX-6

The zoom ring is larger than the focus ring, and there is a focal length indicator below it. It is pretty stiff, so that you will need some strength to rotate this mechanical zoom ring. There is a zoom lock switch for you to lock the lens at its widest angle (18 mm) to prevent the lens barrel from extending during carrying.

SEL18200LE - Zoom Lock Switch and Focal Length Indicator
Zoom Lock Switch and Focal Length Indicator

The lens comes with a petal shape plastic hood and plastic lens cap as well.

SEL18200LE, Lens Hood, and Lens Cap
SEL18200LE, Lens Hood, and Lens Cap

Handheld shooting with this lens provides certain arm muscle training as the combination of the SEL18200LE and NEX-6 is heavier than most of the other E-mount lens combinations. The lens extends and collapses, as shown below.

Sharpness (Infinity)

Overall, the center sharpness reached its peak at F8 among the entire focal length range, while the corner sharpness performed well in the mid-range (50 mm – 100 mm) from its wide-open till F16.

18 mm

Center sharpness at 18 mm is boosted at F5.6 and maintains good details until F11. Center sharpness at other apertures is quite soft.

SEL18200LE - 18mm Center Sharpness
18mm Center Sharpness

Corner sharpness at 18mm is pretty soft from the wide-open till F5.6. Sharpness is getting better from F8 onward.

SEL18200LE - 18mm Corner Sharpness
18mm Corner Sharpness

35 mm

Center sharpness at 35 mm is boosted at F5.6 and reaches the peak at F8. It maintains good details at F11, becomes acceptable at F16, and drops significantly from F22 onward.

SEL18200LE - 35mm Center Sharpness
35mm Center Sharpness

Corner sharpness at 35 mm is acceptable from F8 onward. The details slightly drop from F16 onward.

SEL18200LE - 35mm Corner Sharpness
35mm Corner Sharpness

50 mm

Center sharpness at 50 mm is good from its wide-open, reaches its peak at F8/F11, maintains good details at F16 and F22, and drops significantly from F32 onward.

SEL18200LE - 50mm Center Sharpness
50mm Center Sharpness

Corner sharpness at 50 mm is good from wide open until F22 and drops significantly from F32 onward.

SEL18200LE - 50mm Corner Sharpness
50mm Corner Sharpness

70 mm

Center sharpness at 70 mm is soft at its wide open, getting sharper at F8 and reaching the peak at F11. Sharpness drop at F16 and F22 and becomes very soft at F32 onward.

SEL18200LE - 70mm Center Sharpness
70mm Center Sharpness

Corner sharpness at 70 mm is good from its wide-open till F22 then drops significantly from F32 onward.

SEL18200LE - 70mm Corner Sharpness
70mm Corner Sharpness

100 mm

Center sharpness at 100 mm is good from its wide-open, reach its peak at F8, sharpness slightly drop at F16 and F22, and drop significantly from F32 onward.

SEL18200LE - 100mm Center Sharpness
100mm Center Sharpness

Corner sharpness at 100 mm is good from wide-open until F22, then slightly drop from F32 onward.

SEL18200LE - 100mm Corner Sharpness
100mm Corner Sharpness

200 mm

Center sharpness at 200 mm is considered soft overall. Sharpness at F6.3 is acceptable, F8 and F11 show the best sharpness among other apertures while the rest are pretty soft.

SEL18200LE - 200mm Center Sharpness
200mm Center Sharpness

Corner sharpness at 200 mm shows the best sharpness at F11, F16, and F22, while the rest are pretty soft.

SEL18200LE - 200mm Corner Sharpness
200mm Corner Sharpness

Macro Performance

Overall, the SEL18200LE has the maximum magnification ratio of 200 mm, while the best sharpness is shown at 70 mm.

18 mm

Macro sharpness at 18 mm is soft.

SEL18200LE - 18mm Macro
18mm Macro

35 mm

Macro sharpness at 35 mm is acceptable.

SEL18200LE - 35mm Macro
35mm Macro

50 mm

Macro sharpness at 50 mm is at a good level.

SEL18200LE - 50mm Macro
50mm Macro

70 mm

Macro sharpness is the best at 70 mm.

SEL18200LE - 70mm Macro
70mm Macro

100 mm

The macro sharpness at 100 mm has dropped slightly compared to 70 mm.

SEL18200LE - 100mm Macro
100mm Macro

200 mm

At 200 mm, the SEL18200LE has the maximum magnification ratio, but the sharpness is similar to 100 mm.

SEL18200LE - 200mm Macro
200mm Macro

Distortion

Overall, the SEL18200LE shows a heavy barrel distortion at its widest angle while exhibiting slight pincushion distortion for the rest of the focal length.

18 mm

18 mm exhibits heavy barrel distortion.

35 mm

35 mm exhibits slight pincushion distortion.

50 mm

50 mm exhibits slight pincushion distortion.

70 mm

70 mm exhibits slight pincushion distortion.

100 mm

100 mm exhibits slight pincushion distortion.

200 mm

200 mm exhibits slight pincushion distortion.

Vignetting

Overall, the 18mm and 200mm exhibit heavy vignetting at its wide-open and need to stop down two stops to remove the vignetting. The SEL18200LE shows little to slight vignetting at other focal length and usually only need to stop down one stop to eliminate the vignetting.

18 mm

18 mm exhibits heavy vignetting at its wide-open. Stopped down to F5.6 will barely see the vignetting.

SEL18200LE - 18mm Vignetting
18mm Vignetting

35 mm

Visible vignetting at F4.5. Stopped down to F5.6 will slightly remove the vignetting.

SEL18200LE - 35mm Vignetting
35mm Vignetting

50 mm

50 mm exhibits little vignetting. Stopped down to F8 will remove the vignetting.

SEL18200LE - 50mm Vignetting
50mm Vignetting

70 mm

70 mm exhibits slight vignetting at its wide open. Stopped down to F8 will eliminate it.

SEL18200LE - 70mm Vignetting
70mm Vignetting

100 mm

100 mm exhibits little vignetting at its wide open. Stopped down to F8 will eliminate the vignetting.

SEL18200LE - 100mm Vignetting
100mm Vignetting

200 mm

200 mm exhibits heavy vignetting. Stopped down to F8 will greatly reduce the vignetting.

SEL18200LE - 200mm Vignetting
200mm Vignetting

Chromatic Aberration

Overall, the SEL18200LE tends to have purple fringing at its center and magenta fringing at its corner at those high contrast areas. Stopping down 2 – 3 stops will eliminate the center CA, while the corner CA remains at any aperture.

18 mm

18 mm center exhibits slight purple fringing at its wide-open until F5.6, stopped down to F8 will eliminate that fringing.

SEL18200LE - 18mm Center CA
18mm Center CA

18 mm corner exhibits purple fringing from its wide-open till F22.

SEL18200LE - 18mm Corner CA
18mm Corner CA

35 mm

35 mm center exhibits some purple fringing from its wide-open until F8, stopped down to F11 will eliminate the fringing.

SEL18200LE - 35mm Center CA
35mm Center CA

35 mm corner exhibits magenta fringing from its wide-open till F29.

SEL18200LE - 35mm Corner CA
35mm Corner CA

50 mm

50 mm center exhibits little purple fringing from its wide-open till F11, stopped down to F16 will eliminate the fringing.

SEL18200LE - 50mm Center CA
50mm Center CA

50 mm corner exhibits little purple fringing at its wide-open and F8, then it turned into magenta fringing for the rest of apertures.

SEL18200LE - 50mm Corner CA
50mm Corner CA

70 mm

70 mm center exhibits little purple fringing from its wide-open till F16, stopped down to F22 will eliminate the fringing.

SEL18200LE - 70mm Center CA
70mm Center CA

70 mm corner exhibits little purple fringing at its wide-open and F8, stopped down to F11 will eliminate the fringing.

SEL18200LE - 70mm Corner CA
70mm Corner CA

100 mm

100 mm center exhibits little purple and magenta fringing from its wide-open till F22, stopped down to F32 will eliminate the fringing.

SEL18200LE - 100mm Center CA
100mm Center CA

100 mm corner exhibits magenta fringing from its wide-open till F40.

SEL18200LE - 100mm Corner CA
100mm Corner CA

200 mm

200 mm center exhibits purple fringing from its wide-open till F22, stopped down to F32 will eliminate the fringing.

SEL18200LE - 200mm Center CA
200mm Center CA

200 mm corner exhibits magenta fringing from its wide-open till F40.

SEL18200LE - 200mm Corner CA
200mm Corner CA

Ghosting and Flare

Overall, the SEL18200LE handles the flare quite well in the entire focal length range and at any aperture. Sunlight is well controlled and does not spread across the frame.

18 mm

SEL18200LE - 18mm Flare Comparison
18mm Flare Comparison

35 mm

SEL18200LE - 35mm Flare Comparison
35mm Flare Comparison

50 mm

SEL18200LE - 50mm Flare Comparison
50mm Flare Comparison

70 mm

SEL18200LE - 70mm Flare Comparison
70mm Flare Comparison

100 mm

SEL18200LE - 100mm Flare Comparison
100mm Flare Comparison

200 mm

SEL18200LE - 200mm Flare Comparison
200mm Flare Comparison

Bokeh Effect

The lens largest aperture is F3.5 at its widest open and F6.3 at its telephoto end. The overall circular bokeh effect is beautiful but not that smooth. You can find the onion ring bokeh effect throughout the entire focal length range regardless of any aperture you use.

18 mm

SEL18200LE - 18mm Bokeh
18mm Bokeh

35 mm

SEL18200LE - 35mm Bokeh
35mm Bokeh

50 mm

SEL18200LE - 50mm Bokeh
50mm Bokeh

70 mm

SEL18200LE - 70mm Bokeh
70mm Bokeh

100 mm

SEL18200LE - 100mm Bokeh
100mm Bokeh

200 mm

SEL18200LE - 200mm Bokeh
200mm Bokeh

The SEL18200LE renders a nice defocus background at the telephoto end even though its largest aperture is only F6.3.

Bokeh @ 200mm, F 6.3
Bokeh @ 200mm, F 6.3

Handheld Performance

The SEL18200LE built-in with Sony OSS provides excellent image stabilization in the previous few E-mount lenses test, so how does it perform in this lens? Due to the F6.3 largest aperture from 100 mm onward, the lens test had to be carried out in good light condition to get the safety minimum shutter speed, and only the 200 mm was tested.

With OSS

SEL18200LE - With OSS
With OSS

Without OSS

SEL18200LE - Without OSS
Without OSS

Interestingly, the SEL18200LE performs closely from 1/320″ to 1/80″ at 200 mm with/without the OSS on. The shots below 1/60″ with OSS turned on result clearer than the one without OSS turned on. Besides, the live view on the camera LCD screen and EVF does not shake so terribly when the OSS is turned on.

Nonetheless, I was standing and holding the camera remarkably steady, and it was a very good light condition, and the subject was perfectly still. In general, I prefer to use above 1/100″ or ideally 1/250″ when shooting with this lens at its telephoto end from 100 mm to 200 mm.

Bottom Line

In my opinion, the SEL18200LE performs better from 50 mm to 100 mm, with the sweet spot at 70 mm. The center sharpness is good but the corners are soft. The distortion exists throughout the focal length, but you can fix it quickly in post-processing.

The largest aperture opens at F6.3 from 100 mm and longer. You need excellent light condition or raise the ISO incredibly high to keep the shutter speed above 1/100″ to get a blur-free result.

The SEL18200LE has slow focusing from 100 mm to 200 mm. The autofocusing does not respond sometimes. You have to rotate the focus ring (only when you are using DMF mode) so that the lens will begin to do the autofocusing.

Due to shallow DoF from 100 mm to 200 mm, you should always enlarge and examine your shots. When the light condition is not good, the camera focus-peaking hardly nailed to your intended focus area.

Well, the SEL18200LE covers from wide-angle (27 mm in 35 mm equivalent) to telephoto (300 mm in 35 mm equivalent). This all-in-one solution comes with a price tag of SGD 1,199, small size, a well-built lens body, and acceptable optical performance. If you always shoot in a low-light environment or sports, wildlife, etc., you may have to get a prime lens or the constant aperture zoom lens.

Before the end of the review, below are some sample shots from this lens.

Speed
Speed @ 34mm
Mystery Space
Mystery Space @ zoom in effect
Deep Thinking
Deep Thinking @ 106mm
The Black and the White
The Black and the White @ 142mm
Bird
Bird @ 200mm
Green House
Green House @ 18mm
Drop
Raindrop @ 192mm
Flowers @ 200mm
After the Rain @ 200mm
Blossom Balls
Blossom Balls @ 200mm
Swans
Swans @ 200mm
Mum's Love
Mum’s Love @ 71mm
Texture
Texture @ 18mm

That’s all for the review. I hope you enjoyed it, and thanks for reading.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. What about the power zoom options? Also pls advise on SEL 24240

    1. good morning!
      if you’re more active in still photography, the sel18200le is the better option. power zoom option is better if you taking more video (you may have a look at the kit lens SELP1650 which is great too).
      For SEL24240, it’s designed for full frame Sony, which is nearly double the weight (300g+ heavier), larger, and give you a narrower angle of view (36mm compare to 27mm offered by sel18200) if you use it in Sony APS-C camera (e.g. a6000, a6300, etc.). only consider it if you’re using full frame or plan to upragde to full frame soon.

  2. Great and detailed review, much appreciated =)

    1. AWESOME write up – just what I needed. I bought a A6300 a week ago and I am now looking for “The Lens” that will work on all general travel, sports etc. I’m looking for light somewhat – direct connection to camera. Yes I could buy a Metabones adapter for adapting my canon lens but still holding out.

      1. Hi Russ, the SEL18200LE is a good all in one travel lens. However, I was more enjoyed and prefered to shoot with the SEL1670Z which I’m writing review on it. Stay tuned =)

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