I’ve been so busy testing all my Olympus mount Zuiko and Kirons and Vivitars as well as the Minolta AF, Sigma, Tamron and Phoenix lenses on the Sony Alpha 700 that I feel that I haven’t really had a chance to use the Sony lens that I bought along with the Sony A700 body. It’s the Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 lens, officially named the SAL18200.

Coming from the manual lenses world, I originally had some trepidation with regards to the extended 1:11 zoom ratio, but I have been pleasantly surprised. Prior to this, the largest zoom ratio lens I owned is the Kiron 28-210mm super-zoom (1:7.5 zoom ratio) for Olympus mount. The Kiron is an awesome lens, but it’s bulky and heavy.

There used to be a time when designing lenses with such large zoom ratios used to mean accepting that there would have to be a compromise in the performance, particularly at the shorter end of the zoom, but Sony has some how managed to make it work. Sony even has a lens with an even larger zoom ratio, the SAL18250 (18-250mm) which has a mind boggling 1:13.9 or 1:14 zoom ratio.

In 35mm format terms, this lens is equivalent to a 27mm-300mm zoom lens, which pretty much covers every shooting situation that one is likely to encounter in casual photography. It’s a very well built lens, but I admit I’d have been happier if the lens had a metal mount like all my beautiful Minolta AF lenses instead of a cheesy hard plastic mount. But such is life. Industrial plastics get tougher, lighter and stronger every year, so I’m not complaining too much, though.

The one thing I am really happy about is that the SAL18200 a Sony “Made in Japan” lens – I expect that the production will soon shift to their Chinese or Malaysian plant. The fact that the China plant didn’t pass the official Chinese quality inspection doesn’t leave me with a lot of confidence in the facility, so I was happy to pony up the few extra dollars for the Japan made label. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but that’s me.

The brochure states that the lens has a close focus of about 18 inches, but I have found in practice that it can focus as close as 12 inches at full extension – that’s at the 200mm focal length (300mm) so it’s very useful for close-ups as well as any general photography.

The lens is short – about 4 inches or so, with a 62mm filter, so its about 3 inches thick at its widest point. It’s short enough that the lens barrel doesn’t obstruct the on-board flash even when focusing close. The lens gave me a petal hood as well, which mounts very easily, and I reverse the hood on the lens body for easy transport.

The lens has focal length markings at 18mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm, 135mm and 200mm (APS format) which correspond to 27mm, 52mm, 75mm, 112.5mm, 150mm, 202.5 and 300mm in 35mm format.

Here’s a series of photographs taken at each focal length detent mark. These pictures were taken at Christman Park in Gaithersburg.

Sony SAL18200 18mm (27mm)
Sony SAL18200 35mm (52mm)
Sony SAL18200 50mm (75mm)
Sony SAL18200 75mm (112.5mm)
Sony SAL18200 100mm (150mm)
Sony SAL18200 135mm (202.5mm)
Sony SAL18200 200mm (300mm)
Sony SAL18200 the Menhir

Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park

Photographed with a Sony A700, Sony 18-200mm f/3.5 –f/6.3 lens

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olympus/zuiko by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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