Sony NEX-6, some days in the field with the Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS

The sample photos and more are also available in a gallery.

After the first positive tests with the Sigma 35mm, I've ordered the Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS. A quick, immediate evaluation has probably put in evidence a centering defect, somewhat halfway between a serious problem for which you'd give the lens back and an acceptable performance. I've contacted the Sony assistance for this and I'm waiting to run a more precise test - so, I'm not going to discuss about this problem until I have more information.

In the meantime, I've been able to spend a few days in Bourgogne, so I took the opportunity for a field test.

There are indeed a few photos taken in the department of Ain, which is along the way. In both regions it's quite difficult to get a sunny day in this season, but they are painted with pastel colours and sometimes delicate nuances created by the fog - indeed, the fog is one of the things I hoped to enjoy in my journey.

Le Lac du Lit au Roi.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 10 mm, 1/50 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 100, hand-held.

Pâturage de vaches près de Chemillieu.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 10 mm, 1/50 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 200, hand-held.

First, I was able to deal with the colour problem that I've experienced with Lightroom in my first experiments with the NEX-6: it looks indeed that the “Adobe Standard” profile introduces a subtle red cast - not a new thing, I've seen it in the past with my Nikon D5000 (curiously, not with the Nikon D5100). It disappears by selecting the profile “Camera Standard”. For many the photos that I post-processed I've also dialled a -10 value in the Hue for Green Primary, as green in foliage and grass appeared slightly bluish - apparently it's not a problem of white balance, as the other colours are ok, but I'm not totally sure; I need to take some photos with brilliant colours in a sunny day to check.

Second, I decided to always go hand-held in order to verify how effective Sony stabilisation is. It seems ok: only less than 5% of the photos I took were compromised by motion blur (with shutter speeds about 1/10s-1/15s for focals of 10mm), the remainder look as sharp as the lens can get them. For safety I shot in burst mode (speed priority, so the camera doesn't re-focus): three shots for each photo so I always found a good replacement in the burst for the few blurred ones.

Charly, près de Mazille.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 16 mm, 1/30 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 200, hand-held.

Charly, près de Mazille.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 18 mm, 1/30 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 200, hand-held.

Le vieux chêne.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 10 mm, 1/50 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 200, hand-held.

As I did in my previous evaluation, I always exposed “to the right” taking advantage of the live histogram in the viewfinder, eventually retouching exposure in post-processing in case of excessive brightness. This technique provides the best image quality with respect to noise, since you don't have to amplify the signal during post-processing. I always used ƒ/8 (which is the sweet spot of the 10-18mm according to many reviews) and mostly ISO 100; ISO 200 and 400 in just a few cases. It perfectly worked: no photos were compromised by burned highlights.

There was quite a wide dynamic range shooting from inside a dense wood with a bright cloudy sky: the Sony NEX-6 handled this pretty well and I could recover all the details in the shadow. Of course, a really effective test should be done with the bright light of a sunny day, but it looks as I have to still wait for it.

Dans le Bois de Vaux.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 18 mm, 1/80 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 200, hand-held.

Naked branches are a perfect subject for testing the sharpness of a wide angle lens. The Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS confirmed my preliminary impression of being at least on par with my previous Nikkor 12-24mm ƒ/4G DX AF-S (probably slightly better sometimes, with a possible softness on one side because of decentering).

Dans le brouillard près de Mazille.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 10 mm, 1/20 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 400, hand-held.

L'Étang de la Lande près de Ballore.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 18 mm, 1/60 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 100, hand-held.

Les feuilles mortes.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 18 mm, 1/80 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 100, hand-held.

During the only our I've been able to see some sunlight, I tried a quick test with the sun in the frame, even though hidden behind a moderately think layer of fog. In this situation it was impossible to avoid burning the highlights, but they turned out quite good, with a smooth transition towards the surroundings (look at the top left corner in the photo below).

Dans les brumes du matin.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 18 mm, 1/60 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 100, hand-held.

All in all I really enjoyed the combo NEX-6 + 10-18mm, both because its low weight (almost 50% lighter than my equivalent Nikon combo) and the capability of operating without tripod or monopod thanks to stabilisation. It looks more and more a valid, lightweight replacement for my Nikon landscape gear, without losing anything in quality.

My final test for landscape is now to evaluate the Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f4, even though I think before buying it I'll wait for some reputable test to be published, as there are mixed rumours about its effective quality.

Rue de la Planchette à La Clayette.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 10 mm, 1/50 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 100, hand-held.

Les pâturages du Château de Drée.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 18 mm, 1/40 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 100, hand-held.

Dans le Bois de Chaumont.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 10 mm, 1/20 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 100, hand-held.

Dans le Bois de Chaumont.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 18 mm, 1/20 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 100, hand-held.

Les écuries du mystérieux Château de Chaumont-la-Guiche.

Sony NEX-6 + Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS @ 13 mm, 1/50 sec @ ƒ/8, ISO 100, hand-held.