Sony’s 35mm f/1.8 lens is a portable, bright prime that’s perfect for travel

Sony officially announced the FE 35mm F1.8 lens on Tuesday, July 9, the company’s 34th full-frame E-mount lens for its Alpha series mirrorless cameras. Not only does this new prime offer a fast aperture, but it is also surprisingly compact, weighing just 9.9 ounces and measuring 2.9 inches long. Combined with the modest wide-angle field of view, this could become a favorite lens of street and landscape photographers. (On APS-C cameras, like the Sony A6400, the field of view is equivalent to a full-frame 50mm.) 

While not part of Sony’s high-end G Master line, the FE 35mm F1.8 still promises high image quality, including edge-to-edge sharpness. It uses 11 elements in nine groups including a single aspherical element to help combat chromatic aberration. The aperture diaphragm uses nine rounded blades for smoother, more circular blur patterns in defocused areas. The minimum focus distance is well under a foot at about 8.7 inches, while maximum magnification is 0.24x.

Sony also promises fast autofocus speed and tracking performance, with both still photography and video in mind. We haven’t tested this lens and can’t verify these claims, but Sony’s advanced real-time tracking is one of the most impressive focusing systems we’ve ever used in a camera, and naturally, the company will want its lenses to be able to keep up with it.

In addition to the normal auto/manual focus mode switch, the FE 35mm F1.8 also has a focus hold button for locking in focus before taking the picture. This could be helpful when taking a series of exposures with slightly different framing when you want the focus to remain unchanged between each. Of note to filmmakers, manual focus uses a linear response, which should make rack focusing much smoother and easier to do by hand compared to many other modern lenses that typically do not have a linear response.

Built for use with the latest generation Alpha-series cameras, like the A7 III, the lens body is also sealed against dust and moisture. At $750, it won’t come cheap, but if the image quality and performance are as good as Sony claims, it may well be worth it — especially for photographers who want a bright aperture in a compact form factor. The FE 35mm F1.8 will ship in August.

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