Review of Sony E 3.5-5.6/18-135 OSS

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Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

Sony E 3.5-5.6/18-135 OSS. increase.


  1. In short
  2. Main Specifications
  3. Assembly
  4. Stabilizer
  5. Focusing
  6. Image quality
  7. Sample Photos
  8. My personal experience with the lens
  9. All Sony E APS-C cameras
  10. All Sony E APS-C Lenses
  11. Lens prices
  12. Results
  13. User Comments
  14. Add your review or question on the lens

In this review of Sony E 3.5-5.6/18-135 OSS (Optical Steady Shot, E-mount, SEL18135), I will abbreviate it as Sony E 18-135. This lens should not be confused with its analogue for SLR cameras represented by the Sony DT 18-135/3.5-5.6 SAM.

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

In short

Sony E 18-135 – a universal zoom lens for mirrorless cameras with a bayonet mount Sony E and an APS-C sensor.

The Sony E 18-135 is well built, with a very quiet and fast focus motor and good image stabilization. The lens has a convenient range of focal lengths.

The obvious disadvantages are the high cost and optical shortcomings typical of superzooms, as well as some shenanigans with auto-correction for vignetting/distortion.

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

Main technical characteristics of Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS:

Review Instance Name Near the front lens: 'E 3.5-5.6/18-135 OSS 0.45m/1.48ft Ø55'

On the case '3.5-5.6/18-135 Optical Steady Shot E-mount' + information plate-sticker

Basic properties
  • APS-C E-mount – the lens is designed for Sony mirrorless cameras with APS-C
  • SEL - Sony 'E' mount mirrorless lens. This lens has a short name and identifier 'SEL18135'
  • OSS (Optical Steady Shot) - built-in optical image stabilization
  • Fast focusing motor, linear drive
  • Internal focus
  • Electronic focus ring
  • DMF (DDirectly Mannual Focus) - direct manual focus
  • AF / MF - focus mode switch
  • Aspherical elements in the optical circuit
  • Low dispersive elements in the optical scheme
  • Rounded petals aperture
Front Filter Diameter 55 mm, plastic thread for filters
Focal length 18-135 mm EGF for Sony cameras with APS-C sensor is 27-202.5 mm
Zoom ratio 7.5 x
Designed by for Sony NEX/ALPHA digital mirrorless cameras
Number of aperture blades 7 rounded petals
  • bayonet mount mark
  • hood attachment mark
  • focal length values ​​for 18, 24, 35, 50, 70, 100 and 135 mm
  • information plate-sticker
  • 18 mm: F / 3.5-F / 22
  • 24mm: F/4-F/25
  • 35 mm: F / 4.5-F / 29
  • 50 mm: F / 5-F / 32
  • 70 mm: F / 5.6-F / 36
  • 100 mm: F / 5.6-F / 36
  • 135 mm: F / 6.3-F / 36
MDF (minimum focusing distance) 45 centimeters, the maximum magnification ratio is 135 mm and is 1: 3.45
The weight 325 grams declared (322 grams, measured, only the lens itself, without caps and hood)
Optical design 16 elements in 12 groups.

sony-18-135-sel-optical-scheme-designThe circuit includes 1 aspherical element (shown in purple on the optical diagram). The type of asphericity is unknown. And 2 low-dispersion elements (shown in green on the optical diagram).

The image of the optical circuit is clickable.

Lens hood Bayonet, Sony (ALC-SH153)
Manufacturer country There are no markings on the lens. But most likely the lens was made in China.
Period Announced January 5, 2018. At the beginning of 2024 is the current model
Price The real cost of this lens can be found at Aliexpress is here.

Unlike many other lenses, the Sony E 18-135 is available only in black.

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS


Sony E 18-135 is made in China. The lens feels pleasant and reliable to the touch. The retractable body frame ('trunk') consists of one section. There are no backlashes between the parts of the trunk.

The lens has metal mount. Most of the lens body is made of plastic, which allows the lens to be lightweight.

Changing the focal length occurs smoothly, without jerks. The trunk of the Sony E 18-135 does not spontaneously change its size under its own weight.

On the case there is a bayonet mount mark and a mark for quick installation of the lens hood. The lens uses a plastic hood, which is fixed in special grooves located near the front lens of the lens. The hood can be installed in the reverse direction for transport. In this position, access to the zoom ring becomes difficult and access to the focus ring is completely lost. As you change the focal length, the hood moves with the front of the lens.

When changing the focal length, the rear lens moves in the middle of the lens body like a pump - it draws in and pushes out air. This can increase the amount of dust that accumulates in the inside of the camera.

On the back of the lens is a rectangular hood that cuts off excess light and prevents exposure.

The diameter of the front filter is only 55 mm.

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS


Sony E 18-135 uses an integrated image stabilizer Sony OS (Optical Steady Shot). In practice, I was able to take sharp shots of stationary objects handheld at 135 mm only at shutter speeds no longer than 1/30 of a second.

There is no switch on the lens responsible for stabilizer operation. The stabilization function is turned on in the camera menu.

There is no noise from the stabilizer. When using the lens, it seems that the stabilizer does not work at all. Perhaps it turns on at full power only during shutter release.

In general, the stabilizer confidently holds two or three stops along shutter speed.

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS


The lens uses a built-in linear focus motor.

Auto focus speed medium closer to high. Focusing speed will vary slightly depending on the camera you are using. First cameras SonyNEX used automatic contrast focusing, which is sometimes slower than hybrid focusing methods in subsequent generations Sony Alpha ILCE. Auto focus is very quiet.

While working with the camera Sony α3500 (Sony ILCE-3500) the focusing accuracy was high. In good lighting conditions, there are practically no problems with accuracy, tenacity and refocusing. But in poor lighting, especially in the tele range, the lens can scour for a long time in search of the correct focusing. It is also very difficult to get the lens to focus at close focusing distances for pseudo-macro photography, especially at 135mm focal lengths. Sony a3500 has a primitive autofocus system, everything should be much better on modern Sony cameras.

To focus manually, select the MF (Manual Focus) or DMF (Direct MF) focus mode in the camera menu, after which the focus ring will respond to rotation. With very smooth rotation, the focusing ring rotates several full revolutions (from MDF to infinity). Electronic focus ring reacts more to the speed of its rotation than to a specific angle of rotation, which sometimes creates a tactile inconvenience. During auto focus focus ring remains stationary.

During focusing, the front lens remains stationary, as the lens uses internal focus. Thus, it is possible to use any filters without problems, for example polarizing or gradient.

The minimum focusing distance is 45 centimeters, while you can get a maximum magnification for macro photography of 1: 3.45, which is a very good indicator for such a lens.

Other focusing features:

  • Focusing speed is practically independent of the selected focal length.
  • After the lens has lost accurate focusing, refocusing is fast enough.
  • The lens does not have a depth of field scale, focusing distance, and tags for working in the infrared spectrum.
  • Focus shift (shift-focus) was not noticed during operation and testing.
  • The focusing speed depends heavily on the illumination, the selected focusing mode in the camera menu, and the focusing logic of each individual camera.
  • There is no focus mode switch on the case.
  • During manual focusing, the focus distance bar appears on the display of some cameras.
  • When changing the focal length, focusing is lost.
  • Sony E 18-135 very small effect 'Focus Breathing' (changes the viewing angle while focusing), which is very useful for video shooting.
Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

Image quality

The Sony E 18-135 was originally designed for cameras that used a 24 MP sensor, such as the Sony a6000. In general, the Sony E 18-135 is optically quite good, but only if you use a correction profile that allows you to correct some types of distortion.


  • confident sharpness at an open aperture in the center of the frame in the range of 35-135 mm
  • low sharpness at the edges and corners of the frame by 18 mm at F / 3.5, sharpness at the edges of the frame becomes acceptable after F / 5.6
  • good resolution in the center of the frame at closed apertures (around F/8) across the entire range of focal lengths


  • strong barrel distortion only at 18 mm focal length when shooting in RAW
  • in the wide-angle range, the nature of the distortion is barrel-shaped, after 50 mm focal length - pincushion
  • the nature of distortion is unified, easily corrected in the editor
  • it's important: some cameras do not allow you to disable automatic distortion correction (neither in 'JPEG' nor in 'RAW', example)


  • absolutely catastrophic vignetting when shooting in RAW in the wide-angle range at closed apertures (example of a RAW image without built-in correction, without a hood!). But the older one Sony 18-200 / 3.5-6.3 OSS there were no such problems
  • The overall level of vignetting in the 35-135mm range is at a level typical for similar lenses
  • vignetting is easily fixable in the editor
  • it's important: some cameras use “hidden” automatic vignetting correction (in both 'JPEG' and 'RAW'), even if this correction is forced to be disabled in the camera menu


  • lens suffers from a small amount of chromatic aberrationespecially at extreme zoom positions
  • small freezing


  • The lens behaves well in side and backlight, only in very rare cases can you get significant artifacts (example)
  • It’s quite difficult to get the effect of a 14-rayed star (example)
  • sometimes you can get neutral and even pleasant bokeh (especially in the TV range)

For Sony E 18-135, there is a lens profile in popular RAW converters.

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

Sample Photos

Camera used Sony α3500 (Sony ILCE-3500) based on the EXMOR APS-C CMOS 20 MP sensor.

RAW source files '.ARW' can be download / watch this link (39 photos, 800 MB, Google Drive gallery). Shooting took place in RAW+JPEG mode, principles ZEROJPEG.

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

My experience

The Sony E 18-135 was very expensive when it was announced and has become even more expensive over time. But overall, this is a balanced, versatile zoom lens.

Sony E 18-135 - something in between Sony 18-55 / 3.5-5.6 OSS и Sony 18-200 / 3.5-6.3 OSS.

Other systems often use similar lenses as standard/“kit” solutions, for example, Nikon 18-135, Nikon 18-140VR, Canon 18-135 IS, Canon 18-135IS STM, Canon 18-135 IS USM, Sony 18-135 SAM, Pentax-DA 18-135 etc. But the Sony E 18-135 is rarely seen as a “kit” lens and is usually sold separately as a more advanced solution.

Old Sony 18-200 / 3.5-6.3 OSS I liked it much more.

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS

Sony E 3.5-5.6 / 18-135 OSS


Sony E 18-135 is a classic representative of modern universal zoom lenses. Perfect for those who are already “not enough” of “whales” Sony 18-55 / 3.5-5.6 OSS / Sony E 3.5-5.6 / PZ 16-50 OSS / Sony E 4-5.6 / 18-50.

10 main advantages:

  1. convenient set of focal lengths
  2. high-quality assembly, metal mount, bayonet-type lens hood, rubberized zoom ring
  3. internal focusing, focusing is very quiet and quite fast
  4. no spontaneous movement of the lens “trunk”
  5. built-in image stabilizer, works quietly
  6. linear focusing motor, electronic focusing ring
  7. 'Focus Breathing' effect is very small and almost unnoticeable
  8. light weight
  9. under this lens there are profiles for popular RAW converters that can quickly eliminate some optical flaws
  10. fairly sharp images in the mid-range and telephoto range in the center of the frame at an open aperture

10 main disadvantages:

  1. high cost, component about 650 dollars (Hyperzoom costs about the same Tamron 18-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III-A VC VXD)
  2. there are no other similar alternatives (even from third-party manufacturers)
  3. there is no OSS ON/OFF switch (for example, Sony E 70-350 / 4.5–6.3 it is available)
  4. plastic (not rubberized) focus ring
  5. nonlinear drop in aperture ratio, aperture F/5.6 occurs already at 70 mm focal length
  6. the lens is not protected from the external environment in any way
  7. there are no additional marks, for example, focusing distance, direction of rotation of the focusing ring, depth of field, etc.
  8. high distortion at 18 mm when shooting in RAW
  9. catastrophic vignetting when shooting in RAW in a wide-angle range at closed apertures (in fact, the lens does not cover the APS-C Kf=1.5x sensor well)
  10. the lens was designed taking into account the forced use of some automatic corrections (distortion, vignetting, etc.), and therefore from birth these shortcomings are built into its optical design (my video on this topic)

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Material prepared Arkady Shapoval. Training/Consultations | Youtube | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Telegram

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