Going Super Wide: The Nikon 6.7-13mm Lens Review on the Nikon V1

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Going Super Wide: The Nikon 6.7-13mm Lens Review on the Nikon V1

You can order the Nikon 6.7-13 in Black or Silver at B&H Photo

The Nikon 1 system has been gaining acceptance and steam lately ever since Nikon cleared out the old Nikon V1 bodies at a crazy $249 price tag, WITH a prime wide-angle 28mm equivalent 2.8 lens! The result of that fire sale is that many people have this little beauty now and the good news is that Nikon has released quite a few cool new lenses lately that are higher up in the quality chain than the 1st installments.

Nikon V1, ISO 720, 6.7-13 at 6.7 and f/3.5

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Sure, the old 10mm 2.8 and 30-110 Kit Zoom are fantastic but the newer lenses like the 18.5 1.8 and 32 1.2 are excellent and finally allows Nikon 1 owners to achieve a shallow depth of field effect in our photos. What does this offer? Subject isolation! The Nikon 1 system lacked these types of lenses for a while and now that they are here, many shooters are loving them. The 32 1.2 has sold out of black and silver for the last two shipments, and that is a $900 lens that the Nikon 1 haters said would never sell. I predicted it would, and it is. Because it is a jewel of a lens for the 1 system.

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The Nikon 6.7 -13mm lens for Nikon 1 is indeed a superb lens of image quality but keep in mind that due to the small 1″ sensor, this focal length equivalent will be like an 18-35 lens on full frame and coming in at just under $500, it is not cheap, but is it high quality? That is the question, because if a $500 wide-angle zoom is no good or just average, then no one is going to buy it!

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Luckily, this lens has been getting high scores among users who have bought it with some saying it is among the best wide-angle lenses  they have used!

The Nikon V1 and 6.7-13 Zoom at 6.7 (18mm). The lens is contrasty, has great color and is plenty sharp! Taken through my window wide open you can see the bug splat on my window but the colors look gorgeous. 

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Build and Feel and AF Speed

The build and feel of the Nikon 6.7-13 lens is very nice. It is not as high quality as the 32 1.2 lens for the same system, but it feels better than the 18.5 or the 10mm or the 10-30 zoom. It feels more precise. It is smooth to zoom and feels great on the camera though it is on the light side and appears that it may be easily damaged. The finish is much like the finish on the Sony E-Mount lenses..which is..fragile. It comes in at only 4.5 ounces.

The AF speed with this lens on my Nikon V1 is very fast, almost instantaneous. Never a focus problem with the Nikon 1 and usually with wide-angle lenses, due to the large DOF, everything is normally in focus anyway. But the bottom line is that this lens has zero focus issues on the Nikon V1 and I assume it would be the same for the V2 or the J1-J3.

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So build is good, but not pro-like build and the usability is fantastic. The hood is small and light and fits on the front easily. The AF is blazing fast as are most Nikon 1 lenses.

The wood and lines in this image are correct, the real building was ready to collapse and was warped beyond belief. The Nikon 6.7-13 rendered it with good color right out of the camera on the Nikon V1.

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No Need for (aperture) Speed!

The Nikon 6.7-13mm Lens is not a fast aperture lens but it doesn’t need to be. The range is from f/3.5 at the widest end of 6.7mm to f/5.6 at the longest end which is 13mm. The lens also has built-in VR (Vibration Reduction) to stop the shakes. Shooting wide, we rarely need the help of VR but if you are in low light this may come in handy.

The image below was shot at the widest setting of 6.7mm at f/3.5 at ISO 800 at 1/30th sec. Not much noise (for the V1), great color and as sharp as you can get for this sensor. The light was LOW here but you would never tell that from the photo. My eyes saw dark muddy dreary color, and very dim conditions. The camera recorded the scene nicely and very bright. Great colors as well. I processed the images you see in this review with Nikon Capture NX2 which I found gives me better color output than any Adobe product.

EXIF is embedded in each image if you want to see the settings. This was shot at 6.7 wide open in a dark area, ISO 800 and 1/30th of a second.

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Shooting this lens on the V1 threw me for a loop a bit. When it arrived I was pleasantly surprised by the nice build and feel and as mentioned already, while not a solid pro build it is leagues better feeling and looking than the 1st zooms that Nikon offered for  the 1 system. It is smooth, silky, shiny and comes bundled with a hood and caps. For video, this lens rocks and almost provides a steady cam type of IS.

When shooting images it is sometimes tricky because when shooting at the widest setting it is very hard  to make an interesting photo, especially if you have little experience with super wides like I do 🙂 One thing that is easy for me to do is take a self-portrait and doing so at arm’s length is a piece of cake with this lens 🙂

ISO 450, 1/30th second, f/3.5 at 6.7mm

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Putting it to the test – ROADTRIP!

My son and I recently hopped in my Mini Cooper Countryman and packed  two weeks worth of clothes and headed out from AZ to Illinois which is a long and tiring 1800 mile trip. We wanted to take some photos, visit with my Mom, and take a drive up into the mountains of Kentucky (which we will be doing this week and I will add more photos to this review within a couple of days) to visit more family.

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My son brought his Nikon V1 setup with his 10mm, 18.5 and 30-110 (and some of his 6.7-13 photos can be seen later on down in this review). I packed the V1, a Sony RX1R and RX100II, leaving the Leica M 240 behind. Why leave my Leica? Well, the last two times I did this trip I brought the Leica M9 and this time I wanted something different. So far, 3 days in, I have shot the Nikon V1 75% of the time. The lenses I have are the 6.7-13, the 10mm, the 18.5 and the 32 1.2. A complete setup and all I really need besides a long telephoto, which I rarely have a need for.

In a Mausoleum/Tomb with the 6.7-13 at the widest setting

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I found the 6.7-13 to be a fantastic lens to add to my bag and I actually enjoyed using it just as much as I do the Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 on a Leica M. In fact, this lens gives nothing up in performance to that $600 Voigtlander prime and while this one does not give me a 15mm FOV, it does offer me 18-35 and that is good enough for my wide needs when using this camera system.

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So, is this lens worth a buy? That depends. If you shoot Nikon 1 and love your Nikon 1 system AND you want something that will offer you a wider view than the 10mm prime (18 vs 28) then YES, most certainly!

As for me, after a week of using it I was unsure. After two weeks I was almost sold and after a few more days I was sold 100%. It stays with me and in my Nikon 1 kit.

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A couple of full size files from RAW

Below are  two full size files from RAW. I believe the best test of a lens is by taking real world photos, which is what we all do when we buy a lens anyway! We do not shoot resolution charts or oddball things, we shoot life, things we see, things we come across. Family, friends and the world around us. If a camera does that well then it is good to go!

Click on the two images below to see them full size. The 1st one was B&W from Capture NX2.

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Is this a perfect wide-angle lens?

NO, the lens is not perfect (and not many lenses are) and if you shoot it and open RAW files you will see distortion in the lens, and in many cases it is quite severe if you are up super close shooting straight lines. Remember, this is in reality a 6.7mm lens at the wide end! There is barrel distortion up close but all is fixable with a click of the button in Nikon NX2. You can also fix the distortion in Lightroom very easily. Once corrected you will get crisp colorful high contrast files that are typical Nikon 1 in appearance and pretty sharp across the frame. Again, you will not see the soft corners normally associated with wide-angle zooms.

See how the cage bowls out? This is an uncorrected file and you can see that because I was up very close to the cage it made the distortion very obvious. But this is easily correctable with one click.

UNCORRECTED – Some distortion in the bars

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CORRECTED – One click

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As long as you do not expect Leica $4000 performance in a $495 lens you will be just fine. For the 1 system, this is a welcome addition for all of you who love shooting wide and soaking in as much as you can into the frame. Just be careful of getting super close with straight lines at the widest setting of 6.7.

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My son shoots a Nikon V1, and he loves the 6.7-13mm!

My son Brandon has been shooting a V1 for about a year or so and he loves it. He still owns an original Nikon D2h with a few lenses and he has now seen the light when it comes to size and weight. He owns the 10mm, the 18.5 and the 30-110 and he wants this lens too. Looks like he may be saving some cash soon.

Below are a few he shot with the lens on his V1 – no distortion correction on these, can yo tell? Probably not.

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The Pros and Cons of the Nikon 6.7-13mm Lens

PROS

  • It is small and light!
  • Covers the popular 18-35 focal length
  • It is very smooth in operation when zooming
  • It is sharp across the frame
  • Superb color and contrast compared to other Nikon 1 zooms
  • Comes with hood and caps
  • Comes in black or silver
  • Great for video on the 1 series cameras
  • Built in VR (vibration reduction)
  • Sharp at 6.7, sharp at 13mm. Wide open or stopped down.

CONS

  • It does have distortion so must be corrected in RAW processing
  • Build is on the light side
  • No case or bag included

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Bottom Line on the Nikon 6.7-13mm Lens 

This lens is a no brainer if you own and love the Nikon 1 system and you want a nice, small, well made and very good quality wide angle zoom. This will give you that 18mm to 35mm field of view which is a great little setup to have for tight spaces, up close shooting or when you want to cram a ton into the frame.

Wide angle lenses can be a challenge though because by shooting so wide it is very challenging to create an image that is interesting. I have seen many wide-angle pictures that blew me away so maybe one day I will master the art of shooting with a lens such as this.

In any case, it is a great lens and its only flaw is the distortion that is present at 6.7mm. But remember, this is a 6.7mm lens! So distortion will be there. It is easily fixed in software and 75% of the images in this review had the distortion fixed with one click. It really only shows up and is noticeable when shooting up close with straight lines in the image. For me, not an issue.

The lens comes in at just under $500, and when I originally heard that news I assumed it was priced too high. In fact, after using it I find that it is not priced high but probably just about right. Show me where you can get a quality wide-angle zoom covering 18-35 that is sharp across the frame, even at f/3.5 for under $500. Even the full frame equivalent from Nikon, the 18-35 (which I used to own back in the day) is $535, $40 more expensive and it is much larger, heavier and slower to focus. Nikon priced it just right for what it offers. Remember, you get what you pay for.

So one more thumbs up to Nikon for another great lens for the 1 system. This shows me that they are really committed to this system and I am excited to see what the V3 brings. I hear it should be coming soon, before the end of the year.

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Where To Buy?

This lens is compatible with any of the Nikon 1 series cameras from the Nikon V1 and V2 to the J1-J3 and the newer S1. You can buy this lens at the links below:

B&H Photo: Black or Silver

Amazon Prime: Black or Silver

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51 Comments

  1. Yes, this zoom is fantastic ! Combines with the extremely Quick shooting v1, this combo is a winner for street photography. Never missed any picture : all were accurate. No other camera CAN achieve such a dégrée of performance.

  2. I owned the 18.5 for a while and I just got the 6.7 today. Going to Chimney Rock (NC) tomorrow. So excited to try it out!

  3. Now these pictures from the Nikon 1 really DO look very good !
    Thanks Steve (as always)…
    kr
    Bennybee

  4. Steve – I sold my NEX 5N with the kit lens to go for a V1 with 10 and the 18.5. It is yet to arrive and I hope I have made the right decision. I already have a X Pro 1 with 14 and 35. The Nex was primarily my wife’s and it was hardly being used. I never ended up using the NEX because it is yet another APS-C camera with a somewhat worse form factor and artificial IQ than the Fuji at least to me. The 1 system is completely different and I am looking forward to the fast AF. Hope the 1 system brings more joy to shooting.

  5. Hi all
    This weekend is a super nice weekend in Toronto and I did brought my V1 out to take some picture.
    I was using the FT1 adapter to connect my 105mm F2.8G which did give me awesome pictures which I’m so happy with it 🙂

  6. I hope they don’t give up on the 1 system. I really like mine. I would miss it if I couldn’t replace it. I can’t think of another interchangeable lens system giving me 10fps with AF or even 60 fps with a virtually SILENT shutter. That is amazing engineering, and makes it very fun to use too.

  7. Dear Steve,
    Where did you shot these shots? I really like the photos of the deserted buildings.
    Mike

    • I hope that in the rethinking process, they’ll come and have a look here, and perhaps talk to mister Steve Huff!

  8. “comes in black and silver” should be PRO??? The typical customer buying this lens as well as the 32 mm f:1,2 ist a V1/V2-Owner and both bodies are sold in black and white, but nut in silver … why doesn’t Nikon offer these linses in white as well?

    • While I was in Switzerland on holiday, I looked into a huge photobook about Switzerland, commisioned by the Swiss tourist office, which was laying about in the hotel bar. Lots of really good, wide angle shots in it, of course. Then I noticed one which clearly was blurred in the bottom right corner. This made me realise how far we have come with consumer oriented lenses: the quality of the Nikkor 1 10mm and the Nikkor 1 6.7-13mm is, for its price, simply amazing. I own a Rokinon/Samyang 14mm wide angle for my canon dslr. This lens alone is bigger than my V1+30-110mm together. When you’re hiking in the mountains with 3 kids, of which one is on your bag, every pound counts. So having a high quality, small camera can make all the difference.
      I hope Nikon is doing the sensible thing: dropping the S and J models, and keeping the V-series alive!

      Yesterday, I did another video for my passion project ‘On Holy Ground’. The V1 is now my main video camera. My workflow is now firmly established, and I am now confident to evaluate the V1’s video image quality. When it comes to video, there are three issues with dlsrs: moiré, aliasing, noise and jello/wobble. I have come to the conclusion that the V1 beats my T2i/550D easily.
      Here is the video: https://vimeo.com/72044866 . It has lots of brick buildings in it, which would cause a lot of moiré, if shot with my dslr. Not so with the V1.

    • Yep, that’s how I understood that report also. It seems they have huge stocks of unsold Nikon 1 gear on the shelves. This explains the dumping prices of the V1; imho the V2 then was supposed to save the Nikon 1 concept, but it failed big time. But then again, who knows, perhaps the lower end S and J series are to blame?
      All in all, it seems as if the ‘suits’ have taken over from the engineers at Nikon 1, and when that happens… argh… vision and hope dies a little bit. I’m just very happy that I jumped on the V1 train and I’m going to use it very intensively for the next couple of years, and by then, the cameras will be a lot different (4K and raw video – I’m always thinking from the point of videography).

    • Forgot to mention it, but the lens hood on the WA is not easy to manage. Sometimes it slips over the lens and you have to carefully retract it. Has anyone else encountered this issue. Nikon should correct this.

      • Sounds like maybe your hood has a crack in it, as there is no way it can otherwise slip over the lens when the bayonet mount is intact.

        I’ve found mine pretty solid so far, wearing it along with 2 other camera’s for about 12 hours a day this past weekend and get knocked around a fair bit, never fell off once. It is just plastic though so I could see it eventually giving way, but the same goes for the hoods on my DSLR lenses as well.

    • I think the same could be said for Sony etc, who also have posted pretty big loses. I don’t recall the exact figure or source, but camera sales are down something like 41% across the whole market this year. Far more people using smartphones, global economic issues, and I think a lot of people feeling their current gear is “good enough” as to not keep updating with every new (and lets face it, sometimes minor) product upgrades.

      Obviously the V1 blowouts show that the N1 system didn’t go off as planned, but at the same time, lenses like the 32mm f1.2 and 6.7-13 are often out of stock, which is a good sign there is some market demand left.

      It may turn out to have been a blessing having the V1 something of a failure at launch if it means these days more people are buying them due to being so cheap, actually liking the camera, and then choosing to invest in some more lenses for the system.

      I’m one of them, I bought it because it was cheap, but to date have gone on and bought 4 more lenses for the system, and not cheap lenses either, but rather the WA zoom and 32mm.

      Bought a $249 camera, went on and dropped $1300 on glass for it last week. IF Nikon comes out with a fast wide prime, like a 9mm f1.4, I’d surely buy that as well.

      They just need to be smart and make sure they offer products that consumers want, ie; fast glass.

      If they roll out another version of a slow kit zoom, then I’d have no interest, and I doubt many others would either.

  9. I balked at the price of this lens when it came out but I’m really tempted now that I’ve read your review! The V1 continues to amaze me with the images that I can get from it.

  10. I just read Lensrentals’ yearly repair data (link: http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2013/08/lensrentals-repair-data-2012-2013) Roger Cicala tells us that the more moving parts the lens has, the more likely it is to break down. Stabilisation moves hundreds of times per second.
    It basically tells us that Nikkor 1 kit lenses are ‘disposable’: they are so cheap, that when they fail or get damaged, you’re better off replacing them than having them repaired. (Nikon is the most expensive when it comes to repairs.) I think the non-kit Nikkor 1 lenses are built to last long.
    Oh, no, Nikkor 1 lenses are NOT in his statistics (yet?)

  11. I like my V1 (bought on your advice) and am constantly blown away by the images I see from it on this site. I just cant get it to really work for me though. My 5D mkII photos are always better, and the autofocus isn’t even in the same realm – my V1 misses more than it should. Still, it’s nice for a short weekend trip when I want to just take a backpack or to keep around the kitchen to chase the toddler. Maybe someday I’ll figure it out.

    • The V1 will AF much quicker than a 5DII but the 5D II will render much more richer images as it is a full frame camera 🙂 More DR, less DOF, etc. The V1 has a look to the images which is great color, sharp, and a but gritty. BTW, neither of my V1’s or my sons V1 – they never ever miss AF, at all. It’s the only ONE camera ever to do this for me. Fast, accurate and spot on every time for me. I always shoot RAW as well.

  12. Great comprehensive write-up and images Steve!

    I did just want to point out an error in your post though – it appears you’ve uploaded the wrong set of images. These files must certainly have come from one of your Leica’s.

  13. Thanks for the review Steve.

    I am primarily a wide angle Architectural shooter and have tried many lenses on many different cameras including the Voigt 15mm Heliar which is a fantastic lens but does not work right with any digital cameras yet.

    When I got the 6.7-13mm I was amazed at its contrast, color saturation, resistance to flare, (I can shoot right at the sun and not lose much contrast at all and only get one tiny ghost) and infinite depth of field, an object can be a foot or so away and it will be just as sharp as infinity.

    You mentioned that this 6.7-13mm is not a $3000 Leica.

    What 18.5-35mm Leica wide angle zoom can do what this lens can?
    Does Leica even make such a lens with built in VR?
    Does Leica even have a 18.5mm lens that can be just as sharp in the corners as this lens or have such a deep depth of field?
    And remember this lens can do all this wide open at F3.5, full frames, even if they could match this lens, have to lose a lot of light by being stopped down.

    Here is a recent sample with the 6.7-13mm:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9240377542/in/set-72157633029810049

    • The Leica 18 Super Elmar will beat this lens in all areas, but it comes at a cost of $3000. No zoom as Leica does not currently make and M mount zooms. The Wide Angle Tri Elmar is also an outstanding piece of glass with 16-18-21 focal lengths that beats the Nikon, but it is close to $5000 I believe. So for $500, nothing will touch the Nikon, and of course it is only on the 1 system where there is not any other alternative anyway 🙂

  14. Hello Steve did you buy the sony rx1r? O.o

    Below are a few he shot with the lens on his V1 – no distortion correction on these, can yo tell? Probably not. Yes i can number 1 and 3 have distortion

    • Yes and FYI, the RX1R has bad distortion if you do not correct for it in RAW or in camera by turning on lens correction and shooting JPEG 🙂 Still, it’s a drop dead gorgeous camera.

  15. Steve,

    2 Questions – I’m new to the V1 – still have my cannon A1.

    1. The B&W shots – did you shoot them in B&W in the camera or were they color shots converted later? I’m wondering how the camera does compared to conversion software – which do you prefer?

    2. Love the Barton Strap – have you tried any of their bags? Most are sold out now, but in pictures they look pretty cool.

    – Roger

  16. Wow! Fuji X100 good bye.
    Thank you steve for this review.
    how is the V1 with flash? are there satisfiying options?

    greets michael

  17. Thanks for another great review! I’ve had my V1 for 2 weeks now and have already accumulated the 18.5 and 32. Looks like I’m adding another one to the collection.

  18. Hi Steve, thanks for this other superb review. I am a huge fan of your website, i check it for new articles on a daily basis, and have never been disappointed! 🙂
    I have a curiosity: can you tell me which is the neck lace that you have on your V1? I literally love it! Thanks a million in advance!
    Regards from Italy
    gabriele

    • That is my fave, a barton1972.com braided leather strap. They have various colors and sell for $79. Great straps that are comfy and stylish and well made.

  19. Really is a fantastic lens for the money. I bought one last week and it has proven to be quite useful (and I’m not really a wide shooter) and the VR system works quite well. I’ve been able to get sharp shots down to 1/3rd a second at 6.7mm.

    Its small and light enough you can actually carry it in your pocket (I’ve been using it paired with the 18.5 f1.8 and just putting the one I’m not shooting in my jeans pocket) and its super light, about 5 ounces so you hardly know your carrying it and it balanced great on the camera.

    I especially like the texture on the zoom ring and the fact it really only changes length by a about 10mm or so over the full zoom range, unlike the Oly 9-18mm.

    Its not cheap at $500, but I really don’t know of any other 18mm equiv wide angle zooms with VR for less money. Look at what Sony charges for the 10-18mm f4, or the cost of Oly 9-18mm, and I’m sure Fuji’s upcoming 10-24mm or whatever focal length it is will also be far from cheap, and these lens aren’t close to pocketable either.

    Topping it all off is that it takes just a 52mm filter, so you can easily (and cheapily) add things like a ND filter if you want to do some longer exposures and such.

    Its another winner for the N1 system along with the 18 and 32mm.

    What I’d really like to see next is a fast wide prime, like a 9mm f1.4 which would be about 24mm equiv.

    The 10mm f2.8 is well and good, but given the small CX sensor, it can be a little slow, and your not really able to control the DoF with it. A fast wide prime would be pretty awesome for street shooting at you could shoot at f1.4, have plenty of DoF still and/or get some subject isolation at closer focal distances.

  20. Hi Steve! Does it hurt your feelings if I tell you your son is a better wide angle shooter than you are?
    I have just come home from my family summer holiday in the mountains of Liechtenstein. I took the V1 with the 10mm,18.5mm and 30-110mm. These three lenses cover all my photographic needs. Not once did I miss my dslr. Lots of hiking with a 4 year old daughter on my back (!), so an ultra-light photography kit was more than welcome. The Nikkor 1 lens I’m hoping for is a zoom with a fixed aperture of 2.8 (or faster…).
    If you allow it, Steve, I’m happy to some of my images here:
    https://plus.google.com/photos/104642695137705190278/albums/5909220203718671185?authkey=COaGn-Cbj52WPQ

  21. Did you ever try the Sony 10-18 f4?
    It would surprise you more…honestly…almost zero distorsion in raw shooting even at wide end
    anyway thanks for these Nikon 1 lenses review…they intrigue me a little…

    • Another nod for the Sony 10-18 f4. It is a great lens, I highly recommend NEX owners to give it a try. It’s doesn’t come cheap, but there really aren’t many lenses out there that offer similar features. Sure, some distortion can be seen at certain focal lengths, and also rather heavy vignetting and slight corner softness at f4, but that really doesn’t matter in real use.

    • Yes, I had one here and wrote about it while testing the NEX-6. Much larger, much more expensive, the Sony 10-18 does indeed have distortion which is fixed by in camera software. Up close and wide open you will get the same barrel distortion as you see in the Nikon but that is unavoidable in such wide lenses without spending huge money. The Sony lens is also not as sharp but still a great wide angle lens for the NEX system. I just thought it was a bit large and pricey at almost $900 which is why I passed.I am not a huge WA shooter anyway.

      The 10-18 has slightly more distortion than this Nikon as well as softer corners and some vignetting. The Nikon does not have this issue 🙂

      http://www.photozone.de/sony_nex/829-sony1018f4oss?start=1

      • It should be mentioned that the Sony goes to equivalent 15mm and the Nikon to 18mm “only”, which is a significant difference. Not much in the market going wider than the Sony but fisheye stuff.

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