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Old February 5th, 2012, 11:54 AM   #1
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Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

Given the new rebate on the SCL-Z18X140 zoom and recent discussion on a thread related to the rebate, I thought it would be useful to start a new thread on this so others can share their experiences.

I've posted, below, a few posts to get us started, with links to the original post. Figured we could take it from here. Looking forward to info from those who have the lens!

Ron Wilk:
There are very few reviews of the 14x Zoom, however, what little I did read was encouraging, so much so, that I bought one.
In regards to its autofocus, it works reasonably well. I have only had the lens since yesterday and it's been raining here in S Florida. Therefore, all of my testing has been indoors with available—incandescent or natural—lighting. The autofocus is not lightening fast—but fast enough—under these circumstances and very accurate (no hunting and no visible breathing). I will reserve any further comments in this regard until I've had some time with it outdoors. The IS does what it's supposed to do and is welcomed feature.

As for light sensitivity as compared to the standard lens on an EX1/3, not sure a direct comparison can be made, given the inherent sensitivity of the F3 and the Zoom's variable lens speed. At first glance, however, one would assume that its t3.9-6.8 limitations would make it much slower than the EX1/3. However, since the F3—especially with S-Log engaged—is inherently more light sensitive than those two reference cams, it seems to serve as a mitigating factor. And since I no longer own either (did have an EX3) I am unable to make a direct comparison. That said, I think we can assume that in typical "low light" conditions this lens would not be my first choice, but at this point I'm only guessing. More than 90% of what I record is outdoors and would not benefit from shallow DOF, making this lens a good choice for my all around carry. But if the situation demands a faster lens it's easy enough to remove it and hang one of my Nikons or Zeiss primes.
http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-xdc...ml#post1713365

Paul Ream:
Good points Ron. I've had my 14x lens for just a week now and I'm really beginning to like it. Although the speed of the lens isn't constant, I was surprised to see that most of the ramping actually happens between 100 to 252mm. This makes the 18-100 range much more usable than I was expecting. It is quite slow at the longer lengths but the sensitive F3 chip goes a long way to compensate. And of course, you get the impression of a shallower DOF at the longer lengths anyway... (before I get flamed - I know it isn't !!!).

I've never been a fan of auto-focus on any camera but I must say the MF assist is really quite good. Never having had an EX3 or 1, I didn't know what to expect, but as long as your subject isn't moving around too much, it's a good aid for 'run and gun' type shooting. I find the full AF a bit slow for my use but it is very smooth. The steadishot works well hand held... but don't forget to turn it off with tripod use as it does seem to float around a bit on static tight shots.

What's really surprised me is how sharp this lens is. Really zingy at anything up to around 100mm even wide open. It's also proved a good colour match for the Sony T2 Kit primes.

There's a couple of things I don't like about this lens mainly involving the servo zoom. It's noisy - admittedly only at full speed, but you would hear it in a two camera interview situation. The take-up speed of the zoom rocker (I think this is also called ramping) it also too sharp for my tastes... and I can't see how to adjust it? You notice this when you want to start a very slow zoom or creep in... ie. you can't! The rocker's also in the wrong place but I knew that before I bought the lens.

In short - I'm very happy with this lens. It's super sharp and really useful up to 100mm or so. When you do need to crash in for a very tight shot it also helps not to have to change lens with tight budgets, no time and a director breathing down your neck. It doesn't replace fast primes but it does transform the overall usability of the F3 for all sorts of work I wouldn't have considered for this camera before.
http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-xdc...ml#post1713389

Ron Wilk:
Hi Paul,

I agree that the steady shot works, but after giving it a more intense trial this a.m. I've noticed that its benefit is more subtle than I had originally thought. And in some A/B tests with the lens set on its tele end (with and without) its effect is hardly noticeable. Has that been your experience, or do I have a mechanical issue with the lens?
http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-xdc...ml#post1713419
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Old February 5th, 2012, 09:06 PM   #2
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Re: Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

This is an addendum to my last post regarding the Steady Shot feature.

I have compared this feature with that of a Canon 35mm IS zoom lens that I use on an old MKII 1 DS, and have found that they are reasonably similar in function. I believe the initial concern was related to my inexperience with the new lens, and an unrealistic expectation of the feature's effectiveness.

The more I experiment with the lens in varied lighting situations, the more I like it. But the weather is still on the nasty side here in S Fla, and is predicted to remain as such for the entire week, so real outdoor testing will have to wait.
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Old February 6th, 2012, 06:25 PM   #3
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Re: Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

Thanks Ron. Any indoor testing you can share?
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Old February 6th, 2012, 08:21 PM   #4
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Re: Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

Hi Steve,

Actually, since it's been raining here in S Florida for the past 4 days I've done nothing but indoor testing. And I've noticed something surprising, although the number crunchers may not think so. With S-Log engaged, the lens/F3 combo appears to be as sensitive if not more so than my recently sold PMW-350K that had a 1.9 max aperture lens. Using the same lighting conditions that I had previously used with the 350, that had required a few db of gain, I find that the same scene is brighter with the F3 without added gain. With the lens at full tele minimal gain is required. But this is a white-walled room lit only with a few recessed incandescents and no window light, since it was pitch dark outside when I ran the test. I had previously assumed that this lens would be useless indoors under these circumstances ... I was wrong and happily so. I have yet to record anything worth posting.
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Old February 6th, 2012, 08:31 PM   #5
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Re: Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

I wonder if that's because S-Log essentially adds 1-stop of gain?
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Old February 7th, 2012, 10:21 AM   #6
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Re: Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

Most likely, plus the F3's sensor. But whatever the explanation, it's a well received discovery.
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Old February 7th, 2012, 03:57 PM   #7
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Re: Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

I've had a chance to properly use this lens over the last couple of days and agree with you Ron... the Steady Shot is very subtle. I certainly helps with high frequency vibration when hand held but it's not a Steadicam replacement! - I am finding it useful though. Next job for this lens will be live broadcast on the red carpet at the BAFTA awards on Sunday. That'll be a test.

What I want to find now is some way to rig a zoom remote onto my front handles - the present rocker is totally in the wrong place!
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Old February 8th, 2012, 02:29 AM   #8
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Re: Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

The zoom rocker is in the wrong place however you look at it. There's no way you want to support such a long and heavy package all the way at the back end.

When you use an 2/3" ENG zoom with one of the MTF of other adapters you get the use of the hand grip and zoom rocker on the lens, which then allows you to place the camera body on your shoulder (although that means you must use an external EVF). The balance is so much better. In addition you can use any normal lens remote with an ENG lens so you can use the remote as a handle on your moose bars.
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Old February 8th, 2012, 02:56 PM   #9
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Re: Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

For ENG over the shoulder operation I agree, the rocker is poorly located. However, on a monopod the rocker location is less of an issue, and that is the way I have been testing it.
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Old February 13th, 2012, 09:17 PM   #10
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Re: Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

Hi all, just wondering if anyone has had a chance to shoot more and has any more to share about their experience?
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Old February 14th, 2012, 10:53 AM   #11
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Re: Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

Hi Steve,
Must admit that I haven't devoted all of the time that I had anticipated, at least up until now, but what little I have done I been pleased with. Despite the T 3.9 full wide aperture, I have found the lens to be very useful for indoor, available light work that in many instances does not require a boost in the F3's gain. But I am using S-Log almost exclusively. Even at full wide, the lens is sharp. I've never been a fan of auto anything, but since I often use a Manfrotto monopod, the autofocus, and at times auto-iris have been useful. Both, so far, have been dead-on accurate. Since the weather is improving down here in S Fla. I plan on moving the cam and lens outside and will report back after I have done so.
In summary, I have no misgivings about this lens purchase, especially in view of the offered rebates. In fact, I'm beginning to think that it will become my main lens, remaining on the camera unless a particular shooting situation should demand otherwise. While it may not be right for everyone, it certainly carries the F3 into an entirely different realm of usability as compared to an F3 with primes.
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Old February 14th, 2012, 03:13 PM   #12
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Re: Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

Thanks Ron. Have you had a chance to compare it, qualitatively, to other lenses (shorter range zooms, primes)?
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Old February 14th, 2012, 03:39 PM   #13
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Re: Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

Hi Steve,
I have compared the lens to my Nikon 80-200 F2.8 ED and 17-35 F2.8 ED zooms, or variable primes, but the only comparison that can be made is for image resolution. In my opinion and to my eye on an HD broadcast monitor the new Sony zoom beats them both, but this was not a scientific comparison. Of course, neither of the Nikons are auto in any way with the F3, so the Sony is light years ahead in this regard for this camera. Several of my fast, Zeiss wide primes might be a tad sharper but not enough to make me switch over. As for color rendition, I find the Sony pleasing but in all honesty, in this regard, I can't see a difference between the mentioned Nikons and the Sony. The Zeiss is different, in regards to color, but hard to say which is better ... it's a matter of preference, and since the end result is likely to be graded I doubt that it matters.
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Old February 14th, 2012, 03:41 PM   #14
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Re: Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

Thanks Ron. I really appreciate it.

The lenses must be selling now since many dealers are now out of stock.

Anyone else reading this board have one?
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Old February 14th, 2012, 04:59 PM   #15
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Re: Sony SCL-Z18X140 Zoom Experience

I was informed by my reseller that the lenses have been in short supply, and that Sony has not been filling their entire orders. But with the advent of rebates and their brief window of availability, I suspect that they have become a hot commodity.
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