Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor



I was out helping my son Scott at a wedding on Saturday for the first time since my stroke (Note : I only helped him with the ceremony) and decided to use the FW updated Sony 18-105mm f4 lens and soon wished I hadn’t…it’s inferior. The last thing I need while filming a live event is extra stress and this lens gave me a great deal of stress, even using the 2x magnification punch in it was still a pain to snap the lens into focus.

I am comparing it to the Sony 28-135mm f4 which snaps into focus and is normally used with my FS7, saying that at £1,371 dearer you would expect it to be better.

FS7 and 5

It may be able to track focus from tight to wide with its updated v3 firmware but its no contender compared to the 28-135 lens.

If you have the 18-105mm lens for your FS7 the v3 FW does make it a lot better, but it truly is a poor £429 lens and Sony should be ashamed of themselves for selling it with the FS5.

Kit lens 2

So why is it so bad all of a sudden…simple I have not used for a few months and you can’t get a true focus using the lens in manual mode, it jumps in and out of focus due to its badly made electronic fly by wire focus mechanism. …you are all over the place and never use it in auto focus or it will hunt like a devil…unlike certain nameless parties the FS5 has a poor auto focus which is why its now permanently switched to manual. Sony were rumoured to have an 18-105mm at NAB but the only lens that appeared was the Canon 18-80mm t4.4.

What really annoys me is that Sony are aware of the problem with a wider servo zoom but to date have not bothered to address this.

So why did i not use the 28-135 lens…I was worried it would not be wide enough and it was back at base on my FS7 so I had no option but to continue with the 18-105 plus I did want to force myself to give it a run through after the v3 FW update.

Canon lens v2



Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

12 thoughts on “The final truth about the 18-105 lens

  1. good. now you start talking like me. LOL . I’m glad to see this post and that you’re better. Now the not-so-nice part : what part of “take-it-easy now” you don’t understand, Philip? working at a wedding is not (I repeat) is not what I consider a smart thing to do at the moment. Maybe later. Mark out and think about what I just said ! (yes, that’s an exclamation point). all the best, Philip.

  2. I totally disagree, and if you have a look at posts on DVInfo and DVXUser, you’ll see that the general consensus is the firmware update has made this a fantastic lens. Manual focus is easy and feels like a true manual lens. Sony have outdone themselves. This is a fantastic lens now and it stays on my FS5 95% of the time. I shot a 60 mile marathon with it on Saturday and I am truly impressed with the performance.

    HDW : Sorry as a manual focus lens it stinks, it can’t bite into focus the same way the 28-135 does, but I agree the new FW certainly works.

  3. Ugh. Thanks for the update. I have both lens for my FS7. The original kit lens, 28-135 f4, then picked up 18-105 f4. I haven’t updated the firmware as well for FS7. I believe its up to version 3. For still photography I have a Nikon setup and have been reluctant to get a metabones adapter. The only other equipment, and totally happy with, is the Shape extension handle. Definitely a must have for the FS7. Very sad Sony doesn’t have a good super 35 lens, doesn’t have to be big as the 28-135, it just needs to function.

    HDW : Don’t get me wrong the v3 FW update certainly improves the manual focus tracking from tight to wide, but this can only be done with an FS5 or Sony E mount DSLR which is a nonsense.

  4. You get what you pay for. People spend $10K on camera and then they buy $500 lens. It should be the other way around………………

  5. I am a Panasonic man and have been since selling my old EX1 many years ago, so I cannot comment on this post. I am, however, very glad to see that you are on the mend Philip, but take care.


  6. Greetings from an FS7 owner in Wales. It is good to see you up and about but as others have said don’t over do it. The HD Warrior needs to build strength for future battles with Sony etc.

  7. Phil,

    I am also glad to hear that you are up and about. Hope the recovery is speedy.

    As for the issues with this lens I am not quite sure I follow this thread at all. Is the 18-105 just not very easy to focus with manually? It sounds to me that people are relying on it for AF when they should be focusing manually.


  8. I have not done the update yet as one needs something other than the FS7 to do that.

    I, along with many others, was expecting/hoping Sony would have something at NAB, but I said yesterday on dvxuser, maybe they are worried about cannibalizing sales of the 28-135.

    I have a rental Sigma 24-105 coming on the 23rd so I will try that and may end up buying it. Since I have a Nikon to E Speedbooster Ultra the Sigma should work pretty well.

    Enjoying the site,

    Robert A. Ober
    IT Consultant, Vidcaster, & Freelance Preditor(Producer/Editor)
    Houston, TX

  9. Hi Phillip
    Could you just qualify a little more on the 18-105 lens ? I hired an FS5 over the weekend with Metabones Speedbooster and was able to use my 3 Canon L series lenses that covered exactly this focal range. Results were super stunning – especially at 240 fps. I was thinking though that it would be much easier to have everything in one lens so was thinking about FS5K package until I read your report! Is it just the focus thing you didn’t like – I am used to the downside of servo focus on my GH4 using X series lenses – or was it the image quality? I saw a sample video from ProAV that used the 18-105 and it looked tack sharp to me – so I was surprised that you described it as ‘crap’??

    HDW : I have been deliberately using the lens with my A6300 which has 425AF points and the lens works a lot better in AF on the A6300 than it ever does on my FS5. PS I have also bought a 16-70mm f4 Sony/Zeiss lens for my A6300 which I can use with my FS5 on a web commercial video this weekend. I will report on my findings.

  10. The Sony 18-105mm can, quite simply, do what no other lens can do. So no matter the criticisms it still has a place. “but it is crap when it comes to…” – okay, and? What par focal IS servo zoom that is 18mm on the wide end and over 100mm on the long end are you going to use instead? To my knowledge such a beast does not exist. The Sony 18-105mm HAS NO COMPETITION for what it does, for the niche that it occupies. Even were the Sony 28-135mm an 18mm on the wide end, that lens is large in size and not easily worn in a lens pouch on your waist as is the Sony 18-105mm. When I shoot run and gun with the 28-135mm I find myself having to stash it in a corner when I switch to other glass. It is too bulky to carry around during fast / ninja shooting. I end up having to leave it unattended during the shoot and risk that it will “walk”.

    The relationship with the Sony 18-105mm is a love / hate relationship. As soon as you hate it because of its difficult fly-by-wire focus action, you start mission its servo zoom and parfocality after you have abandoned it for the Canon 24-70mm or Canon 24-105mm. Frustrated with the 18-105mm you switch to the Canon 16-35mm and you find yourself missing the 18-105’s telephoto range. Chuck the 18-105mm for the Sony 28-135mm and you find yourself missing the 18-105’s wide ability.

    One minute you are cursing the 18-105mm, the next minute you find yourself saying “dammit. Give me back that crappy 18-105mm. None of these other zooms are getting the job done.”

    Certainly the new Canon 18-80 servo is a superior lens. But it is $5000. Over five times the price. For most work, for 2k work where getting the shot is what matters most, is the Canon 18-80mm over five times better than is the Sony 18-105mm? You could shell out the five grand for the Canon and still find yourself longing for range beyond 80mm that the Sony provides.

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