Here’s a collection of shots taken with Sony’s Alpha a58 camera and their least expensive 35mm A-Mount prime, the SAL35F18. This is a good entry level SLR (or SLT in this case) combo for casual and enthusiast photographers and a compelling alternative to the much more popular entry level offerings from Canon and Nikon.
I’m not a camera reviewer by any means, but the a58 with the kit 18-55mm lens delivers some pretty decent results. In optimal lighting conditions I’d say the 20MP stills can rival cameras costing twice as much. High ISO performance is slightly less impressive, but still produces decent enough shots up to ISO 1000 ish. Anything above that starts getting a little too noisy and soft for my liking. Still, you can salvage some ISO 3200 shots if you scale them way down.
The SAL35F18 lens, as the model number implies, delivers a fast f/1.8 35mm prime for about $200 – $240 (CDN)… more expensive than the comparable and ubiquitous offerings for Canon and Nikon systems, but the reviews for the lens certainly indicate that the optical performance is on par with much more expensive glass. And yes, the lens construction is mostly plastic (as is the a58 on the whole), but for casual photographers like me I doubt it matters. Anyway, the speed increase over the stock lens (f/1.8 vs f/3.5-f/5.6) is great for indoor shooting and, as you can see from the sample shots below, produces a nice shallow depth of field. When you get the focus right, the results look great with nice sharpness and contrast that is a step up from the kit lens (to my eye, anyway).
After about a month using the 35mm lens, my biggest complaint is that it tends to back focus a lot in AF mode. And because of the aforementioned shallow depth of field, the missed focus can be especially pronounced. I usually focus manually, and the focus peeking feature of the a58 is really helpful in getting an accurate shot.
Unless otherwise stated, these shots are 90 quality JPEGs exported from Capture One (which is an excellent Lightroom alternative and a much appreciated bundle-in with the camera, I might add) with no post-processing other than the defaults applied to RAW files based on the camera profile. The JPEGs produced by the a58 are okay, but definitely the best results are achieved with some minor post processing to the RAW captures. Applying one of the 3 sharpening presets and increasing the shadow or highlight dynamic ranges is usually all that’s needed to clean things up.