I recently had the opportunity to try out the Sony 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens on a NEX 5 mirrorless camera. I only had access to this camera and lens for a short period of time, but it was long enough to get a basic feel for it. I figured I’d share my thoughts and a few pictures I snapped.
The lens itself is very lightweight. It doesn’t feel cheap, but at the same time, it’s missing that beefy quality that manual focus lenses have. It comes out of the box with a somewhat unusual lens hood attached (as seen in the photo above). The hood does a nice job of protecting the glass, and it takes really nice looking pictures with it attached, so it makes sense to leave it on at all times. Below you can see how exposed the front element looks without it.
Another thing I found curious about this lens is that the specs are not written around the front ring. I’m used to looking at the front of a lens and reading the focal length and maximum aperture. That’s not happing on the 30mm f/3.5 Macro. Oh well. Without the spec printed on the front, it looks kinda sleek and modern. But overall, I missed seeing this on the front. Minor quibble.
Shooting with this lens and the NEX 5 was easy as pie. It wasn’t necessary to switch it into Macro Mode. The only thing you needed to do was to point the lens at something close up and press the shutter halfway down to trigger the autofocus. I was easily able to focus on objects that were extremely close to the lens. Oftentimes the lens itself would end up blocking the light on the subject. You could pretty much get as close as you pleased.
I found that I got better results when I took it out of Automatic Mode, and switched it over to Aperture Priority. Automatic mode would default to this “Blurred Background” setting that seemed to inhibit the macro capabilities of the lens.
I currently don’t own a macro lens for my personal camera system, and test driving the 30mm f/3.5 Macro sold me on the idea. It’s really fun to take macro shots, and it’s interesting to look at the images afterward. Another nice thing is that you can focus on normal-sized subject matter and take regular shots of people and other scenes that aren’t close up. In other words, it can act as a regular 30mm lens.
This was also my first time using a Sony NEX camera. At this point, the NEX 5 that I used is a few years old, but it was still a really impressive little camera. I’m a sucker for a gratifying shutter sound/feel, and pressing the trigger on this thing was pure delight.
If you can find a deal on a used NEX 5 on eBay or elsewhere, it’s definitely worth picking up. If you already own a NEX camera and you’re wondering if the 30mm f/3.5 Macro is any good, I can assure that it is.