The Sony E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS got a companion to cover the mid to long tele range – the Sony E 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS. Both lenses are also sold in some double lens kits with a NEX camera. The 55-210mm OSS has a 3.8x zoom ratio which is about typical for such kit zoom lenses. The max. aperture of f/6.3 at 210mm is slower than average though – this is, most likely, a measure to keep the lens as small as possible. In full format terms it “behaves” like a “83-315mm” so it is suitable for applications such as basic portrait-, sports- and wildlife-photography.
Sony E lenses tend to have a pretty nice build quality and the 55-210mm OSS is no exception here. Surprisingly Sony used mag-alloy for the lens body which is definitely a differentiator in this lens and price class. The rubberized focus and zoom control rings operate very smoothly. The inner lens tube (made of plastic) wobbles a little bit though. Typical for such lenses it extends when zooming towards the long end of the zoom range. The front element does not rotate so it remains easily possible to use polarizers. The lens is certainly compact compared to similar DSLR lenses but it looks fairly long when mounted to the dwarfish NEX cameras – especially when extending the lens to its maximum focal length and with the attached lens hood (supplied).
The AF performance is pretty good for a contrast detection system (albeit highly dependent on the base camera). AF operations are basically noiseless. Manual focusing works “by wire” so the focus ring is not directly coupled to the focus gears but to the AF motor. DMF (“Direct Manual Focusing” in Single Shot AF mode) is supported. OSS (“Optical Steady Shot”) is Sony’s lens-based image stabilization mechanism. It seems to be on par with the Canon and Nikon variants (and better than Panasonic’s OIS).
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