In this hands on review I will cover the VCL-ECF1 converter lens and VCL-ECU1 converter lens which attach to the Sony E 16mm f/2.8 lens and the Sony E 20mm f/2.8 Lens. Both the Sony E 16mm and 20mm lenses for the Sony mirrorless camera lineup are pancake style which makes them extremely lightweight and compact. These converter lenses are a great option, because they offer some additional creativity options and are also very affordable, compact, and lightweight when compared to buying a stand-alone addition lens.
I recently reviewed the E 16mm f/2.8 Pancake lens here>>, and it’s a great ultra compact lens for the money, but does suffer from a little softness and chromatic aberrations in the corners depending on the scene and aperture you are using. With that in mind, the flaws inherent in the 16mm E-mount lens are going to be present in the conversion lenses as well, because they simple mount on top.
Even with these inherent limitations on E 16mm f/2.8 lens in particular, it still performs really in the real world.
Check out what the Fisheye Converter lens looks like mounted up to the Sony Nex-C3. It simply screws on to the E16mm or E 20mm lens just like the regular E-mount, only a little bit smoother and easier.
As always, be sure to Click the photos for a nice large 1200px version!!
Converter Lens Product Photos:
The Sony 16mm converter lenses come in a nice hardened case that can certainly take a drop if you ask me.
Here’s the case opened up resembling a hamburger bun no question! The case has a soft fuzz type fabric inside that doesn’t come off on the lenses.
The converter lenses come with a push on style lens cap and rear cover the is very easy to take on and off. The top cover is a hard plastic design, but the bottom cover is more of a rubberized plastic.
Here’s both of the Conversion lenses side by side. Fisheye (VCL-ECF1) on the left and the wide angle (VCL-ECU1) on the right.
In this angle below you can see closely the little switch you need to slide downward in order to release the conversion lens from the 16mm lens.
Here’s the Nex-C3 with the Wide Angle conversion lens mounted and the fisheye to the left.
And here’s the Sony Nex-C3 with the 16mm + Fisheye converter lens mounted on atop the highly versatile and affordable Gorillapod. I was taking some test pics using the Nex-5n and my Canon 135 f/2 lens, but it makes for a nice product shot of the conversion lens in action.
Also, check out my Hands On Gorillapod Review Here >> if it peaks your interest!
As you can see from the images above, the converter lenses about double the size of the Sony E 16mm pancake lens, but in the process transforms it into another lens which is quite awesome if you ask me.
Check out this video below of me mounting each conversion lens on the 16mm lens while recording at the same time so you can see the effect each lens has live, so to speak. Make sure you select the 720p HD Video option for the most crisp video.
Next were going to go over some Real World Sample photos using these lenses so you can see what they actually do. The “Lab” pics will come after the real world shots, so you can skip ahead if you like to see those.
Real World Sample Photos
This first sample pic I just took on Sunday at the Hurleyville Firehouse pancake dinner with the family. It was fantastic btw and I ate like a pig 🙂 Needles to say I got to take some firetruck pics using the Fisheye conversion lens and the Nex-5n for a camera body. I also used a tripod and went for a full blow HDR using multiple exposures and shooting RAW. Here is the fully edited HDR photo. Don’t worry, I have a ton of un-edited sample pics coming next, but this pic is cool and I want you to see what can be done with this camera/ lens combo if you do a little post processing!!
Be sure to click the images for a nice large 1200px version!!
Here’s one of those old Historic site signs that are made of Cast Iron. They have a lot of fine details at 100% view and the background is visually far which creates a bokeh in the process.
Same shot as above, but with the wide angle conversion lens. I was also bit further away from the sign for reference.
Here is the historic house that accompanies the historic sign shot with the Fisheye lens. ASs you can see the overall real world image quality is excellent!
Here’s the same shot with the Wide Angle Conversion Lens. If I were shooting with just the E 16mm lens I would have to move further away from the building in order to fit it all in the frame. The wide angle converter allows me to get closer to the subject while still fitting it into the frame of view. By being closer to the subject, the perspective is slightly altered and creates a more wide angle field of view.
[divider] This next image is a retired Blue Angles jet located at the local park just down the rd. I love to photograph it, and it makes for a great test subject with the paint, chrome, and rust!
Here’s a Snapshot of Layla on the deck in really tuff shooting conditions in Jpeg mode. Chubs was running around, Layla never stops moving, and the Sun was in the cameras face!
I took this next shot of Sandy with the 18mm Wideangle Conversion lens mounted and was shooting Raw. It was really bright sun, but I had it to my back this time which made for a decent photo.
As always, be sure to Click the photos for a nice large 1200px version!!
In this next shot of Sadie I managed to get some nice lens flare action while shooting with the wide angle conversion lens and the sun at the edge of the frame.
These next photos are from the Basha Kill Wildlife preserve and the sky was awesome!! I used the 18mm wide angle conversion lens for these photos and shot in Auto HDR mode 6ev, as the dynamic range was very high shooting into the Sun!! I was also hand holding and the camera did a good job with the alignment and blending if you ask me, but more importantly the wide angle performance speaks fore itself!!
I purposely took this photo a bit higher to include the phone cable line in the top right corner of the frame. It makes for a nice high contrast edge that is certain to test the optics out!!
This 100% Crop version has the Lens Correction Profile enable in Lightroom 3, and it does a pretty good job with the distortion and chromatic aberrations which really are not to shabby.
Here’s what it looks like in Lightroom when you enable the lens profile feature.
I had to break out the Tripod for this next image, but it was totally worth it!! Our friends were having a killer campfire and it was even bigger than I was hoping for 🙂 I had to use manual mode for this as the camera struggled with a “correct” exposure. That’s Gary on the left stoking the fire for me and he is blurry do to the 2 second exposure. I used the fisheye converter lens for this image and I think it camera out awesome.
In my opinion these real world images should give you a good sense of what this lens actually does in practice. I shot a variety of subjects using a variety of aperture’s and overall both conversion lenses do a very good job. The corners are noticeable soft when it comes to tack sharpness, but it’s really only critically noticeable at 100% and on the very corners. This can easily be cropped out in most cases and if your a pixel peeper like me, you can correct the flaws in post processing. You cannot fix the corner softness to much in post, but you really don’t notice it that much unless you’re looking for it when it comes to the real world.
Sharpness Test Photos
I used a brick wall for these test shots and squared up the Nex-5n on the tripod using the bubble levels, and I eyed it up as best I could. It’s by no means a perfect test, but it certainly gets the point across I think. I’m going to show the full scene at f/2.8 so you can see the lens at its most vulnerable. The rest of the images will be the 100% crops of the Top Left Corner and Center of the frame at each aperture tested.
And the Fisheye Conversion lens at f/2.8, f/4. f/8, and f/11.
Keep in mind that the viewing angle of the Fisheye is so great that the depth of field actually plays a roll in the edge and corner sharpness as well as the lens optics itself. So they may appear less harp than you would expect due to the limited depth of field.
Top Left Corner 100% Crop
Center 100% Crop
Conclusion and Closing Remarks:
Both the VCL-ECF1 Fisheye and VCL-ECU1 Wide Angle Converter Lenses do a great job in the real world in my opinion. They basically amplify what the 16mm and 20mm lenses have to offer.
Thel converters are not the greatest for the corner sharpness in particular, and you can see that clearly in the test shots. But this is more noticeable on the 16mm lens then the 20mm lens. You can also see that the sharpness really pics up at f/4 compared to f/2.8 and then it actually starts to fall off a bit at f/11 in the center most likely due to diffraction. The f/11 does help the depth of field in the fisheye shots though when it comes to corner sharpness.
At the end of the day, in the real world photos the flaws tends to not matter that much at all in my opinion. Even on prints your probably won’t notice the corner sharpness issues unless you really look close. Mind you, if your architecture photographer and you want the best quality possible, these are converter lenses are not for you. If your like me and you just want good quality equipment for a fair price then these converter lenses are a great option for your photography and video needs.
Value for the dollar, these converter lenses are fantastic if you already have the E 16mm f/2.8 Lens or E 20mm f/2.8 Lens, and want to add a fisheye and/ or a wider angle view lens option to your camera tool bag for a very low cost. Bonus is the ultra compact size, weight, and cost saved when compared to purchasing a stand alone lens instead.
I hope you got what you were looking for in this review and please feel free to ask any questions below, and have a great day! Jay
My Sony Wide Angle and Fisheye Converter Lens Review for the E 16mm & E 20mm Lenses
Very affordable and practical accessory lens options
Value for dollar these lenses are unbeatable if you already have the E 16mm f/2.8 Lens or E 20mm f/2.8 Lens. The optical performance is very good in the real world, although not as good as a dedicated prime lens. I highly recommend both of these conversion lenses for those looking to expand their photography while also maximizing the tools you already have in your bag and not breaking the bank or your back with heavy lenses.
Bang For The Buck
Build Quality and Design
Low Light Performance
Reader Rating0 Votes
Overall very good image quality
very well made and included high quality hard case