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  Recommended Sony Alpha lenses for portrait, wedding and low-light photography

 
The classic portrait shot places a flattering view of the subject against a blurred background. This is very easy to achieve with the right lens and all the models below will do the trick.

The key behind a blurred background is having a lens with a large aperture, indicated by a small f-number. The best portrait lenses have an f-number of 2.8 or smaller, and the lower this figure, the more blurred you can make your background. Lenses with smaller f-numbers also gather more light which makes them ideal for taking photos in dim conditions without resorting to flashes or increasing the camera’s ISO sensitivity. See our Portrait Tutorial for more details.

 

The flattering view is achieved with a lens sporting a slightly magnified view, which typically means having an equivalent focal length of between 70 and 135mm. Shorter focal lengths can give unflattering results with single-person portraits, although are ideal for group shots, while longer ones force the photographer further from the subject, although this may be preferred for discreet, candid shots. Longer focal lengths also accentuate the blurred background effect. A zoom lens which includes both wide angle and short telephoto will be ideal for events like weddings where you need to capture groups and single person shots.

Almost every photographer will benefit from having a good portrait / low-light lens in their collection and for many it’ll be the second lens they’ll buy. Large aperture lenses can be expensive, but there is at least one bargain. Here are the models we recommend.

Note when we mention full-frame (FF) bodies we’re referring to models like the Alpha A850 and A900. When we mention cropped-frame (APS-C) bodies, we’re referring to every other model in the Alpha range, including the A230, A330, A380, A450, A500, A550 and A700. If you’d like to learn more about lens specifications, from focal lengths to f-numbers, please see our lens guide. If you find the information here useful, please support us by shopping at the stores below and if you have any questions about lenses, feel free to ask in the forum!



 
SAL-50F18 DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM

Specifications

Focal length:
50mm
Aperture: f1.8
Lens mount: A-mount
APS-C Equiv: 75mm
FF compatible:
No
Anti-shake: No
AF motor: SAM
Closest focus: 34cm
Filter thread: 49mm
Hood: not available
Optics: 6 el. / 5 groups
Diaphragm blades: 7
Weight: 170g
Size: 70x45mm

     
Sony's DT 50mm f1.8 is an ideal choice for portrait and low-light photography on a budget, although as a DT model, it's not compatible with full-frame bodies. Mounted on a cropped-frame body, the DT 50mm becomes equivalent to 75mm, a perfect length for portraits. Meanwhile, the f1.8 aperture can deliver a blurred background and gathers more than eight times as much light as the DT 18-55mm kit lens when zoomed-in making it great in dim conditions.


 
SAL50F14 50mm f/1.4

Specifications

Focal length:
50mm
Aperture: f1.4
Lens mount: A-mount
APS-C Equiv: 75mm
FF compatible:
Yes
Anti-shake: No
AF motor: requires AF motor in DSLR
Closest focus: 45cm
Filter thread: 55mm
Hood: ALC-SH0011
Optics: 7 el. / 6 groups
Diaphragm blades: 7
Weight: 220g
Size: 66x43mm

     
The Sony 50mm f1.4 is another ideal portrait lens for cropped bodies, although it's also compatible with full-frame models on which it delivers standard general-purpose coverage. All Sony bodies will benefit from the bright f1.4 aperture which can gather 16 times more light than the DT 18-55mm kit lens when zoomed-in. This makes it even better than the model above in dim conditions, while also allowing more blurred backgrounds. A classy option.



 
SAL85F14Z 85mm f/1.4

Specifications

Focal length:
85mm
Aperture: f1.4
Lens mount: A-mount
APS-C Equiv: 128mm
FF compatible: Yes
Anti-shake: No
AF motor: requires AF motor in DSLR
Closest focus: 85cm
Filter thread: 72mm
Hood: ALC-SH0002
Optics: 8 el. / 7 groups
Diaphragm blades: 9
Weight: 560g
Size: 81x75mm

     
The Sony 85mm f1.4 is a classic portrait lens for both full-frame and cropped bodies. The longer focal length allows you to stand a little further away than the 50mm models, and also accentuates the blurred background effect. Indeed, coupled with the bright f1.4 aperture and nine aperture blades, this lens is perfect for achieving blurred backgrounds. As a Carl Zeiss model, the optical and build quality are also exemplary, although it's a shame there's no SSM focusing.



 
SAL135F18Z 135mm f/1.8

Specifications

Focal length:
135mm
Aperture: f1.8
Lens mount: A-mount
APS-C Equiv: 203mm
FF compatible: Yes
Anti-shake: No
AF motor: requires AF motor in DSLR
Closest focus: 72cm
Filter thread: 77mm
Hood: ALC-SH0003
Optics: 11 el. / 8 groups
Diaphragm blades: 9
Weight: 1050g
Size: 88x115mm

     
The Sony 135mm f1.8 is another great portrait option for both cropped and full-frame bodies for those who want to be positioned further still from the subject. The f1.8 aperture may not be quite as bright as the 85mm above, but at f1.8 it's still sufficient for very blurred backgrounds, especially coupled with the longer focal length. And again the Carl Zeiss design boasts excellent quality, although again for the money SSM focusing would be preferred.



 
SAL2470Z 24-70mm f/2.8 SSM

Specifications

Focal length:
24-70mm
Aperture: f2.8
Lens mount: A-mount
APS-C Equiv: 36-105mm
FF compatible: Yes
Anti-shake: No
AF motor: SSM
Closest focus: 34cm
Filter thread: 77mm
Hood: ALC-SH101
Optics: 17 el. / 13 groups
Diaphragm blades: 9
Weight: 955g
Size: 83x111mm

     
The only zoom in the low light and portrait section is the Sony 24-70mm f2.8. It delivers a perfect range on full-frame bodies for group shots and single portraits, and is also great for cropped-frame bodies if wide-angle coverage isn’t important. The f2.8 aperture may not be as bright as the primes above, but still delivers nice blurred backgrounds and there's also quick and quiet SSM focusing. This Carl Zeiss design is one of Sony's best lenses.



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