Best Sony lenses

Welcome to my Buyer’s Guide for Sony lenses! I’ll start with a quick guide to their ranges and what to look out for, followed by my personal suggestions for building a system, and finally a list of all the models I’ve reviewed or tested and can recommend. So if you’re looking for a Sony lens, you’ve come to the right place!

 

 

Sony lens terminology

Sony has two lens systems, one designed for its E-mount mirrorless cameras and the other for its older A-mount DSLR and SLT cameras. Older A-mount lenses can also work on E-mount mirrorless cameras using a Sony adapter, but for the best performance and greatest compatibility on mirrorless bodies, I’d recommend using native E-mount lenses when possible.

While Sony’s mirrorless lens mount is generically-known as the E-mount, the single letter E on a model name specifically refers to lenses that are only corrected for cameras with cropped APSC sensors, like the A6000 series, or full-frame bodies running in cropped / Super-35 modes; in either case, the crop reduces the field-of-view by 1.5 times, so a 50mm becomes equivalent to 75mm. Note older NEX bodies also employ cropped APSC sensors, but may not have the firmware to correct distortion on some of the latest lenses; they’ll still work, but you may see more distortion that you would on an A6000 series body.

Sony’s mirrorless lenses corrected for use on full-frame bodies like the A7 and A9 series, are labeled FE and have no reduction in their field-of-view when shooting in full-frame modes; these also work on cropped bodies or in cropped modes, albeit again with a 1.5x field-reduction. Sony’s A-mount lenses have SAL in their product codes, but models additionally labeled with DT are designed for bodies with cropped / APSC sensors.

As a general rule, if you have a full-frame Sony mirrorless camera, you should buy FE lenses, and if you have a cropped-frame Sony mirrorless camera, you can use either FE or E lenses; choosing FE will give you the option to use them on full-frame bodies if you upgrade in the future, but E models will be smaller, lighter and cheaper.

Within each series, Sony indicates its superior models by the letter G and names its flagship mirrorless lenses G Master or GM for short. Models involving a partnership with Zeiss are labeled ZA, and are generally pitched between Sony’s own G and GM lenses in quality. Meanwhile, lenses labeled PZ have a Power Zoom for smooth motorized zooming while filming, while those with OSS refer to Optical SteadyShot stabilisation. Phew, enough of the specs and now on to my recommendations; the text links in the next section take you to B&H to check prices, while links to my full reviews and sample galleries are lower on the page.

 

 

Recommended Sony lenses

If you own a cropped / APSC sensor body like the A6000 series, the best general-purpose lens is the Sony E 18-135mm, which represents a decent step-up in quality and range over the basic E 16-50mm kit zoom. If you’d like to shoot portraits with a blurred background, go for the Sony E 50mm f1.8 OSS which also sports optical stabilisation. If you prefer general-purpose shooting at 50mm equivalent, then also consider the Sigma 30mm f1.4 DC DN or Sony E 35mm f1.8 OSS. If you’re into vlogging or ultra-wide angle photography, the Sony E 10-18mm is a great choice, or perhaps the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN if you’re fond of 24mm equivalent coverage with a bright aperture, and if you want to get close to distant subjects without breaking the bank, then the Sony E 55-210mm is a good option. Finally, if you’d like the smallest shooting combo, consider the Sony E 20mm f2.8 or Sony E 16mm f2.8. Remember all these lenses have their field-of-view reduced by 1.5 times when mounted on a cropped / APSC sensor body.

 

 

If you own a full-frame mirrorless body like the A7 or A9 series, my favourite general-purpose zoom is the surprisingly affordable Sony FE 24-104mm f4G, although if you’re a pro event shooter, you may prefer to invest in the Sony FE 24-70mm f2.8 GM which trades the telephoto-end and optical stabilisation for a brighter aperture and G Master quality. If you’re a portrait photographer, Sony offers two FE 85mm lenses: the relatively low-priced Sony FE 85mm f1.8 and the high-end Sony FE 85mm f1.4 GM that’s incredibly crisp. Ultra-wide shooters are well-catered by the Sony FE 12-24mm f4G and the amazingly sharp Sony FE 16-35mm f2.8 GM, the latter arguably the best in its class. Close-range sports or distant portrait photographers will like the lightweight Sony FE 70-200mm f4G or the high-end Sony FE 70-200mm f2.8 GM, while those who need greater reach for distant sports or wildlife will find the Sony FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 performs very respectably, and for the pros out there the Sony FE 400mm f2.8 will be a very tempting investment. And if macro photography is your bag, the Sony FE 90mm f2.8 Macro G is a fantastic performer.

If you want to put together a system of primes without breaking the bank, I can recommend the Sony FE 28mm f2, Sony FE 50mm f1.8 and Sony FE 85mm f1.8 lenses, and if you want the smallest possible general-purpose combination, I’m very fond of the original Sony FE 35mm f2.8 ZA. If your budget is much higher, you can splash-out on two of Sony’s best prime lenses: the Sony FE 35mm f1.4 ZA and Sony FE 85mm f1.4 GM will delight any lucky owner. If you want a triplet of top-end zooms, the Sony FE 16-35mm f2.8 GM, Sony FE 24-70mm f2.8 GM and Sony FE 70-200mm f2.8 GM will take you from 16 to 200mm with a constant f2.8 focal ratio and G Master quality – expensive but very high-performance.

Keep reading for my detailed reviews of Sony lenses and sample image galleries! Support Cameralabs when you check prices at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, eBay or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

 


All my Sony lens reviews


 

 

Best Sony Lenses

Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 review

The Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 is a valuable addition to the full-frame E-Mount market, that's wisely pitched between Sony's entry-level FE 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 kit zoom and the high-end FE 24-70mm f2.8 G Master. The Tamron is stunningly sharp in the APS-C image-circle and delivers very usable close-up performance too. It's small and light and comes at a reasonable price that makes it a viable option for those who can only dream of f2.8 zooms and were otherwise heading to the budget kit lens. For the price, the sharpness unsurprisingly becomes softer in the full-frame corners and many will miss the wider coverage of zooms that start at 24mm; there's also some irritating flare and ghosting under certain circumstances. But all-in-all the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 is an attractive option for E-mount owners who want a step-up in aperture from the entry-level Sony FE 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 kit zoom without the considerable cost of the FE 24-70mm f2.8 G Master - and while it may become soft in the corners, subjects towards the middle will be sharp with the potential for attractive blurring behind them. So overall I'm happy to award Tamron's first native E-mount lens a recommendation!

Check prices on the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Sony E 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 review

The Sony E 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OSS is a compact, lightweight and versatile general-purpose zoom for its cropped-frame mirrorless bodies, including the A6000, A5000 and NEX series. The 7.5x range takes you from wide-angle to respectable telephoto and while the focal ratio of f3.5-5.6 isn't anything unusual, it does allow some shallow depth-of-field effects at the long-end, especially at closer distances. And thankfully after a string of disappointing general-purpose zooms for their cropped-frame bodies, the E 18-135mm delivers crisp results across the frame and throughout the range. For the money the E 18-135mm is a no-brainer for all A6000, A5000 and NEX owners looking for a general-purpose zoom or an upgrade from the 16-50mm.

Check prices on the Sony E 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Sony FE 24-105mm f4G OSS review so far

The Sony FE 24-105mm f4G OSS is a general-purpose lightweight zoom for Sony's full-frame mirrorless cameras upon which it'll take you from wide-angle to short telephoto. The lens sports a constant f4 focal ratio and can deliver reasonably blurred backgrounds and attractive rendering when shot wide-open at 105mm, especially at portrait distances or approaching the minimum focusing of 38cm. There's optical stabilisation to iron-out wobbles on older bodies, or further enhance those with sensor-shift, while weather-sealing keeps it protected against the elements. I shot with it on a full-frame Alpha A7r Mark III and found the combination flexible but surprisingly light while still delivering good quality. As such it's an ideal general-purpose zoom for those who can't stretch to a G-Master or who need a longer range than a 24-70mm in a compact and light form. Recommended.

Check prices on the Sony FE 24-105mm f4G OSS at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Sony FE 50mm f1.8 review so far

The Sony FE 50mm f1.8 is an affordable standard prime lens for Alpha mirrorless cameras. It delivers standard coverage on full-frame bodies making it an ideal walk-around lens, and becomes a short telephoto on APSC bodies, equivalent to 75mm, making it perfect for portraits. Meanwhile the bright f1.8 focal ratio lets you shoot more easily in low light while also delivering shallow depth-of-field effects. Sony's lens catalogue isn't short of 50mm options with many higher-end alternatives available with better quality and faster quieter focusing. But none come anywhere near the low price of the FE 50mm f1.8, making it a no-brainer for Alpha owners starting out in prime lenses. It's also possible to assemble an affordable threesome by adding the FE 28mm f2 and FE 85mm f1.8. All come recommended if you can't stretch to the higher-end options.

Check prices on the Canon 50mm f1.8 STM at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Sony FE 85mm f1.8 review-so-far

The Sony FE 85mm f1.8 is a short-telephoto prime lens for Sony's mirrorless cameras, and corrected for use on full-frame bodies. Costing one third of the flagship FE 85mm f1.4 G Master, it represents a fairly light and relatively affordable option for anyone wanting to shoot portraits, street or details with this classic focal length. Couple it with the FE 50mm f1.8 and FE 28mm f2 and you can have a flexible three-lens kit without breaking the bank or your back - at least compared to the higher-end Sony options. If you're after something halfway between it and the G Master, consider the Zeiss Batis 85mm f1.8, or if you're on a tighter budget and don't mind manual focusing, there's Samyang's 85mm f1.4. But if you're after the 'cheapest' 85mm with autofocus for a full-frame Sony mirrorless, the FE 85mm f1.8 is your lens.

Check prices on the Sony FE 85mm f1.8 at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex.
Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Sony FE 28mm f2 review-so-far

Sony's FE 28mm f2 is a compact and affordable wide-angle prime lens for Sony mirrorless cameras, that's corrected for use on full-frame bodies. The small size and light-weight make it a perfect companion for Sony's smaller bodies, while a pair of optional adapters transform it into a 21mm ultra-wide or 16mm Fisheye. It may lack the ultimate quality of Sony's higher-end lenses, but the size, weight and price - not to mention the added flexibility of the adapters - are hard to argue with. Indeed along with the FE 50mm f1.8 and FE 85mm f1.8 you can build a compelling triplet of light and low-cost prime lenses.

Check prices on the Sony FE 28mm f2 at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Sony FE 55mm f1.8 ZA review-so-far

Sony's FE 55mm f1.8 ZA is a prime lens for Alpha mirrorless cameras that delivers close to standard coverage on full-frame bodies. It was one of the first lenses available for the FE mount, and has since been joined by a selection of alternative 50mm primes, but it remains a popular premium option. The Zeiss optics deliver decent quality and the barrel is fairly light and compact, making it an ideal match for the small Alpha bodies. If you want a shallower depth-of-field, there's two 50mm f1.4 options, a more expensive Sony Zeiss model with autofocus, or a more affordable manual focus model from Samyang; manual focus enthusiasts will also enjoy using the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f2. If you're looking for something cheaper than any of these, consider Sony's budget FE 50mm f1.8 - it may lack the sophistication of the others, but hits a tempting price point.

Check prices on the Sony FE 55mm f1.8 ZA at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Sony FE 35mm f1.4 ZA review-so-far

Sony's FE 35mm f1.4 ZA is a standard wide prime lens that's corrected for both cropped and full-frame Alpha mirrorless cameras. It's one of many 35mm lenses now available for the FE mount bodies, but the only one with a bright f1.4 focal ratio and autofocus. These coupled with the high quality Zeiss optics mean it's also the largest, heaviest and most expensive of the FE 35mm lenses to date, but there's no questioning the results which look fantastic: sharp across the frame, high contrast and lovely rendering which gives the subject a real pop. It's not small, nor light and definitely not cheap, but if you love the 35mm focal length and can accommodate the price and heft, you'll adore the results. Highly recommended, but do familiarize yourself with the alternative 35mm options available before committing - in particular, the original Sony FE 35mm f2.8 if you're after a compact and more affordable walk-around prime, the classy manual focus Loxia 35mm f2, or the two low-cost Samyang options.

Check prices on the Sony FE 35mm f1.4 ZA at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Sony FE 90mm f2.8 Macro review-so-far

Sony's FE 90mm f2.8 Macro G OSS is the first native macro lens designed for its full-frame mirrorless cameras. It delivers the coveted 1:1 or 1x magnification on full-frame bodies at a distance of 28cm, but also provides excellent quality results at all distances. The mid-telephoto length is ideal for portraits, and it also delivers tighter views of urban and landscape subjects. As such it's a more flexible lens than first appears, although if your primary goal is portrait work, you'll enjoy a shallower depth-of-field from more affordable lenses like the FE 85mm f1.8. But if you're driven by Macro photography, you'll love the FE 90mm f2.8 Macro G OSS as it's one of the sharpest lenses in the catalogue.

Check prices on the Sony FE 90mm f2.8 Macro at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Sony FE 70-200mm f2.8 GM OSS review-so-far

The Sony FE 70-200mm f2.8 G Master is a professional telephoto zoom lens for Sony's Alpha mirrorless cameras. One of the first models to carry the G Master badge, it pulls-off that tricky combination of very high resolution details with attractive rendering of blurred areas. As such it's highly desirable to portrait and wedding photographers, as well as anyone shooting close-range sports or wildlife. Meanwhile the innovative floating focus system exploits three motors to maintain high quality right down to the minimum focusing distance of just under a meter. It's understandably larger, heavier and comfortably more expensive than the earlier FE 70-200mm f4G OSS, but it's a stop brighter and optically superior. Indeed it's one of the best 70-200mm f2.8 zooms of any system if you can afford it and don't mind the weight, otherwise go for the slower f4G version. Or if you want longer reach without using tele-converters, consider the FE 100-400mm GM.

Check prices on the Sony FE 70-200mm f2.8 at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Sony FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM OSS review

The Sony FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 G Master is a telephoto zoom for its e-mount mirrorless cameras, and corrected for use on full-frame bodies. Announced alongside the professional Alpha A9 body, it delivers the longest reach of Sony's native e-mount lenses to date. It's also the fourth lens to join the high-end G Master series and like the others aims to deliver both high resolution across the entire zoom, focusing and aperture ranges, as well as attractive bokeh.

Check prices on the Sony FE 100-400mm GM at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Sony FE 70-200mm f4G OSS review

Sony's FE 70-200mm f4G OSS was the first telephoto zoom for its full-frame mirrorless cameras and remains one of the best options for fairly close range action. The f4 aperture may not deliver as much (or as attractive) blurring as the FE 70-200mm f2.8 GM, nor will its focal length reach as far as the FE 100-400mm GM, but it's noticeably lighter and more affordable than either, not to mention physically better-suited for Sony's smaller bodies, especially the cropped APSC models where the coverage is reduced to 105-300mm. The optical quality may lack the ultimate bite and smooth rendering of the pricier and heavier G Master telephoto zooms, but it remains respectable across the frame with a high level of detail, while the focusing is quick enough to track fast action when coupled with the right body. A great choice if you want a decent telephoto zoom but don't need an f2.8 focal ratio or a super reach.

Check prices on the Sony FE 70-200mm f4 at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Sony E 10-18mm f4 review-so-far

The Sony E 10-18mm f4 OSS was the first ultra-wide zoom for Sony's cropped-frame / APSC mirrorless cameras, including the original NEX and later Alpha A5000 and A6000 series. Several years after launch, it remains the only ultra-wide option for these cameras from Sony, so it's fortunate it's a decent performer, delivering coverage equivalent to 15-27mm, a constant f4 focal ratio and optical stabilisation. Like other ultra-wide zooms, it's ideal for capturing expansive landscapes, dramatic architecture, large interiors or even big group shots when you can't step back any further, and the presence of a filter thread means you can mount filters for long exposure photography, but do check for potential vignetting if using a large filter mount system.

Check prices on the Sony E 10-18mm f4 at Amazon, B&H, or Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Sony E 24mm f1.8 ZA review-so-far

The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f1.8 ZA is a high quality prime lens for Sony's cropped-frame / APSC mirrorless cameras, including the NEX, A5000 and A6000 series. Mounted on a cropped body it delivers 36mm equivalent coverage, a mild wide-angle that's perfect for general-purpose or street photography. The bright f1.8 focal ratio allows you to keep shooting in lower light without compromising ISO, while also allowing shallow depth-of-field effects. In my tests it can be a little soft in the extreme corners at wide apertures, but it remains a good option for anyone who wants a good quality walk-around prime lens.

Check prices on the Sony E 24mm f1.8 ZA at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

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