PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR GUIDE: LENSES
UPDATED: October 2, 2020 / ORIGINAL: July 5, 2012
Sony E-Mount Lenses – Full Frame
Sony FE lenses offer Linear AF for fast, precise and more responsive AF than is possible from the rotational stepping motors used in DSLR lenses.
Sony FE G Master Lenses
Sony G Master lenses are designed to combine both the ultimate in sharpness with spectacular bokeh. Their XA Extreme Asperical Lens Elements are designed to resolve an industry-best 50 line pairs per mm and with surface polished within tolerances of 0.01 microns for extremely smooth falloff in out-of-focus areas. They are quite simply the best lenses I’ve ever used.
Sony FE G Lenses
Sony G lenses lenses offer excellent optical quality at mid-tier prices. These premium lenses exceed the optical quality of top-end premium lenses from other camera manufacturers but they lack the 11-blade rounded aperture and moulded XA Extreme Asperical lens elements found in G Master lenses.
Sony FE Non-Designated Lenses
Non-Designated Sony lenses are aimed to deliver quality optical performance at an affordable price. In some cases, such as the Sony FE 85mm F1.8 these non-designated Sony FE lenses might even exceed premium lenses from other camera brands.
Sony FE Zoom Lenses
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 G Master lens | Price: $2,998
This ultra-wide zoom features a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture ideal for working in available light and controlling depth of field. Its advanced optical design includes a series of XA, aspherical, Super ED, and ED elements, which combine to reduce a variety of aberrations and distortions for a high degree of sharpness, accurate rendering, and notable color accuracy.
Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G Lens | Price: $1,773
Ultra-wide zoom lens for full-frame Sony E-mount features constant f/4 maximum aperture. Sophisticated optical design incorporates aspherical and low dispersion glass elements to control both spherical and chromatic aberrations for improved sharpness and clarity. Nano AR Coating is applied to individual elements to reduce surface reflections, flare, and ghosting for greater contrast and color fidelity in bright, backlit situations.
Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens | Price: $2,198
The sharpest wide angle zoom ever made according to DxO Mark, this G Master wide-angle constant f/2.8 maximum aperture zoom offers consistent performance throughout the zoom range ideal for shooting in low-light. Optical design incorporates two extra-low dispersion elements to reduce chromatic aberrations along with two XA elements and three aspherical elements, which significantly control spherical aberrations for a high degree of image sharpness and clarity. Nano AR coating has been applied to limit ghosting and lens flare for increased contrast and color fidelity when working in strong lighting conditions.
Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens | Price: $1,348
Constant f/4 maximum aperture wide-angle zoom lens designed for fullframe E-mount cameras, can also be used with Sony APS mirrorless cameras. Features a circular aperture that, through the use of curved blades, keeps the aperture almost perfectly circular from its wide-open setting to when it is closed for smoother, more natural defocusing highlights.
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM Lens | Price: $2,198
If you can only afford one lens – this would be my choice. 24-70mm is a great range for portrait photography because it allows you to shoot everything from wide environmental portraits to a tight intimate portrait and this flagship Sony lens is by far the best 24-70 on the market. Optical design incorporates three aspherical elements including one XA (extreme aspherical) and two extra-low dispersion elements for both excellent sharpness and exceptional bokeh.
Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Lens | Price: $1,298
The most-requested lens by our readers features a constant f/4 maximum aperture, maintains consistent performance throughout the wide-angle to short-telephoto zoom range. Designed for corner-to-corner sharpness at all focal lengths, its advanced optical design employs aspherical and extra-low dispersion glass elements to control color fringing, distortion, and a variety of aberrations for greater sharpness and clarity. Nano AR Coating suppresses lens flare and ghosting for high contrast and color accuracy when working in harsh light.
Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens | Price: $898
Compact wide-angle to short telephoto zoom with constant f/4 aperture lens that remains fixed in length while zooming. Features one extra-low dispersion element and five aspherical elements to combat aberrations as well as a Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating to keep flare and ghosting to a minimum.
Sony FE 24-240 F3.5-6.3 OSS Lens | Price: $998
Full-frame E-Mount telephoto zoom lens with the versatility to stretch from true wide-angle to super telephoto perspectives. Its advanced optical design includes 5 aspherical elements and 1 ED glass element for reduced chromatic and spherical aberrations in a compact design. Optical SteadyShot image stabilization facilitates sharper imaging in low light situations and when shooting at long telephoto lengths.
Sony FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 Lens | Price: $498
Compact wide-angle to long-normal zoom features retractable design ideal as a walkaround lens for street & travel photography. Optical design incorporates three aspherical elements to reduce distortion and spherical aberrations for greater sharpness and accurate rendering. Linear motor and internal focusing provide quick and quiet autofocus for stills and video.
Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS | Price: $498
This full-frame E-Mount kit lens is available bundled as a kit with a7 & a7II. Provides good quality for it’s price and nearly silent focusing for video. Optical SteadyShot image stabilization lessens the appearance of camera shake when working in low-light conditions or with longer focal lengths.
Sony FE 28-135mm f/4 G PZ OSS Lens | Price: $2,498
Designed to satisfy 4K video productions, the Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4 G OSS Lens covers wide-angle to telephoto on full-frame or APS-C E-mount camcorders or still cameras. Featuring power-zoom control with SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) it allows precision and quiet operation with a variable speed and zoom rotation direction reversal capability. Three control rings (for zoom, focus, iris) offer manual control.
Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens | Price: $1,498
Versatile telephoto zoom lens that takes over right where the FE 24-70mm leaves off. Nicely balanced in size and weight for Sony a7 Series cameras to give you telephoto reach without weighing you down. The OSS settings on this lens are designed to work with Sony a7 Mark II IBIS.
Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS Lens | Price $2,598
Photojournalists, sports and wedding photographers rejoice! If you’ve been patiently waiting for a 70-200 F2.8 for E-mount, this lens is worth the wait. Like the other lenses in this series it’s incredibly sharp with nice balance for E-mount cameras.
Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS Lens | Price: $1,198
The most requested lens has finally been announced for Sony E-mount! This is a great lens for travel, landscapes and wildlife. Also an ideal choice for APS-C cameras like a6300 and a6000 where it offers the reach of a 450mm on fullframe.
Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens | Price: $2,498
The longest FE lens is designed for outstanding resolution and sharpness with minimal aberrations using one Super ED and two ED elements and Nano AR coating. Weighing in at a best-in-class 49.2 oz this compact 100-400mm lens features dual floating elements for fast AF and a 3.2′ minimum focusing distance for 0.35x magnification. It’s equipped with both a Direct Drive SSM autofocus system as Optical SteadyShot image stabilization for outstanding performance at all focal lengths.
Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens | Price: $1,998
The top-requested lens by our readers offers outstanding resolution and sharpness with minimal aberrations features five ED elements and one aspherical element, plus Nano AR and fluorine coatings. It also features a relatively compact size through the use of an f/5.6-6.3 maximum aperture range, and it is equipped with both a Direct Drive SSM autofocus system and Optical SteadyShot image stabilization for performance at all focal lengths.
Sony FE Prime Lenses
Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G | Price: $898
Sony’s widest prime lens combines F1.8 max aperture with excellent corner-to-corner optical quality. Dual XD Linear Motor system is quick and quiet, and also provides more responsive control for manual focus operation. The lens also has a dust- and moisture-sealed design, along with a fluorine coating, to support shooting in inclement conditions.
Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens | Price: $1,398
A great lens for photojournalists measuring just 3.0 inches x 3.64 inches and weighing 15.7 ounces making it the smallest and lightest in its class. This is a departure from previous GM lenses, which tend to be large in order not to sacrifice optical performance. Yet this lens manages to minimize size and weight without sacrificing optical performance.
Sony FE 28 F2.0 Lens | Price: $448
Full-frame compatible wide-angle prime lens for E-Mount mirrorless cameras. Its wide focal length and fast aperture make it a practical and versatile lens. Its optical design features Extra-low Dispersion glass elements which reduce chromatic aberrations and provide improved contrast. Also, aspherical and advanced aspherical elements minimize spherical aberrations and help to maintain the lens’ compact, lightweight form.
Sony FE 35 F1.4 ZA Lens | Price: $1,598
Classic wide-angle focal length, this fast f/1.4 lens provides low light capability and shallow depth of field control. Its advanced optical design includes aspherical and advanced aspherical (AA) lens elements combined with Zeiss T* coating to deliver outstanding image resolution and suppresses reflections for excellent contrast and clarity. Responsive aperture ring can be clicked or de-clicked with the flip of a switch on the lens barrel.
Sony FE 35mm F1.8 Lens | Price: $748
Here’s the lens many of you asked for – the Sony FE 35mm F1.8 prime lens. Like Sony’s extremely popular FE 85 F1.8, Sony FE 35mm F1.8 offers excellent image quality at a moderate price. Linear XD Autofocus not only provides extremely fast and responsive AF and allows the lens to be lighter and smaller than the competition.
Order from B&H Photo
Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA Lens | Price: $798
This compact prime lens is my favorite wide angle walk-around lens for street photography on Sony a7 Series cameras. Despite being the smallest Sony FE lens, this baby is deceptively sharp. (See more images here)
Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA Lens | Price: $1,498
This Zeiss Planar-design normal lens features one Advanced Aspherical, one aspherical, and one extra-low dispersion element for ultimate corner-to-corner sharpness along with pleasing bokeh. It joins the FE 35mm 1.4 ZA and 85mm 1.4 GM in a trio of lenses offering a manual de-clickable aperture ring ideal for video.
Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 Lens | Price: $248
Sony’s Nifty Fifty is just the lens for everyone asking for affordable FE glass! It’s double-gauss optical design incorporates one aspherical element to control spherical aberrations. While it won’t match the sharpness of the legendary Sony FE 55 F1.8 ZA or FE 50 F1.4 ZA, it offers great performance for just $248.
Sony FE 55mm/1.8 ZA Lens | $998
This is one of the sharpest lenses I’ve ever owned – virtually on par with the performance of the legendary $4,000 Zeiss 55mm/1.4 Otus lens yet at a perfect size for Sony E-mount cameras. Great look when used wide open for shallow depth-of-field portraits.
Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens | Price: $498
Sony’s latest FE lens is a compact, sub-$500 macro that many Sony user have asked for. The optical design also incorporates both an aspherical and an extra-low dispersion element, which work to suppress chromatic and spherical aberrations for increased clarity throughout the focus range.
Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Lens | Price: $1,798
This is an absolutely great lens for tight portraits. It’s extremely sharp wide open at F1.4 with shallow depth of field and beautiful bokeh. If you’re a portrait photographer, the FE 85mm F1.4 G Master plus the FE 24-70 F2.8 G Master could easily cover 99% of you your needs.
Sony FE 85mm F1.8 Lens | Price: $598
Joining the FE 28mm f/2 and FE 50mm f/1.8 in creating a more affordable and accessible system while still providing excellent optical performance. It uses an ED element to reduce aberrations, as well as a nine-blade circular aperture for smooth bokeh. It features a double linear motor system for fast, quiet autofocus. The lens is designed for manual focus, as well, and it has a programmable focus hold button.
Sony FE 90 F2.8 Macro G OSS Lens | Price: $1,098
Optimized for macro and close-up portrait photography, this medium telephoto lens utilizes an aspherical element along with extra-low dispersion and super extra-low dispersion glass and Nano AR Coating that suppresses reflections for exceptional image quality. Internal focus system in which only the middle optical groups move when focusing provides fast autofocus action and a short minimum focus distance of 11″.
Sony FE 100mm F2.8 STF GM OSS lens | Price: $1,498
Incorporating an apodization lens element to create exceptionally smooth, rounded bokeh while maintaining tack-sharp focus on the subject. This newly designed element nearly eliminates peripheral highlight distortion from vignetting and works with the 11-blade circular aperture to produce pleasing out-of-focus areas. The apodization lens element reduces light transmission to T5.6 when set to the lens’s maximum f/2.8 aperture.
Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM Lens | Price: $1,898
The lens YOU readers asked for – Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM which may be Sony’s best lens to date thanks to fast responsive AF from Twin XD Linear Floating Focus Groups, XA Extreme and Super ED Glass for extreme sharpness and beautiful bokeh! This is a great lens for portraits, weddings, sports and pretty much any time you want a razor sharp medium telephoto.
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS Lens | Price: $11,998
Sony finally made a FE 400 2.8 and man is it a beaut! Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS is the lightest, sharpest and fastest focusing four-hundred-two-eight ever made thanks to ground-breaking lens design featuring a XD Linear focus motor! The fast 2.8 aperture provides great depth of field control for isolating subjects as well as maximizing performance for low-light shooting situations. Three fluorite elements reduce chromatic aberration and one ED element further increases performance and image quality by reducing flare and ghosting while shooting in harsh conditions. Compatible with Sony FE 1.4X & 2X Teleconverters which offer the added versatility of a 560mm F4 and 800mm F5.6
Sony FE 600mm F4 G Master OSS Lens | Price: $12,998
This bright aperture super telephoto features lightweight design ideal for sports, news, wildlife, and nature photographers. The f/4 aperture and eleven-blade circular diaphragm provide great depth of field control for isolating subjects, as well as maximizing performance for low-light shooting situations. Three fluorite elements and one XA (extreme aspherical) element reduce chromatic aberration and color bleeding, while two ED (extra-low dispersion) elements and a Nano AR lens coating further increase performance and image quality by reducing flare, ghosting, and spherical aberations while shooting in harsh conditions. Compatible with Sony FE 1.4X & 2X Teleconverters which offer the added versatility of a 840mm F5.6 and 1200mm F8
THIRD-PARTY FULLFRAME E-MOUNT LENSES
Zeiss Batis AF E-Mount Lenses
This pair of the Zeiss E-mount lenses could be called ‘Baby Otus’ for their similarity to legendary Zeiss Otus lenses. They feature linear motors for fast, smooth autofocus performance and an OLED display that highlights the focus distance and depth of field range.
Zeiss Batis 18mm F2.8 E-mount Lens | Price: $1,499
Featuring a Distagon concept with a floating elements design that maintains consistent sharpness and illumination throughout the focusing range, and a series of aspherical and special glass elements help to control both chromatic and spherical aberrations. Well-suited to interior, architectural and astrophotography, the Batis 18mm f/2.8 blends its extremely wide 99° angle of view with a high degree of functionality.
Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2.0 Lens | Price: $1,299
Wide-angle prime designed specifically for full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras. The innovative design of this lens makes it a great fit for anyone looking for a premium quality wide prime lens for Sony a7-series cameras.
Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2 CF Lens | Price: $1,299
This lens employs a Distagon optical concept with a floating elements design, which maintains consistent sharpness and illumination throughout the focusing range, and a series of aspherical and low dispersion glass elements help to control both chromatic and spherical aberrations. Fast autofocus is provided by a linear motor that maintains quick, quiet, and smooth performance.
Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Lens | Price: $1,199
This short telephoto portrait lens has a f/1.8 maximum aperture for greater focus control and enhanced low-light shooting and is the first lens manufactured by Zeiss that includes Optical Stabilization. While I personally prefer the Bokeh and speed of the Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM this offers a smaller, lower-priced option when F1.8 is “fast enough.”
Zeiss Batis 135mm F2.8 OSS lens | Price: $1,699
Mid-length telephoto prime designed for full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras is perfect for portraiture, weddings and travel photography. Characterized as an apochromat, the Sonnar optical design helps to virtually eliminate chromatic aberrations and color fringing, and also benefits overall sharpness and clarity.
Sony E-Mount Lenses – APS
Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS
Widest of Sony’s E-mount lens. Though the Sony 10-18mm/4 OSS was designed for APS-C, this compact lightweight ultra-wide zoom actually does a surprisingly good job covering fullframe a7 Series cameras from 13-16mm.
See Tests Here.
Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8
This pair of APS Zeiss Touit lenses are Zeiss’ first AF lenses ever. The 12mm f/2.8 is a great choice for ultra wide lens for Sony APS-C cameras or when shooting a7 Series cameras in APS-C or Super 35 crop mode.
See Images: Zeiss Touit Field Test.
Sony E 24mm f/1.8
This Sony Zeiss lens fits nicely in the gap between the Zeiss Touit 12 and 32mm lenses. Great lens for street photography on the A5000 or A6000.
Sony A-Mount Lenses
Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 ZA II
If I could only shoot with just one A-mount lens – this would be it! Zeiss glass makes this the sharpest zoom I’ve ever used and unlike Zeiss lenses for other DSLRs – Sony Zeiss lenses are Auto Focus.
Read why: 24-70mm is the perfect focal range for portraits
Sony 24mm f/2 ZA
Great wide angle lens for low-light shooting or simply to blow out the background. Zeiss glass makes this lens razor sharp and beautiful wide open – so don’t be afraid to open up to F2.
Sony 50mm f/1.4 ZA
This lens joins the Zeiss 55/1.4 Otus and FE 55/1.8 in a trifecta of great normal lenses and nicely fills out Sony’s Zeiss prime line-up.
Sony 85mm f/1.4 ZA
I’ve always loved to shoot portraits with fast 85mm lenses wide open for minimal depth-of-field and the Zeiss glass makes this the sharpest 85 I’ve ever seen. I use this lens when I want a tight portrait to be just a bit “flatter” in perspective than a shot at 70mm.
Sony 135mm f/1.8 ZA
Quite simply an incredible lens. Though I tend to shoot portraits a bit closer, this is a great lens for tight portraits if you want to flatten out the perspective a bit. Every time I shoot with it, I’m reminded that I need to use it more often. Read more about the 135/1.8 ZA here.
Sony 100mm f/2.8 Macro
Based on the classic Minolta design, this remains one of Sony’s sharpest lenses. A favorite lens for tight portraits and beauty photography.
Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 ZA
The Zeiss glass makes this one of the best lenses in this focal range. I rarely go wider than 24mm, but here’s the lens I turn to when I do. The numbers go to 16…
Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 APO G II
Classic telephoto zoom focal length – picks up right where the CZ 24-70/2.8 leaves off. Like all G and CZ lenses this lens is all hand-assembled.
Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G II
Great travel lens. Virtually identical in size to the 70-200mm f/2.8 APO. Perfect when the reach of 400mm is more important than speed. AF performance is greatly improved in version II.
Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G
A bit less reach than the 70-400mm, but much smaller and lighter – making this a great travel telephoto zoom when size and weight is a concern.
Other Favorite Glass
Voigtlander 21mm f/1.8 Ultron
This is probably the best performing extreme wide-angle rangefinder lens for A7/A7R/A7S. It’s sharp, fast and less corner darkening issues than other extreme wide-angle lens designs.
Voigtlander 50mm f/1.1 Nokton
My vintage rangefinder glass has gotten new life thanks for all the adapters available for Sony E-mount. Though not as sharp as the FE 55mm f/1.8, this a great “speed lens” when you’re looking for more of a vintage feel than you get from modern glass.
Leica 60mm f/2.8 Macro-Elmarit-R lens
Need a great macro for Sony A7, A7R or A7S? Here’s an incredible one and since it’s in legacy Leia R mount, you can find for a great price!
Get it at eBay
Leica Summilux-M 75mm f/1.4 lens
Possibly one of the sharpest portrait lenses ever made in my favorite focal length for portraits. It’s also one of the best Leica lenses ever made – which is not faint praise.
Get it at eBay