The 10 Best Sony Lenses

Updated October 28, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

10 Best Sony Lenses
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. For all you shutterbugs out there who rely on Sony cameras and are ready to add a new dimension to your photography, check out our selection of the company's lenses. Each one is specifically designed to give you an ideal focal range and aperture for capturing stunning portraits, landscapes, wildlife shots, or fast-moving action, depending entirely on your style. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best sony lens on Amazon.

10. Sonnar T E 24mm ƒ/1.8

The Sonnar T E 24mm ƒ/1.8 provides an ideal focal length for astral photography, capturing a wide swath of sky with a distortion around the edges comparable to the curvature of the planet's horizon. It's fast ƒ/1.8 aperture performs excellently in dim light, as well.
  • extra-low dispersion glass
  • 16 cm close focus
  • no built-in stabilization
Brand Sony
Model SEL24F18Z
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. 20mm ƒ/2.8

The 20mm ƒ/2.8 features a portable pancake design that can fit easily into your pocket. Rear focusing elements mean a shorter minimum shooting distance as well as a speedier auto-focus, and a circular aperture allows for a more natural bokeh effect.
  • ideal for discreet photography
  • less than 21mm thick
  • not meant for full-frame sensors
Brand Sony
Model SEL20F28
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. FE 28mm ƒ/2

The FE 28mm ƒ/2 is a prime option that runs a little on the wider side, allowing you to capture large groups in indoor settings without having to walk across the room to do so. Its fast constant aperture also makes it a good choice for low-light situations.
  • corner to corner sharpness
  • available fisheye converters
  • some vignetting on raw files
Brand Sony
Model SEL28F20
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T FE ƒ/4 OSS

The 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T FE ƒ/4 OSS is a workhorse for shooters who do a lot of their business indoors and in tight quarters. It's not the fastest option out there, but its focal range provides a sharp, wide field of view.
  • built-in image stabilization
  • three ed elements
  • heavy for a mirrorless system
Brand Sony
Model SEL1635Z
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

6. 24-70mm ƒ/4 Vario-Tessar T FE OSS

The 24-70mm ƒ/4 Vario-Tessar T FE OSS provides optical image stabilization with built-in gyro sensors that detect even the slightest movement. The internal focusing feature means the front of the lens does not rotate, which is convenient if you're using a polarizer.
  • versatile focal range
  • seven aperture blades
  • not terribly fast
Brand Sony
Model SEL2470Z
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. 55mm ƒ/1.8 Sonnar

The innovative 55mm ƒ/1.8 Sonnar features the Carl Zeiss T-star coating that provides outstanding image quality. It virtually eliminates lens flare, internal reflection, and light scattering. The aspherical design keeps it conveniently small and lightweight.
  • ideal for shooting in dark settings
  • exceptional contrast and resolution
  • auto-focus is on the slow side
Brand Sony
Model SEL55F18Z
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

4. FE 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 GM OSS

Superior auto-focus is what makes the FE 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 GM OSS a premium lens on which professionals rely. The time-saving range limiter offers the speed and precision necessary for capturing fast-moving objects, and the supersonic wave motor ensures a silent operation.
  • nano-ar coating
  • wide constant aperture
  • sturdy tripod mount
Brand Sony
Model SEL70200GM
Weight 5 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

3. FE 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 GM

Certainly among the most versatile, if not the most portable, of the company's offerings, the FE 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 GM provides an image quality and a focal range that could make it the only thing you ever mount on your camera again.
  • extreme-aspherical element
  • 50 line pairs per millimeter
  • direct drive autofocus
Brand Sony
Model SEL2470GM
Weight 4 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. 35mm ƒ/2.8 Sonnar T* FE ZA

For prime shooters who delve deeply into street and nature photography, few focal lengths serve as functionally as a 35mm, and the 35mm ƒ/2.8 Sonnar T* FE ZA is a fast, sharp example of what these elements can provide in the field.
  • compact and portable
  • circular aperture for smooth bokeh
  • zeiss t-star coating
Brand Sony
Model SEL35F28Z
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Planar T FE 50mm ƒ/1.4 ZA

The Planar T FE 50mm ƒ/1.4 ZA is one of the fastest primes in the company's current lineup, making it an ideal choice for shooters working in intensely low-light situations, or for anyone in search of an extremely shallow depth of field.
  • physical aperture ring
  • advanced aspheric and ed glass
  • dust- and moisture-resistant
Brand Sony
Model SEL50F14Z
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Through The Looking Glass

Photographers at the enthusiast level spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on the specs on their camera bodies, and significantly less time concerned with the quality of their lenses. For consumers making the jump to a higher level camera from exclusively using their cell phone or a small, digital point-and-shoot for their photography, any lens, by virtue of its size increase alone, will seem far superior.

The question for a real photographer, or for anyone aspiring to capture truly great images, isn't one of resolution and megapixels, nor is it one of burst rate or autofocus points. It must be a question of image quality.

There is no more potent variable in the quest for image quality than the lens. A manufacturer can pack enough megapixels onto a tiny sensor and connect it to a powerful enough device to capture decent images through a small, poorly made lens (see: every cell phone in existence), but the ceiling to that quality is low and definite.

You may have heard of a move called Tangerine, which gained a tremendous amount of press in one circle for the fact that it starred a transgender actress, and an equally potent amount of coverage in another circle because it was shot entirely on an iPhone. What was left out of a lot of the latter coverage, however, was director Sean S. Baker's admission that the film never would have looked as good as it did if he hadn't used an anamorphic lens kit prototype by Moondog Labs. The lens on the phone itself wouldn't cut it.

Sony shooters can rest assured that they have some of the best sensor technology in their camera bodies, with some of the fastest, most reliable autofocusing out there. With the right lens in place, your images will go from family photo quality, to professional grade.

Start With The Mount

Before looking more deeply into the speeds and focal lengths of the lenses on our list, there's an important distinction between two groups that we must make for you to see your decision clearly. Some of the lenses on our list are meant to affix to Sony cameras with what the company calls its A-mount, while others are built for the company's E-mount.

If you have an E-mount camera, and you want to use an A-mount lens, you're going to need a bulky adapter. The same is true if you have an A-mount camera and you want to use an E-mount lens. In general, we advise against using lenses outside of your system unless there is an undeniable increase in quality. If you had, say, a Leica 50mm Noctilux-M lens, which retails for around $11,000, it'd probably be worth using it over pretty much anything else in the world. In the absence of anything that special, it's best to stick to what fits.

From that point on, the major questions you have to answer involve focal length and aperture speed. As for focal length, this depends a lot on what kind of shooter you are. A lens with a variable focal length, more commonly known as a zoom lens, will let you see more or less of a scene from closer or farther away without having you move your body an inch. These are particularly useful for capturing family sporting events and wildlife.

Fixed focal length lenses, called primes, tend to be sharper simply because manufacturers only have to account for sharpness at the one focal length, instead of having to distribute it across many points. If you want to get closer or farther away with these you actually have to move, making them superior for landscape and portrait photography.

The focal length itself tells you how much of a given scene your lens can capture. A smaller number preceding the mm measurement is a wider angle that will cover more space. These are much better indoors, especially at parties, where you have to shoot very close to your subjects. A larger number will let you capture subjects that are much farther away with great clarity, but they limit your ability to capture large scenes or action that's happening close to you.

That other number you'll see on every lens, the one that usually written as: ƒ/2.8 or 2.8-5.6 is a measurement of the width through which light can enter the lens. I'll save you a long mathematical explanation and simply tell you that, in almost every case, the smaller that number is, the better.

Better Blooming Late Than Never

The technology behind the camera lens reaches back to at least the 5th century BCE, when we find the earliest reference to a stone used for magnification, specifically in this case to focus sunlight on kindling as a fire starter. Those stones were refined through the years to become the magnifying glasses we would recognize today, but their design helped the early innovators of the camera to capture the first still images on record.

Sony, by comparison, has come to the game relatively late. Its share of the digital camera market in the late 1990s was never particularly impressive, but in 2005 Sony acquired what was left of the Minolta brand and all of its infrastructure. With those tools at their fingertips, the company invested heavily in its D-SLR line, leading to the high quality A-mount lenses on our list.

The E-mount lenses would come later, when Sony, in 2012, partnered with Fujifilm in a bid to take over shares in Olympus, another camera manufacturer struggling to compete with Canon and Nikon, the two giants of modern digital photography.

Within just a couple of years, those three manufacturers have taken the market by storm with each its own lineup of mirrorless interchangeable lens camera systems and a slew of clear, high-quality lenses.



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Last updated on October 28, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.


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