Welcome to my Buyer’s Guide for Sony lenses! I’ll focus on a quick guide with their ranges and what things to look out for, accompanied by my personal ideas for creating a system, and lastly a set of all of the models I’ve reviewed or tested and will recommend. So if you’re buying Sony lens, you’ve come to the proper place!
Sony lens terminology
Sony has two lens systems, one suitable for its E-mount mirrorless cameras and the other because of its older A-mount DSLR and SLT cameras. Older A-mount lenses may also focus on E-mount mirrorless cameras by using a Sony adapter, but also for the very 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 especially identifies lenses that are just corrected for cameras with cropped APSC sensors, just like the A6000 series, or full-frame bodies running in cropped / Super-35 modes; in any case, the crop reduces the field-of-view by 1.5 times, so a 50mm becomes equal to 75mm. Note older NEX bodies also employ cropped APSC sensors, but might not exactly have the firmware to improve distortion on a number of the latest lenses; they’ll still work, nevertheless, you could see more distortion that you’ll on an A6000 series body.
Sony’s mirrorless lenses corrected for use on full-frame bodies just like the A7 and A9 series, are labeled FE and also have no decrease in their field-of-view when shooting in full-frame modes; these also focus on cropped bodies or in cropped modes, albeit again with a 1.5x field-reduction. Sony’s A-mount lenses have SAL within their product codes, but models additionally labeled with DT are suitable for bodies with cropped / APSC sensors.
In most cases, assuming you have a full-frame Sony mirrorless camera, you should purchase FE lenses, and when you have a cropped-frame Sony mirrorless camera, you can utilize either FE or E lenses; choosing FE will provide you with the option to utilize them on full-frame bodies in the event that you upgrade later on, 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 tend to be 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 people that have OSS make reference to Optical SteadyShot stabilisation. Phew, enough of the specs and today to my recommendations; the written text links within the next section take you to B&H to check on prices, while links to my full reviews and sample galleries are lower on the page.
Best Sony Lenses
The Sony FE 50mm f1.8 can be an affordable standard prime lens for Alpha mirrorless cameras. It offers standard coverage on full-frame bodies rendering it an excellent walk-around lens, and becomes a brief telephoto on APSC bodies, equal to 75mm, rendering it exquisite for portraits. Meanwhile the bright f1.8 focal ratio enables you to shoot easier 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 (especially regarding corner sharpness and rendering) and quieter focusing. But none come anywhere nearby the good deal of the FE 50mm f1.8, so that it is a no-brainer for Alpha owners getting started in prime lenses. You can also assemble an inexpensive threesome with the addition of the FE 28mm f2 and FE 85mm f1.8. All come recommended if you cannot stretch to the higher-end options.