Sony is one of the first companies to bet on mirrorless cameras. Since 2010, the company has focused entirely on mirrorless, developing one of the largest lines of mirrorless lenses of any manufacturer. Also, Sony was the first to introduce its line of lenses for full-frame mirrorless cameras.
Its system not only covers prime focal lengths, but boasts a range of highly specialized lenses, such as the 600mm f/4, that you won’t find equivalents from other manufacturers.
We have compiled a ranking of the best Sony lenses for various tasks: the best zooms (wide-angle and telephoto), universal primes and portraits, as well as macro lenses. The ranking includes both Sony E‑mount APS‑C lenses and full-frame FE lenses.*
For each category, we used our own selection criteria, because what is important for a wide-angle zoom may not be so important for a portrait lens, but the benchmarks common to all models were: high sharpness, build reliability and universal value for money.
* Sony E lenses designed for the company’s APS‑C cameras can also be used with full-frame models, but in this case, the camera automatically applies a 1.5x crop. When disabled, be prepared for very intense vignetting. But FE lenses work without any problems with both APS‑C and Sony full-frame cameras.
Best all-around Sony prime lenses
Sony FE 35mm f/1.8
The Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 is one of the most versatile primes in the company’s lineup, delivering excellent sharpness wide open. At the same time, it is very compact and goes well with both full-frame and crop cameras.
Another important advantage is the excellent autofocus speed. The lens has nice soft bokeh, but you need to watch out for chromatic aberrations — green and purple fringing can appear in high-contrast scenes.
Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Zeiss Sonnar T
As an alternative, consider the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Zeiss Sonnar T*. This 55mm prime delivers incredibly sharp images despite being one of the first FE-lined primes. On APS‑C sensors, its focal length will be equivalent to 85mm, which is perfect for portrait photography.
The best Sony fixed lenses for portraits
Sony 85mm f/1.8
The Sony 85mm f/1.8 is a compact and affordable portrait lens with nice bokeh and good sharpness. Of course, in terms of optics, it is slightly behind its faster counterpart 85mm f / 1.4 GM, but a significant difference in size and weight, and not least in price, makes 85mm f / 1.8 the best choice for portrait photography.
On crop cameras, it provides a longer 128mm equivalent field of view, which is better suited for headshots.
Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS
If you’re looking for a more versatile portrait lens for a crop camera, the Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS is worth a look. On average, it’s $100 more expensive than its full-frame counterpart, the FE 50mm f/1.8, but boasts a stronger build (metal versus plastic) and optical stabilization.
Sony FE 16–35mm f/2.8GM
The Sony FE 16–35mm f/2.8 GM is a lens from the premium GM-series (G Master), which boasts the highest quality of optics and body materials. The main disadvantage is that the price for them is two to three times higher than for ordinary Sony glasses.
16–35mm is an extremely useful focal length range for all photographers, suitable for landscapes, weddings and environmental portraits. The lens is very sharp across the frame and at almost all focal lengths, even wide open. In general, the maximum aperture of 2.8 allows this Sony lens to work in low light. Experts at DXOMark call the 16–35mm f/2.8 the best wide-angle zoom of any manufacturer, with sharpness that easily leaves any competitor behind.
Sony E 10–18mm f/4 OSS
As an alternative for APS‑C cameras, the Sony E 10–18mm f/4 OSS is a compact wide-angle lens that will be more balanced with crop bodies, unlike the rather rather big 16–35mm f/2.8. It maintains an aperture of f/4 throughout the zoom range and also provides optical image stabilization.
Sony’s Best Telephoto Zoom Lenses
Sony FE 100–400mm f/4.5–5.6 GM OSS
Another representative of the GM line in our ranking, the Sony FE 100–400mm f/4.5–5.6 GM OSS, like its wide-angle counterpart, offers excellent sharpness throughout the focal length range. In addition, it also focuses very quickly, which is important for a telephoto zoom, making it a great choice for sports and wildlife photography.
Sony E 55–210mm f/4.5–6.3 OSS
And again, for a crop camera, you can choose a more compact and lightweight option, in contrast to the almost kilogram 100–400mm f / 4.5–5.6. Among the advantages of the Sony E 55–210mm f/4.5–6.3 OSS (apart from a small weight of 345 grams) is a very affordable price (17 thousand rubles at the time of writing), but the maximum aperture of f/4.5–6.3 can be a problem in poor lighting .
Best Sony Macro Lenses
Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro
The excellent quality of the Sony FE 50mm f / 2.8 Macro optics, excellent sharpness, compactness and reasonable price (50 thousand at the time of writing) are the strengths of this macro lens. Perhaps the only tangible drawback is a somewhat close focal length, which is not suitable for any object (you risk frightening off a beautiful butterfly).
Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS
If you still prefer a longer focal length for your macro shots, the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS is probably the best alternative. The lens uses optical image stabilization so you can still shoot handheld, while linear response manual focus greatly improves focus control. The main disadvantage of this macro lens is the high price (about 100 thousand at the time of writing).
Photographer Ekaterina Mokhnacheva, author of the popular Instagram project Chronicles of Petersburg, has been shooting with Sony FE 16–35mm f/2.8 GM and FE 85mm f/1.8 for two years now. Here’s what she says about these lenses:
“Sony lenses are love. Real terminators in the world of optics. Tenacious, nimble, sharp as a razor. Autofocus is everything. These are the only glasses in my arsenal that reduce focus misses to zero. What gives me a complete sense of freedom and relaxation, so with them I know that any plot is under my control.
The Sony FE 16–35mm f/2.8 GM has become my go-to camera for the past year thanks to its ability to take on the toughest challenges of architectural landscape photography and reflections. A very ambitious glass with incredible detail in all conditions.
The Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 was originally purchased as the most affordable and affordable portrait lens, without high expectations. A bonus was its lightness and compactness. In fact, it became my favorite, conquering with atmospheric non-trivial bokeh. In combination with flawless autofocus, we get real magic at an open aperture.