Cool lens­es for Sony are avail­able not only from Sony itself, but also from Sig­ma, Tam­ron, Venus Optics and oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ers. Pho­to: adorama.com

Sony mir­ror­less cam­eras have long gained cult sta­tus and pushed Canon and Nikon on the pedestal. But if there are almost no bud­get lens­es from third-par­ty man­u­fac­tur­ers for Canon and Nikon mir­ror­less cam­eras, then for Sony this choice is huge!

Often glass­es from com­pa­nies such as Sig­ma and Tam­ron are not infe­ri­or in qual­i­ty to native mod­els, while you can save a lot on them. Today, we’ll take a look at the best alter­na­tive lens­es for Sony mir­ror­less cam­eras.

Full frame and APS‑C cam­eras
The best stan­dard zoom lens / whale replace­ment
The best uni­ver­sal fix
The best por­trait
The best wide-angle zoom
Best tele­zoom
Best Macro Lens

Full frame and APS‑C cameras

There are two main types of Sony mir­ror­less cam­eras: with a full-frame sen­sor (Sony a1, a7, a9, etc.) and with APS‑C, or, as they say, crop sen­sor (series a6000, NEX, Sony ZV-E10 and etc.).

At the same time, both types of cam­eras have the same E‑mount, which is used to con­nect the cam­era to the lens. Full-frame lens­es fit crop bod­ies with­out any prob­lems, but if a lens spe­cial­ly designed for crop cam­eras is put on a full-frame mod­el, it will auto­mat­i­cal­ly shoot with a 1.5x frame crop. If you dis­able this option, you will get pow­er­ful vignetting.

Most third-par­ty lens­es are full-frame, that is, they are suit­able for both types of cam­eras, but there are excep­tions — we will warn about them sep­a­rate­ly. At the same time, APS‑C cam­eras with the same lens­es have a dif­fer­ent angle of view than full-frame cam­eras (a 1.5x crop fac­tor comes into play). That is, if you put a 50mm lens on an APS‑C cam­era with a 1.5x crop fac­tor (like the Sony a6600), you will take pic­tures as if you were shoot­ing with a 75mm lens.

There­fore, in most nom­i­na­tions, we will try to select indi­vid­ual alter­na­tives specif­i­cal­ly for crop cam­eras.

The best standard zoom lens / whale replacement

Tamron 28–75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD

Stan­dard zoom with Sony’s “non-stan­dard” focal length range. Pho­to: dpreview.com

The Tam­ron 28–75mm f/2.8 is an inter­est­ing take on a stan­dard zoom lens, as you won’t find mod­els with the same focal lengths from Sony itself. And the range of the Tam­ron zoom is inter­est­ing and work­ing, although at the wide end, you may not have enough mil­lime­ters if you often shoot, say, land­scapes. But for every­day shoot­ing, street pho­tog­ra­phy and even for por­traits — the option is just right. More­over, the lens main­tains a max­i­mum aper­ture of f / 2.8 through­out the entire zoom range — an excel­lent option for a rea­son­able price (62 thou­sand rubles at the time of pub­li­ca­tion of the arti­cle).

Its aut­o­fo­cus is fast and qui­et, and the pic­ture is very sharp, except per­haps when shoot­ing at 28mm f/2.8. At the same time, you won’t get opti­cal sta­bi­liza­tion, so this is more an option for cam­eras with a built-in sta­bi­liza­tion sys­tem (Sony has most of them, the excep­tions are entry-lev­el crop mod­els Sony Alpha A6100 and A6400).

This is a great option to replace your whale glass, which is suit­able for both pho­tos and videos (if the cam­era has a stub) at a nice price.

If you’re shoot­ing with a crop cam­era and the Tam­ron 28–75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD is too tele­pho­to, you can check out the sim­i­lar Tam­ron 17–70 f/2.8 Di III‑A VC RXD.

The best universal fix

Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art

As you can guess from this pho­to, the Sig­ma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art is pro­tect­ed from bad weath­er. Pho­to: thephoblographer.com

If you’re look­ing for a fast uni­ver­sal focal length lens for low light and pow­er­ful bokeh, the Sig­ma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art does­n’t have many com­peti­tors.

Let’s make a reser­va­tion right away — this mod­el is very large and heavy (which, of course, is not sur­pris­ing, giv­en the aper­ture ratio), so if ver­sa­til­i­ty is insep­a­ra­ble from com­pact­ness for you, this option is clear­ly not suit­able for you.

But if you are ready to sweat a lit­tle, drag­ging this “mon­ster” with you, you will get a super-sharp pic­ture through­out the frame, even at an open aper­ture. For video­g­ra­phers, a very fast and qui­et aut­o­fo­cus is pro­vid­ed, as well as the abil­i­ty to turn off clicks (clicks) on the aper­ture ring for smooth adjust­ment right dur­ing the shoot­ing of the video. The case is pro­tect­ed from dust and mois­ture.

So in every­thing except the dimen­sions, this is a cool glass with a uni­ver­sal focal length. But the price is appro­pri­ate — get ready to shell out more than 100 thou­sand rubles.

On the oth­er side of the bar­ri­cades is the super-bud­get Samyang 35mm f/2.8 FE.

This is the oppo­site of the “mon­ster from Sig­ma” in almost every­thing: it is small and cheap, and, of course, can­not boast of such a pic­ture and aper­ture ratio. But it costs less than 30 thou­sand rubles. So if you are look­ing for a bud­get alter­na­tive, this is a per­fect­ly work­ing option.

And you can always choose the gold­en mean: Sig­ma AF 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art. It is very bright, the pic­ture is per­fect­ly sharp, the dimen­sions are quite rea­son­able, and the cost is also aver­age — about 65 thou­sand rubles.

And if you are look­ing for a lens specif­i­cal­ly for crop cam­eras, then there is the fast Samyang 35mm f / 1.2 (this is APS‑C for­mat glass, so it will shoot with crop­ping or strong vignette on a full-frame cam­era). It is pro­tect­ed from dust and mois­ture, but, like the Sig­ma f / 1.2, it is very large. There are also com­pro­mis­es in the pic­ture, for exam­ple, soft­ness at an open aper­ture and poor con­trast (this is not sur­pris­ing, giv­en its price — a lit­tle more than 30 thou­sand rubles).

There is also a slight­ly more bal­anced, in our opin­ion, option for crop — Sig­ma DN 30mm f/1.4 DC. An excel­lent mod­el in terms of price and qual­i­ty ratio: good sharp­ness with high aper­ture, very fast aut­o­fo­cus, weighs a lit­tle. True, with­out pro­tec­tion from dust and mois­ture, but it costs even less than Samyang — 26 thou­sand rubles.

The best portrait

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art

Despite the reduc­tion in weight and size com­pared to the old ver­sion, the 85mm f / 1.4 DG DN may not look very “har­mo­nious” on minia­ture crop mir­rors. Pho­to: pcmag.com

With the choice of por­traits, every­thing is less con­fus­ing — there are clear favorites for both full frame and APS‑C.

The Sig­ma 85mm f/1.4 DG DN is a rel­a­tive­ly recent por­trait lens released for the Sony FE and L mount (com­bines Pana­son­ic, Leica and Sig­ma full frame cam­eras). It is easy to con­fuse it with the old­er Sig­ma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, which is also very cool, but more bulky (1131 vs. 630 grams).

The new ver­sion of the Sig­ma 85mm f/1.4 DG DN is a super-sharp por­trait lens with very nice bokeh. Aut­o­fo­cus is on top, in this indi­ca­tor it also bypass­es the old­er ver­sion from the Art series. At the same time, it costs more, but an over­pay­ment of 20–30 thou­sand is well worth it.

But if you real­ly want to save mon­ey, there is a decent aut­o­fo­cus por­trait lens among the Chi­nese — Vil­trox AF 85 f / 1.8 II FE. You should not expect mir­a­cles from him, but he works out his mon­ey one hun­dred per­cent.

For crop mir­ror­less cam­eras, we need some­thing less tele­pho­to to take into account the crop fac­tor and hit the cher­ished 80–85mm for por­traits. Appar­ent­ly, Sig­ma was guid­ed by approx­i­mate­ly the same con­sid­er­a­tions when devel­op­ing its Sig­ma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN. This is an afford­able glass (now you can buy it for 32 thou­sand), while you will not see any sav­ings in the pic­ture: excel­lent sharp­ness, soft bokeh and high aper­ture for work­ing in low light.

The best wide-angle zoom

Tamron 17–28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD

But the width from Tam­ron, on the con­trary, turned out to be very com­pact for its class. Pho­to: amateurphotographer.co.uk

If your call­ing is land­scapes, archi­tec­ture or inte­ri­or pho­tog­ra­phy, then you can­not do with­out a wide-angle zoom in your col­lec­tion. Often these are not the cheap­est and most com­pact glass­es, but Tam­ron man­aged to make a very wor­thy alter­na­tive to Sony’s native widths. Tam­ron 17–28mm Di III f/2.8 pro­duces a very decent pic­ture with a “pro” aper­ture. It may not be as wide as the native Sony FE 12–24mm f/2.8 GM, but it costs sev­er­al times less. At the same time, the width from Tam­ron also weighs half as much.

The Tam­ron 17–28mm makes a very inter­est­ing duo with the Tam­ron 28–75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD, which we wrote about above. And if you want to cov­er all dis­tances from wide-angle to tele­pho­to in three sit­tings, the Tam­ron has a suit­able tele­zoom, but more on that lat­er.

If you want some­thing wider and more bud­get-friend­ly than Sony’s native lens, Venus Optics has the full-frame Laowa 10–18mm f/4.5–5.6 Zoom. This glass is also good for Sony crop mir­ror­less cam­eras, espe­cial­ly since it weighs a lit­tle more than the Tam­ron — 500 grams.

Best telezoom

Tamron 70–180 f/2.8 Di III VXD

There is a 70mm zoom lock ring on the body. Pho­to: dpreview.com

And here is the promised tele­zoom from the “holy trin­i­ty”: Tam­ron 70–180mm f / 2.8 Di III VXD. You again get a pro-zoom for a sane 70 thou­sand rubles, more­over, it is also com­pact, light and weath­er­proof.

There are also dis­ad­van­tages: the pic­ture can seem a bit soft around the edges in places, and it does not have an opti­cal stub. But most Sony cam­eras, in par­tic­u­lar full-frame ones, are equipped with a built-in sta­bi­liza­tion sys­tem, so oth­er than the longest end of the focal lengths, there should not be any par­tic­u­lar dif­fi­cul­ties.

At the longest focal lengths, the “stir­ring” prob­lem is solved with a tri­pod, and for video — with a steadicam (light­weight design allows you to shoot hand­held with­out any prob­lems). By the way, for video shoot­ing there is anoth­er nice bonus — the lens has an almost silent aut­o­fo­cus dri­ve. The tele­zoom is com­pat­i­ble with the same 67mm fil­ters as the oth­er zooms in the series, which is great if you’re bring­ing a whole set with you.

We did not find any spe­cial­ized mod­el for cropped mir­ror­less cam­eras, so we also rec­om­mend this Tam­ron — it will look quite har­mo­nious­ly on more com­pact “car­cass­es”.

Best Macro Lens

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art

The retractable focus­ing mech­a­nism is marked with mag­ni­fi­ca­tion fac­tors as well as the dis­tance in meters/feet. Pho­to cred­it: sonyrumors.com

The Sig­ma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art offers a true 1:1 macro zoom (the object on the sen­sor is repro­duced in its actu­al size). Accord­ing to the man­u­fac­tur­er, the focus ring is spe­cial­ly adjust­ed to the needs of macro pho­tog­ra­phers — you can adjust it very pre­cise­ly, lit­er­al­ly to the mil­lime­ter.

But aut­o­fo­cus does not dif­fer in such accu­ra­cy, as well as in speed, so you can’t rec­om­mend this glass for por­traits (often macro lens­es are suit­able for por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy, but not this time). The focal length of the Sig­ma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art is best suit­ed for food pho­tog­ra­phy, but for shoot­ing insects, the work­ing dis­tance may seem too short (the lens will have to be brought too close to the sub­ject). There­fore, if you are more often deal­ing with “mov­ing” objects, it may make sense to pay atten­tion to Sig­ma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro Art. Both mod­els are pro­tect­ed from bad weath­er, so you can take them with you into the for­est with­out fear of any­thing.

As with tele­pho­to, the Sig­ma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art looks like the best choice not only for full frame, but also for Sony’s APS‑C mir­ror­less cam­eras. For­tu­nate­ly, the lens, although quite heavy, will not seem too bulky on crop car­cass­es thanks to the retractable focus­ing mech­a­nism.