As we’ve reviewed the majority of Sony E-Mount and FE mount lenses to date, we thought we’d pop the 29 top scoring lenses into a list so you can easily see which are the best.
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A Little Lens Background
You can use Full-Frame FE-mount lenses on APS-C Sony E-Mount cameras, and this will give you a 1.5x crop of the lens. For example, a full-frame 50mm lens will give the equivalent of a 75mm lens. You can also use APS-C E-mount lenses on full-frame Sony E-Mount cameras, and this will use a cropped area of the sensor, with the resolution of the image depending on the camera used. This will make an APS-C 50mm lens equivalent to 75mm.
1 – Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS
A new leader, the Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS is, no doubt, an amazing lens and the use of an apodization element adds something very special. It would be easy to think of this in too narrow a way, but the obvious application is of course for portraiture. This could give that something extra to images where already, to be fair, we can get beautiful bokeh with existing lenses. But this does go the extra mile, offering outstanding sharpness as well as that vital, gorgeous bokeh. The lens is actually a total pleasure to use.
Offering outstanding sharpness with sublime bokeh, it’s a magnificent lens.
2 – Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS (Full-Frame)
This is a large and impressive looking lens that offers an equally impressive performance. Sharpness is excellent and Chromatic Aberration is almost zero centrally and generally kept under one pixel at the edges. At f/22 diffraction reduces edge sharpness but results remain good and flare is also totally absent. Images have good contrast and almost anything can be added to the shooting repertoire for the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS.
3 – Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master OSS (Full-Frame)
The Sony G Master FE 70-200mm f/2.8 OSS is, without a doubt, a very fine lens. It operates smoothly and is very well made, however it is worth taking care when shooting against the light. Bokeh is excellent but edges do show some signs of fringing, particularly at 200mm where it becomes quite obvious in some subjects, such as branches against the bright sky. This can, however, be easily corrected in software so it’s not really anything to worry about. Sharpness figures are superb and it is also extremely even from centre to edge, giving a very precise overall crispness. Some may think the price is a little high but for what the lens offers, Sony E-mount users may consider it an excellent buy.
4 – Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master OSS
There has been a gap in the Sony mirrorless range and the Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master lens fills it perfectly.
The Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master is a superb lens in every way, offering excellent image quality, outstanding sharpness and very well controlled CA. Distortion levels are low, AF is silent and the bokeh the lens produces can only be described as beautiful.
Quality clinches it as an Editor’s Choice.
5 – Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 G Master (Full-Frame)
Even though this lens is ideal for portrait photography, the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM is actually ideal for a wide variety of subjects. It’s a very fine lens that’s incredibly well made and is a joy to use. Resistance to flare is excellent, sharpness is outstanding and CA (chromatic aberration) is almost zero in the centre of the field, and is contained to less than one pixel at the edges. Distortion is also commendably low and the lens produces beautiful bokeh. It’s superb in every respect and received the ‘Editor’s Choice’ accolade as a result.
6 – Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE
Some lenses are a real pleasure to use, and the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE falls into this category. The technical quality is excellent, the AF is fast and accurate and the results look punchy with superb colour rendition.
In terms of value, it’s hard to argue with such a modestly priced lens when it performs so well. Weather resistance would be nice, as would full-time manual focus in AF mode, but apart from that the lens pretty much hits the spot. It is certainly an excellent match for the Sony mirrorless range for which it has been designed.
7 – Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens
The Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art is a really sharp lens, with excellent handling and beautiful bokeh, which makes a powerful mix. Although many photographers have felt that 135mm was slightly too long for a short portrait telephoto, perhaps looking at 100mm instead, with this Sigma the close focusing seems to be a game changer. Whereas the 135mm often stopped short at 4 feet or so, at just over 3 feet this new lens makes the tight head shot absolutely possible and probably tips the balance. Coupled with a truly splendid performance, Sigma has a winner, without a doubt.
8 – Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
The Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 lens is superb to use, and also superb in many ways in terms of its performance. The lower cost compared to most 85mm lens does not seem to have reduced the performance at all. So full credit to Sony for achieving this. The one weakness is the tendency to flare against the light, which is a shame, but it need not be a deal breaker, depending on the sort of image making we do.
To summarise, an excellent performance from a well-priced lens and one that can easily be Highly Recommended.
9 – Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 Apo Sonnar T* (Full-Frame)
The Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 Apo Sonnar T* lens is a beauty, of that there is no doubt. It oozes quality and there would appear to be little downside to it apart from the price. A lens to aspire to and, if it can be afforded, to put very high on the list of possible purchases.
10 – Zeiss Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA (Full-Frame)
The Zeiss Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA full-frame prime lens is designed to be used with Sony E-Mount cameras and it’s another excellent offering from Zeiss / Sony. Image quality is excellent, sharpness is superb and CA (Chromatic Aberration) is very much under control. Flare does have some effect and when shooting against the light there can be a drop in contrast and there is a small amount of barrel distortion but really, it’s an insignificant figure. The bokeh of the lens is very smooth and overall, images are crisp and clear.
11 – Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master (Full-Frame)
Zoom lenses do have strengths and weaknesses in their performance, but there is little to complain about with this Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens. Sharpness at its best is excellent to outstanding, CA and distortion can be addressed in software, although centrally CA is very well controlled anyway and flare is non-existent. Images are excellent and the bokeh is indeed beautiful in fact, it’s quite sublime at times. The Sony lens represents a level of performance that can only be found in the most expensive lenses. It is itself quite expensive, but given that prices may yet ease over time it is within the realms of being a realistic price.
12 – Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens is a very attractive proposition for those seeking a fast 35mm lens. The quality is uniformly excellent and the price much lower than the marque alternatives. All in all, the lens is excellent value for money.
13 – Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS (APS-C)
Our lens reviewer described this lens as a ‘belter’ and thanks to its price point, sharpness levels and overall image quality, it’s easy to see why. The Sony NEX 50mm f/1.8 OSS does have a few Chromatic aberration problems but this flaw is easily overlooked taking into account this lens’ positive attributes. Autofocus is very fast and accurate and optical stabilisation is a nice feature to have and it allows sharp hand held images to be taken in around half the time with shutter speeds as low as 1/10sec.
14 – Meike 85mm f/2.8 Macro
The Meike 85mm f/2.8 Macro lens is a well made, well-priced lens that will do the job efficiently and to an excellent standard.
As a general purpose short telephoto for portraits, landscapes, etc., it may be that the loss of AF will be an inconvenience. However, in the arena of macro shooting, this lens comes into its own, being what it is clearly designed for. Very often MF is the method of choice for macro shooting anyway. All the accuracy of the focusing is concentrated in the macro range and the image snaps clearly into focus in the viewfinder or on the monitor screen.
15 – Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master
Expensive, but outstanding. That is the simple equation, the choice that is there. Definitely, the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master lens is one to aspire to and one that upholds the fine performance levels of the G Master range. The focal length range is versatile, the aperture a fast and constant f/2.8 and the construction quality of a very high order. In conclusion, a very desirable lens.
16 – Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS (Full-Frame)
This lens is a high-level performer that does the job efficiently. Don’t be put off by the f/4 maximum aperture as it’s not really much of a disadvantage. In fact, the size and cost of the lens actually make it a serious contender for those in the market for a new telephoto lens. The only slight drawback is the possibility of some flare, but fortunately, this does not seem to be a major problem. Our reviewer was happy to ‘Highly Recommend’ the 70-200mm f/4 G OSS and said it was ideally suited to the Sony Alpha 7R II.
17 – Sony E 35mm f/1.8 OSS (APS-C)
The Sony E35mm f/1.8 OSS might seem expensive but the performance it delivers does make it a worthwhile purchase. Sharpness is very good from maximum aperture, and can even be considered as outstanding as the lens is stopped down. Other optical anomalies, such as CAs, falloff and distortion are also kept well in check and the lens is lightweight as well as compact which will please many.
18 – Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary
The Sigma AF 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens gives excellent performance, a reasonable price and a very bright f/1.4 maximum aperture, which all add up to a very desirable package, that will be appealing for both Micro Four Thirds and Sony E-Mount photographers.
19 – Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G
The Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G is expensive, but also excellent, which is always a dilemma. Easy to handle, superb central performance, huge potential creatively, there is so much to like about the lens. There is no doubt this is a very worthy choice for, especially, full-frame Sony users.
20 – Laowa C-Dreamer 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D
The Laowa lenses as a range are certainly very interesting, sometimes unique and always deliver the goods in terms of performance. Traditional metal construction does mean a higher price, but we have to choose whether the trade-off of quality of results balances out the cost/performance equation. This will obviously be different for different users.
What we get is the widest lens in its class, with a fast, bright f/2.8 aperture, that performs very well indeed.
The Laowa 9mm f/2.8 is a compact, widest in class lens with fast f/2.8 aperture and excellent overall performance
21 – Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 Distagon T*
The Loxia range is an attractive proposition, with useful focal lengths and, if the 25mm f/2.4 is anything to go by, excellent qualities. The new 25mm f/2.4 is compact, beautiful to use in a most traditional way, full of the tactile high grade feel that is rarely seen. The price may be slightly on the high side, but then again what price quality? Some may question the manual focus, but with this lens it is so easy to find the point of focus that with minimal practice it should soon become second nature. Admittedly that will not suit everyone.
All in all, a lovely lens that matches well to the Sony FE full frame mirrorless cameras.
22 – Carl Zeiss Sonnar E 24mm f/1.8 ZA (APS-C)
This lens delivers a performance worthy of the Carl Zeiss name, especially in the centre of the frame, where sharpness is excellent, or even outstanding when stopped down. The Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 Sonnar T* lens is a premium piece of glass that doesn’t disappoint. Contrast holds up very well when shooting into the light and there are very few instances of flare, even in very harsh lighting conditions. Sharpness is excellent but there are a few problems with CA, however, the amount of fringing will be acceptable for many.
23 – Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar T* (Full-Frame)
The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 is a lovely lens that’s designed well, is a pleasure to use and the results ooze quality. The OLED display is actually quite useful and the construction quality is impeccable. The only thing not to like is perhaps the price, but it starts to look much better value when pitched against other premium quality lenses. Overall, the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/2 is a beautiful premium lens for full frame E-Mount users.
24 – Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon T* (Full-Frame)
The Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 is an exquisite premium lens for full-frame E-Mount users. There’s nothing really negative to say about it as design, the way it handles and the images it produces are all superb. There was a tiny issue with CA (nothing that can’t be corrected) and the price might put some people off but overall, it’s a pleasure to use and construction is impeccable, just as you expect from a brand such as Zeiss.
25 – Sony FE 28mm f/2.0 (Full-Frame)
The Sony FE 28mm f/2 has a lot going for it, delivering high levels of sharpness in a lightweight and compact body that has a reasonable asking price. It’s a shame the aperture has to be stopped down to improve performance towards the edges of the frame and to reduce chromatic aberrations, but overall the lens performs well. The lens is quite resistant to flare although contrast can be noticeably reduced when shooting into the light.
26 – Sony E 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Power Zoom (APS-C)
The price alone will ensure the Sony E PZ 18-200mm f/e.5-6.3 OSS becomes a niche item, but if money is no object, and you require the best quality, most convenient solution for general picture taking, then this lens could be for you. This lens is quite resistant to flare and retains good contrast, even when shooting into the light and Chromatic aberrations are pretty well controlled. Sharpness levels are excellent and so is the build quality.
27 – Carl Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 T* (APS-C)
Zeiss has, yet again, produced a lens with optical characteristics worthy of the Zeiss reputation, that’s well designed and solidly built. Although the Carl Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 T* does carry a premium price, the additional cost isn’t so much that it will put this lens beyond the reach of everyone, especially those serious about using quality glass with their camera. Sharpness levels are excellent, Chromatic aberrations towards the edges of the frame are very well controlled and shouldn’t pose issues for most images, distortion is very mild and falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is incredibly well controlled.
28 – Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS
As a general purpose lens, a good 18-135mm is hard to beat on APS-C format cameras. The close focus and long reach lend themselves well to close-ups such as flower studies. The 18mm wide angle can accommodate most architecture and landscapes. The close focus means small object photography is simple, and quality of results at these close distances are well maintained.
The Sony lens generally performs well, but with caveats. Central sharpness is fine until we reach small apertures of f/16 and beyond, but beyond that detail is soon lost. The edges are quite poor when longer focal lengths are used, although the centre still sparkles crisply. This in itself can be used creatively for portraiture and other close-ups.
Although not perfect, the Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens is still a very good choice for general photography and capable of delivering good, bright and sharp images.
29 – SainSonic Kamlan 50mm f/1.1
KamLan has a simple, ambitiously specified lens for a very low price. It is well made, performs well and, within the limitations of manual focus and lagging edge quality, it is still a lens that delivers something very useful. The bright f/1.1 aperture is one thing and the gorgeous bokeh is another. The lens is not technically perfect, but it does have excellent photographic, creative qualities that could be used to advantage. At £126, there is little to lose.