It’s true that the photo quality vastly depends on the photographer himself. But, having a nice, capable lens is of the utmost importance, especially if you want to be a versatile photographer. If you have a Nikon or a Canon camera, we have two separate articles about the best lenses for these juggernauts. Nevertheless, we’re going to talk a bit more about lenses for Sony cameras, to be precise, we’re going to talk about 10 best lenses for your Sony camera in 2021.
As with every list of this type, we need to clear some things before we start. So, can you use every lens on every Sony camera? Definitely NO. The lenses are usually split into two categories – lenses for APS-C and full-frame cameras. When it comes to Sony lenses, we have the same exact situation, but Sony took advantage of a different nomenclature. Sony supports so-called E and FE lenses. ‘E’ lenses are built for APS-C format cameras, while ‘FE’ lenses are built for full-frame camera bodies.
Before you buy a lens, it’s very important to ask the seller if the desired lens is fully supported and if it can be integrated into your camera. If you have an APS-C camera, you can take advantage of full-frame lenses without any compromises to the quality. But, if you have a full-frame Sony camera, putting an APS-C (E) lens will result in cropping thus reducing the overall image quality.
Okay, now that we got this out of the way, let’s split our list into several categories and see what are the best options for certain situations.
Let’s kick off our list with some mighty wide-angle lenses. The first lens on our list is no other than Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. This lens is proven to be one of the best lenses for landscape and travel photography simply because it has everything you need for a jaw-dropping photo in nature. The first thing to notice here is a sleek, elegant, and professional-grade design and build quality. Simply outstanding. As this is an APS-C lens, it comes with a focal length of 16-35mm.
Arguably, this focal length is almost ideal for a wide-angle lens. The maximum aperture stands firmly at f/2.8 meaning that you’ll get a lot of light into your lens. As we mentioned before, with a build quality this amazing, we also get weather seals and 11 aperture blades. As for the autofocus, it’s fast and nearly silent, with amazing image quality.
Many reviewers say that it’s heavy with its 680g of weight, but we disagree. Since it’s 122mm long and just 89mm in diameter, this combination of weight and robustness is almost perfect. The only downside is its expensive price.
Another wide-angle prime juggernaut is, of course, Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM lens. Dimensions-wise, the lens is a bit smaller, packing 92mm in length and 74mm in diameter. With its weight of 445g, you’ll be able to take high-quality and blur-free photos even when holding the camera in hand. The focal length here is fixed and it’s 24mm, which could a downside for some users. The maximum aperture of f/1.4 is great, allowing more light to pass through the lens for some stunning landscape photos.
The image quality and sharpness are simply on point. Images turn sharp, without any blur even on the sides of the image. This is provided by 11 aperture blades which not only give additional sharpness but also give you a possibility for a smooth bokeh effect. We also need to commend the autofocus, which works really well, utilizing Direct Drive SSM. Unfortunately, this lens doesn’t have much else to offer.
If you’re a modest photographer and you don’t crave any expensive photography gear, this lens is the right one, albeit it’s still on the more expensive side of the spectrum.
Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM is a lens that is best used for portrait photography. The reason for this is that it comes with a focal length of 85mm that’s one of the best focal lengths for shooting a portrait accompanied by the bokeh effect. Quite frankly, this lens has a beautiful bokeh effect thanks to 11 aperture blades, in both close-up and distant portrait shots. Since it has a maximum aperture of f/1.4, the sharpness and overall detail on the photo is simply stunning, which is a highlight of this lens.
Thanks to the Nano AR coating that Sony integrated on this lens, the flare and ghosting effects are reduced to a minimum, with longitudinal and lateral fringing being barely noticeable. The filter thread is 77mm and we also have weather seals… hooray! The lens is really heavy, weighing around 820g. Dimensions-wise, 89.5×107.5mm is also a bit bigger, but not too concerning.
If you want a great portrait lens that packs a lot of great features, this one is simply amazing, despite its lower value due to the price.
Wait, are we talking about the same lens? Not exactly. Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 comes with a focal length of 85mm, which is sort of a standard in portrait photography. However, this one comes with a maximum aperture of f/1.8, which is a bit weaker than the previous lens. Nonetheless, this minimal difference is barely noticeable, even if you have a pretty sharp eye. The value in terms of image quality is definitely superb. We have 9 aperture blades which make the bokeh look stunning. And if you want to do some handheld portraiture, you’ll be happy to hear that this lens weighs only 371g.
But, here’s a catch – it’s mostly made of polycarbonate. This means that the build quality isn’t great, so you’ll need to have additional protection. Speaking of protection, there aren’t weather seals either, making the flare effect a bit more noticeable. With its clean and simplistic design also comes a caveat and that’s the absence of a DOF scale. Such a shame!
If you want an affordable lens that performs well under every given circumstance, Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 is a great choice, especially for non-demanding users.
Are you up for some close-up, macro shooting? No problem. Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS offers razor-sharp photo quality with some premium features. The important thing to mention is that it supports full-frame camera bodies, which is awesome if you have such a camera. With its focal length of 90mm, the lens provides a full 1.0x zoom, which is just what we need from a macro lens. You’ll be able to shoot tiny stuff like bugs, toys, stains, and other small objects.
In my opinion, the build quality also improves photo quality. This is why this lens includes a top-grade glass which not only serves as a protection but also improves image quality. Since we’re talking about a pretty robust lens, I’m glad that its autofocus is almost silent, yet snappy and quick. And just as we mentioned the build quality, it’s also important to mention weather seals. Yes, there are weather seals alongside 62mm filter thread. With its 9 aperture blades, the lens produces a satisfying bokeh effect, although you’ll rarely need it here.
The good thing about this lens is that it can be used as a short telephoto lens due to its OSS stabilization and 9 aperture blades. However, if you use autofocus, the distance scale is completely inactive, which isn’t a nice thing. The weight of 602g is also a bit heavy for this kind of photography. You’ll still want a tripod if you want a blur-free experience, which you aren’t going to get in handheld mode.
If you want a cheap macro lens with a bit of compromise, you can always check the Tamron counterpart. Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II PZD Macro is a lens that isn’t going to empty your wallet that much but will still give you the desired performance. This APS-C lens is NOT compatible with full-frame cameras, which is very important to mention. With its focal length of 16-300mm, the lens possesses one of the largest zooms ranges on the market, despite not being compatible with full-frame cameras.
Thanks to its incredible zoom range, you’ll be able to use this lens as both ultra-wide and macro, according to your needs. The lens comes with a 67mm filter thread, as well as a weather-seal ring on the mounting plate, which is…well, decent for the price. The autofocus works decently, despite being the old-school motor-driven ultrasonic autofocus system. If you care about video recording, you’ll be dissatisfied with the optical stabilizer, as there’s none. And at long zoom settings, you’ll definitely notice a drop in sharpness.
And at lower zoom settings (16mm), the barrel distortion is pretty noticeable. Other than that, you’ll be able to enjoy its enormous zoom range, wide-angle coverage, and sturdy design. After all, what more do you want? This lens is probably one of the best lenses for your cash, with minimal compromises.
Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master OSS is a 2600-dollar lens that packs some amazing telephoto capabilities. Since we’re talking about a telephoto lens, this one will give you an amazing experience when shooting sports events and wildlife. It supports the classic Sony EF mount and comes with 23 elements and 18 groups. To be honest, this is one of the best telephoto lenses that ever threaded the Earth. It comes with Ring Drive Super Sonic Wave Motor and Linear Motor AF systems that work really well in any given condition. The image quality is jaw-dropping, thanks to the swift autofocus, as well as a quality optical stabilizer that reduces blurriness to a minimum.
As for the bokeh effect, we can’t say anything bad about it. The photos are packed with excellent details, as well as bokeh effect and sharpness, thanks to 11 diaphragm blades that keep the quality tight. The main “culprits” behind this enormous quality are the amazing elements that the glass includes. We have one double-sided XA element, two other XA elements, two Super ED elements, as well as four ED elements. Now I know why the price is this high.
Furthermore, the lens comes with a 77mm filter thread and construction that includes a fluorine coating on the front element. This really adds to the build quality which is amazing, by the way. Now, the bad part and it’s the weight and dimensions. The lens packs 88mm in width and 200mm in length, coupled with 1480g of weight. You’ll need a strong tripod if you don’t want to inflame your biceps while doing your job.
Needless to say that we’ve seen more lightweight 70-200mm lenses.
If you want a telephoto lens, you’ll need to carry the load of its majesty. Seriously, though. This one is a bit lighter than the aforementioned lens, boasting 1395g of sheer mass. I know it’s nowhere near lightweight, but hey, you still get some weight reduction here. With its length of 205mm, this lens is definitely longer than your first relationship, and with a width of 94mm, it’s wider than most of the lenses out there. But, what about the serious features? Oh boy, we have a lot of them!
The first thing you’ll notice here is the abnormal telephoto reach, ranging from 100mm to 400mm, as its name says. The name also says that the aperture is variable and is prone to shrinking at higher zoom ranges. The aperture of f/4.5 is pretty much a standard, but when it shrinks to f/5.6… well, that’s not that great and is surely a caveat. On the brighter side, we have a combination of RDSSM and LM autofocus systems, as well as a great optical stabilizer. There are 9 diaphragm blades which provide that smooth bokeh effect and keep the image stabilized and noise-free.
To further support this, Sony included the Optical SteadyShot feature that works in correlation with the effective autofocus system, to give a snappy experience. The highlights of this lens are definitely its build quality, amazing telephoto zoom, and super-fast autofocus system. If you don’t care about the additional weight it boasts and the expensive price, you can have an amazing telephoto lens that’s going to last you more than a decade.
If you want a lens that’s great for everyday shooting, you should definitely check this one. Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS looks absolutely phenomenal. It sports a sleek design with attention to little details being noticeable at first glance. Supporting full-frame Sony cameras, this is the best standard zoom lens for the price. It comes with 9 diaphragm blades that produce stellar image sharpness and that lovely bokeh effect that’s smooth as butter. The zoom range is quite generous for a standard zoom lens, ranging from 25mm to 105mm.
As for the image quality, you can expect it to be extraordinary. The DDSSM autofocus works flawlessly and we have a solid optical stabilizer that keeps your photos and footage in place. Thanks to the good image stabilization, the handling of this lens is really good. You can expect it to work flawlessly even when you hold your camera in hand, despite its weight of 663g. However, I don’t think it’s too heavy because it’s a lens that can do both wide-angle and telephoto shots.
Our only complaint is the f/4 aperture, which isn’t the best option out there. An aperture of f/2.8 would be much better, especially for the price. But, as we always say, you can’t always get everything and compromises need to be made, given the price of this lens. Other than the aperture rating, this lens is really good.
Sigma’s interpretation of the 24-105mm lens is a bit cheaper, offering some great features (and not-so-great compromises) for the price. Let’s begin by saying that this is a full-frame lens. We get a reliable ultrasonic autofocus system, unfortunately, without any optical image stabilization. The great thing about this lens is its zoom range, which is the same one from the previous lens we mentioned. However, with this zoom range, we barely noticed any drops in image quality. In fact, there are none!
The constant aperture is also great, but as its name suggests, the lens’ aperture rating is f/4. Some standard zoom lenses pack f/2.8 aperture rating, but they are more expensive and we wanted to give you some affordable options. The weather seals are also absent here, which is such a shame. This further produces a barely-noticeable glare effect, which you’ll notice if you have a really good eye. On the other side, the overall performance of this lens is astonishing for the price.
Sigma definitely did a great job here, combining stellar image quality, vast zoom range, and rock-solid, constant aperture. Since the lens is 885g heavy, we can’t say it’s on the lightweight side of the spectrum. It’s even more interesting that it’s not that large – 89x109mm. Clearly, a lot of material has been used in the manufacturing process, giving this lens prestigious build quality.
If you’ve read all the way to here, you’ve probably already chosen your lens. But, there are some things you need to consider before you give your cash. The lens you want to buy should be completely compatible with the type of camera that you have. We mentioned that above and if you didn’t read it, you should! The next important thing is that the lens perfectly suits your photography needs.
A wide-angle lens is great for capturing landscapes, a telephoto lens is great for the moving subjects, while the macro lens is great for close-up shots of tiny stuff. If you want a lens that can do a little bit of everything, buying a standard zoom lens is probably your best choice. With a standard zoom lens, you can enjoy everyday shooting without having to exchange your lenses every time you want to try something different.
Also, remember that you don’t always need a top-of-the-line lens to enjoy increased image quality. If this is your first time buying a lens, we suggest that you buy a cheaper one. But, if you’re an experienced photographer and don’t want a lot of compromises, you’ll need to pay more.
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