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The best Sony lenses for E-mount mirrorless cameras

The Sony E mount may not have had the decades of development time of the Nikon F or the Canon EF mounts, but that hasn’t stopped Sony from turning out a large collection of quality lenses. Sony mirrorless cameras now have almost as many options as DSLRs, with the exception of a few specialized lenses like tilt-shifts. That explosion of lens options, however, makes deciding which lens to add to your bag next a bit tougher to do.

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Sony E-Mount lenses that work on both the full-frame A7 and A9 series as well as the crop-sensor A6000 series. From our favorite budget lens to pro-level workhorses, here are some of the best Sony lenses.

At a glance:

Best cheap Sony lens: FE 50mm f/1.8

Why you should buy this: Blurry backgrounds and sharp low light captures, for a very low price

Who’s it for: Enthusiasts, beginners, and photographers willing to sacrifice a little to save a lot of cash

Why we picked the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8:

The nifty fifty is a photographer favorite across brands for both the image quality, versatility, and price. Sony’s is no exception. The Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 lens offers a bright f/1.8 aperture that’s ideal for working in limited lighting or blurring out the background. And at around $250, it’s easily one of the most affordable E-Mount lenses.

A $250 lens, of course, won’t offer the same quality as a $1,000 lens, but this 50mm is pretty sharp for the price. The biggest complaint Sony photographers have on this lens is that the autofocus isn’t as snappy as with pricer models. The build quality also isn’t as robust, but for photographers on a limited budget looking to step up from a kit lens, the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 offers bright captures on the cheap.

Best Sony wide-angle zoom: FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

Why you should buy this: Exceptionally sharp images from a lens that makes your kit lens look sad

Who’s it for: Enthusiasts, pros, and any photographer looking for a sharp wide-angle

Why we picked the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM:

A relative newcomer to Sony’s lens family, the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM covers the most commonly used wide-angle focal lengths. While those focal lengths are often covered by kit lenses, this lens offers far superior quality. The 16-35mm creates exceptionally sharp images, thanks in part to being constructed with two ultra-low dispersion elements and three aspherical elements.

The f/2.8 constant aperture also lets in much more light than a kit lens, while allowing for softer backgrounds when desired. An 11-blade aperture creates smooth bokeh, while the advanced autofocus motor focuses on subjects quickly. Coatings also help reduce flare. While the FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM is not cheap, the sharpness and bright aperture make a serious contender for photographers looking for a high-end wide-angle.

Best Sony mid-range zoom: FE 24-70m f/2.8 GM

Why you should buy this: Sharp, bright and versatile, this Sony lens is a workhorse

Who’s it for: Serious enthusiasts and pros

Why we picked the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM:

Considered a must-have focal length range by many pros, the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM is a versatile lens favored for a number of different types of shots. The lens is pretty sharp compared to the competition, and mixes that with a bright aperture for softer backgrounds and more versatile settings in low light.

The versatility of that zoom range mixed with the high-end optics and bright aperture, however, means the lens isn’t cheap. Photographers may also sacrifice a bit of stamina when hauling this lens around — at nearly two pounds, it’s not a lightweight lens. For photographers who need a bright lens and risk missing the shot when swapping through prime lenses, the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM is an ideal lens to have in your bag — though for many photographers, it spends most of the time attached to the camera as the go-to lens.

Best Sony long zoom: FE 24-105mm f/4

Why you should buy this: Lots of zoom power, without sacrificing sharpness

Who’s it for: Enthusiasts and semi-pros

Why we picked the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4:

Mirrorless and DSLR lenses seldom have much zoom beyond 2 or 3x, but the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 covers everything from wide-angle to standard telephoto. The range makes this lens a versatile performer, for photographers who can’t take the time to swap lenses — or just don’t have the space or the cash for buying multiple. Stabilization is a plus for working with those longer focal lengths.

Despite the wide zoom range, photographers note the lens’ sharpness, which is excellent for the zoom category. Weather-sealing also gives the lens a more robust feel. The sacrifice for all that zoom? The FE 24-105mm f/4 isn’t the brightest, although the consistency throughout the zoom range is a plus. Some also complain about vignetting, but this is common on such a lens.

Best Sony portrait lens: FE 85mm f/1.8

Why you should buy this: This compact, affordable lens produces excellent images

Who’s it for: Portrait photographers, and any photographer looking for a bright standard focal length

Why we picked the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8:

The Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 hits a trifecta of lens features with the compact size, reasonable price point, and excellent image quality. The f/1.8 mixed with the longer focal length creates nice soft backgrounds while offering a boost in low light performance. Despite the more reasonable price, the lens gets high praise for its sharpness. It also performs well thanks to a double linear autofocus motor that locks on to subjects quickly and quietly.

As a prime lens, the 85mm is compact and easy to carry around with a mirrorless body. Despite being lightweight, the lens is dust and moisture resistant. While prime lenses may not be quite as versatile as a zoom, the bright aperture and small size is worth that sacrifice for many photographers. If money is no object, you could opt for the Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM, but given that the FE 85mm f/1.8 is already very good and significantly cheaper, it’s easier to recommend.

Best Sony macro lens: FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

Why you should buy this: This lens serves double duty for sharp close-ups or flattering portraits

Who’s it for: Macro, portrait, and event photographers

Why we picked the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS:

With a 1:1 magnification ratio, the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS can reproduce tiny subjects in big detail. The longer focal length helps photographers stay farther back from more skittish subjects like bugs, while the stabilization helps control camera shake — which is magnified when working at macro distances. Fans of this lens note the exceptional sharpness.

While macro is right in the name, the lens FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS can pull double-duty as a portrait lens, too. While maybe not quite as exceptional as the 85mm for portraits, the f/2.8 and 90mm focal length is still pretty solid for getting those blurred backgrounds. The lens is a bit pricey at a touch over four figures, but the versatility makes it worth it.

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