Sony has two distinct line-up of mirrorless cameras. The APS-C range is aimed at beginners to enthusiasts, while the full-frame range is available for enthusiasts up to professionals.
Although equipped with a good range of existing E-mount optics, upon the launch of Sony's first full-frame mirrorless camera (the Sony A7) in 2013, the small selection of full-frame E-mount lenses gave a distinct lack of versatility. It hasn't taken long for Sony to develop an enticing range of optics that enable the Alpha A7 and A9 range of mirrorless cameras like the Alpha A7R III and the flagship Alpha A9 to really take the fight to professional DSLRs.
There are still a few holes in Sony's more specialist lens line-up, but they are being quickly plugged, while third-party manufacturers like Sigma are now making dedicated E-mount lenses as well.
While Sony lenses can be shared across all of its bodies as the mount is the same regardless of sensor size, many are specifically designed to be used on either the full-frame bodies, or the APS-C bodies. In this guide we’ll be taking a look at lenses which are available for both systems - and will note if they are best suited to full-frame or APS-C, or are good for both.
If you’re in the market for a new Sony lens, the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals period is a good time to purchase. That said, it’s not always predictable what will be reduced, so if you’ve got your eye on one of the lenses featured here, waiting until Black Friday isn’t strictly necessary. Our widgets always show the latest and best deals, so you can be sure to get a good deal.
- Buying guide: Best Sony Cameras
From wide, standard and tele zooms to high-class prime lenses, there's some seriously attractive glassware on offer. With that in mind, here's our pick of the best Sony lenses for full-frame Alpha-series cameras you can buy right now. As all of the lenses can be used on both full-frame and Sony's APS-C mirrorless models – we've put the effective focal lengths in brackets for the latter.
Best Sony lenses 2019 at a glance:
- Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM
- Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM
- Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM
- Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 GM
- Sony FE 50mm f/1.8
- Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
- Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
- Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
- Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G
- Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA
Best Sony lenses in 2019
1. Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM
A premium wide-angle prime for full-frame Alpha cameras
Focal length: 24mm (36mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/1.4 | Aperture blades: 11 | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 67mm | Dimensions: 74 x 92mm | Weight: 445g
The FE 24mm f/1.4 GM is Sony's newest wide-angle prime lens and also the company's eighth high-end G Master lens. Sony has designed the lens around four key criteria: resolution, bokeh, speed, and a compact and lightweight design. It doesn't disappoint. Image quality is stunning, with excellent sharpness across the frame, while the 11-blade circular aperture renders smooth and natural-looking bokeh. Focusing is swift thanks to the Direct Drive SSM (DDSSM), while it weighs in at only 445g (15.7oz). That's quite a bit lighter than Canon's 24mm f/1.4 (650g / 22.9oz), Nikon's 24mm f/1.4 (620g / 21.9oz) and Sigma's 24mm f/1.4 (665g / 23.5oz). The only real downside is the hefty price tag.
- Read our in-depth Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM review
2. Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM
The ultimate wide-angle zoom lens for Sony photographers
Focal length: 16-35mm (24-52.5mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Aperture blades: 11 | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 82mm | Dimensions: 89 x 122mm | Weight: 680g
The Zeiss-badged Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS has been the main choice for Alpha users after a high-quality wide-angle zoom lens, but the arrival of the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM now makes that decision much harder. A stop faster at f/2.8, this is a larger piece of glass that weighs in at 680g. Build quality is excellent and includes a full set of weather-seals, while the 11 blade rounded aperture diaphragm delivers ultra-smooth bokeh. Focusing is fast and silent, while the image quality is stunning - the perfect partner for cameras like the 42MP Alpha A7R III and the newer 61-megapixel A7R IV.
3. Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM
Everything you could hope for in a portrait lens, and more besides
Focal length: 85mm (127.5mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/1.4 | Aperture blades: 11 | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions: 89.5 x 107.5mm | Weight: 820g
This is a stunning lens and the perfect optic for beautiful portraits. The 11 blade rounded diaphragm helps produce sumptuously soft and dreamy bokeh in defocused areas. Sharpness across the entire frame is very good at f/1.4 – and stunning at f/2.8 and beyond. Sony’s Nano AR coating fends off ghosting and flare, while lateral and longitudinal fringing are both minimal. The focus hold button and de-click aperture ring option are nice bonuses, with the latter working very well when shooting video.
4. Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 GM
Powerful but pricey portrait prime
Focal length: 135mm (202.5mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/1.8 | Aperture blades: 11 | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 82mm | Dimensions: 89.5 x 127mm | Weight: 950g
This is the newest lens here but we can already imagine it's going to become a favourite among portrait and wedding pros. As we found in our hands-on review, sharpness is stellar at f/1.8 while bokeh is nice and natural, if a little cat's-eye shaped towards the edges of the frame. Build quality is high and weather-sealing keeps the internal protected, while four focusing motors (two at the front and two at the back) keep focus snappy. You can also limit your focusing range and customise the two focus hold buttons to make it work even better for your specific subject and style of shooting.
5. Sony FE 50mm f/1.8
Sony's very own 'nifty fifty'
Focal length: 50mm (75mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/1.8 | Aperture blades: 7 | Weather seals: No | Filter thread: 49mm | Dimensions: 69 x 60mm | Weight: 186g
There are plenty of affordable yet fairly fast standard primes for full-frame cameras. By contrast, standard primes for Sony’s full-frame E-mount system look very pricey, but the FE 50mm f/1.8 fills an obvious hole in the market. Measuring just 69 x 60mm, weighing a mere 186g and full-frame compatible, it definitely has something to offer APS-C format shooters, where the ‘effective’ 75mm focal length is ideal for portraiture. The stepping motor autofocus system is quick and very quiet, although not completely silent. There’s no shortage of bite, with good sharpness and contrast even when shooting wide-open at f/1.8. However, vignetting is noticeable unless you stop down to f/2.8.
6. Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
This sharp and affordable Art-series optic impresses
Full-frame compatible: Yes | Focal length: 50mm (75mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/1.4 | Aperture blades: 9 | Weather seals: No | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions: 85.4 × 99.9mm | Weight: 815g
This lens has already garnered much acclaim since its release five years ago, being prized for its sharpness. Not only that, but at a fraction of the price of Sony's own Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA optic, this is a very tempting option for street, portrait and nature photographers who need that wide f/1.4 aperture, be it for working in low light or for isolating subjects from their surroundings. It's not the smallest 50mm f/1.4 lens of its kind, although it seems that the extra bulk is necessary in order to deliver the kind of imaging performance we find here.
7. Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
Sensibly priced optic that delivers great bokeh
Full-frame compatible: Yes | Focal length: 85mm (127.5mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/1.8 | Aperture blades: 9 | Weather seals: No | Filter thread: 67mm | Dimensions: 78 x 82mm | Weight: 371g
This fairly chunky optic nonetheless only weighs in at a pretty modest 371g thanks to a predominantly plastic construction, but balanced really nicely on the Alpha A7R II we tested it with. The design is very clean - so much so that there's no distance or DOF scales, but those niggles aside, it's a cracking portrait lens. Focusing is nice and brisk while the nine-blade diaphragm delivers to really beautiful bokeh. Optically, there's little to fault it on either - it's incredibly sharp at the centre of the frame through the aperture range. If you can't justify one of the more exotic Sony portrait lenses, this is a great option.
8. Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
The wedding photographer's dream lens
Full-frame compatible: Yes | Focal length: 85mm (127.5mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/1.4 | Aperture blades: 9 | Weather seals: No | Filter thread: 86mm | Dimensions: 94.7 × 126.2mm | Weight: 1,130g
A classic portrait focal length and a wide f/1.4 aperture are the main draws of this lens, as is the fact that it can be had at a far more agreeable price than Sony's own G-Master version. Like that lens, it's fairly big and heavy (even more so here, in fact), but it rewards with a robust build, fast focus and excellent image quality. Sharpness is excellent at the widest f/1.4 aperture, and this only improves once you stop down a touch, while bokeh is nice a natural – a key consideration for portraiture. The deep focusing ring also makes manual focus very pleasing when you need to use this. Overall, a wonderful lens at a wonderful price.
9. Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G
If you want to get everything in the frame, this is for you
Full-frame compatible: Yes | Focal length: 12-24mm (18-36mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/4 | Aperture blades: 7 | Weather seals: No | Filter thread: N/A | Dimensions: 87 x 117mm | Weight: 565g
This ultra-wide 12-24mm lens delivers a phenomenal viewing angle of 122 degrees, with a rectilinear design aiming to keep distortion to a minimum. Autofocus is practically silent and well suited to both stills and movie capture, while the fly-by-wire manual focus ring operates smoothly and with excellent precision. Even at the widest aperture of f/4, vignetting isn’t too obvious, while the drop in corner-sharpness is quite minimal at both ends of the zoom range, and negligible at mid-zoom settings. When you hit f/5.6, sharpness is excellent across the frame, with the lens also very resistant to ghosting and flare.
10. Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA
Sony's big fast prime comes up trumps
Full-frame compatible: Yes | Focal length: 35mm (52.5mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/1.4 | Aperture blades: 9 | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 72mm | Dimensions: 79 x 112mm | Weight: 630g
The first 35mm prime lens to be launched for full-frame E-mount bodies was the dinky little FE 35mm f/2.8, designed along Zeiss's Sonnar principles. The newer f/1.4 Distagon lens is massive by comparison, measuring 79x112mm and weighing 630g. However, it's two f-stops faster and has a much more sophisticated feature set. Unusually for an E-mount lens, there's a manual aperture ring. As a bonus, you can select one-third click steps or click-free rotation, the latter being ideal for shooting movies. Sharpness is exemplary, right across the whole image frame, chromatic aberration is only slight and barrel distortion is extremely low for a 35mm lens.
11. Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS
This may only be a 'standard' zoom, but its quality is outstanding
Full-frame compatible: Yes | Focal length: 24-70mm (36-105mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/4 | Aperture blades: 7 | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 67mm | Dimensions: 73 x 94.5mm | Weight: 426g
Unlike most up-market zoom lenses for DSLRs, this one has a widest available aperture of f/4 rather than f/2.8, which helps to make its size and weight a better match for the comparatively small A7 series bodies. As with most Zeiss-badged optics, the physical design looks minimalist, without any switches for auto/manual focus modes or on/off for the OSS (Optical SteadyShot) stabilizer. Even so, the metal lens barrels feel beautifully engineered and the build is dust/moisture resistant. Sharpness is good and very consistent throughout the zoom and aperture ranges although the corners become a little soft at longer zoom settings.
12. Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS
Big-up the little things in life with this macro lens
Full-frame compatible: Yes | Focal length: 90mm (135mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Aperture blades: 9 | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 62mm | Dimensions: 79 x 131mm | Weight: 602g
At its closest focus distance, this 90mm lens gives full 1.0x macro reproduction, ideal for monstrous enlargements of tiny bugs and other small objects. Attractions include top-quality glass, quick and ultra-quiet autofocus, OSS (Optical SteadyShot) stabilization and a nicely rounded nine-blade diaphragm. Image quality and handling are excellent, and the lens isn't just a one-trick macro pony. The combination of a 90mm focal length and fairly fast f/2.8 aperture make the lens equally useful when you want to minimise depth of field for portraiture or still life.
13. Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS
A high-quality telephoto zoom, ideal for action sports and wildlife
Full-frame compatible: Yes | Focal length: 70-200mm (105-300mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/4 | Aperture blades: 9 | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 72mm | Dimensions: 80 x 175mm | Weight: 840g
Two rear-mounted OSS (Optical SteadyShot) stabilization switches select on/off and static/panning modes. A further two switches are on hand for auto/manual focus modes, and to lock out the close autofocus range below three metres. Unusually for this class of 70-200mm f/4 lens, there's also a set of three focus-hold buttons towards the front of the lens, plus a tripod mounting collar. The optical path includes plenty of premium glass, plus Sony's Nano AR Coatings. Sharpness and contrast are generally very good, although extreme edge and corner-sharpness drops off at 70mm when using an aperture of f/4, and at 200mm throughout the aperture range. Ultimately, this lens is a highly competent telephoto zoom with excellent handling.
14. Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS
Sony's longest lens for its mirrorless cameras
Full-frame compatible: Yes | Focal length: 100-400mm (150-600mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/4.5-5.6 | Aperture blades: 9 | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions: 93.9 x 205mm | Weight: 1395g
The FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS is Sony's only lens for it's mirrorless cameras that covers a focal length greater than 200mm, so it's just as well it's a great lens. Until more dedicated telephoto primes become available, this is a great partner of the Alpha A9, and isn't much bigger than Sony's 70-200mm f/2.8. Focusing is incredibly quiet and quick, while the built-in optical stabilization means you can reduce camera-shake by five stops. Optically, results are very good. Don't expect results to match rival primes, but sharpness is very good.
15. Sony E 16-55mm F2.8 G
A superb everyday lens for APS-C models
Full-frame compatible: No | Focal length: 16-55mm (24-82.5mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Aperture blades: 9 | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 67mm | Dimensions: 73 x 100mm | Weight: 494g
Sony’s very first 16-55mm lens for its APS-C cameras with a constant f/2.8 aperture shows that the company doesn’t see its smaller sensor cameras as second rate. A superb walk around lens, offering an equivalent of 24-82.5mm in full-frame terms, the lens is compact and light, with excellent sharpness from corner-to-corner. You can use it for all sorts of subjects, with its flexible focal length being well-suited to street, landscapes, travel and even portraiture. This lens is particularly well-matched with higher-level APS-C cameras, such as the recently announced a6600.
16. Sony E 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G OSS
An ideal lens for wildlife, sports and action lovers
Full-frame compatible: No | Focal length: 70-350mm (105-525mm APS-C) | Maximum aperture: f/4.5-6.3 | Aperture blades: 7 | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 67mm | Dimensions: 77 x 142mm | Weight: 625g
Designed to appeal to those shooting sports, wildlife and action with fast cameras like the Sony a6600, the 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3G OSS super-telephoto lens is an exciting new addition to Sony’s APS-C range. It promises high optical performance, with built-in optical image stabilisation, plus typical G master lens sharpness from corner to corner. Offering 5x optical zoom, the lens is still relatively lightweight and would be a great addition to any kit bag.