The best lenses for Sony A6000 cameras are very good, but if you have one of these A6000-series cameras (or a new Sony ZV-E10), you might be feeling a bit neglected as Sony seems to be putting all its development effort into its full frame cameras. Well you can stop worrying, because Sony has just announced three brand new lenses for its APS-C mirrorless cameras.
The Sony E 11mm f/1.8 and 15mm f/1.4 G are fast wide-angle primes, and the E PZ 10-20mm F4 G is a wide-angle zoom. All three are aimed at both stills photography and video, and they really expand the choices wide-angle shooting with the A600-series models.
Of course, you CAN use both APS-C format Sony 'E' lenses and full frame Sony 'FE' lenses on the A6000-series cameras. A full frame lens will be heavier and more expensive, but can make a great macro, portrait or telephoto lens – especially if you think you might upgrade to a full frame body later.
However, for shorter focal lengths and wider angles of view you do need an APS-C 'E' mount lens – specifically kit lenses or ultra-wide zooms. The crop factor of the Sony E bodies means that full frame lenses offer a reduced angle of view, curtailing their wide-angle capability with the smaller sensor.
• Sony ZV-E10 review
• Sony A6000 vs A6100 vs A6300 vs A6400 vs A6500 vs A6600: how do you choose? (opens in new tab)
A new Sony A6000-series camera will likely come bundled with Sony's kit lens, the E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS zoom, which is OK for getting started with, but sooner or later you'll want a wider zoom range, faster aperture, better image quality or all three!
So we've split this guide into sections. First we suggest a couple of more powerful alternatives to the standard zoom lens. Next we cover wide-angle zooms, which are great for landscapes and frame-filling architecture shots with dramatic lines. After that, it's telephoto zooms, for bringing distant action close to you, and finally, we pick our favourite prime lenses for Sony A6000 cameras. These are what you choose if you want the best optical quality you can get – and don't mind moving your feet.
The best lenses for Sony A6000, A6100, A6300, A6400, A6500 and A6600
Standard zooms(opens in new tab)
If you like the focal range of your kit lens but want to make a leap to something offering better image quality, this is it right here. The Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G Lens is a sublime optic, with a constant f/2.8 aperture that give you amazing shooting flexibility in all different lighting conditions. Images are sharp as a tack across the board; there's a little barrel distortion at the very widest end, but it's easy to correct with software. The lack of optical image stabilisation might be a shame for some, but equally that would only serve to bump up the price of the lens, and we think the cost is well-judged where it is. For day-to-day shooting on a Sony A6000 camera, this is fantastic – and if it's too expensive, check out our next entry...
See full Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G review (opens in new tab)
Sony's pro-level 16-55mm f/2.8 is a great lens, but it only has a 3x zoom range and it's pretty heavy. For half the cost you can get the Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS. It's cheaper than the 16-55mm G, it's got image stabilization built in and its zoom range is way longer with an equivalent span of 27-202mm. The lens is also compact and portable, and still performs well at its telephoto end. It has a narrower, variable aperture from f/3.5-5.6 but you'll only notice that in dimmer lighting. Like a lot of lenses, this one relies on digital as well as optical corrections, so you may need to check your raw processing software is applying a correction profile. This is a great lens that we use all the time. See our full Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS review (opens in new tab).
Tokina's latest Sony E mount goes straight in at number one in wide-angle lenses. It feels like a nod to the hugely popular Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens for DSLRs but updated for mirrorless cameras. Where it lacks in features such as Optical Image Stabilisation it makes up for its fast aperture, quality build and high performance. For such an ultra-wide angle lens, there is very little distortion and what there is can easily be corrected, color fringing is negligible and sharpness levels are excellent across the entire image frame. It's only slightly heavier and a little more expensive than the Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS so if the aperture is more important than stabilization it could be worth the extra cash. With its virtually silent autofocus, refined finish and impressive image quality, it really is excellent value.(opens in new tab)
Fit this lens to your A6000 and it can feel like taking the blinkers off your camera. The shortest focal length of 10mm is equivalent to using a 15mm lens on a full-frame camera, delivering a massive viewing angle of 109 degrees. The constant-aperture f/4 maximum aperture is handy for manual exposures and video, and there's Optical SteadyShot built in. Ideal for cramped interiors, sweeping landscapes and any time you want to exaggerate the effect of perspective, this lens takes over where a standard zoom stops, with a bit of overlap to play with. Image quality is very good apart from slightly mediocre sharpness when shooting wide-open at f/4, mostly in the longer half of the zoom range. This lens has just been joined by a new 10-20mm power zoom version, and we'll bring you a full review just as soon as we've tested it.
Telephoto zooms(opens in new tab)
Considering how new this lens is and its impressively broad telephoto zoom range, the price it's set at is incredibly reasonable. It's well-suited to a huge range of fast-paced photographic genres like wildlife and sports, making it a perfect partner for the speedy A6000 cameras. Its optical design includes an aspherical element and three extra-low dispersion elements, all of which contribute to superb image quality right through the zoom range. Controls are customizable too, and Optical SteadyShot expands usability in low light. This is a fantastic lens for a good price.
See full Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS review (opens in new tab)
If the Sony 70-350mm lens above is a little outside your price range, this 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS lens should do perfectly. Its maximum zoom range is a little shorter, but thanks to the 1.5x crop factor of the A6000 and other Sony APS-C format E-mount camera bodies, the lens gives an ‘effective’ zoom range of 82.5-315mm in full-frame terms, so it still gives a pretty powerful telephoto reach at the long end. This lens is light and compact for a telephoto, mostly thanks to the fairly narrow aperture rating, which shrinks from f/4.5 to f/6.3 as you extend through the zoom range. Physically, it enables a much better balance on an A6000 camera, though sharpness drops off a bit at longer zoom settings and could be better at the widest available apertures.
Primes(opens in new tab)
Samyang gives an arguably overdue refresh to its ultra-wide 12mm lens in the form of an autofocus motor, which it somehow packs into an impressively lightweight 224g body. At a price significantly lower than a lot of Sony's native offerings, this is a tempting lens for any A6000 photographer who wants to expand their repertoire a little. Its wide perspective (18mm equivalent) is hugely versatile, and can be very effective once you get used to using it. The fast f/2 aperture rating also makes the lens useable for astrophotography. Handling of the lens is good, with a pleasingly robust build quality that's also weather sealed. There is some lateral chromatic aberration in the corners of frames, and a little barrel distortion, but all of this is easy enough to correct. This is an impressive lens for the price and the size, and makes for a solid addition to any A6000 stable.
• Read more: Samyang AF 12mm F2.0 E review(opens in new tab)
Yes, this is a 35mm lens, but the crop factor of Sony's APS-C sensors gives it an effective focal length of 50mm – so this is a classic old-school 'standard' lens. The so-called ‘nifty fifty’ is a highly popular lens category on full-frame cameras, where it gives a standard viewing angle and natural perspective. This new lens is a better option over the much older Sony E 35mm f/1.8 OSS APS-C lens, with the advantage that if you one day move up to a full frame Sony, you can still use this lens. A 9-blade aperture diaphragm that sees out of focus areas rendered beautifully smooth, while focusing is fast and precise. Finally, the optical performance is excellent, delivering sharp results even wide open. See our full Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 review (opens in new tab).(opens in new tab)
So called 'pancake' lenses are really popular for street and travel photography because they extend only a small distance from the camera body and can stow away in small bags or even jacket pockets. A mere slip of a thing, this pancake lens measures just 63x20mm and weighs a mere 69g. The effective focal length of 35mm is ideal, and the outfit is small enough for you to shoot candidly without drawing attention to yourself. Like almost all prime lenses it lacks Optical SteadyShot but the f/2.8 aperture rating is faster than that of most zoom lenses. The only catch is that, when shooting wide-open, sharpness is merely good rather than great and vignetting (darkened image corners) is quite noticeable. At apertures of between f/4 and f/8, though, the image quality really comes alive.(opens in new tab)
With an effective focal length of 75mm on an APS-C format Sony body like the A6000, and a fast f/1.8 aperture, this is a great lens for portraiture. You’ll be able to take head and shoulders and half-length portraits from an ideal distance, not crowding your sitter while being close enough to engage with them. The f/1.8 aperture enables a tight depth of field, so you can throw the background out of focus and make the person you’re photographing really stand out in the image. Corner-sharpness is a little poor at apertures wider than f/5.6 but that shouldn’t be an issue in portraiture. The aperture remains fairly well-rounded when stopping down a little from f/1.8 but, based on seven rather than nine diaphragm blades, it could be better.
How we test lenses
We test lenses using both real world sample images and lab tests (opens in new tab). Our lab tests are carried out scientifically in controlled conditions using the Imatest testing suite, which consists of custom charts and analysis software that measures resolution in line widths/picture height, a measurement widely used in lens and camera testing. We find the combination of lab and real-word testing works best, as each reveals different qualities and characteristics.
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