Best lenses for the Sony ZV-E1 in 2024

Best lenses for the Sony ZV-E1
(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

When putting together our list of the best lenses for the Sony ZV-E1, we kept its intended uses firmly in mind. This is a camera that may be used on a tripod, but is more likely to be used handheld, on a gimbal or on a grip. 

The Sony ZV-E1 is one of the best 4K cameras for filmmaking, as well as one of the best vlogging cameras, but it’s not as simple as reeling off a list of the best Sony lenses all round. Many Sony lenses are big, heavy and designed for optical performance and reach rather than video. The ZV-E1, however, is incredibly compact and designed for portability and speed of operation in the field.

Despite its small size, like Sony’s other full frame Alpha models, the ZV-E1 incorporates in-body stabilization, so there’s no need to seek out Sony’s OSS stabilized lenses – these are mainly of interest for sports and wildlife photography, or Sony’s unstabilized APS-C E-mount cameras.

But the video-first approach of the ZV-E1 means other features become more important. It’s not essential to have a physical aperture/iris ring for video, but it definitely helps, especially if it can be ‘de-clicked’ for smooth and silent iris control while filming.

And while a power-zoom feature is not essential, it does open up some more adventurous (and difficult) filming techniques.

Mostly, though, we wanted to stick to smaller lenses where possible, and prime lenses in particular for easier gimbal balancing. So with all that in mind, here’s our list of the best lenses for the Sony ZV-E1 right now.

Best lenses for the Sony ZV-E1

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(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
Best lightweight kit zoom for the Sony ZV-E1

Specifications

Mount: Sony FE
Stabilization: No
Min focus distance: 0.3-0.45m
Max magnification: 0.16x
Filter size: 40.5mm
Dimensions: 66.6 x 45mm, 167g

Reasons to buy

+
Ultra-compact design
+
Excellent performance
+
Fast, silent AF

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited zoom range

The Sony FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 is frequently bundled with Sony’s A7C models, where its compact size is designed to complement these small camera bodies. But it’s also available separately and makes an ideal companion for the Sony ZV-E1. The limited 2.1x zoom range might put a lot of people off, but it covers a handy everyday zoom range that might be all you need for general walkaround filming. The retracting design might make you fear the worst for optical performance, but actually this lens is remarkably good. The maximum aperture is limited to f/4-5.6 and there’s no physical aperture ring, but the small size, light weight and portability make this easy to forgive.

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)
Most versatile standard zoom for the Sony ZV-E1

Specifications

Mount: Sony FE
Stabilization: No
Min focus distance: 0.3-0.25m
Max magnification: 0.39x
Filter size: 72mm
Dimensions: 78.7 x 99mm, 488g

Reasons to buy

+
Extra wide angle of view
+
Great 3.5x zoom range
+
Close focusing capability

Reasons to avoid

-
Pretty hefty on the ZV-E1

The Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G is a standard zoom with a difference. It follows a new-ish trend in standard zoom design with a wider-than-usual minimum focal length so that it can also do much of the work of an ultra-wide zoom – so less lens swapping and more versatility. 20-70mm is a terrific zoom range for all-round filming and the constant f/4 maximum aperture will help in low light interiors. The 20mm minimum focal length would make this a great lens for selfie vlogging on a grip or a gimbal too, though at 488g, this lens is no lightweight. Rounding all this off is a declickable aperture ring and dual Linear XD AF motors for fast and silent autofocus. If the bulk doesn’t bother you, this is a terrific and versatile standard zoom for the Sony ZV-E1.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)
Best (but expensive) ultra-wide zoom for the Sony ZVE1

Specifications

Mount: Sony FE
Stabilization: No
Min focus distance: 0.22-0.73m
Max magnification: 0.32x
Filter size: 82mm
Dimensions: 87.8 x 111.5mm, 547g

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent image quality
+
Lighter and better balanced than first gen
+
Aperture ring with de-click and lock

Reasons to avoid

-
F/4 PZ version much cheaper

Sony’s G Master lenses have a reputation for optical quality, so it’s no surprise that  this second generation version of Sony’s 16-35mm f/2.8 zoom comes with a hefty price tag. If this is your prime focal range for filming, then this lens will be your dream buy; otherwise, take a look at the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G, which is less than half the price. You might also want to check out third-party alternatives too. The Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II justifies its cost, however, with no fewer than four Linear XD focus motors and suppressed focus breathing. It’s quite a lens.

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)
Best wide prime lens for the Sony ZV-E1

Specifications

Mount: Sony FE
Stabilization: No
Min focus distance: 0.19-0.18m
Max magnification: 0.2-0.22x
Filter size: 67mm
Dimensions: 73.5×84.7mm, 373g

Reasons to buy

+
Mighty viewing angle
+
Incredible image quality
+
Superb handling

Reasons to avoid

-
Not small, not cheap

If you want to film a wider angle of view and don’t want the bulk of the Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G or the cost (especially the cost!) of the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II, then the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G is a compelling alternative. It offers a wide enough angle of view for self-filming and and it’s fast enough for filming in low light interiors. It’s not one of Sony’s G Master lenses, but the optical quality is sensational, with serious edge to edge sharpness, especially when you stop down slightly. The only things against this lens are the price and its size, but it’s not especially heavy and should be manageable enough on a grip or a gimbal.

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
The best gimbal-friendly wide prime for the Sony ZV-E1

Specifications

Mount: Sony FE
Stabilization: No
Min focus distance: 0.24-0.18m
Max magnification: 0.13-0.19x
Filter size: 49mm
Dimensions: 68 x 45mm, 162g

Reasons to buy

+
Very small and light
+
Smooth, silent AF
+
De-clickable aperture ring

Reasons to avoid

-
Some edge softness

The Sony FE 24mm f/2.8 G is one of a trio of ‘baby’ primes perfectly suited to compact Sony Alpha bodies like the ZV-E1. They trade maximum aperture for size, and they’re not only extremely compact, light and portable, they’re perfect for extended handheld shooting or for balancing on gimbals. The FE 24mm f/2.8 G is the widest of the trio and perhaps even just wide enough (and light enough) for arm’s length selfie shooting. Optically, though, it’s also the weakest, with a degree of edge softness that’s disappointing at this price and strong barrel distortion if it’s left uncorrected – though that’s not likely to happen given that correction profiles are applied in-camera.

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
Best ‘alternative’ standard prime for the Sony ZV-E1

Specifications

Mount: Sony FE
Stabilization: No
Min focus distance: 0.28-0.25m
Max magnification: 0.2-0.23x
Filter size: 49mm
Dimensions: 68 x 45mm, 173g

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent image quality
+
Size and weight
+
De-clickable aperture ring

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite expensive for the optical specs

If you only buy one of Sony’s super-compact primes, this is the one we’d recommend. The Sony FE 40mm f/2.5 G has focal length that’s ideal as a semi-wide standard zoom and not far off the classic focal length for street photography. Like the other two lenses in this mini-series, the FE 40mm f/2.5 G is incredibly small and light – yet it still manages to pack in a de-clickable aperture ring for filmmakers. The optical quality is excellent and certainly better than the 24mm lens, and while it is fairly expensive for a 40mm f/2.5 prime, the quality of the construction, the design and the performance make it clear where the money’s been spent.

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
Best ‘nifty fifty’ for the Sony ZV-E1

Specifications

Mount: Sony FE
Stabilization: No
Min focus distance: 0.35-0.31m
Max magnification: 0.18-0.21x
Filter size: 49mm
Dimensions: 68 x 45mm, 174g

Reasons to buy

+
Superb image quality
+
Very small, very light
+
De-clickable aperture ring

Reasons to avoid

-
Is f/2.5 fast enough?

Many photographers and filmmakers gravitate towards a ‘nifty fifty’ as an all-round standard lens, and Sony certainly offers plenty of choice, from the cheap but plain FE 50mm f/1.8 to the wildly exotic Sony FE 50mm f/1.2. But we like this one as a filmmaking lens for the Sony ZV-E1. It’s practically identical in size and weight to the ‘baby’ 24mm and 40mm lenses in this series, it delivers excellent image quality and has super-fast, silent AF – which you can’t always take for granted in smaller lenses. And despite its size, it handles really nicely. If you don’t mind the f/2.5 maximum aperture, this is a stellar ‘nifty fifty’ for the ZV-E1.

(Image credit: Sony)
Best portrait lens for the Sony ZV-E1

Specifications

Mount: Sony FE
Stabilization: No
Min focus distance: 0.8m
Max magnification: 0.13x
Filter size: 67mm
Dimensions: 78 x 82mm, 371g

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent image quality
+
Compact and lightweight
+
Weather-sealed construction

Reasons to avoid

-
F/1.8 not f/1.4

If you’re filming people a lot, then you’ll appreciate the flattened perspective, background blur and subject separation of a classic ‘portrait’ lens, and for occasional use we don’t think you can do better than the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8. For a lens of this type, it’s quite cheap to buy and yet the quality of the results is first rate. Alternatively, if you film people a lot and you want the best possible quality and the convenience of direct aperture control, take a look at the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM – it’s not wildly expensive for a G Master lens and will give you shallower depth of field. And if that’s your ‘look’, then maybe also consider the Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS bokeh lens, or the Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 G Master.

See also our guides to the Best Sony flashguns and the Best Sony video lenses

Rod Lawton
Contributor

Rod is an independent photography journalist and editor, and a long-standing Digital Camera World contributor, having previously worked as DCW's Group Reviews editor. Before that he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar, as well as contributing to many other publications. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more. Rod has his own camera gear blog at fotovolo.com but also writes about photo-editing applications and techniques at lifeafterphotoshop.com