The best Sony lenses in 2018: find the right one for your camera

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Over the last few years, Sony’s mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras have become massively popular, along with a steadily growing range of E-mount lenses to fit them. With all the choice, we have picked out the very best lenses that you can buy. And as the older A-mount lenses are still been made to supply a range of Sony's SLT line of cameras, we have offered some great optical options here too.

The current camera line-up includes both APS-C format and full-frame bodies, for which Sony’s ‘E’ and ‘FE’ lenses are designed, respectively. There’s a wealth of prime and zoom lenses available, ranging from ultra-wide-angle to super-telephoto. Some up-market lenses are produced in conjunction with legendary optical manufacturer Zeiss, and Sony now also produces its own premium ‘G’ and top-flight ‘G Master’ lenses. These aim for the ultimate in all-round performance and image quality, especially in terms of sharpness and bokeh (the quality of defocused areas within images).

Various autofocus systems are employed in Sony lenses, the more advanced being STM (Stepping Motor), LM (Linear Motor), DDSSM (Direct Drive Super Sonic wave Motor) and RDSSM (Ring Drive Super Sonic wave Motor). Typically, SSM systems are used to move relatively large and heavy groups of elements, while STM and LM systems generally offer virtually silent operation and smooth autofocus transitions during movie capture. 

Many of Sony’s lenses also feature optical image stabilization, by the name of OSS (Optical SteadyShot). The system can work on its own or in conjunction with sensor-shift stabilization, as featured in some of Sony’s latest cameras. Let’s take a closer look at the top lenses and best budget alternatives in all the main categories.

Sony A-mount lenses are still highly relevant 

Sony’s A-mount SLT (Single Lens Translucent) cameras don’t get the recognition they deserve. The company’s E-mount mirrorless cameras have commanded the limelight recently, while conventional DSLRs from the likes of Canon, Nikon and Pentax get more attention from traditionalists. And yet the APS-C format Alpha A66 and A77 II bodies and the full-frame A99 II definitely have a lot to offer.

Thanks to a fixed translucent mirror, fast and highly effective phase-detection autofocus is available via a dedicated module, just like in DSLR cameras. However, without the mirror needing to flip up and down every time you take a shot, they offer smooth-running quiet operation, and typically have fast continuous drive modes.

Best Sony E-mount lenses

The best lenses for Sony E-mount cameras

A black Sony FE 24-105mm lens

1. Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS 

The best Sony E-mount full-frame lens overall, this is the perfect lens for everyday shooting

Mount: Sony EF | Elements/groups: 17/14 | Diaphragm blades: 9 | Autofocus: DDSSM | Stabilizer: Yes | Minimum focus distance: 0.38m | Maximum magnification: 0.31x | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions (WxL): 83x113mm | Weight: 663g

Excellent build quality and handling
Fabulous image quality
Optical SteadyShot
f/4 rather than f/2.8 aperture rating

The best E-mount full-frame lens overall: The Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS isn’t Sony’s ‘best’ standard zoom lens for its full-frame cameras. However, compared with the top-flight Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master, this lens is smaller, lighter and feels better balanced on A7 series bodies. 

It also has a more generous zoom range and adds optical stabilization which is lacking in the bigger lens, and it only costs about two-thirds of the price. Sure, you lose an f/stop in aperture rating compared with the G Master lens, but as a versatile zoom for everyday shooting, we’d go for the 24-105mm every time.

The best budget full frame standard zoom:
Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS  
The Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS is significantly lighter and cheaper than the 24-105mm and is a great choice if you don’t need the latter’s extra telephoto reach. If that’s still over your price limit, check out the Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS, also sold as a kit lens with some A7 cameras.

A black Sony Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens

2. Sony Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS

The best Sony E-mount APS-C lens overall

Mount: Sony E | Elements/groups: 16/12 | Diaphragm blades: 7 | Autofocus: LM | Stabilizer: Yes | Minimum focus distance: 0.35m | Maximum magnification: 0.23x | Filter thread: 55mm | Dimensions (WxL): 67x75mm | Weight: 308g

‘Effective’ zoom range of 24-105mm
Optical SteadyShot
Compact and lightweight
Three times the price of Sony’s 16-50mm zoom

The best Sony E-mount APS-C lens overall: For APS-C camera bodies, such as the A6000 or A6500, the Sony Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS offers the same ‘effective’ zoom range and constant f/4 aperture as the full-frame compatible FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS. It also matches it for stabilization. The up-market optical path is based on a Zeiss design and includes legendary T* coatings to reduce ghosting and flare, while enhancing colour and contrast. 

Unlike in the 24-105mm lens, the autofocus system is based on a Linear Motor instead of being DDSSM, but this helps to keep the build as compact as possible. Indeed, at just 308g it’s refreshingly lightweight for such a powerful standard zoom.

The best budget APS-C standard zoom alternative:
Sony E 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS
Although Sony’s 16-70mm lens is quite compact, the E 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS is positively tiny. It weighs in at just 116g and has a retractable design that enables it to shrink to just 65x30mm for packing away.

A black Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master lens

3. Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master

This lens is as good as it gets for a full-frame wide-angle zoom

Mount: Sony EF | Elements/groups: 16-13 | Diaphragm blades: 11 | Autofocus: DDSSM | Stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 0.28m | Max magnification: 0.19x | Filter thread: 82mm | Dimensions (WxL): 89x122mm | Weight: 680g

Sumptuous image quality
Impeccably well built
No Optical SteadyShot
Expensive to buy

The best E-mount wide-angle zoom (full-frame): Featuring exotic glass that includes two ultra-high-precision XA (Extreme Aspherical) elements, the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master is Sony’s top-quality wide zoom. Other highlights include nano-structure coatings, a keep-clean fluorine coating on the front element, and extensive weather-seals. 

There’s a fast and constant f/2.8 aperture and, when stopping down, the aperture remains extremely well-rounded thanks to an 11-blade diaphragm. The DDSSM autofocus system is incredibly accurate and the lens also features a customisable focus hold button on the barrel. If you want to buy the best for your Sony A7 camera, this is it.

A white and black Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master OSS lens

4. Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master OSS

This is a masterclass in telephoto zoom design

Mount: Sony EF | Elements/groups: 23/18 | Diaphragm blades: 11 | Autofocus: RDSSM + LM | Stabilizer: Yes | Min focus distance: 0.96m | Max magnification: 0.25x | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions (WxL): 88x200mm | Weight: 1,480g

Supreme image quality
Excellent build quality and handling
Typically heavy for a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens
Very expensive

The best E-mount telephoto zoom: The Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master OSS is simply one of the very finest 70-200mm lenses on the planet. A feast of glass includes one double-sided XA (Extreme Aspherical) element, two other aspherical elements, four ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements and two Super ED elements. 

Nano-structure coatings are also applied, plus a fluorine coating on the front element. There’s not one but two autofocus systems, incorporating a double linear motor plus an RDSSM (Ring Drive Super Sonic wave Motor), the latter being used for the heavier forward focus groups. 

The construction is fully weather-sealed and includes a fluorine coating on the front element. Handling is particularly refined, with an autofocus range limiter, customisable focus hold buttons, and dual-mode stabilization for static and panning shots. 

Bokeh is excellent, as is sharpness, helped by an 11-blade diaphragm. The only drawbacks are that it’s a big, heavy lens, with a particularly heavyweight price tag.

Budget alternatives:
The Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS is a great lens that’s smaller and much lighter than the f/2.8 edition, and only costs half the price. The Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS is even less expensive and offers greater telephoto reach. For shooting on an APS-C format body, the Sony E 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS is particularly small and costs less than a tenth of the price of the 70-200mm f/2.8.

A white and black Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master OSS lens

5. Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master OSS

Packing a mighty telephoto reach into a relatively restrained build

Mount: Sony EF | Elements/groups: 22/16 | Diaphragm blades: 9 | Autofocus: RDSSM + LM | Stabilizer: Yes | Min focus distance: 0.98m | Max magnification: 0.35x | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions (WxL): 94x205mm | Weight: 1,395g

Long telephoto reach
Excellent build and handling
Optical SteadyShot
Weighty and expensive

The best E-mount super-telephoto zoom: There’s no denying that the Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master OSS is a large lens, but surprisingly, it’s barely any bigger than the 70-200mm f/2.8, slightly less heavy and no more expensive. That’s despite having twice as much telephoto reach, albeit with a variable aperture that shrinks to f/5.6 at the long end of the zoom range. 

Although physically only 5mm longer than the 70-200mm, it lacks an internal zoom mechanism so the inner barrel extends when zooming toward the long end of the zoom range. Up-market build and handling characteristics are very similar to those of the 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master lens, but this one adds a variable torque adjustment for the zoom ring. 

Again, the Optical SteadyShot is very effective and the autofocus system is super-fast, this time based on a combination of double linear motor and DDSSM (Direct Drive SSM) systems.

A black Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS lens

6. Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS

One size fits all when it comes to zoom range

Mount: Sony E | Elements/groups: 17/12 | Diaphragm blades: 7 | Autofocus: LM | Stabilizer: Yes | Min focus distance: 0.5-0.8m | Max magnification: 0.27x | Filter thread: 72mm | Dimensions (WxL): 81x119mm | Weight: 780g

10x zoom range
Good versatility
Fairly large and heavy
Narrow f/6.3 aperture at long zoom settings

The best E-mount full-frame superzoom: Rightly or wrongly, many digital photographers hate swapping lenses on their camera and exposing the image sensor to the elements. With its 10x zoom range, this Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS lens stretches all the way from seriously wide-angle viewing to generous telephoto reach – so this could be the only lens you would ever need. 

It’ll cater to most shooting scenarios without the need to swap lenses, and is particularly ideal for walkabout and travel shooting, when you want to cut down the clutter that you have to pack and carry (particularly if you are travelling by plane). 

It’s not all good news, however. As with most ‘superzoom’ lenses, there’s a compromise in terms of image quality. Sharpness is a bit mediocre towards the corners of the frame, and across the whole frame at the longest zoom setting. Colour fringing can also be noticeable around towards the corners. 

The relatively narrow f/6.3 aperture rating at the long end of the zoom range is disappointing, although this helps to keep the build to a reasonable size. Even so, it’s quite big and weighty for an E-mount lens. On the plus side, Optical SteadyShot comes in handy if you’re using an early A7 series camera that doesn't have in-body image stablization (IBIS).

Budget alternative:
Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di-III VC
It’s not really a budget alternative as the Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di-III VC is quite costly, but it does give rather longer telephoto reach, with a mightily effective zoom range of 27-300mm.

A black Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Sony E lens

7. Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Sony E

An excellent standard prime for full-frame bodies

Mount: Sony EF | Elements/groups: 13/8 | Diaphragm blades: 9 | Autofocus: HSM | Stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 0.4m | Max magnification: 0.18x | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions (WxL): 85x100mm | Weight: 815g

Fast f/1.4 aperture
Reasonably priced
Relatively big and heavy
No weather-seals

Sony markets an excellent FE 50mm f1.4 ZA Planar T* standard prime, but it’s eye-wateringly expensive. This top-grade Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens comes at less than half the price. 

One of Sigma’s first ‘Art’ designation prime lenses in the Global Vision line-up, it’s a major revamp of the company’s previous 50mm lens. The revised optical layout includes an aspherical element and three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements, in a complex build that includes 13 elements in total. Typical of Sigma’s f/1.4 Art lenses, there’s no optical stabilization. 

The lens also lacks weather seals but is beautifully built and has a thoroughly pro-grade feel to its construction and handling. The ring-type HSM (HyperSonic Motor) autofocus system is super-fast and whisper-quiet, with the usual availability of manual override. Image quality is excellent but, compared with most 50mm f/1.4 lenses on the market, it’s big and heavy.

The best budget standard prime alternative:
Sigma 30mm f/2.8 DN
For a ‘standard prime’ to use on an APS-C rather than full-frame body, you’ll need a lens with a shorter focal length to give a natural viewing perspective. The Sigma 30mm f/2.8 DN fits the bill nicely and is great value at the price.

A black Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens

8. Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Beautiful bokeh adds to the attraction of this portrait prime

Mount: Sony EF | Elements/groups: 14/12 | Diaphragm blades: 9 | Autofocus: HSM | Stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 0.85m | Max magnification: 0.12x | Filter thread: 86mm | Dimensions (WxL): 95x126mm | Weight: 1,130g

Ideal focal length and aperture for full-frame portraiture
Excellent build quality
Big and heavy, weighing over a kilogram
No optical stabilization

Larger and nearly twice the weight of many 85mm f/1.4 lenses on the market, this Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is quite a handful. A relative latecomer to Sigma’s Global Vision party, it wasn’t launched until late-2016, some two and a half years after the 50mm Art lens. 

Similar in design to the 50mm Sigma, this lens has one aspherical elements and two rather than three SLD elements, along with a nine-blade diaphragm. Build quality and handling feel almost identical, although the newer 85mm lens adds weather-seals in its ‘dust- and splash-proof’ construction. 

Sharpness is exceptional across the entire image frame, even at the widest aperture of f/1.4, while colour fringing and distortion are minimal, and bokeh is beautifully smooth. All in all, it’s a large lens that goes extra-large in image quality.

The best budget portrait prime alternative:
Sony FE 50mm f/1.8
For budget portraiture on an APS-C rather than full-frame body, Sony’s FE 50mm f/1.8 is the ideal candidate and it’s refreshingly good value for an own-brand lens.

A black Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS lens

9. Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

Ready for your close-up? This quality macro prime certainly is

Mount: Sony EF | Elements/groups: 15/11 | Diaphragm blades: 9 | Autofocus: DDSSM | Stabilizer: Yes | Min focus distance: 0.28m | Max magnification: 1.0x | Filter thread: 62mm | Dimensions (WxL): 79x131mm | Weight: 602g

Full 1.0x magnification
High-precision auto and manual focusing
Great build quality and handling
Fairly pricey

At its minimum focus distance of 0.28 metres, the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS lens delivers full 1.0x or 1:1 magnification. That basically means that small objects are reproduced on the camera’s image sensor at full life size. Naturally, if you’re filling the whole image frame with something as small as a postage stamp, the potential for massively enlarging tiny details is enormous. 

Beautifully built, this lens has up-market handling attractions including a customisable focus hold button, autofocus range limiter switch and Optical SteadyShot. Given that manual focusing is often preferred for extreme close-up shooting, there’s also a handy push-pull mechanism in the focus ring, for switching between auto and manual focus modes.

The best budget macro prime alternative
Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro
It’s relatively inexpensive at around £210 and gives good performance. The only drawback is that due to its 35mm focal length, the closest focus distance of 9.5cm for full 1.0x macro magnification puts the front of the lens just 2.4cm from the object you’re shooting. This can cast a shadow over the object if shooting under ambient lighting, as well as scaring away bugs and other tiny creatures you may be trying to shoot.

Best Sony A-mount lenses

The best lenses for A-mount Sony cameras

A black Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 DT SSM lens

10. Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 DT SSM

The not-so ‘standard’ zoom

Mount: Sony A (APS-C) | Full-frame compatible: No | Autofocus type: Ultrasonic | Optical stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 0.3m | Filter thread: 72mm | Dimensions (WxL): 81x88mm | Weight: 577g

Fast f/2.8 constant aperture
Premium build and image quality
A bit on the weighty side
Relatively limited zoom range

The best A-mount standard zoom (APS-C): A standard zoom is the lens most people use for most of the time. There are some good budget options on the market, including the Sigma and Tamron 17-50mm lenses, both of which have a fast f/2.8 aperture rating that remains available throughout the entire zoom range. 

The own-brand Sony 16-50mm delivers the same aperture rating but gives a slightly wider maximum viewing angle and has better, weather-sealed build quality. It also features a quiet yet rapid SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) autofocus system and a focus distance scale that’s positioned beneath a viewing panel. 

Despite its more pro-grade build and performance, the Sony lens is still great value at the price. The only real downside is that outright zoom range is limited, compared with the likes of Sony’s 16-80mm and 16-105mm zooms. However, both of those lenses have variable aperture ratings that shrink at the longer end of the zoom range.

A black Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG HSM | A lens

11. Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG HSM | A

Long reach with superb quality and good value for money

Mount: Sony A (full-frame) | Full-frame compatible: Yes | Autofocus type: Ultrasonic | Optical stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 0.45m | Filter thread: 82mm | Dimensions (WxL): 89x109mm | Weight: 885g

Generous zoom range, constant aperture
Great performance and image quality
Lacks weather seals
An f/stop slower than some competitors

The best A-mount standard zoom lens (full-frame): Money no object, the Sony 24-70mm F2.8 ZA SSM II Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* is a fabulous lens that combines a classic standard zoom range with a fast and constant f/2.8 aperture. But it’s fiendishly expensive to buy. The Sony 28-75mm f/2.8 is a more affordable option but we prefer this Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG HSM

It costs nearly the same to buy as the 28-75mm but gives a more generous zoom range with no sacrifice in image quality. One of the first ‘Art’ lenses in Sigma’s Global Vision line-up, it’s designed with premium performance in mind, to suit creative photographers. 

The f/4 aperture rating is a sensible choice as it enables a versatile zoom range without an overly large construction. Indeed, it’s lighter in weight than the Sony 24-70mm lens. As with image quality and handling, build quality is thoroughly excellent, although the lens isn’t weather-sealed.

A black Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM lens

12. Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM

It’s wide in viewing angle but not steep in price

Mount: Sony A (APS-C) | Full-frame compatible: No | Autofocus type: Ultrasonic | Optical stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 0.24m | Filter thread: 82mm | Dimensions (WxL): 87x88mm | Weight: 520g

Very good image quality and handling
Inexpensive for a constant-aperture zoom
No weather-seals
Not the widest Sigma zoom

The best A-mount wide-angle zoom (APS-C): Our favourite wide-angle zoom for APS-C format Sony SLTs also happens to be the cheapest on the market. The Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM comes at little more than half the price of the Sony 11-18mm lens, yet delivers a bigger zoom range, a wider maximum viewing angle, and better image quality. 

Typical Sigma refinements include fast and whisper-quiet ring-type ultrasonic autofocus, with the usual full-time manual override. For about the same money as the Sony lens, Sigma also markets an 8-16mm lens that gives a rather larger maximum viewing angle. 

However, that one has a built-in hood to protect its protruding front element, so it lacks a filter thread. The 10-20mm lens wins out for filter-friendly versatility and value for money.

A white and black Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II lens

13. Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II

70-200mm f/2.8 zooms are a favourite of many photographers, and this is a great one

Mount: Sony A (full-frame) | Full-frame compatible: Yes | Autofocus type: Ultrasonic | Optical stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 1.2m | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions (WxL): 87x197mm | Weight: 1,340g

Pro-grade build and performance
Advanced controls and great handling
Lighter than some competitors
Typically expensive for an own-brand 70-200mm f/2.8

The best A-mount 70-200mm telephoto zoom: A full-frame compatible lens from Sony’s up-market G-line stable, the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II lens features ring-type SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) autofocus, advanced Nano AR coatings and a plethora of buttons and switches. 

Advanced controls include three ‘focus hold’ buttons around the forward end of the lens for freezing the action of autofocus, plus a DMF (Direct Manual Focus) switch at the rear. This has standard and full-time settings, the latter enabling full-time manual focus override in continuous as well as single AF mode. 

The optical line-up includes four ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements. Ideal for just about everything from portraiture to action sports and wildlife, it’s simply the best A-mount telephoto zoom on the market.

A black Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di USD lens

14. Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di USD

We expect 70-300mm zooms to be cost-effective, and this Tamron really delivers

Mount: Sony A (full-frame) | Full-frame compatible: Yes | Autofocus type: Ultrasonic | Optical stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 1.5m | Filter thread: 62mm | Dimensions (WxL): 82x143mm | Weight: 765g

Good build and image quality
Fast, accurate autofocus system
Lacks weather seals
Doesn’t feature Tamron’s latest nano-structure coatings

The best A-mount 70-300mm telephoto zoom: Sony’s 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G SSM mark II is a very good lens with up-market attractions like weather-seals and Nano AR coating. However, it’s much pricier than most 70-300mm lenses on the market. 

This Tamron alternative, the SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di USD, isn’t weather-sealed but it does match the Sony by featuring a ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system, a focus scale beneath a viewing panel, sturdy build quality and equally fine image quality. 

Unlike the Canon and Nikon mount versions of the same lens, the Sony-fit edition isn’t optically stabilized, but that’s par for the course with A-mount lenses, which rely on in-camera stabilization. Ultimately, this Tamron lens goes toe-to-toe with the Sony 70-300mm, but for just a third of the cost. It’s an absolute bargain.

A white and black Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G SSM II lens

15. Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G SSM II

Supersize your reach with this super-telephoto zoom

Mount: Sony A (full-frame) | Full-frame compatible: Yes | Autofocus type: Ultrasonic | Optical stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 1.5m | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions (WxL): 95x196mm | Weight: 1,500g

Epic telephoto reach
Great build quality and handling
Expensive to buy
Heavy for prolonged handheld shooting

The best A-mount super-telephoto zoom: Like the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom, the Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G SSM II is a G-line (Gold) lens aimed at professional photographers. The most obvious plus points of its 70-200mm sibling is that you get twice the telephoto reach, despite the lens not being much bigger or heavier, and costing less to buy. 

However, it has a variable rather than constant-aperture rating, and is two f/stops slower at the long end of the zoom range. Also unlike the 70-200mm lens, the physical length increases at longer zoom settings. That’s entirely normal for super-telephoto zoom. 

The Mk II edition has a key advantage for action sports and wildlife photography, in that its revamped autofocus system is four times faster than in the original edition of the lens. Nano AR coatings are also added to give better resistance against ghosting and flare. Handling is very refined and build quality is superb.

A black Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II PZD Macro lens

16. Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II PZD Macro

This lens gives a jaw-dropping zoom range and unprecedented wide-angle coverage

Mount: Sony A (APS-C) | Full-frame compatible: No | Autofocus type: Ultrasonic | Optical stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 0.39m | Filter thread: 67mm | Dimensions (WxL): 75x100mm | Weight: 540g

Incredible zoom range
Outstanding wide-angle coverage
Noticeable barrel distortion at 16mm
Sharpness drops off at long zoom settings

The best A-mount superzoom: There are various 18-200mm ‘superzoom’ lenses, including Tamron’s own offering for Sony A-mount cameras. The Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II PZD Macro for Sony has a comparatively enormous zoom range but also offers the widest viewing angle of any superzoom lens on the market, equivalent to using a 24mm lens on a full-frame camera. 

It’s well built and has a weather-seal ring on its mounting plate. Handling benefits from the focus ring not rotating during autofocus. Full-time manual override of autofocus is also available. Both of these facets are unusual for a space-saving ‘motor-driven’ ultrasonic (rather than ring-type) autofocus system. 

Barrel distortion is rather noticeable at the shortest zoom setting and sharpness drops off a bit at the long end. Overall, however, there’s surprisingly little compromise in image quality, given the extraordinary zoom range. The Tamron makes a great ‘travel zoom’.

A black Sony Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 ZA

17. Sony Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 ZA

Here’s a lens that can make anybody look their best

Mount: Sony A (full-frame) | Full-frame compatible: Yes | Autofocus type: In-camera motor | Optical stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 0.85m | Filter thread: 72mm | Dimensions (WxL): 81x75mm | Weight: 640g

Fabulous optical quality
Beautiful bokeh
Expensive to buy
A bit long for portraiture on APS-C format bodies

The best A-mount portrait prime: For portraiture with an APS-C body, you can’t go far wrong with the budget-friendly Sony 50mm f/1.8 SAM (Smooth Autofocus Motor) or the faster and more up-market Sony 50mm f/1.4 (SAL50F14). 

In the full-frame camp, the Sony 85mm f/2.8 SAM is a good budget option, although its relatively narrow aperture rating won’t deliver the really tight depth of field you might want for blurring the background. 

For ultimate performance and beautiful bokeh (the pictorial quality of defocused areas), the Sony 85mm f/1.4 ZA Planar T* lens is the pick of the crop, even if it’s very pricey to buy. For a little less outlay, the Sony 135mm f/2.8 STF is another good option. This ‘Soft Transition Focus’ lens has a built-in apodization filter for accentuating blur in defocused areas.

A black Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro USD lens

18. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro USD

This ‘Super Performance’ Tamron lens lives up to its billing

Mount: Sony A (full-frame) | Full-frame compatible: Yes | Autofocus type: Electric motor | Optical stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 0.3m | Filter thread: 62mm | Dimensions (WxL): 79x117mm | Weight: 610g

Full 1.0x macro magnification
Reveals incredibly fine detail
Considerably pricier than the previous edition of the lens

The best A-mount macro prime: From Tamron’s SP (Super Performance) line-up, the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro USD ‘full macro’ prime lens gives the usual 1.0x or 1:1 magnification ratio, at its shortest focus setting. As such, small objects are reproduced at full life size on the image sensor, enabling incredible enlargements when viewing photos on screen or in print. 

High-grade optics include one LD (Low Dispersion) and two XLD (eXtra Low Dispersion) element, along with both conventional and nano-structure coatings, plus a keep-clean fluorine coating on the front element. The ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system is rapid and whisper-quiet, and the lens performs very well as a short telephoto for general shooting, on both APS-C and full-frame bodies. 

However, it really comes into its own for extreme close-ups, where it captures incredibly fine levels of detail and texture. An older version, easily distinguished by its gold band around the middle, is less sophisticated but rather less expensive.

Read more:

The best Sony cameras
The best budget telephoto zoom lenses