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The best Sony lenses in 2020: top lenses for Sony mirrorless and Alpha cameras

Best Sony lenses
(Image credit: Sony)

The best Sony lenses have tended to be for its full frame mirrorless cameras in recent times, and this is where a lot of independent lens makers have been concentrating too. But Sony has just released two important new E-mount (APS-C) lenses for its A6000-series cameras, so things are looking up for owners of Sony's smaller mirrorless camera range.

The two new Sony lenses are the Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G and the Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS. The 16-55mm lens is a constant-aperture f/2.8 lens of the sort preferred by experts and pros – and Sony E-mount users have waited a long time to get one. The 70-350mm telephoto is a more consumer-orientated telephoto zoom with a longer maximum zoom setting (350mm) than similar lenses from other makers.

But Sony is not the only company making lenses for Sony cameras, and we've been particularly impressed by the new Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD, an affordable prime lens that plugs a gap in Sony's own lens range at a price that's going to appeal to a lot of Sony users.

Sony full frame vs APS-C cameras

Sony cameras come in both full frame and APS-C models. Broadly speaking, the full frame models are amongst the best cameras for professionals, while the APC-S models are more for hobbyists and enthusiasts. 

Our list also caters for Sony's older A-mount format – just hop on over to page 2: Sony SLT A-mount lenses to see our top recommendations.

Sony cameras are amongst the best mirrorless cameras, especially for action subjects, video and vlogging, so it makes sense to choose the best lenses you can afford. You can use full frame lenses on the APS-C cameras and very often this is the best choice for telephotos, macro lenses and other longer focal length options. But with standard zooms and ultra-wide lenses you must get a lens designed for that format.

Read more: The best Sony cameras right now

Some up-market Sony lenses are produced in conjunction with legendary optical manufacturer Zeiss, but 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).

Note: We've arranged these lenses in order of focal length, with the shortest first and the longest lenses and telephotos at the end, so that it's easier to find the type of lens you're looking for.

The best lenses for Sony E-mount cameras

Full frame FE-mount lenses

Best Sony lenses: Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master

1. 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

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. For outright quality, this is the best Sony lens for landscapes, interiors, travel and other subjects where space is tight.

Best Sony lens: Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M 1:2

(Image credit: Tamron)

2. Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M 1:2

A great value ultra-wide prime lens that fills a hole in the Sony lens range

Mount: Sony FE | Elements/groups: 10-9 | Diaphragm blades: 7 | Autofocus: OSD | Stabilizer: No | Min focus distance: 0.11m | Max magnification: 0.5x | Filter thread: 67mm | Dimensions (WxL): 72x64mm | Weight: 220g

Exceptional sharpness
0.5x macro capability
Not the fastest AF
Barrel distortion needs digital correction

Tamron recently announced three new wide-angle primes for Sony full-frame E-mount cameras, with 20mm, 24mm and 35mm focal lengths. All share a common aperture rating of f/2.8 and a filter size of 67mm. The primes have a tough act to follow, as we’ve recently been hugely impressed with the Tamron 17-28mm and 28-75mm constant-aperture f/2.8 zooms. Keeping in step, this 20mm lens is very lightweight in build and price tag, but goes large on performance with sumptuous image quality.

Read more: Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD review

Best Sony lens: Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS 

3. Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS 

This constant aperture zoom makes a great long kit lens

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 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 we think the 24-105mm is the best Sony lens for affordable everyday photography.

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

4. 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

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. 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. 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).

Best Sony lens: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

5. Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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.

Best Sony lens: Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

6. 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 optic that goes extra-large in image quality, making it a great portrait lens.

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

7. 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.

Best Sony lens: Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS

(Image credit: Sony)

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

A constant aperture zoom that won't break the bank

Mount: Sony EF | Elements/groups: 21/15 | Diaphragm blades: 9 | Stabilizer: Yes | Min focus distance: 1-1.5mm | Max magnification: 0.13x | Filter thread: 72mm | Dimensions (WxL): 80x175mm | Weight: 840g

Constant f/4 aperture
Relatively affordable
Image stabilisation
Lacks the class of the f/2.8 G Master

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. It's true that a 70-200mm f/2.8 is seen as a 'must have' lens in any professional system, but you pay the price very literally, and there's a weight penalty with the f/2.8 version (below) too. This f/4 lens is cheaper, lighter, a lot less expensive and only one f-stop slower.

Best Sony lens: Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master OSS

9. 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 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.

Best Sony lens: Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master OSS

10. 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

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.

Best Sony lens: Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS

(Image credit: Sony)

11. Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS

A full frame supertelephoto Sony zoom that's almost affordable!

Mount: Sony FE | Elements/groups: 24/17 | Diaphragm blades: 11 | Autofocus: DDSSM | Stabilizer: Yes | Min focus distance: 2.4m | Max magnification: 0.2x | Filter thread: 95mm | Dimensions (WxL): 111.5x318mm | Weight: 2,115g

3x supertelephoto zoom range
Optical stabilization
Expensive for a regular 'G' lens
Very heavy

This lens is still quite new and we haven't had a chance to test it yet, but all the signs are promising. Fast supertelephoto lenses on full frame cameras are always expensive, and the Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS is no exception, but compared to fast supertelephoto primes it's actually not THAT expensive, and probably just about falls within an achievable price range for keen amateurs. It doesn't boast Sony's G Master badge of optical excellence, and it does have a relatively restricted maximum aperture of f/5.6-6.3, but in the stratospheric world of full frame super-telephotos, this one is both effective and achievable.

APS-C E-mount lenses

Best Sony lens: Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS

Super-wide lenses for Sony APS-C E-mount cameras are rare...

Mount: Sony E | Elements/groups: 10/8 | Diaphragm blades: 7 | Stabilizer: Yes | Minimum focus distance: 0.25m | Maximum magnification: 0.1x | Filter thread: 62mm | Dimensions (WxL): 70x63.5mm | Weight: 225g

Optical stabilization
Relatively compact
Constant f/4 maximum aperture
Not cheap

There aren't too many ultra-wide zooms out there for Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras, so it's just as well that Sony's own offering looks like a good one. We've not been able to test this lens yet, so we can't comment on its performance, but the signs are good. It's a stubby little lens that's wider than it is long, and it has a constant f/4 maximum aperture across its relatively modest zoom range. This corresponds to 15-24mm on a full frame camera. The good news is that you get optical image stabilization built in, which is quite rare on an ultra-wideangle zoom lens, and ideal if you have one of Sony's un-stabilized A6000-series cameras.

Best Sony lens: Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G

(Image credit: Sony)

2. Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G

The best Sony E-mount APS-C lens overall

Mount: Sony E | Elements/groups: 17/12 | Diaphragm blades: 9 | Autofocus: XD linear motor | Stabilizer: No | Minimum focus distance: 0.33m | Maximum magnification: 0.2x | Filter thread: 67mm | Dimensions (WxL): 73x100mm | Weight: 494g

Excellent image quality
f/2.8 maximum aperture
24-83mm equivalent focal range
No optical stabilization

There is an older Sony Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS which is cheaper and lighter than this lens and has optical stabilization, but the maximum aperture is f/4, so the new Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G is, we think, the best 'pro' lens for Sony APS-C cameras. As a standard lens with a classic zoom range, the Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G ticks nearly all the right boxes. It delivers sumptuous image quality with fabulous sharpness and contrast, along with pleasant bokeh. Handling is very refined, with the addition of a customisable focus hold button, strong build quality and weather-seals. Autofocus is super-fast and deadly-accurate. The only downside is the lack of optical stabilization.

Read more: Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G review

Best Sony lens: Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS

(Image credit: Sony)

3. Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS

A great long-zoom standard lens for A6000-series cameras

Mount: Sony E | Elements/groups: 16/12 | Diaphragm blades: 7 | Stabilizer: Yes | Minimum focus distance: 0.45m | Maximum magnification: 0.29x | Filter thread: 55mm | Dimensions (WxL): 67.2x88mm | Weight: 325g

Effective zoom range of 27-202mm
Optical SteadyShot
Compact and lightweight
Relies heavily on digital corrections

The choice of standard zoom lenses for Sony's APS-C mirrorless cameras is narrower than you'd expect. The 16-50mm 'pancake' standard zoom sold with many A6000-series cameras is very small and convenient but not terribly good optically. Otherwise the Zeiss Vario-Tessar (above) is a good buy but has a constant f/4 maximum aperture, and while the brand new Sony E 16-55mm F2.8 G fixes that with a constant f/2.8 aperture, it's big and expensive... and none of them have much of a zoom range. This is why we really rate the Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS. It's compact, neat and affordable, it offers a really good zoom range and – unlike almost every other long-zoom lens – it holds it performance even at full zoom. If you use a raw processing program that doesn't automatically apply lens corrections you'll see how much the digital corrections are needed, but if that's the price you pay for this level of optical quality, we'll take it!

Best Sony lens: Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro

(Image credit: Sony)

4. Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro

The best low-cost macro lens for APS-C Sony cameras

Mount: Sony E | Elements/groups: 7/6 | Diaphragm blades: 7 | Stabilizer: No | Minimum focus distance: 0.095m | Maximum magnification: 1x | Filter thread: 49mm | Dimensions (WxL): 62x55.5mm | Weight: 138g

Cheap to buy
Small and light to carry around
Short focal length for a macro lens
No optical stabilizer

The Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro is really inexpensive 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. Still, if you only shoot macros occasionally and don't want to spend a fortune on a lens you won't use very often, this lens is simply perfect.

Best Sony lens: Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS

(Image credit: Sony)

5. Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS

A great long-range telephoto zoom for amateurs and enthusiasts

Mount: Sony E | Elements/groups: 19/13 | Diaphragm blades: 7 | Stabilizer: Yes | Minimum focus distance: 1.1-1.5m | Maximum magnification: 0.23x | Filter thread: 67mm | Dimensions (WxL): 77x142mm | Weight: 625g

Very good image quality
Super-fast and virtually silent autofocus
Built-in optical stabilization
Slow-ish maximum aperture
Quite expensive

Though it has a relatively modest aperture rating of f/4.5-6.3, this is nonetheless a well built lens with a strong, weather-resistant construction and a very fast autofocus system that’s well able to track action, especially with Sony’s more recent A6000-series cameras. The image quality is very impressive overall, and the maximum ‘effective’ focal length of 525mm is truly remarkable for such a compact and lightweight lens, making it a perfect match for Sony’s mirrorless APS-C camera bodies. It doesn’t have the world’s most effective optical stabilizer, but you can still expect a good hit rate of sharp handheld shots down to shutter speeds of around 1/100sec.

Read more: Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS review

Read more:

• These are the best Sony cameras to buy right now
• Discover the best lenses for Sony A6000 cameras
• We list the best mirrorless cameras you can get