The best Sony lenses are typically the company's G Master lenses, which are big, beautiful but expensive. There are lots of alternatives, however, for photographers and videographers who need lenses which are lighter, smaller or just not quite so darned expensive! And many of these are so good in their own right that they can give Sony's G Master optics a real run for their money.
The best Sony lenses aren't just designed for Sony's full-frame models (which are among the best cameras for professionals), but there are also a number of great lenses out there for Sony's large range of APS-C models that are more for hobbyists and enthusiasts, like the Sony A6400 or the new Sony ZV-E10 vlogging camera. And don't forget that you can use full frame E-mount lenses on APS-C models too, and often this can be 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 an APS-C format camera.
Read more: The best Sony cameras | Sony A7R IV vs A7R III vs A7R II
While some up-market Sony lenses are produced in conjunction with legendary optical manufacturer Zeiss, Sony now also produces its own premium ‘G’ and top-flight ‘G Master’ lenses as well. 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). A prime example of this is Sony's new 50mm F1.2 G Master lens, which is quite possibly the best 50mm lens on the market right now.
The best Sony lenses also tend to be the biggest, which isn't helpful if your work is travel or street photography, or you are a vlogger capturing fast-moving events. It's really exciting, then, that Sony is turning its attention to smaller, more compact lenses for users like these.
We've added in Sony's brand new FE 28-60mm F4-5.6, a remarkably compact retracting kit lens originally launched with the Sony A7C, but now available on its own. It's not much of a zoom range, but it makes for a very compact camera kit.
What we've been really impressed by, though, is Sony's trio of tiny full frame primes: the Sony FE 24mm F2.8G, the Sony FE 40mm F2.5 G (included in this guide) and the Sony FE 50mm F2.5 G. All three sacrifice a little in maximum aperture to gain massively in portability and it's a fresh new approach that we're delighted to see.
Note: We've arranged our guide to the best Sony 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. Just use the navigation tab on the left to jump to the type of lens you're interested in.
Best Sony lenses in 2021
Sony FE wide-angle lenses
Following on the heels of Sony’s FE 12-24mm f/4 G zoom, the new G Master edition delivers the same ultra-wide viewing angles but goes an f/stop wider in aperture. The f/4 lens is still on sale and a lot cheaper, so don't rule it out. By necessity, the front optical elements of this f/2.8 version are considerably larger but the lens is reasonably lightweight and easily manageable. It certainly goes large in terms of performance, with outstanding image quality and rapid autofocus, making it well worth the typically high asking price for a G Master lens. Before, the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master was the widest f/2.8 G Master lens in the Sony range, but the new Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master has stolen its crown.
Featuring exotic glass that includes two ultra-high-precision XA (Extreme Aspherical) elements, the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master was Sony’s top-quality wide zoom until the arrival of the even wider Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master. Having said that, many might find the 16-35mm range just a little more usable, and it does take conventional filters where the 12-24mm lens does not.. 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.
Neatly picking up the baton from Tamron’s 28-75mm standard zoom, this 17-28mm lens takes you into ultra-wide-angle territory. It very much follows suit, with the same high-end, weather-sealed build quality, fast and constant aperture rating, quick and virtually silent RXD (Rapid eXtra silent stepping drive) autofocus system and, best of all, the same terrific image quality. Corner-to-corner sharpness is particularly impressive for an ultra-wide-angle lens, even when shooting at the widest aperture. It doesn’t quite match Sony’s 16-35mm lenses for maximum viewing angle but it comes very close, and it’s great value at the price.
There’s a raft of 20mm ultra-wide-angle prime lenses for E-mount full-frame cameras but for a long time, they’ve only been available from independent manufacturers like Sigma, Tamron, Samyang/Rokinon and Tokina. Sony finally joined the fray with its own rather fabulous 20mm f/1.8 lens. It has a tough, weather-sealed construction and a top-grade optical path. High-speed autofocus combines with excellent handling, helped by the inclusion of a high-precision manual focus ring, a customisable autofocus hold button and an aperture ring with a de-click switch. Image quality is absolutely phenomenal in all respects, with stunning sharpness, gorgeous colour rendition and absolutely minimal coma, distortion and colour fringing. It’s a pricey lens, but you get what you pay for.
Tamron offers a trio of wide-angle primes for Sony full-frame E-mount cameras, with 20mm, 24mm and 35mm focal lengths. But if you're going to go wide, it may as well be the widest of the bunch. All three lenses 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 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.
While the Sony Distagon T FE 35mm f/1.4 has been around for a while now, Sony's giving Alpha users another fast 35mm prime in the shape of the FE 35mm f/1.4 G Master. It's a new premium option that will sit above the older optic. A mix of an ultra-fast maximum aperture and modest wide-angle focal length mean it's a very versatile lens, suited to anything from portrait and weddings, to landscape and astro photography. As you'd expect, it isn't cheap, but it delivers a spectacular optical performance. It's not the smallest 35mm prime we've seen, but the handling really impressed, with a perfectly weighed ‘declickable’ aperture ring to the smooth and light focus ring. A lovely lens, but it comes at a price.
Sony FE standard lenses
We rate Sigma’s 24-70mm f/2.8 Art lens for Canon and Nikon full-frame DSLRs very highly. The newer ‘DN’ edition for Sony full-frame E-mount cameras isn’t just a tweak of the original, but rather a complete redesign. The all-new optical path includes no less than six FLD (‘Fluorite’ Low Dispersion) and two SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements. Top-notch construction includes comprehensive weather-seals and a super-fast, virtually silent stepping motor autofocus system. Barrel distortion at 24mm and vignetting at f/2.8 are rather noticeable when uncorrected in-camera but overall handling, performance and image quality are excellent, and it’s ultra-sharp. Bokeh is enhanced by an 11-blade diaphragm, whereas the DSLR version of the lens only has nine blades.
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.
The Sony FE 28-60mm f4-5.6 is surprising in a couple of respects. One is that for a kit lens it has an extremely modest 2.1x zoom range. Is it enough? Only if you are prepared to compromise on the sort of shots you can get, or you tend to shoot in a narrow focal range anyway. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it performs extremely well – far better than you might expect from a retracting kit lens. As a kit lens it’s limiting, but still rather good. It was initially launched as the kit lens for the Sony A7C, but now it's available separately and when it's fitted to a regular Sony body you get a camera/lens combo that's really compact for a full frame camera.
Sony’s own-brand FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS is a popular lens, not least because it’s frequently sold as a kit lens with A7-series bodies. However, sharpness away from the centre of the image frame is lacklustre and the aperture shrinks to a fairly narrow f/5.6 at the long end of the zoom range. This Tamron lens beats the Sony on both counts, with razor-sharp image quality right into the edges and corners, and a fast f/2.8 aperture rating that remains constant throughout the entire zoom range. That makes it two full f/stops faster at the long end, enabling faster shutter speeds and a much tighter depth of field. It’s perfect for everyday shooting and a brilliant buy at the price.
Although this lens feels quite bulky on a Sony mirrorless body, it’s still fairly compact and reasonably lightweight for an f/1.2 lens. Even so, it goes extra-large in terms of features and performance. The weather-sealed construction feels of fully professional-grade quality, there are two customizable function buttons that fall naturally under the thumb in both landscape and portrait orientation shooting, and the manual aperture ring comes complete with a de-click switch for stepless control during video capture. Unlike most ultra-fast lenses, the Sony maintains spectacular sharpness across the entire image frame, even when shooting wide-open. Bokeh is beautifully smooth and both lateral and axial color fringing are very negligible. There’s noticeable vignetting when shooting at f/1.2 but this pretty much disappears by f/2, and automatic in-camera correction is available anyway.
The Sony FE 40mm f/2.5G is the middle lens in Sony’s new series of compact full frame mirrorless lenses. For anyone fed up of the front-heavy feel of Sony’s big, heavy zooms, its perfect, completely changing the balance and feel of the camera. Like the other two primes in this new series, it’s small and light, and has an aperture ring which can be de-clicked for video. These three lenses are even the same size and weight (near enough), and share the same 49mm filter thread. We've been complaining long enough that Sony lenses are too big, and now we've got these – and they are brilliant. The 40mm is our favorite of the three – just – for its handy standard/wide focal length and edge to edge sharpness.
Read more: Sony FE 40mm F2.5 G review
Sony FE telephoto lenses
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 one of the best portrait lenses.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sony FE Macro lenses
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.
Sony E-mount APS-C lenses
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.
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.
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!
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.
The Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS is a really welcome addition to the Sony lens line-up. Designed specifically for APS-C format Sony E-mount cameras, it sports a 5x zoom range equating to 105-525mm on a full-frame body. It might not have an ultra-fast maximum aperture, but the modest f/4.5-6.3 aperture rating enables a much more compact, lightweight build, at a more affordable price. Image quality is also very impressive for a lens of this class and while it doesn’t have the world’s most effective optical stabilizer, you can still expect a good hit rate of sharp handheld shots. Overall, this is a lens that’s big on performance but refreshingly small and lightweight for handheld shooting.