Best Lenses for the Sony E Mount (APS-C)

So two people I know are considering the jump onto the mirrorless master race wagon therefore I’ve compiled this list together specifically for the new potential A6000/A6300/A6500 owner this holiday season.

The A6000 is the arguably the best entry-level mirrorless interchangeable lens camera you can buy for the money (you can buy the body alone for less than $400 at the time of this post) and more than likely the typical consumer will pick up the bundle that include the kit lens 16-50mm variable zoom and/or the 55-210 telephoto zoom.

This list will be broken down by type of scenario you will find yourself in and the best tool (or lens) for the job based on budget.

Note: Everything listed will be native lenses for the APS-C E Mount, so FE or full-frame lenses will be excluded.

Best Standard Zoom Lens

Ideal for people looking for a versatile lens to do it all. Sort of like the jack-of-all-trades, master of none. This is perfect for the traveler that want to travel light and want to cover both wide and long focal lengths.

Best: Sony Carl-Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 16-70 F/4 ZA OSS

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Hands down this is the best standard zoom available for the native APS-C Sony E Mount. Created in collaboration with Sony and Zeiss, this is the only lightweight, compact standard zoom with a constant f/4 aperture. With the high optical image quality you would expect from the blue badge, the price will also be relatively high for this piece of glass. At least you get built-in OSS (Optical SteadyShot – Sony term for image stabilization), premium build quality, and the legendary Zeiss image quality.

Disclaimer: This lens is also notorious for decentering issues from the factory so I would advise everyone to purchase this lens from a retailer with a good return policy.

Price: $999.99

Mid-Price: Sony E 18-105 F/4 G OSS

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If you want more reach with a constant f/4 aperture and cheaper than the Zeiss 16-70 f/4, then this will be your next choice. Priced significantly lower compared to the Zeiss 16-70 f/4, the 18-105 should meet all your needs if you don’t mind the Power Zoom, size and weight of this lens (this is the heaviest APS-C E Mount lens). You also won’t get the same high quality color and saturation as the Zeiss, but at almost half the price of the 16-70, you can’t complain.

Price: $598

Budget: Sony E 55-210 F/4.5-6.3 OSS

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The cheapest of the bunch, the E 55-210 should be considered a telephoto lens and for good reason since this has the longest reach out of the group at 210mm (312 @ 35mm equivalent). Price at a low price that is suitable for a kit lens (and this IS a telephoto kit lens), the 55-210 should satisfy the amateur photographer that want to get his feet wet in the interchangeable lens camera (ILC) world when they need options on a budget. The images produced by this lens will satisfy most people and non-pixel peepers.

Price: $398

Best Prime Lenses

99% of the time, I would recommend picking up a “fast” prime lens as their next purchase, but people have different needs.

Prime lenses are non-adjustable/fixed focal length lens that require the user to “zoom with their feet”, therefore demanding more creativity from the photographer to get the perfect shot.

Prime lenses are also known to have the sharpest images compared to variable zoom lenses and a fast prime lens will be your tool of choice when low light photography is required thanks to it’s wide aperture.

Best: Sony Carl-Zeiss Sonnar T* 24 F/1.8 ZA

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Let me put this out there: this is the sharpest native lens available for the Sony APS-C family of lenses.

This lens produce the sharpest images corner to corner, even wide open at f/1.8 with bokeh to die for. If you stop it down to F/4 and more, it becomes razor sharp while sacrificing some shallow depth of field. The wide 24mm focal length also make this the ideal walk-around lens (since it’s a 36mm lens @ 35mm equivalent) which give the user a lot of room to work with since it closely mimics the focal length of the human eye and what they see.

It’s not cheap however and for the price, some might say it’s ever overpriced as it does not include OSS. It’s also priced the same as the legendary Carl-Zeiss FE 55 F/1.8 ZA (full-frame prime lens) so I would not mark this a good value, but if price is not a big deal for you, then you will not be disappointed. As a bonus, the minimum focal distance is so close that you get a 1:4 macro ability with this lens.

Note: This pairs nicely with the Zeiss 16-70 F/4 if you only want two lenses…ever.

Price: $1000

Mid-Price: Sony E 35 F/1.8 OSS

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If the Zeiss 24 F/1.8 is too pricey (and it is), then I recommend the native Sony E 35mm F/1.8. Priced significantly lower than the Zeiss 24, the Sony 35 F/1.8 is a fantastic alternative prime lens but be aware that this lens will be narrower than the Zeiss 24 due to it being a 52mm for a 35mm equivalent. A narrower field of view will require the user to step back a few feet to capture a wide scene.

Price: $450

Budget: Sony E 50 F/1.8 OSS

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This lens rivals the glorious Zeiss 24mm F/1.8 but priced at $299.99! The images produced here is very sharp and the 50mm focal length (75mm for a 35mm equivalent) make this a fantastic portrait lens if you need a cheap prime for portrait photography. Not ideal for food photography or group pictures in a narrow hallway.

Price: $299

I hope this list helps out current and potential Sony APS-C owners on choosing their next lens. Obviously there are a lot more lenses than the ones covered here, but this article was written to cover the most common focal lengths in photography.

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