So what is the best E-Mount lens for portraits, landscapes, sports, and street photography with auto focus? I have been getting a ton of questions via email, in the comments, on the forum, on Google, Facebook, Twitter, and on my youtube channel! Therefore, I think it’s about time I write an article breaking down the lenses by popular category and recommend what I think is the best option available. I also have the E-Mount lens guide over here with tons more lens options, but it’s not broken down into categories like in this article which addresses the most common questions I get.
So what is the best E-Mount lens for portraits, landscapes, and street photography with auto focus?
Well first off, it depends if you are using a full frame E-mount camera like the new A7 II, or a crop factor APS-C sized sensor E-mount camera like the A6000, or Nex-6 for example. Both the smaller APS-C sensor sized cameras and full frame cameras use the same E-mount, so it can be very confusing. Knowing what size camera sensor you have is key! Full frame or APS-C are your options for e-mount just to be crystal clear.
As it turns out, Sony is producing lenses pretty fast for the full frame E-mount line and also has a decent inventory for the original APS-C crop factor sized lenses as well. The crop factor lenses can be used on the full frame cameras in crop factor mode, and the full frame lenses can be used on the crop factor cameras with full coverage. I told you it can get confusing!
For this article I am going to stick mostly with auto focus lenses, but I will touch on a few manual lens favorites here and there.
Best E-Mount Portrait Lenses?
Portraits are generally taken from ~50mm 200mm in most cases. If you want the background to get blurry, then a fast aperture is preferred as well. If you want a really detailed breakdown, I also wrote a more detailed article specifically on Portrait Lenses: Which is best and Why? Here >>
APS-C E -Mount – (A6000, Nex-6)
I would recommend the 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens or the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN Lens. They are both very affordable and a good effective focal length, plus fast aperture for killer separation and lower light shooting. More so the 50mm due to the built in OSS and even faster aperture. I reviewed the 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens here >>, and the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN Lens here >>
The Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 Macro lens is also a high quality option that can serve as a great portrait lens in addition to macro photography.
If you need a closer tighter crop then the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 OSS G Lens is a great option although large due to full frame coverage and quite expensive. My review of the e-mount 70-200mm is this way >>
Update: I wanted to add the 18-105mm f/4 OSS G power zoom lens to this list because it really is a great lens and good for portraits; especially on the longer focal length end. Better than the Zeiss as far as reach is concerned, but does suffer from pretty decent distortion and is not quite as sharp. Regardless, I should have mentioned it, but left it out due to the power zoom honestly. I figured it more for video than photography, but clearly it’s great for both! My highly detailed review of the 18-105mm OSS G lens is this way >>
I would also recommend the 55-210mm kit lens, because when zoomed in you can get get some awesome separation and portrait results!
Full Frame E-mount – (A7 II, A7r, A7s, A7)
I would recommend first the prime Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens. It’s an excellent focal length for outdoor and indoor portraits plus a fast aperture for great background separation, 3D pop, and low light capabilities. Especially when using the new Sony A7 II via built in SteadyShot as the lens does not have any OSS built in.
The Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 OSS G Lens for extra reach and closeup versatility would be a good option also. If you want a faster f/2.8 lens the A-Mount version via electronic lens adapter is available.
The FE 90mm f/2.8 OSS G Macro lens is also a great native portrait lens, but doesn’t have the killer bokeh of the newer Zeiss Batis Lenses!
Zeiss Batis Lenses:
If you need a wider versatile quality lens, for larger groups or whatever, then the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens is very good and overall highly praised. The 50-70mm is a good range for separating the subject from backgrounds and below that is perfect for groups or vast landscape style portraits. I reviewed the 24-70mm lens here >>
You can also use the LA-EA4 E-Mount to A-Mount Electronic lens adapter which will allow for using full frame A-Mount lenses on your E-Mount cameras. In this case the A-mount Sony 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* Lens would be one the “best lens” recommendations, reviewed here on A7r via LAE-A4 >>
The A-Mount 50mm f/1.4 lenses are also a good option for portraits. I have not had a chance to review many A-Mount lenses yet unfortunately.
Best E-Mount Landscapes Lenses
Landscape lenses tend to be on the wider side of things and I actually prefer the ultra wide variety myself!
The 10-18mm f/4 OSS lens would be my first choice and recommendation for landscape shooting, because it’s ultra wide angle and has OSS with some range to play with. It’s also very sharp all around and not crazy expensive although fairly large in size. My SEL1018 lens review is this way >>
The 16-50mm and 18-55mm kit lenses are also not bad for landscape shooting ranges and price. I prefer the optics on the 18-55mm lens myself.
A top quality prime lens option is the Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 lens which has extremely high end optics with very little distortion and chromatic aberrations. My review of the 12mm Touit lens is Here >>
Again the 18-105mm f/4 OSS Powerzoom G Lens is a great all around lens and can produce quality landscapes!
Also on the higher quality end is the prime Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 lens. It’s not the widest, but depending on your style it may be perfect for you. I put this more in the street category as a primary option though just so you know.
Full Frame E-mount
The Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens would be my first recommendation for landscape shooting, and my highly detailed review which I just published is this way >> The lens is great quality and super wide with a nice usable range. The built in OSS also makes it easy to hand-hold depending on conditions and lighting.
It’s also noting the 10-18mm f/4 OSS lens designed for the APS-C cameras works really well on the full frame cameras in full frame mode. As wide as ~14mm with full coverage! Beyond that and you will see the corners start to go…
The next option would be the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens. A good range for those that don’t care for the ultra-wide angle look 😉
The Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 lens is currently the best option available for the full frame e-mount camera system with Auto focus.
Best E-Mount Street Photography Lenses
Street photography varies a bit on the shooter for sure, and the focal lengths I see most common in good street photo scenes are in the ~24-50mm range. I also see higher focal length manual focus prime lenses used a lot!
The 18-55mm kit lens is one of my favorite options, because it’s really cheap and lightweight. Some street photography using it on my Nex-6 here >> I also used it while traveling to Disney World along with the 55-210mm and together were a killer affordable and practical pair!
I would recommend the 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens if you like a little more zoom which I do personally 😉
Well again, the 28-70mm kit lens is not a bad option if you are on a budget and want versatility.
If looking for more range on the wide end and quality then the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens is the way to go.
I would also recommend the Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens for those in need of more zoom and separation.
That is about it for now, but please feel free to share what lenses you like to use in various situations below in the comments area 😉 I will also update this article as new lenses are released and reviewed, because it took me a long time to put together 😉
I hope this article helps a few of those in need with the basic questions of what lens to get for which occasion! I tried to also show a few relevant sample photos along the way.
Don’t forget to check out the Sony E-Mount Lens Guide where lots more manual focus lenses are also available from Zeiss, Rokinon, Samyang, and more…
Also, please visit the awesome growing SonyAlphaLab forum community if you would like to learn and share photography and much more…
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