Best Sony a6500 Lenses
This is a comparison of the 6 best lenses for Sony a6500 owners by Colorado-based wedding and portrait photographer Marc Bergreen. If you have any questions, be sure to leave it in the comments.
You read the review of the Sony a6500 and picked one up of your own… and now it’s time to complete your kit with a selection of lenses! There are so many options at different price points that it can be difficult to choose.
That’s why I’ve done the work for you and listed my top choices below.
|Sony E 24mm f/1.8 Great low-light performance, feather-light, sturdy build quality and execeptional auto-focus makes this a must have lens for the Sony a6500.||View Price|
The first thing to consider when choosing lenses is what type of subjects you like to shoot. Portrait photographers tend to want something on the medium to telephoto range to create nice bokeh.
Landscape photographers usually tend to want something wide angle to capture large scenes.
If you’re like me, you shoot a variety of subjects and want several lenses to cover a broad range of focal lengths. In addition, you want a do-all lens to keep on your camera most of the time to document a variety of scenes.
If you’ve chosen the Sony a6500, most likely you appreciate a small form factor. It fits in your pocket, so you don’t want to attach a big lens to it and make the camera less compact.
Several of the options below pair well with the small body. Check out my top lenses for the Sony a6500 in the table below and read on for all the details.
Best Sony a6500 Lenses in 2020
|Sony 24mm f/1.8||View Price →|
|Sony 16-70mm f/4||View Price →|
|Sony 20mm f/2.8||View Price →|
|Sony 10-18mm f/4||View Price →|
|Sony 35mm f/1.8||View Price →|
|Sony 50mm f/1.8||View Price →|
What Type of Lenses Work with the Sony a6500?
[Editor’s Comment] I thought I’d add a short explanation of the types of lenses that owners of the Sony a6500 can use.
Sony produces two main types of lens for its ‘E-mount’ mirrorless camera bodies – ‘FE’ and ‘E’ lenses. Confusingly, ‘E-mount’ refers to the Sony mirrorless mount itself. There’s also the A-mount, which is for the Sony unique Translucent Mirror type camera bodies.
If you see a Sony lens that contains an ‘E” (as opposed to an ‘FE’), this means that it’s been designed for their APS-C sensor range of mirrorless bodies – i.e. the Sony alpha a6500, and other a6xxx cameras.
Sony ‘FE’ lenses on the other hand cover the entire 35mm frame of a full frame camera, and as such, can be used on all Sony mirrorless cameras, even the Sony a6500 (albeit at a 1.5* focal length multiplication).
Unless you’re planning to upgrade to a full frame Sony body soon, or perhaps already own one and wish to share lenses, it’s generally advisable to take advantage of lenses made specifically for the APS-C sensor (i.e. Sony ‘E’ lenses).
These lenses are usually smaller, lighter and much more affordable than their full frame (FE) counterparts.
Sony a6500 Lens Reviews
In addition to all the Sony FE and E lenses which work with the Sony a6500, there are also several great third party options available.
However in the interests of simplicity, the reviewer has concentrated on the Sony (own-brand) offerings.
Arguably, it’s usually these ‘native’ lenses that perform the best, since they have been designed specifically for the cameras that share the same brand.
Focal Length: 24mm (equivalent to 36mm)
Weight: 225g (7.9 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 63 x 66mm (2.5 x 2.6in)
Filter Diameter: 49mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.16m (6.3in)
This lens immediately impressed me with its sturdy build quality. Upon holding it, you can feel the quality and know that it will last!
The quality feels similar to other full frame E-mount lenses I own, despite the fact that this is a crop sensor lens designed for the a6500 series.
With the all-metal barrel, it feels solid, but it must have some plastic in the design because it is surprisingly light. I would compare it in feel to the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8.
This lens is one of the larger APS-C E-mount lenses, likely because of the fast aperture.
At f/1.8, it lets in a lot of light, pairing nicely with the Sony a6500‘s low light performance. Together they make a great combo for dark shooting environments.
The focus ring on the Sony 24mm f/1.8 feels smooth and has a nice grip. Again, the metal design is a nice touch. The autofocus is also fast and effective.
Additionally, this is an impressively sharp lens. As a prime, I expect it to be sharp, but the quality exceeded my expectations.
Even at the widest aperture, the image was very usable across the whole frame. The sharpness improves at f/2.8 and maximum sharpness is reached at f/4.
The only drawbacks of this lens are that it is slightly heavier and not as compact as some others. This is likely due to the improved build quality and sharper optics.
I chose this as my favorite because of the focal length. Over the past 8 years, I’ve shot with a lot of lenses but have homed in on the 35mm focal length.
With an equivalent focal length of 36mm, this lens is a perfect partner to the a6500.
It’s great for shooting portraits, landscapes, family, and travel. It just works so well for so many subjects!
Talk to most photojournalists and they will tout the flexibility and utility of the 35mm focal length.
A lot of people tell you your first lens should be “nifty fifty”, but I think a 35mm is a much better choice!
Focal Length: 16-70mm (equivalent to 24-105mm)
Weight: 308g (10.9 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 67 x 75mm (2.6 x 3 in)
Filter Diameter: 55mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.35m (13.8in)
Everyone loves a mid-range zoom. It’s the lens that can stay on your camera all the time and be ready to shoot any subject.
Personally, I am a fan of prime lenses, but if you’re looking at a zoom, the Sony 16-70mm f/4 is the one to get for your Sony a6500. It covers a wide range of focal lengths and has a constant f/4 aperture.
At the wide end, this lens is great for shooting landscapes. At the telephoto end, it does an awesome job at creating smooth bokeh for a clean, sharp portrait.
Another feature is the compact design. It tucks nicely into a pocket or jacket, making it the one lens you can take with you to shoot a variety of scenes. Mounted on the compact body of the Sony a6500, this makes a superb travel combo.
If you are looking for an extremely compact setup, I’d recommend going with a prime lens, but if you want a wide range zoom, the 16-70mm is a great choice.
Additionally, I was very satisfied with the sharpness of this lens. It provides exceptional quality for the wide range of focal lengths.
Like the above lens, I’m a big fan of the metal-feeling design. It is the heaviest lens in this review, but the quality/flexibility are worth it.
The autofocus of this lens is awesome for outdoor scenarios, but slowed down slightly indoors due to the maximum aperture of f/4.
The faster prime lenses in this review are slightly more effective in dark situations.
This provides a nice balance while remaining much lighter than equivalent setups from other camera manufacturers.
Because of the APS-C crop factor, the lens has to have a wider focal length to achieve the equivalent of a full frame camera. This causes the lens to have more distortion at the wider focal lengths.
The distortion is acceptable – it just creates a slightly different look than you would see from the full frame equivalent. It doesn’t bother me too much, but is worth knowing about.
Overall, the Sony 16-70mm f/2.8 is the most versatile zoom lens and a great choice for someone looking to use one lens for everything.
Focal Length: 20mm (equivalent to 30mm)
Weight: 69g (2.4 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 63 x 20mm (2.5 x 0.8in)
Filter Diameter: 49mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.2m (7.8 in)
Of all the lenses in this review, I find myself gravitating towards this one because of its amazingly compact design.
The pancake design is awesome for creating images in an incognito situation.
If you’re looking to have a camera setup that puts the smallest camera between you and your subject, the Sony 20mm f/2.8 is it!
Similar to the Sony 24mm f/1.8 mentioned above, this lens has a really nice focal length. Although I prefer 35mm, this 30mm equivalent lens is a close second.
The Sony 20mm f/2.8 sits right in the sweet spot between a wide angle and a 50mm “normal” lens.
It’s perfect for travel, family, portraits, and landscapes – it’s a do-all lens for a wide variety of subjects.
With the super-light and compact design, the Sony 20mm f/2.8 is not quite as rugged-feeling as some of the other lenses for the Sony a6500. It feels like it’s mostly plastic, although this may be due to its size.
Because it’s so light, it would likely survive a drop even though it’s not metal.
The wide angle distortion is evident but not overwhelming. I find it tolerable, especially for shooting landscapes and close-up action sports.
The autofocus of this lens is fast and effective, something that surprises me considering how affordable this lens is (see latest price here).
At f/2.8, the moderately fast aperture was handy, allowing me to shoot in darker scenarios.
Lastly, I really liked how the lens hood protected the front element of the Sony 20mm f/2.8.
For a setup that will likely get thrown in jacket pockets and stuffed in packs, it was nice to not have to worry about using a lens cap.
The lens hood was also effective at keeping snow/rain off the lens when shooting in harsh weather.
Overall, a very impressive lens in an ultralight package!
Focal Length: 10-18mm (equivalent to 15-27mm)
Weight: 225g (7.9 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 70 x 63mm (2.8 x 2.5in)
Filter Diameter: 62mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.25m (9.8in)
Being a fan of wide angle lenses, this was the first lens I owned for my Sony a6500.
It allows you to create dramatic landscape images with an equivalent focal length similar to the 16-35mm full frame lens (my favorite Sony zoom lens).
The Sony 10-18mm f/4 is for those Instagram-worthy big-landscape-small-person-style images.
It features a super wide to wide zoom range that will capture any landscape and immerse the viewer in the frame.
The other advantage of this lens over other wide angles is the compact size. I spend a lot of time skiing with it zipped in my jacket or climbing with it hanging off my harness.
Also, the all-round sharpness of the Sony 10-18mm f/4 is excellent for the price. I did use this lens on my Sony a7RIII a few times (it covers the full frame for a portion of the focal length, about 12-17mm).
The one issue with using the Sony 10-18mm f/4 on a full frame camera is the increased distortion you get when shooting at such wide focal lengths.
I find the build quality of this lens to be pretty good. It’s not quite on par with the other designs that have more metal, but it held up surprisingly well to substantial abuse.
I use it a lot while camping/hiking and it didn’t have any issues.
The autofocus is fast and effective and with such a wide focal length, I rarely had issues with getting subjects in focus.
If you learn about hyperfocal distance, you’ll understand that with a 10-18mm lens, almost everything will be sharp through most of the frame as long as it’s focused at or beyond about 1.5 meters (5 ft).
With its constant f/4 aperture, the Sony 10-18mm f/4 suffers a little in low light situations.
If you’re looking for a lens to shoot the stars, I’d suggest a wide angle prime with an aperture more in the f/2 range, such as the excellent and affordable manual focus Rokinon 12mm f/2.
Overall, this lens is a favorite because of its versatility and awesome perspective!
Focal Length: 35mm (equivalent to 52.5mm)
Weight: 154g (5.5 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 63 x 45mm (2-1/2 x 1-13/16in.)
Filter Diameter: 49mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.3m (0.99ft)
Read almost any photography how-to guide and it will suggest that beginners learn with a standard 50mm lens.
This nifty fifty equivalent will encourage you to zoom with your feet and frame up subjects with more purpose.
It fits the bill for an inexpensive, fast prime lens, and should definitely be on the shopping list of all Sony a6500 owners.
The 50mm focal length is a great blend of a portrait lens and an everyday lens that performs relatively well at both.
The bokeh is smooth and consistent with some sharpness towards the middle of the frame.
My main complaint is that this lens isn’t the sharpest. It suffers most at the wider apertures and doesn’t get much sharpness until you stop down a lot. For a prime lens, this is rather frustrating.
What it lacks in sharpness, it makes up for in just how affordable this lens is (check the latest price here), and its lightweight and compact design.
The build quality on the Sony 35mm f/1.8 is pretty good, although it does feel a like a mostly plastic design. Despite this, it easily survives getting dropped!
The autofocus is fast and effective. For those looking for a standard focal length lens at an affordable price with a fast aperture, this would be a good choice.
Overall, a great option for those looking for the classic “nifty fifty” for their Sony a6500!
Focal Length: 50mm (equivalent to 75mm)
Weight: 202g (7.1 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 62x 62mm (2.4 x 2.4 in)
Filter Diameter: 49mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.39m (15.3 in)
This lens surprised me. At first, I wasn’t sure I would like it, but it quickly grabbed my attention.
It’s not typically a favorite focal length for a prime lens, but I found myself picking it up on several occasions. The 75mm equivalent will compress a scene and direct the viewer’s eye.
Lens compression is a great tool to bring backgrounds closer to the viewer and make it feel like a backdrop is closer than it really is.
Additionally, the f/1.8 aperture on the Sony 50mm f/1.8 will allow you to create dreamy bokeh that isolates your subject from the backdrop.
The other lenses in this post don’t come anywhere close to creating that classic portrait look.
Also, the telephoto focal length of the Sony 50mm f/1.8 will create pleasing images that show proper proportions of faces in portraits.
If you’re taking head-shots or photographing people, this lens is a great choice.
This lens is also surprisingly compact for what it offers (50mm f/1.8). Other lenses with these specs tend to be much larger/heavier.
The sharpness is good, especially for the low price point of this lens (check the latest price here). The design is similar to the 35mm f/1.8 and appears to be mostly plastic.
This does help to keep the weight down though, and at just 202g (7.1 oz.) it balances really well on a small mirrorless camera like the Sony a6500.
Overall, the Sony 50mm f/1.8 is an excellent choice for someone looking to take beautiful portraits without spending a ton of money on a lens!
At this price point, I’d definitely recommend it as one of the first lenses to buy for the Sony a6500.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best lens for Sony a6500?
You have a lot of great options when it comes to lenses for the Sony a6500. Depending on your requirements and preferences, some will be better suited to you than others. As an all-rounder, our top pick is the Sony 24mm f/1.8 – the build quality is excellent, it’s lightweight yet solid, and renders impressively sharp images.
What Sony lens is best for portraits?
For use with the Sony a65oo, we’d recommend the Sony 50mm f/1.8 for portraits. It creates beautiful bokeh that makes your subject stand out from the background, delivering that classic portrait look.
Can I use full frame lens on Sony a6500?
Sony full frame ‘FE’ lenses can be used on the Sony a6500, though at a 1.5* focal length multiplication. That said, you’re better off opting for lenses that are specially designed for the a6500 as they’re lighter and more affordable.
What is the sharpest Sony lens?
Best Sony a6500 Lenses | Final Words
Considering the endless lens options for the Sony a6500, I’ve tried to narrow down my selection to what I think are the 6 best choices available.
It’s a balance of value, features, size/weight, and versatility. Each of these lenses are going to serve a specific user best, and it’s up to you to evaluate your kit to make the best decision.
The great thing about lenses is that they tend to hold their value, so if you decide you want to buy one to try one, you can probably sell it easily if it doesn’t work out for you.
My hope is that some of you will find my input valuable and helpful in choosing the best lens for this awesome camera! Paired with a great lens, the a6500 is such a powerful image making tool!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below – do you agree with my selection?
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.