Best Sony E-Mount Lenses (APS-C)

sony_e-mount_lenses

This guide to the best Sony e-mount lenses is in response to the huge popularity of APS-C Sony mirrorless cameras here in 2020.

Sony e-mount (APS-C) sensor bodies, i.e. the Sony a6600, a6100, a6400, a6000 and a5100, provide incredible performance in a compact size, all at competitive prices – it’s no wonder everyone wants one!

shk-fs-table__imageSony 24mm f/1.8Fast, smooth, quiet and sharp: this lens ticks all the right boxes.View Price

While it’s true that a lens designed for a full-frame Sony sensor camera (i.e. an ‘FE’ lens) can be used on an e-mount (i.e. ‘crop-sensor’ or ‘APS-C’) camera body, we will mainly be focusing on lenses specifically designed for APS-C cameras.

Sony e-mount lenses are cheaper, lighter and smaller than their FE counterparts. Some are arguably sharper, because they are designed specifically for e-mount cameras.

Let’s take a look at the top 6 options this year.

Best Sony E-Mount Lenses in 2020

Image Product Features
shk2-table__imageSony 24mm f/1.8OUR #1 CHOICE
  • "Sonnar " optical design
  • Direct Manual Focus
  • Smooth & fast lens operation
  • Superior corner-to-corner sharpness
View Price →
shk2-table__imageSony 16-55mm f/2.8TOP RATED
  • Precise, quiet AF and tracking
  • 9-blade circular aperture
  • Outstanding image quality
  • Extreme Dynamic Linear Motor technology
View Price →
shk2-table__imageSony 20mm f/2.8GREAT VALUE
  • Outstanding resolution
  • Ultra-slim & lightweight
  • Circular aperture for attractive defocusing
  • Smooth, quiet autofocus operation
View Price →
shk2-table__imageSony 10-18mm f/4
  • Refined optical performance
  • Fast, agile focusing
  • Optical SteadyShot
  • 35mm equivalent focal length
View Price →
shk2-table__imageSony 35mm f/1.8
  • Customizable focus hold button
  • Compact and lightweight
  • 8.66” min. focus distance
  • Large F1.8 maximum aperture
View Price →
shk2-table__imageSony 50mm f/1.8
  • Smooth defocusing
  • Solid durability
  • 7-blade circular aperture
  • Refined optical performance
View Price →

 

In addition to all the Sony FE and E lenses which work with the Sony APS-C series camera, there are also several great third party options available.

However in the interests of simplicity, I’ve 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.

1. Sony E 24mm f/1.8

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)

Click here to check the latest price >>

The Sony E 24mm f/1.8 is a sturdy professional grade lens that fits perfectly with the crop sensor format of the Sony APS-C cameras.

Although it is approaching ten years in production, this lens is still a top performer in its focal length. It has a sturdy metal build and balances nicely with the weight of APS-C cameras like the a6600.

It offers excellent sharpness and minimal distortion for the relatively wide focal length. Although the spec sheet says it reaches max sharpness above f/4, I love the crisp images this lens creates wide open.

The fast f/1.8 aperture is great in low light and at creating beautiful bokeh. Although wide angle lenses are not particularly known for bokeh, the Sony E 24mm f/1.8 can create nice blur if you have a close subject and far away backdrop.

If you want an excellent all around lens you will be excited with the performance of the Sony E 24mm f/1.8.

If I had to look for something to improve about this lens it would be the weight. At 225g (7.9 oz), it isn’t the lightest lens on this list but it is still comparably svelte.

The standards for lightweight and performance are always increasing but I think this lens still delivers a great balance of both.

Sony A6500 + Sony 24mm f/1.8 | 1/800 f/4 ISO 200

The Sony E 24mm f/1.8 is one of the most often mounted on my a6600 camera. It is a versatile focal length and offers great performance for a wide variety of subjects.

It excels at shooting in low light, can make an excellent lens for environmental portraits or documenting travel/adventure. I use it to photograph my family and everyday outings.

With the crop factor of 1.5 this lens becomes approximately equivalent (24mm x 1.5 = 36mm) to one of the most popular focal lengths for photojournalists: 35mm.

Photojournalists like this focal length because it is so flexible and can effectively capture many different types of subjects and scenes.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend the Sony E 24mm f/1.8 as a top choice for Sony APS-C cameras!

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF THE SONY E 24mm f/1.8

2. Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8

Focal Length: 16-55mm (equivalent to 24-105mm)
Weight:
 494g (1.09 lb)
Size (Diameter x Length): 73 x 100mm (2.9 x 3.9 in)
Filter Diameter: 67mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.33m (1.08 ft)

Click here to check the latest price >>

Everyone loves a quality mid-range zoom! With the Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8, Sony drastically improved upon previous offerings!

The biggest improvement and feature everyone will love about this lens is the constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range. Previous lenses were not as fast or had variable apertures.

The Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 produces fantastic images in such a flexible focal range! At the wide end (16mm) it has an equivalent focal length of 24mm which is perfect for landscapes.

When zoomed to 55mm (82.5mm equivalent), this lens makes an excellent portraits. The f/2.8 aperture is great for getting beautiful bokeh and background separation.

With all the features of a professional grade lens (smooth focus/zoom rings, af/mf switch, focus hold button, and constant aperture) it feels like Sony has really made a commitment to their APS-C lineup with this lens.

It is a mid-range zoom that matches the quality features built into their camera bodies.

Sharpness on this lens is excellent throughout the zoom range. With the G rating, this lens is one level below the GM or Gold Master lenses which are designed for very high resolution cameras like the 61 megapixel Sony A7RIV.

The barrel of the Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 is a metal design that incorporates grippy rubber on the zoom and focus rings.

Sony A6600 + Sony 16-55mm f/2.8 | 1/100 f/2.8 ISO 160

One downside is the long extension you get when zooming out to 55mm. It would be nice to not have this extension but an internal zoom would make the lens much larger. I’m very happy with how compact it is when zoomed to 16mm.

The autofocus on this lens is extremely fast, especially when paired with a new camera body like the Sony a6600. The constant f/2.8 aperture is also very helpful in locking focus in low light.

For someone who photographs a variety of subjects and wants one lens to do it all, the Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 is perfect.

It may be on the high end for Sony e-mount lens prices but I think it will be worth it if you are committed to APS-C sensor size.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF THE SONY E 16-55mm f/2.8

3. Sony E 20mm f/2.8

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)

Click here to check the latest price >>

If you love the compact size of Sony APS-C cameras, you’re going to love the Sony 20mm f/2.8 lens!

The pancake design of this lens makes it pair really nicely with the compact Sony camera bodies like the a6600. Together, they are a powerful pocket size combo that make professional grade images!

If you ever wonder about whether to bring a camera on an adventure, you’ll never hesitate with this lens mounted on your APS-C camera. It is about the same length/width as a large cell phone and the width of about two decks of cards.

At an equivalent focal length of 30mm, the Sony 20mm f/2.8 lens is very versatile. It is similar to the Sony E 24mm f/1.8 with a slightly wider field of view.

The f/2.8 aperture offers great low light performance. It isn’t as fast as some others on this list but it makes up for this by have a very compact size.

Sony A6500 + Sony 20mm f/2.8 | 1/1000 f/4 ISO 200

With the 30mm focal length it is great for shooting a variety of subjects, especially adventure and travel.

It is not the best portrait lens and won’t create any amazing bokeh but that’s not what it was designed for.

I also appreciate that the Sony E 20mm f/2.8 has well controlled distortion (as long as you’re not shooting off angle subjects with lots of straight lines) and has good sharpness across the majority of the frame.

My main complaint is that it doesn’t feel as durable as other lenses. Maybe the compact/lightweight design will keep it from having a big impact if dropped but I think the design could be improved by making it a bit more rugged.

Despite durability concerns, it does have a nice lens hood that protects the front element from scratches. It’s nice to be able to skip the lens cap and not worry about stuffing this lens/camera combo in your pocket.

Overall, this lens is an excellent option if you want a medium/wide angle focal range in an extremely compact and featherweight package!

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF THE SONY 20mm f/2.8

4. Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS

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)

Click here to check the latest price >>

The Sony 10-18mm f/4 was the first Sony e-mount lens I bought for their APS-C system.

As a lover of wide angle images, this lens was a must have to capture big dramatic landscapes!

With a focal range similar to that of my favorite lens (the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM), this lens is perfect for capturing the big landscape, little person style images that are popular on Instagram. Yes I love shooting these images too!

Although this lens won’t fit as nicely in your pocket like the Sony 20mm f/2.8, it features a versatile zoom range that allows you to really bring the viewer into the frame.

The constant f/4 aperture makes this lens very compact, but it doesn’t allow you to shoot in low light as easily as the other lenses on this list. I find myself switching to a faster prime after the sun sets and the stars come out.

If you want an astrophotography lens for your Sony camera, I’d check out the affordable (but manual focus) Rokinon 12mm f/2.

Sony A7II + Sony 10-18mm f/4 | 1/2500 f/4 ISO 100

Another useful note about this lens is that the image covers a full frame camera sensor from about 12-17mm. Outside of that range, you will get some vignetting.

Also, this lens isn’t as sharp as other offerings for full frame cameras but if you’re looking for a super wide lens for the A7 series, this could be an option.

Build quality is solid but not extremely rugged on this lens. I’ve dropped it several times and it has survived but shows some wear. Despite this, the image quality remains excellent!

The autofocus on the Sony 10-18mm f/4 is fast and effective. I never have any issues tracking subjects and with the very wide focal range, most things are sharp beyond about 1.5 meters (5 ft).

If you want a wide angle lens that pairs nicely with the Sony APS-C camera, the Sony 10-18mm f/4 is an excellent choice!

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF THE SONY E 10-18 f/4

5. Sony FE 35mm f/1.8

Focal Length: 35mm (equivalent to 53mm)
Weight:
281g (9.9 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 66 x 73mm (2.6 x 2.9in)
Filter Diameter: 55mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.25m (9.8in)

Click here to check the latest price >>

Released in 2019, the Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 is an awesome upgrade to the previously available Sony e-mount lenses in this focal range.

Although it is designed for full frame cameras like the A7 series, it also works great on the APS-C lineup.

With an equivalent focal length of 53mm, the Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 makes a perfect “nifty fifty” for your APS-C camera!

This lens is extremely sharp (even wide open) and offers excellent low light performance with the f/1.8 aperture.

The design feels very lightweight and compact for the performance it delivers. It balances nicely on both the APS-C Sony bodies as  well as the full frame lineup.

One advantage to choosing a lens that is compatible with full frame and APS-C cameras from Sony is that it will still be usable if you decide to upgrade.

Some people say that sharpness can be an issue if you use a full frame lens on an APS-C sensor but I haven’t found this to be the case with the Sony FE 35mm f/1.8

I appreciate that this lens has a few extra features that others in this lineup don’t. These include an auto/manual focus switch and a focus hold button.

The AF/MF switch is handy if you ever shoot video and don’t want the camera to hunt for focus while shooting a time-lapse.

The focus hold button can be programmed to a variety of things like eye-autofocus or automatic exposure lock.

Sony A6600 + Sony 35mm f/1.8 | 1/1000 f/4 ISO 200

Autofocus on this lens is very fast and silent. I never have issues tracking fast moving subjects with continuous AF.

As expected with most recent high quality Sony e-mount lenses, there are no major issues with distortion or chromatic aberration.

Although it isn’t as wide as most people prefer, this could be a great lens for astrophotography because of it’s low light capability and high image quality.

Although it is a little more expensive than the previous APS-C lens in this format the Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 is a great value. The quality and performance make it worth the additional cost.

I hoped Sony would release this lens for a long time. After owning it for several months, it has exceeded my expectations and lives on my camera most of the time!

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF THE SONY FE 35mm f/1.8

6. Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS

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)

Click here to check the latest price >>

The Sony E 50mm f/1.8 surprised me when I first tested it. I wasn’t sure I would like the long focal length (75mm full frame equivalent).

After using it for a while, I’ve really come to enjoy the creamy bokeh that it can create and the focus that it brings to a scene.

Having a smaller field of view can encourage you to be more selective creative with your imagery.

Sometimes it can be challenging to shoot indoors with this lens because of the smaller field of view but the background blur it creates is awesome for portraits.

The Sony E 50mm f/1.8 is also great for portraits because the telephoto focal length creates images with proper facial proportions. Wide angle lenses will tend to have more distortion and can make the face look unnatural.

Shooting this lens wide open at f/1.8 cause the sharp parts of your images (usually the eyes if you’re shooting portraits) to pop to the viewer.

Sony A6500 + Sony 50mm f/1.8 | 1/1000 f/2 ISO 100

One of the features that makes me appreciate this lens is how compact it is! Low aperture portrait lenses can be heavy but this lens is featherweight at 202g (7.1 oz).

Another feature to note is the inclusion of optical steadyshot (OSS), Sony’s version of optical image stabilization. This is great for improving the sharpness of images when shooting at low shutter speeds.

Combining OSS with the fast f/1.8 aperture, this e-mount lens is awesome for shooting in low light!

The build quality is adequate but I wouldn’t say this lens feels very durable. The design has a metal exterior but likely contains some plastic since it is so lightweight.

Although it may not be the most durable, it is relatively inexpensive. At around $350, this lens is is a good value.

For anyone looking for an amazing portrait lens at a great price that will make a very compact setup on a Sony APS-C body, check out the Sony E 50mm f/1.8.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF THE SONY E 50mm f/1.8

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Sony APS C lenses be used on full frame?

It’s not recommended – Sony lenses designed for the APS-C sensor should only be used on crop-sensor (APS-C) camera bodies. The only lens in this roundup designed for full frame is the Sony FE 35mm f/1.8. The reason I recommend it here is because it is a huge  improvements over the previous APS-C offering in the same format.

Do all Sony lenses fit all Sony cameras?

All e-mount and FE mount lenses fit any Sony mirrorless camera, since they all use the universal e-mount. However, it’s not recommended to use APS-C lenses on full frame bodies because they usually don’t cover the full sensor (or have a heavy vignette).

Can you use Sony FE lenses on APS-C camera bodies?

Yes you can, but the result will be a ‘cropped’ focal length, and a consequent change in the lens’ maximum aperture. On the plus side, you won’t need to upgrade lenses if you choose to upgrade from an APS-C sensor body to a full frame. Some people say that FF lenses aren’t as sharp on APS-C sensors because they are designed for a larger sensor.

Final Words

Sony offers several excellent APS-C mirrorless cameras here in 2020, and we can assume that they will continue to support the format with their selection of e-mount lenses.

The APS-C format offers size, weight and cost advantages, as well as increasing the relative focal length of any attached lens – for photographers requiring more ‘reach’ from their lenses, this can be a great benefit.

All the best Sony e-mount lenses recommended in this guide will help you get the most from your APS-C format Sony camera, and offer terrific bang for the buck.

Leave a comment below if you have any questions, and happy shooting!

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.

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