Best Sony APS-C Lens for E-Mount Cameras

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This guide to the best Sony e-mount lenses is in response to the huge popularity of APS-C Sony mirrorless cameras here in 2021.

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!

Sony24mm
Sony 24mm f/1.8

Fast, smooth, quiet and sharp. Versatile focal length with fast aperture for low light and beautiful bokeh.

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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 prime and zoom lens options this year.

Best Sony E-Mount APS-C Lens in 2021

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
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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
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shk2-table__imageSony 20mm f/2.8GREAT VALUE
  • Outstanding resolution
  • Ultra-slim & lightweight
  • Circular aperture for attractive defocusing
  • Smooth, quiet autofocus operation
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shk2-table__imageSony 10-18mm f/4
  • Refined optical performance
  • Fast, agile focusing
  • Optical SteadyShot
  • 35mm equivalent focal length
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shk2-table__imageSony 35mm f/1.8
  • Customizable focus hold button
  • Compact and lightweight
  • 8.66” min. focus distance
  • Large F1.8 maximum aperture
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shk2-table__imageSony 50mm f/1.8
  • Smooth defocusing
  • Solid durability
  • 7-blade circular aperture
  • Refined optical performance
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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

Sony-E-Mount-APS-C-Lenses-24mm-f18

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Focal Length: 24mm (equivalent to 36mm) prime lens
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)

Pros
  • Corner-to-corner sharpness
  • Beautiful bokeh for a wide angle
  • Smooth & fast operation
  • Great low light performance
Cons
  • Slightly heavier than other options
  • No weather sealing

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 (guide). 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 image quality when this lens is shot 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 on full frame) 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 the best Sony apsc Lens for the year.

2. Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8

Sony-E-Mount-APS-C-Lenses-16-55mm-f28

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Focal Length: 16-55mm (equivalent to 24-105mm) wide-standard zoom lens
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)

Pros
  • Felixble focal range
  • Precise, quiet autofocus
  • Sharp throughout the zoom range
  • Excellent image quality
Cons
  • Priced on the high side
  • No image stabilization

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 portrait lens. 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 G Master 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 the sensor size on APS-C mirrorless cameras.

3. Sony E 20mm f/2.8

Sony-E-Mount-APS-C-Lenses-20mm-f28

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Focal Length: 20mm (equivalent to 30mm) prime lens
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)

Pros
  • Small and light
  • Smooth, quiet autofocus operation
  • Great low light performance
  • Well-controlled distortion
Cons
  • Durablility could be improved
  • No image stabilization

If you love the compact size of Sony APS-C cameras, you’re going to love the Sony 20mm f/2.8 wide-angle prime 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 maximum aperture offers great low light performance. It isn’t as fast as some others on this list but it makes up for this by having 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!

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

Sony-E-Mount-APS-C-Lenses-10-18mm-f4

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Focal Length: 10-18mm (equivalent to 15-27mm) wide angle zoom lens
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)

Pros
  • Incredible for landscapes
  • Compact
  • Excellent image quality
  • Great autofocus and subject tracking
Cons
  • Solid but not completely durable
  • Average low light performance

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 maximum 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!

5. Sony FE 35mm f/1.8

Sony-E-Mount-APS-C-Lenses-35mm-f18

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Focal Length: 35mm (equivalent to 53mm) prime lens
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)

Pros
  • Compact and well-balanced design
  • Auto/manual focus switch and focus hold button
  • Performs well in low light
  • Fast and silent autofocus
Cons
  • Relatively high price

Released in 2019, the Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 prime lens 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 e-mount full frame lens is extremely sharp (even wide open) and offers excellent low light performance with the f/1.8 maximum 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 of 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 (see review).

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, found on other Sony FE lenses (particular G Master lenses).

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 Sony FE lens is very fast and silent. I never have issues tracking fast-moving subjects with continuous AF. One great feature is its minimum focusing distance of just 25cm.

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 its low light capability and high image quality.

Although the Sony 35mm f/1.8 is a little more expensive than the previous APS-C lens in this format the Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 is still great value. The quality and performance make it worth the additional cost, and it’s actually one of the more affordable lenses for Sony mirrorless cameras.

I hoped Sony would release this e-mount 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!

6. Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS

Sony-E-Mount-APS-C-Lenses-50mm-f18

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Focal Length: 35mm (equivalent to 52.5mm) prime lens
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)

Pros
  • Creamy bokeh
  • Light and compact
  • Includes Optical SteadyShot (OSS) stabilization
  • Great value for money
Cons
  • No weather sealing
  • Not the most durable build

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 this lens 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 make 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 optical image stabilization with the fast f/1.8 maximum aperture, this e-mount lens gives great low light performance.

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 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Sony APS C lenses be used on full-frame mirrorless cameras?

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 that it is a huge improvement over the previous APS-C offering in the same format.

Do all Sony lenses fit all Sony mirrorless cameras?

All e-mount and FE mount lenses (including any G Master lens) 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 mirrorless cameras?

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.

Do all Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras use the e-mount lens system?

Yes, the e-mount lens system is universal across both Sony APS-C and Sony full-frame cameras. This means you can use whatever wide-angle lens, standard zoom, wide-angle zoom, manual focus lens, or any lenses for Sony mirrorless.

Final Words

Sony offers several excellent APS-C mirrorless cameras here in 2021, 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.

Whether you choose a zoom lens or a prime lens (or both), I’m confident you’ll get the most out of your Sony e-mount cameras.

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

Sony24mm
Sony 24mm f/1.8

Fast, smooth, quiet and sharp. Versatile focal length with fast aperture for low light and beautiful bokeh.

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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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