Best Sony Full Frame Lenses (Bang for the Buck)
With the popularity and affordability of the Sony mirrorless cameras, many people are searching for the best value Sony FE lenses to go with their new camera body.
When Sony first launched into the full frame mirrorless market in 2014, their lens lineup was a bit lacking. Since then they have released some incredible glass to match the innovation of their camera bodies.
I’ve compiled a list of Sony FE lenses that offer amazing performance at great prices.
In this comparison, you’ll find 4 Sony FE prime lenses and 3 Sony FE zoom lenses that cover a broad range of focal lengths. They are all Sony E-mount lenses designed for Sony full frame cameras like the A7 series.
(FE lenses also work well on APS-C cameras (A6000 series), but you do need to account for the 1.5x crop factor when choosing a focal length.)
So, what Sony FE Lenses are the best value for money this year?
Best Sony FE Lenses in 2021
|Sony FE 28mm f/2||View Price →|
|Sony FE 35mm f/2.8||View Price →|
|Sony FE 55mm f/1.8||View Price →|
|Sony FE 85mm f/1.8||View Price →|
|Sony FE 16-35mm f/4||View Price →|
|Sony FE 24-70mm f/4||View Price →|
|Sony FE 70-200mm f/4||View Price →|
1. Sony FE 28mm f/2
Weight: 200 g (7 oz)
Size (Diameter x Length): 2.5 x 2.4″ / 64 x 60 mm
Filter Diameter: 49mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.29m (11.4 in)
The Sony 28mm f/2 lens is one that has been around for quite a while (released in 2015), but continues to top the list as an affordable high performing Sony FE lens.
This fast prime has excellent sharpness and a focal length that works well for a variety of scenes.
Lots of people tout the utility of a 35mm lens but I would argue that the 28mm is equally useful and possibly more versatile.
This lens often felt just a little easier to use than a 35mm especially in smaller indoor spaces because of the slightly wider focal length.
When I first picked up the Sony 28mm f/2, I was surprised by how sturdy and solid it felt. It has a metal exterior and balances nicely on the A7 series of camera bodies.
It is weather resistant and durable, perfect for people shooting in harsh outdoor environments.
When it comes to performance, this lens is great, especially for the under $500 price point. Sharpness increases as you stop down, but it exceeded my expectations even at f/2.
The autofocus is fast, silent, and accurate, a welcome addition to this superb lens.
The f/2 aperture was also a really nice feature to have. It allows you to shoot everything from dark indoor scenes to astrophotography.
If you get close enough to your subject, it also produces some nice bokeh, allowing you to separate your subject from the backgroung.
The Sony 28mm f/2 is also a great Sony a6400 lens (or any of the a6000 series of cameras for that matter). With the APS-C sensor conversion factor, the focal length is transformed to 42mm, making a great everyday walkaround lens.
In terms of value, this lens is excellent. If you’re looking for a flexible wide angle Sony prime FE lens, this would be one of my top recommendations.
2. Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA
Weight: 120 g (4.2 oz)
Size (Diameter x Length): 2.4 x 1.4″ / 61 x 37 mm
Filter Diameter: 49mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.35m (13.8 in)
This ultra compact lens surprised me. At just over 4 ounces and less than 1.5 inches long, it packs a punch in a tiny package!
My first impression was amazement at how lightweight and compact the Sony 35mm f/2.8 is. It is one of the best balanced lenses on the A7 series of cameras. It adds so little weight and it almost feels like there isn’t a lens attached!
For shooting everyday subjects, 35mm is one of my favorite focal lengths. It can capture anything from portraits to landscapes, making this lens ideal for capturing everyday life.
I keep the Sony 35mm f/2.8 mounted on my camera hanging on a hook in the living room all the time. It works great for grabbing a quick photo of the kids doing something fun or taking on adventures in the mountains.
In terms of durability and handling, this lens is excellent. The nifty little lens hood has a unique design that protrudes over the glass, allowing you to throw the camera in any bag without worrying about scratches on the front element.
The all metal construction on the Sony 35mm f/2.8 sturdy and has held up well to everyday use. Autofocus is fast, silent, and accurate, as you can expect from a quality Carl Zeiss lens.
When it comes to image quality, this lens is spectacular. It produces very sharp images with it’s unique optical design. I knew something was different when I felt the concave front element of this lens.
My only wish was that it was a bit faster than f/2.8 (especially for a prime lens). I often wish it had a lower aperture (f/2) for shooting indoors but I understand this would cause sacrifices in size/weight.
In fact, this is the only true Sony pancake lens for their Alpha range of cameras, in that its height is less than its width. This means that whatever camera you mount the Sony 35mm f/2.8 on, it’ll feel great.
Even on an APS-C sensor camera like the a6000 series, it makes a great pair – the 35mm focal length is more like 52.5mm, but this is still a versatile focal length, more suited to portraits and general shooting.
Overall, I really love this lens. At under $800 it might not be as affordable as the Sony 28mm f/2 but it makes up for it with its stellar image quality and minimalist design.
3. Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA
Weight: 281 g (9.9 oz)
Size (Diameter x Length): 2.5 x 2.8″ / 65 x 71 mm
Filter Diameter: 49mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.5m (1.64 ft)
The 55mm f/1.8 ZA is another outstanding Sony FE lens in this lineup. It may be one of the lightest nifty fifty lenses I’ve ever used and certainly the best quality.
One time I thought I lost this lens because I picked up my bag and it felt empty! I had mistakenly put it in a different pocket but because it’s so light – I thought there was no way it could still be in my bag!
This lens has a minimalist design with the only feature being a focus ring. However, the optics are top quality.
The autofocus is fast, silent, and accurate. No complaints there, as is the case with so many of the Sony FE lenses here in 2021.
The Sony 55mm f/1.8 ZA has an all-metal barrel with a sleek/smooth exterior finish. The design certainly contains some plastic to minimize weight but it still feels sturdy.
The reason this lens is included here instead of some of the other 50mm lenses offered by Sony (alternatives include the Sony 50mm f/1.8 and the Sony 50 f/1.4), is because it offers the best value for money.
Performance on this lens far exceeds the Sony 50mm f/1.8, and the cost is roughly $500 less than the Sony 50mm f/1.4. It is much sharper and produces a much better image than the Sony 50mm f/1.8.
In terms of value, the Sony 55mm f/1.8 ZA lens is excellent. It performs as good (if not better) than any of the other 50mm lenses I’ve ever used. At under $900, this lens is a great buy.
4. Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
Weight: 371 g (13.1 oz)
Size (Diameter x Length): 3.1 x 3.2″ / 78 x 82 mm
Filter Diameter: 67mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.8m (2.62 ft)
The Sony 85mm f/1.8 really hit a sweet spot in the lineup. It is sharp, fast, lightweight, and affordable! What else could you ask for?
This lens was a welcome addition to the Sony FE lens lineup when it was released in early 2017. Previously only the Sony 85mm f/1.4 or the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 were available (both more expensive and heavier lenses, especially the Sony 85mm f/1.4).
Upon handling this lens you appreciate how compact and lightweight it is, especially for a lens with a maximum f/1.8 aperture. It includes one simple but smooth focus ring and a focus hold button.
The focus hold button is a handy feature that can be programmed to eye autofocus (a really useful feature unique to Sony cameras). Aside from those two functions, the lens is clean and simple!
The Sony 85mm f/1.8 really shines when it comes to image quality. It produces phenomenal edge-to-edge sharpness even when shot wide open.
When shooting at f/1.8, the bokeh is beautiful! I love shooting this lens in the evening when you can get lights in the background that turn into out of focus ‘orbs’, that add interest and make the sharp subject pop.
Chromatic abberation and distortion are not a problem with the Sony 85mm f/1.8. Essentially, the optics are excellent for the price!
Autofocus is also fast and accurate. With the large minimum aperture of f/1.8, it grabs focus quickly even in dark rooms.
Overall, this lens is an excellent buy! At nearly 1/3 the price of the Sony 85mm f/1.4, it is great value, and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to get a medium telephoto Sony FE lens for portraits.
5. Sony FE 16-35mm f/4
Weight: 518 g (18.2 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 3.1 x 3.9″ / 78 x 99 mm
Filter Diameter: 72mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.28m (11in)
The Sony 16-35mm f/4 is one of the early FE lenses with the development of Sony’s mirrorless full frame lineup, yet it is still very relevant.
For anyone looking to shoot landscapes or wide angle images, this is a great lens. With an f/4 continuous aperture it may not be as fast as the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM alternative, but the price is much more appealing.
When it comes to the build of this lens, it is sturdy yet lightweight. The design is simple with only a zoom ring and a focus ring, but it feels like a high quality lens.
The all metal exterior holds up to abuse well. I’ve used the Sony 16-35mm f/4 in pouring rain and carried it on many long hikes without any issues.
Image quality on this lens is spectacular. Sharpness is excellent and despite not having as fast an aperture as the excellent but expensive Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM, it is equipped with stabilization (Optical Steadyshot), so you can drop the shutter speed way down as long as your subject isn’t moving.
Other than in very low light, this lens focused fast and accurately – this was one of the few times the f/4 aperture was a limiting factor. Most of the time I didn’t mind it, though.
As you can see in the above image, I was even able to capture the stars due to the awesome high ISO performance of Sony’s A7 series of cameras.
Chromatic abberation and distortion are manageable but not as well controlled as on the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G-Master… but this is to be expected for the huge cost savings you make.
The value for money of this lens is simply awesome. I’ve owned several wide angle zooms from various manufacturers, but the Sony 16-35mm f/4 really is a top performer at a reasonable price tag.
If you’re looking for the ultimate big landscape, little person lens, this should be a go to! And you can save a lot of money and weight compared to the f/2.8 alternative.
6. Sony FE 24-70mm f/4
Weight: 426g (15 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 2.9 x 3.7″ / 72 x 94 mm
Filter Diameter: 67mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.4m (1.3 ft)
Almost every photographer owns a solid mid-range zoom at some point in their career. This is no accident, they are really so nice to have when you’re not quite sure what you’ll encounter.
The Sony 24-70mm f/4 fits that category perfectly! It performs well whether you want to shoot a wide cityscape/landscape at 24mm or a tighter portrait at 70mm with some bokeh.
This lens has the added benefit of a modest f/4 aperture that keeps it incredibly compact and lightweight for such a broad focal range.
Its big brother the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM is a beast. When you don’t want the extra bulk/weight, you should definitely opt for the Sony 24-70mm f/4. You only lose one stop of light transmission and save a whopping 15 ounces!
The Sony 24-70mm f/4 lens is a clean and simple design. It’s only controls are a zoom ring and a focus ring. This minimalist design keeps it lightweight and compact.
In terms of image quality, the Sony 24-70mm f/4 isn’t the highest performer. It has some issues with sharpness at all focal lengths.
Despite this, I still found that it was adequate for my purposes. If you’re not making massive prints, I don’t think the lack of sharpness will be a problem.
The real benefit of this lens is how inexpensive the Sony 24-70mm f/4 is. It gives a huge range of focal lengths at a very affordable price, and is suitable for everyone from beginners to pros.
As long as you’re not trying to shoot in low light (the f/4 minimum aperture can be a bit limiting here), this is a fantastic all around lens.
Even though there might be higher performing options available in this focal range, I believe this lens offers excellent value for money, because it is so inexpensive compared to the alternatives!
7. Sony FE 70-200mm f/4
Weight: 840g (29.6 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 3.2 x 6.9″ / 80 x 175 mm
Filter Diameter: 72mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 1 m (39.4 in)
The Sony 70-200mm f/4 is one of my favorite lenses in this article. I believe it is the under-appreciated gem of the Sony lineup!
When I first picked it up I was impressed with how light it was compared to other 70-200mm lenses I’d used in the past. The main weight savings is due to the f/4 minimum aperture.
Some people think that f/4 is too slow to be effective, especially when you have to keep your shutter speed above 1/200 to prevent motion blur at long focal lengths. I disagree.
I’ve found that the image stabilization on the Sony 70-200mm f/4 is very effective, and when combined with the high iso performance of Sony cameras, this lens is awesome!
It handles very well with all the controls feeling firm but smooth. It has a zoom ring and focus ring as well as two modes for optical image stabilization. There are also switches to control the auto/manual focus and the focus range.
The image quality of this lens is impeccable. It is extremely sharp through the entire zoom range with no issues of distortion or chromatic abberation.
The bokeh on the Sony 70-200mm f/4 isn’t quite as good as the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM, but it does a good job isolating the subject if you push out to 200mm. It’s also a lot cheaper!
My favorite quality of the Sony 70-200mm f/4 is the unique lens flare. It produces a very unique glow that I’ve never seen from any other lens, especially when pointed just off axis from the setting sun.
You can play with this glow to create a very cool color transition from orange to blue that will draw your eye through the frame.
With all these qualities in mind, I would rank the value of this lens as excellent! For anyone looking to get a medium-long telephoto Sony FE zoom lens, this is it.
The 70-200mm focal length is so useful for events, wildlife, and compressing landscapes. I’ve found it to be one of my favorite lenses in my bag and believe it should be in yours too.
If you’ve got a Sony mirrorless camera, this is the best value for a telephoto zoom!
How to Choose the Right Sony FE Lens
With all these great value for money options of Sony FE lenses, it’s hard to decide what to buy. I think the most important factors to look at are what types of things you shoot, and what focal lengths are most useful for those subjects.
If you’re shooting dark subjects, opt for a fast prime like the Sony 28mm f/2. If you’re shooting wide landscapes during daylight hours, get a wide angle zoom like the Sony 16-35mm f/4. If you shoot portraits, maybe you want the amazing bokeh of the Sony 85mm f/1.8.
If you shoot a wide variety of subjects or are new to photography, I think the best thing is to have a mix of Sony FE prime lenses and Sony FE zoom lenses.
The primes will be great for low light and “zooming with your feet.” The zooms will offer a large focal range so you can capture any subject or scene as you see it.
It all comes down to what will be the most effective at capturing the subjects you photograph most. I feel confident that any of the lenses you choose from this article will provide excellent performance for the price, helping you make the most of your budget!
Frequently Asked Questions
What does FE mean on a Sony lens?
‘FE’ stands for ‘Full E-mount’, and refers to Sony lenses that have been designed for the Sony full frame sensor cameras, such as the a7 and a9 series. FE lenses can also be used on APS-C sensor bodies, such as the a6000 series, albeit at a 1.5x multiplication factor.
Who makes Sony camera lenses?
Sony and Carl Zeiss lenses are made by the Sony Imaging Corporation in factories across Asia. Sony uses lens testing equipment developed and manufactured by Zeiss, to ensure optimal imaging quality.
Will Sony FE lenses work on a6500?
Do Sigma lenses work with Sony cameras?
Yes, since 2016, there have been a total of 15 Sigma lenses that have been produced for the Sony e-mount system.
Are Sony E mount lenses full frame?
Sony has two lens mount types: FE (full frame) and E (APS-C). Sony FE lenses can be used on both full frame and APS-C cameras, but Sony E lenses can only be used on APS-C cameras.
Do Sony FE lenses fit E mount?
Yes they do. ‘FE’ is a type of Sony E mount lens that fits a Sony full frame sensor Sony camera.
Sony has been producing cameras and lenses faster than any other manufacturer in the market. This means that there will continue to be new FE lenses released that offer amazing value.
One thing to realize is that while it can be tempting to get the latest camera, you will often get more performance if you spend your money on lenses. Additionally, camera bodies go down in value quickly while lenses can be sold years later at a good price.
When deciding how to spend your photography budget, I highly recommend checking out the above Sony FE lenses, since they offer great value for money, and will hold that value over time.
Camera bodies change almost every year but a good quality lens will provide years of excellent performance!
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.