Best Sony A6400 Lenses
This is a comparison of the 6 best lenses for Sony a6400 owners by Colorado-based wedding and adventure photographer Marc Bergreen.
So, I’m guessing you’re here because you just bought the amazing new Sony a6400, and now you’re looking for some great lenses to complete your photo kit…
There are so many good choices but what will give you the best bang for your buck?
|Sony E 24mm f/1.8A small, lightweight lens with impressive auto-focus and low-light performance makes this all-rounder the first lens you need for your Sony a6400.||View Price|
In this roundup I’m recommending my 6 favourite Sony e-mount lenses that pair really well with the a6400.
Some of them are native e-mount lenses, made specifically for the a6 series’ APS-C sensor, and others are FE lenses, made for the 35mm full frame sensor of the a9/a7 series.
[Related: Check out the full Sony a6400 Review if you don’t already own this amazing camera.]
Let’s have a closer look at what I think give the best bang for the buck.
Best Sony a6400 Lenses in 2019
|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 a6400?
Sony produces two main types of lens for its ‘E-mount’ mirrorless camera bodies – ‘FE’ and ‘E’ lenses.
The ‘E-mount’ refers to the Sony mirrorless mount itself, which is rather confusing, since E lenses and FE lenses are different.
There’s also the A-mount, which is for the Sony unique Translucent Mirror type camera bodies, but I won’t be covering that here.
If you see a Sony lens that contains an ‘E’ (as opposed to an ‘FE’), this means that it’s been designed for Sony APS-C sensor range of camera bodies – i.e. the Sony alpha a6400, and other a6xxx cameras.
Sony ‘FE’ lenses on the other hand cover the entire 35mm frame of a full frame camera. As such,FE lenses can be used on all Sony mirrorless cameras, even the crop sensor Sony a6400 (albeit at a 1.5* focal length multiplication).
If you’re planning to one day upgrade to a full frame Sony body, or perhaps already own one and wish to share lenses, it’s generally advisable to take advantage of FE lenses which can be used on both body types.
However, the Sony ‘E’ lenses are usually smaller, lighter, and much more affordable than their full frame (FE) counterparts, so it’s swings and roundabouts.
I like to have a mixture of both types of lens to cover my bases, and I recommend you consider the same approach.
How to Choose your First Sony a6400 Lenses
The first thing I assess when selecting a lens is what I plan to photograph. Landscapes, wildlife, weddings, adventures, portraits, travel… they all have different requirements when it comes to choosing a lens.
When I shoot portraits, I’m always looking to create nice bokeh so I’ll choose a mid range telephoto lens with a low aperture (f2.8 or lower).
If I’m shooting a landscape, I’ll choose a wide angle lens to bring a broad scene into view.
Because I shoot both weddings and adventure sports, I like to have a wide range of lenses that cover a full range of focal lengths.
In addition to some subject specific lenses, I also like to have something that covers a broad range that can be an everyday lens when I’m not sure what I’ll be shooting.
If you bought the Sony a6400, you are probably looking for lenses that compliment its compact yet powerful design. If you choose the right lens, this camera can fit nicely in a jacket pocket!
I think all of the options below pair well with the a6400 keeping with it’s small form factor. Check out my top lens choices for the Sony a6400 in the table below and read on for all the details.
Sony a6400 Lens Reviews
In addition to all the Sony FE and E lenses which work with the Sony a6400, there are also several great third party options available.
However in the interests of simplicity, I’ve concentrated on Sony (own-brand) offerings.
Arguably, it’s these ‘native’ lenses that usually perform the best, since they have been designed specifically for the cameras that share the same brand.
The other advantage is they allow you to use Sony’s support program if anything goes wrong with a lens. Sony are great about getting things repaired quickly should the unexpected occur.
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)
The first thing you’ll notice when you unbox this lens is the rugged design. Unlike some other lenses, this one has a metal barrel that gives it a nice, sturdy feel.
It is usually true that you get what you pay for when it comes to lenses and that is no exception here. The Sony E 24mm f/1.8 is an expensive lens relative to the price of the a6400, but totally worth it in my opinion.
It offers quality similar to that of other high end full frame lenses in an APS-C design. I was also impressed that despite being so sturdy feeling, it is surprisingly lightweight.
I would compare it in feel to the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 – another excellent Sony lens.
At f/1.8, this e-mount lens has amazing lowlight performance, especially when paired with the high ISO capability of Sony’s recently released cameras. If you shoot in dark environments like indoor events, this is an awesome lens!
Along with the low light performance, this lens is also tack sharp. This is where the quality of a good prime lens shows!
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 metal focus ring on the Sony 24mm f/1.8 feels smooth and has a nice grip. The auto focus is also fast and effective.
The main drawback of this lens is the size/weight. It isn’t as compact as other lenses but the benefit is the sharpness and low aperture.
I chose this as my favorite because of the focal length combined with the fast aperture. Over the past 8 years, I’ve shot with a lot of lenses but have honed in on the 35mm focal length.
With an equivalent focal length of 36mm, the Sony 24mm f/1.8 is a perfect partner to the Sony a6400.
At 35mm, you are wide enough to shoot environmental shots but not so wide that you can’t shoot a nice portrait. I think it is a true sweet spot in lens design, and popular with photographers the world over.
Most people say your first prime lens should be “nifty fifty”, but I think a 35mm is the best starting point!
This lens is an investment that offers a flexible, do-all focal length in a well-constructed body, all rounded off by a useful maximum aperture that’ll help you blur the background and shoot in low light. Highly recommended!
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)
While I encourage everyone to start with prime lenses when they are learning photography, eventually it is nice to have a mid-range zoom.
Everyone needs to try a prime to learn to “zoom with your feet” but once you understand what focal lengths produce what types of images, it is awesome to have an all in one zoom.
It allows you to carry just one lens and have lots of different focal lengths to work with so you are ready to shoot any subject.
Once you decide you are ready for a mid range zoom, I’d highly recommend the Sony 16-70mm f/4 as the one to get for your Sony a6400. It covers a wide range of focal lengths and has a constant f/4 aperture.
It can shoot landscapes at the wide end and still create a nice sharp portrait with smooth bokeh to separate your subject form the backdrop.
Another benefit of a wide angle lens on the Sony a6400 is for vlogging, or taking selfies – making use of the a6400’s front-facing screen, the wide angle view point allows you to get your head and upper-torso in shot, while still including lots of the background.
The Sony 16-70mm f/4 also has a relatively 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. Combined with the a6400, it makes a nice do anything combo!
If you want super compact, check out the 20mm pancake lens below, but if you want a wide zoom range, the 16-70mm is a great choice.
Additionally, I’m very satisfied with the sharpness of this lens. It provides exceptional quality for the wide range of focal lengths.
I really appreciate the metal design of the Sony 16-70mm f/4. It feels sturdy and rugged. It’s the heaviest lens in this review, but the quality/flexibility make it more than worth it.
My one complaint about this lens is the slower auto focus due to the minimum aperture of f4. If you’re shooting dark, indoor scenes, it might be a little slow, especially if you’re shooting moving subjects.
The faster prime lenses in this review are more effective in dark scenes with moving subjects.
This provides a nice balance while remaining much lighter than equivalent setups from other camera manufacturers.
Another drawback that I noticed was the lens distortion at wider focal lengths. Because of the APS-C crop factor, this lens has to use a wider focal length to achieve the same full frame equivalent (i.e. 16mm lens to appear like a 24mm full frame lens).
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 mentioning.
The benefit to the APS-C design is that lenses can be smaller than their full frame counterparts making the overall setup much more compact.
I would say the Sony 16-70mm f/4 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)
Out of the six lenses in this review, this is the most compact by far! When paired with the Sony a6400, it feels incredibly light/compact, and makes the set up an absolute joy to use.
It almost felt more like a point-and-shoot camera than a high quality mirrorless setup.
Because of the compact pancake design, this is a great incognito combination!
If you’re looking to have an interchangeable lens camera setup, that still puts the smallest camera between you and your subject, the Sony 20mm f/2.8 is it!
Like the Sony 24mm f/1.8 mentioned above, this lens has a really nice focal length. Although 35mm is my favorite, a slightly wider 30mm equivalent is a great second choice.
It sits in a sweet spot between a really wide angle lens like the 10-18mm mentioned below and the normal 50mm lens.
It’s a great setup for shooting everything from travel and adventure to family and portraits – it’s a do-all lens for a wide variety of subjects.
With the ultra-compact and lightweight design, the Sony 20mm f/2.8 is not quite as durable feeling as some of the other lenses mentioned here.
However, because it’s so light, I think it would survive a drop quite well, even without much metal in the design!
The lens distortion due to the wide focal length of this lens was tolerable especially for shooting outdoors. It might not be ideal for portraits but was quite effective for most other subjects.
At f/2.8, this lens was moderately fast and could handle darker scenes, especially when paired with a good low light sensor like the one in the Sony a6400.
One unexpected but nice feature was the lens hood. It protects the front element really well and allows you to toss this camera in a backpack without having to use a lens cap.
It also keeps rain/snow off the front of the lens when shooting outdoors during inclement 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)
Wide angle lenses tend to be my favorites so this was the first Sony APS-C lens I owned.
This lens allows you to create dramatic landscape images with an equivalent focal length similar to the 16-35mm full frame lens (my favorite Sony lens).
The Sony 10-18mm f/4 is the best choice for those Instagram-worthy big-landscape-small-person-style images.
The super wide to wide zoom range of this lens allows you to capture the full scene in one frame, as well as being a great match for filming yourself with the front-facing screen of the Sony a6400 – a sure hit with vloggers.
Most wide angle lenses are very large and heavy but this lens remains quite compact! I spend a lot of time hiking with it tucked in my jacket or climbing with it zipped into a small case on my harness.
I also appreciate the all-around sharpness of this lens. It can be tricky to find a wide angle zoom lens with sharpness all the way to the corners.
This lens does a pretty good job, especially 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).
After using and abusing the Sony 10-18mm f/4 for several years, I was impressed with the excellent build quality. It has more plastic in the design than I’d like, but despite that, it is surprisingly durable.
I regularly take it climbing, skiing, hiking, and camping and it never had any issues.
The auto focus is fast and effective and with such a wide focal length, I almost never had issues with getting accurate focus.
If you learn about hyper-focal 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).
One drawback is the f/4 aperture, which doesn’t perform as well in low-light situations.
If you’re looking for a lens to shoot the stars with your Sony, 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, reviewed here.
Auto focus has become a must have feature for me but if you’re shooting something as static as the stars, manual focus will suffice.
Overall, the Sony 10-18mm f/4 is one of my favorites because of the versatile focal length and quality image it produces!
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)
Almost all the beginner photography tutorials suggest a “nifty-fifty” lens. And for good reason!
They are inexpensive, sharp, and great in low light. Plus, they teach you to “zoom with your feet”.
You’ll find yourself being more intentional with a prime lens like the Sony 35mm f/1.8, because you have to move around to get your image framed instead of just zooming in or out to include/exclude subjects.
This lens fits the bill for an inexpensive, fast prime lens, and should definitely be on the shopping list of all Sony a6400 owners.
The Sony 35mm f/1.8 has a nice compact design that pairs well with the a6400. The fast f/1.8 aperture allows you to shoot in dark scenes, even with moving subjects.
The 50mm focal length is a great option for shooting a variety of subjects while still allowing you to achieve beautiful bokeh.
My main complaint with this lens is that it isn’t as sharp as I’d expect for a mid range prime lens. It suffers at wider apertures and doesn’t get much sharper until you stop down a lot. There is room for improvement in the design.
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.
Despite being a mostly plastic design, it easily survived getting dropped!
The auto focus 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 solid choice for those looking for the classic “nifty fifty” for their Sony a6400!
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 unexpectedly caught my attention. I wasn’t sure I would like it but I find myself using it more than I expected.
The 75mm equivalent focal length is somewhat specific to shooting portraits or more compressed subjects. You can create some beautiful bokeh and draw the viewers eye to the sharpest subject.
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.
The f/1.8 aperture on the Sony 50mm f/1.8 will make for some dreamy bokeh that isolates your subject from the backdrop.
The other lenses reviewed here just can’t create that classic portrait look as well as this one.
Also, the telephoto focal length of the Sony 50mm f/1.8 will create pleasing images that show proper proportions of faces in portraits.
I’ve always been told that 85mm is the ideal portrait focal length so this 75mm equivalent is very close.
If you’re taking head-shots or photographing people, this lens is a great choice.
The fast aperture and longer focal length of this lens were packaged into an impressively compact/lightweight design. Other lenses with these specs tend to be much larger/heavier.
The Sony 50mm f/1.8 does have a mostly plastic design (making it very light) but the durability is debatable.
At just 202g (7.1 oz.) it balances really well on a small mirrorless camera like the Sony a6400.
In terms of sharpness, this lens is pretty good… especially for the low price point (check the latest price here).
Overall, the Sony 50mm f/1.8 is an excellent choice for someone looking to take beautiful portraits without breaking the bank on a fast prime telephoto lens.
At this price point, I’d definitely recommend it to portrait photographers as one of the first lenses to buy for the Sony a6400.