So what is the best E-Mount lens for portraits, landscapes, sports, and street photography with auto focus? I have been getting a ton of questions via email, in the comments, on the forum, on Google, Facebook, Twitter, and on my youtube channel! Therefore, I think it’s about time I write an article breaking down the lenses by popular category and recommend what I think is the best option available.
I also have the E-Mount lens guide over here with tons more lens options, but it’s not broken down into categories like in this article which addresses the most common questions I get.
So what is the best E-Mount lens for portraits, landscapes, and street photography with auto focus?
Well first off, it depends if you are using a full frame E-mount camera like the new A7 II, or a crop factor APS-C sized sensor E-mount camera like the A6000, or Nex-6 for example. Both the smaller APS-C sensor sized cameras and full frame cameras use the same E-mount, so it can be very confusing. Knowing what size camera sensor you have is key! Full frame or APS-C are your options for e-mount just to be crystal clear. As it turns out, Sony is producing lenses pretty fast for the full frame E-mount line and also has a decent inventory for the original APS-C crop factor sized lenses as well. The crop factor lenses can be used on the full frame cameras in crop factor mode, and the full frame lenses can be used on the crop factor cameras with full coverage. I told you it can get confusing!
For this article I am going to stick mostly with auto focus lenses, but I will touch on a few manual lens favorites here and there.
Best E-Mount Portrait Lenses?
Portraits are generally taken from ~50mm 200mm in most cases. If you want the background to get blurry, then a fast aperture is preferred as well. If you want a really detailed breakdown, I also wrote a more detailed article specifically on Portrait Lenses: Which is best and Why? Here >>
Update: I wanted to add the 18-105mm f/4 OSS G power zoom lens to this list because it really is a great lens and good for portraits; especially on the longer focal length end. Better than the Zeiss as far as reach is concerned, but does suffer from pretty decent distortion and is not quite as sharp. Regardless, I should have mentioned it, but left it out due to the power zoom honestly. I figured it more for video than photography, but clearly it’s great for both! My highly detailed review of the 18-105mm OSS G lens is this way >>
I would also recommend the 55-210mm kit lens, because when zoomed in you can get get some awesome separation and portrait results!
Full Frame E-mount – (A7 II, A7r, A7s, A7)
I would recommend first the prime Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens. It’s an excellent focal length for outdoor and indoor portraits plus a fast aperture for great background separation, 3D pop, and low light capabilities. Especially when using the new Sony A7 II via built in SteadyShot as the lens does not have any OSS built in.
The Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 OSS G Lens for extra reach and closeup versatility would be a good option also. If you want a faster f/2.8 lens the A-Mount version via electronic lens adapter is available.
The A-Mount 50mm f/1.4 lenses are also a good option for portraits. I have not had a chance to review many A-Mount lenses yet unfortunately.
Best E-Mount Landscapes Lenses
Landscape lenses tend to be on the wider side of things and I actually prefer the ultra wide variety myself!
The 10-18mm f/4 OSS lens would be my first choice and recommendation for landscape shooting, because it’s ultra wide angle and has OSS with some range to play with. It’s also very sharp all around and not crazy expensive although fairly large in size. My SEL1018 lens review is this way >>
The 16-50mm and 18-55mm kit lenses are also not bad for landscape shooting ranges and price. I prefer the optics on the 18-55mm lens myself.
A top quality prime lens option is the Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 lens which has extremely high end optics with very little distortion and chromatic aberrations. My review of the 12mm Touit lens is Here >>
Also on the higher quality end is the prime Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 lens. It’s not the widest, but depending on your style it may be perfect for you. I put this more in the street category as a primary option though just so you know.
It’s also noting the 10-18mm f/4 OSS lens designed for the APS-C cameras works really well on the full frame cameras in full frame mode. As wide as ~14mm with full coverage! Beyond that and you will see the corners start to go…
The next option would be the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens. A good range for those that don’t care for the ultra-wide angle look 😉
Street photography varies a bit on the shooter for sure, and the focal lengths I see most common in good street photo scenes are in the ~24-50mm range. I also see higher focal length manual focus prime lenses used a lot!
That is about it for now, but please feel free to share what lenses you like to use in various situations below in the comments area 😉 I will also update this article as new lenses are released and reviewed, because it took me a long time to put together 😉
I hope this article helps a few of those in need with the basic questions of what lens to get for which occasion! I tried to also show a few relevant sample photos along the way.
Don’t forget to check out the Sony E-Mount Lens Guide where lots more manual focus lenses are also available from Zeiss, Rokinon, Samyang, and more…
Also, please visit the awesome growing SonyAlphaLab forum community if you would like to learn and share photography and much more… Thanks, Jay