I managed to get Sony to lend me every single lens they have to loan and I shot the same model with all them. Many of these lenses are not made for portraits so the sample image may not be relevant to the lens. I just thought it would be interesting to see how the lenses looked when compared side by side.
This wasn’t scientific and I’m not sure if we learned anything, but I can say that we had a lot of fun.
Sony 12-24mm f/4 G
The Sony 12-24 f/4 G is one of Sony’s prime choices for wide-angle lenses. Sony is regarded to have great glassware, and at 12mm, you can expect to see some amazing results at a wide focal length. At an aperture of f/4, you will see great detail shooting in well-lit conditions. Wedding and Landscape photographers are a few of the photographer groups that will enjoy the benefits of incredible dynamic range this lens possesses. Photographers are both confident in the results in both video and photo, although there are some limitations in shooting in dark spaces due to the lowest aperture being f/4. Autofocus works at an exceptional rate with this lens, although there is no in-body stabilization. The lens is very durable, with weather-resistant and scratch-resistant material. With a light and compact build, this is a premier choice for Sony photographers wanting to shoot wide dimensions.
Sony 16mm Fisheye(FE 28mm f/2 + Fisheye Adapter)
The 16mm fisheye “pancake lens” provides photographers creative distorted looks, making it even more important to have a quality glass lens to achieve your desired shots. The Sony fisheye lens will give you some great results, but you are very limited in your range as far as aperture. You will start to see reduced sharpness as you reach levels lower than f/5.6. This will also affect your ability to focus the lower the aperture. With that being said, shooting in well-lit areas will help you achieve the most optimal shots. At $250, Sony makes this lens one of the more affordable buys on the market.
Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM
One of the premiere lenses in the entire Sony lens lineup, the 16-35mm checks all of the boxes needed for a lens at this focal length. With premiere glass coating, this lens boasts exceptional sharpness and quality in each shot. With incredible dynamic range and an aperture of f/2.8, you will see remarkable results in your shots at a pretty lengthy focal length. This lens not only boasts incredible sharpness but also very little to no distortion or vignetting. One of the premier features of this lens is its capabilities outdoors. This lens captures exceptional sun flares as well, and the exceptional astigmatism technology means precise details when shooting stars with minimal distortion.
Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM
The Sony 24mm lens is a great prime lens that provides exceptional wide-angle shots at 24mm. The lens boasts exceptional detail and sharpness in each image. At an aperture of f/1.8, this is an exceptional lens for shooting in low-light conditions. The camera is not only weather-sealed but also comes with a lens hood, ensuring durability for owners. The lens possesses a very fast autofocus system, making it a great choice for shooting video, specifically sports. The only downside to this lens would be its price, but for more experienced day to day Sony users, this lens has proven to be well worth the investment.
Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
The second of what is considered to be the “holy trinity” of Sony G lens, the 24-70 G lens meets all of the criteria to ensure Sony users exceptional results. Quality glass is exhibited with the crips sharpness in detail in all of your images. The lens boasts great color, at an aperture at f/2.8 you really see the lens at work as it is able to capture detail even in lower lit settings. Color and contrast on this lens are exceptional, setting you up for real dynamic bokeh. If there is a knock on this lens, it would be the vignetting. The closer you get to the end of the focal length, the more it appears. Although this camera comes at a pretty considerable price, it is well worth the investment for Sony users, and it is also a lens that will have photographers considering making the switch to Sony if they haven’t done so already.
Sony 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS
The Sony 24-70 f/4 OSS lens provides exceptional quality at this key focal length. Common questions about this lens have to do with the comparisons with the f/2.8 G lens and which is the better buy. Both lenses offer similar specs, with the clear exception of aperture difference. Photographers will find that the OSS lens is slightly behind the G lens in autofocus capability and overall sharpness, but not by much. This is still a quality option for Sony users, offering clean crisp detailed photos. A benefit that this lens has is affordability, considering this model is more expensive than the G lens series brand lens. The OSS series lens is also smaller and more compact.
Sony 24-105mm f/4 G OSS
One of Sony’s more versatile options would be the Sony 24-105mm OSS lens. The name speaks for itself, as it covers an extremely wide focal length, giving this lens many uses. At a constant aperture at f/4, you can expect to see remarkable detail and crips sharpness in well-lit conditions. You will not get the same precise sharpness as you would in a prime lens, but the results from this lens are more than satisfactory. The price point may be considered a downside to this lens. With other options available in the Sony lineup, one may ask if strength in numbers when it comes to lenses is better than the overall versatility of one lens.
Sony FE 28mm f/2 ZA
The Sony 28mm f/2 is a really compact medium wide prime with the beautiful aperture of f/2. When we say compact we really do mean compact, this lens is tiny. But this really is a case where size doesn’t matter. This Sony 28mm is sharp. It has 9 aperture blades which render great bokeh, just remember that at 28mm your not going to be getting the most buttery background. Put this on a crop sensor camera and you’re at 42mm, which is a little better for portraits. Great for street photography and its compact size makes it ideal for a travel prime. You can even stick the fisheye adapter on it to get to 16mm wide. This is a great, compact, and affordable lens.
Sony 35mm f/1.4 FE ZA
Carl Zeiss is known to have designed some of the most sophisticated glass in the mirrorless market, and the 35mm prime lens is no different. At aperture at f/1.4, the detail and crispness in each image will excite any owner. A great lens for video, the color and contrast from this lens makes it an ideal choice for Sony users. The lens has a physical aperture ring, making shooting in uncontrolled lighting easier. A few downsides to this lens have to do with its build and price. This a pretty big lens with one focal length, which may detract photographers, especially at its price point. The quality received from this lens is definitely worth the investment for intermediate photographers looking to up their game in quality wide shots.
Sony FE 50mm f/1.8
The “Nifty Fifty” is a must-have for beginner and intermediate photographers, and the Sony 50mm f/1.8 lens gives Sony users a quality lens that has a wide versatility. At an aperture of f/1.8, this camera performs exceptionally well in low light conditions, providing nice sharpness and detail. Autofocus works sufficiently for the most part, although at times you will experience some autofocus hunt, especially with moving subjects. The color and contrast on this lens is exceptional, which provides great results for both photo and video. The lens is light and compact, making it great for travel.
Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro
The Sony 50mm FE f/2.8 Macro adds another reliable 50mm lens to the Sony lineup. Capturing exceptional microscopic minute details, you will notice the difference in sharpness of detail with this lens from the original f/1.8. From f/4 to f/8 is where you will see the sharpest details, making this a great lens for portraits. The lens is weather-resistant and durable, making it a great lens for outdoors or weddings. Autofocus is satisfactory, although you may experience some inconvenient focus hunting depending on the distance of your subject. The macro focusing on this lens is exceptional at the right distance, and the results are incredible.
Sony 55mm f/1.8 FE ZA
The Sony 55mm is another sony prime lens that boasts excellent glass quality. At an aperture of f/1.8, the lens produces tremendous details in images. This is a great camera for portraits and possibly product photography shoots. The 55mm is a sleek, compact design that has weather and scratch-resistant material. Minimal to no distortion in images will keep photographers alike happy with this lens. A downside to this lens would be the lack of stabilization, which would make this lens less than ideal for shooting video. The price point may deter some buyers as well, but the quality produced from this lens cannot be denied.
Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS
The Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS completes the “holy trinity” of zoom lenses for the Sony lineup. With an incredible focal length of up to 200mm, the lens does a fantastic job of capturing the smallest details at both ends of the focal length. At f/2.8 this lens is exceptional in a variety of settings, including sports, wildlife, and nature photography. The in-body stabilization makes the lens a great option for both photo and video. Even at 200mm, photographers can expect minimal shake, making it easier to lock on and capture subjects or create some dynamic bokeh in images. The autofocus technology is fast, making this one of Sony’s most high powered lenses technology-wise. Along with its exceptional glass, this camera is very durable and suited for inclement weather. This lens is well worth the investment for Sony users and anyone looking to switch their gear to Sony.
Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM
A quality portrait lens is key to capturing great headshots, therefore the Sony 85mm prime lens is key for Sony’s lens lineup. One of the many highlights of this G series lens has to do with its performance in light. With an aperture of f/1.4, the lens captures minute details in crisp sharpness. The physical aperture ring allows you to easily maneuver while shooting. Although there is no built-in stabilization in the lens itself, equipping this lens to a camera body with built-in stabilization will sufficiently make up for the omission. The lens is dust and splash resistant, making it very durable and suitable for outdoor use. This is an essential lens for any Sony photographer wanting to produce a solid professional portfolio.
Sony 85mm f/1.8
Known as the poor man’s 85mm this lens definitely doesn’t feel that way. Yes, it’s an f/1.8 but this lens still delivers sharp images with that 85mm look. This is a portrait lens that has a spot in anyone bag (anyone who doesn’t own the 85 f/1.4 that is). The bokeh is still buttery and the details are still sharp. We didn’t have any issues with focussing with this lens and the results are wonderful. In fact, to an untrained eye, it would be difficult to see the difference to its big brother. It’s sleek and so much smaller than the f/1.8, you’ll also save quite a lot of money without seeing much of a difference.
Sony 90mm f/2.8 MACRO G OSS
Sony has provided another sophisticated lens with the 90mm f/2.8 Macro lens. The highlights of this lens start with its ability to capture in close those refined details in a subject. The lens provides optical stabilization, allowing you to lock in whatever it is you are trying to capture. Autofocus works exceptionally fast, making it a pleasure for photographers to use. Sony has made this lens very durable while including a lens hood with the purchase. The downside of this lens occurs at f/2.8 with a very limited depth of field. Although not ideal for indoors, with proper lighting, photographers can create exceptional images all while capturing sharp details.
Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS
As you can see in the title, the Sony 100mm f/2.8 lens boasts a lot of features. This G Master lens is equipped with Smooth Transition Focus which works sufficiently fast. The lens has optical stabilization, allowing you to easily lock-in on subjects. A key component of this lens is one of Apodization Filter, a feature that essentially highlights the background of a subject, creating beautiful and dynamic bokeh. It is important to note the Apodization Filter does limit the amount of light gathered in the lens, even at an aperture of f/2.8. One of the more expensive portrait lenses in the Sony lineup, there is no doubt the performance of the 100mm is exceptional.
Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS
Now we venture into the world of telephoto lenses, and the 100-400mm G master lens offers an exceptional piece of glassware. With the incredibly lengthy focal length, you are getting the premium zoom experience, with crisp sharp details in every shot. With Optical Stabilization, this is the perfect lens for professional sports, nature, and wildlife photography. The lens provides sharp detail even at both ends of the focal length spectrum. For a telephoto lens, this lens is noticeably compact and light. The lens features a Focus Hold option, allowing you to lock in and track subjects easily. The autofocus on this lens performs at a very fast rate. This lens is incredibly durable and built for use in inclement weather. This is an ideal lens for a professional photographer to have in their arsenal.
Sony 135mm f/1.8 GM
The Sony 135mm is an exceptional prime lens that provides dynamically sharp images. The color contrast on this lens is remarkable, allowing you to produce vibrant images and wonderful bokeh. This G Master lens is a traditional portrait-length 135mm, allowing photographers to capture both facial features and minute details. This lens offers a 1:4 macro magnification, further enhancing the lens’s ability to close in on even the smallest of details. The autofocus on this lens works exceptionally fast. Although no optical stabilization is equipped, the lens performs exceptionally on camera bodies with In Body Stabilization. This is a dynamic selection to add to one’s lens collection, one that Sony portrait photographers should heavily consider.
Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS
The Sony 200-600mm G lens provides Sony users with a more affordable yet still highly sophisticated option for telephoto lenses. Although having a higher aperture at f/5.6 than desired, one can’t deny the crisp and sharp results when shooting outdoors. This lens is equipped with Optical Stabilization, allowing you to track moving subjects with relative ease. The lens also is equipped with teleconverter capabilities. This lens has an exceptional autofocus system, allowing this camera to be used in many professional sports settings and other high profile outdoor venues. The affordability of this lens will attract Sony photographers wanting to have top of the line equipment in their respective fields.
Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS
The Sony 400mm f/2.8 lens is a highly sophisticated, telephoto lens to say the least. The lens weighs 6 pounds and packs just as much power in the lens as it weighs. This high powered lens boasts an aperture of f/2.8. The lens even comes with its own case. Optical Stabilization is a key component for this lens, allowing you to track moving subjects with relative comfort and ease. The lens boasts an extremely fast and easy to use focus system. This lens is absolutely weather seal, allowing you to work in inclement weather. This is a premiere lens for those Sony photographers wanting to make a statement in the professional field with precision sharp images.
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS
The Sony 600mm is a fantastic sports and wildlife lens that renders stunning results. f/4 at 600 compresses the background to such an extreme amount that it almost disappears. This lens relies heavily on Sony’s incredible autofocus as focusing is critical at this length. This lens isn’t cheap but it’s also not a lens you purchase for fun. It’s for professionals who want the very best glass at this focal length. Believe it or not, this lens is light, well light for a 600mm lens. If you’re going on safari then rent this lens and take it with you. You will not regret it. We had fun doing portraits with this lens and the results are wonderful.
P.S. This video and shoot were absolutely epic to make and a lot of fun. Thank you to all the creators who joined in so that you didn’t have to listen to me the whole time. Also a huge thank you to Sony for letting me borrow all of this glass.
About the author: Ed Gregory is a photographer and the founder of Photos in Color. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Gregory teaches tutorials on Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography, and you can find more of his videos on his YouTube channel. This article was also published here.