Much of the imaging industry has transitioned from DSLRs over to mirrorless during the last few years. For most manufacturers, this shift in technology has resulted in the introduction of new lens mounts along with an ever-growing number of newly designed lenses. With so many options available, finding the right lenses to suit your needs can be a daunting task.
Most new lenses tend to come with sizable price tags too, so it behooves you to carefully consider all available options before investing. If you’re unsure where to even begin your research, this is the perfect guide for you.
What We’re Looking For
Whether you’re preparing to finally bid DSLRs adieu, or you’ve already made the switch to mirrorless, here are our top picks for the best mirrorless lenses currently available on the market in terms of image quality and feature set.
What’s “best” can be very subjective when it comes to lenses. With these picks, we give special weight to image quality while also considering other factors such as features, portability, price, and more.
We will be highlighting our favorite wide-angle, normal, and telephoto lenses for each of the following mainstream mirrorless lens mounts:
- Wide: Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM
- Normal: Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM
- Telephoto: Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM
Best Mirrorless Lenses for Fujifilm X
- Wide: Fujifilm XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR
- Normal(ish): Fujifilm XF 50mm f/1.0 R WR
- Telephoto: Fujifilm XF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Best Mirrorless Lenses for Nikon Z
Best Mirrorless Lenses for Sony FE
- Wide: Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 G Master
- Normal: Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 G Master
- Telephoto: Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary
Best Mirrorless Lenses for Leica M
- Wide: Leica APO-Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH
- Normal: Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH
- Telephoto: Leica Summilux-M 90mm f/1.5 ASPH
Best Mirrorless Lenses for Leica/Panasonic/Sigma L
Let’s get started!
Best Mirrorless Lenses for Canon RF
Part of Canon’s trinity of pro-grade RF mount zoom lenses, the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM is the first native ultra-wide option available for Canon’s RF mount, and boy, did they knock things out of the park. The RF 15-35mm f/2.8 not only covers a wider field of view than its older DSLR cousins (the EF mount equivalent zooms only went as wide as 16mm) but also combines a wider maximum aperture with image stabilization.
On Canon’s older EF mount equivalent lenses, you had to choose between a lens that either had a wider maximum aperture (Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L III USM) or one that included image stabilization (Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM). Talk about having your cake and eating it too.
To top things off, the RF 15-35mm f/2.8 is weather-sealed and can accommodate traditional screw-on filters, something that many ultra-wide angles cannot. This lens is a workhorse that will meet the needs of photographers specializing in events, landscapes, and photojournalism.
Normal: Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM
Announced nearly three years ago alongside the EOS R, Canon’s first foray into the full-frame mirrorless market, the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM continues to be one of the best standard primes for the RF mount today. Although many initially balked at the RF 50mm f/1.2’s expensive asking price and Hulk-like stature (being roughly twice the size and weight of its EF mount counterpart), these complaints soon subsided as sample images created with the lens began circulating online.
The Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 produces beautifully detailed images with gorgeous bokeh, corner-to-corner sharpness, and very minimal discernible distortions. Although the RF 50mm f/1.2 L does exhibit some vignetting particularly towards wider apertures, it’s not unheard of for lenses with such a bright maximum aperture and can be easily corrected during post-production.
The RF 50mm f/1.2 L’s optical prowess is complemented by its speedy autofocus, sturdy construction, and robust weather sealing to deliver a compelling, professional-grade option for RF mount shooters. Note that the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM lacks image stabilization. If you’re pairing this lens with the Canon R5 or R6, however, their excellent IBIS will help to greatly mitigate camera shake. You’ll also notice considerable autofocus improvements over the R and RP as well.
One of the benefits of moving to a new mount is that it gives engineers lens design options that were previously unavailable. Such is the case with the Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM. The RF 100-500mm is effectively the next evolution of Canon’s 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM for EF mount.
Like its predecessor, the RF 100-500mm sports excellent optics and features the same robust build quality we’ve come to expect from Canon’s L glass. The RF 100-500mm also gains an additional 100mm of focal range at the cost of a slightly dimmer maximum aperture towards the long end, a worthwhile tradeoff that many sports and wildlife photographers will surely appreciate. Note that to get the best performance out of the Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM, you’ll want to pair the lens with either a Canon R5 or R6.
Best Mirrorless Lenses for Fujifilm X
A sequel nearly a decade in the making, the Fujifilm XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR is the long-awaited follow-up to the XF 18mm f/2 R that was introduced alongside the Fujifilm X-Pro 1. Not only is the XF 18mm f/1.4 far superior optically, but autofocus performance received a significant boost as well.
The f/1.4 lens improves upon the f/2 original in just about every aspect except for size and weight. Although the XF 18mm f/1.4 is roughly twice as large as the f/2 and weighs about three times as much, it is still a very compact lens considering the original f/2 was a pancake lens. The f/1.4’s increased bulk is attributed to its brighter maximum aperture, weather sealing, and the inclusion of a Linear Motor for faster, quieter, and more accurate autofocus. With a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 27mm, the Fujifilm XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR is an excellent lens that will suit many genres of photography.
Normal(ish): Fujifilm XF 50mm f/1.0 R WR
The fastest autofocusing prime currently available for Fujifilm X mount, the Fujifilm XF 50mm f/1.0 R WR is a testament to the company’s engineering prowess. It’s a big and beautiful lens capable of delivering big and beautiful results. Be warned, however, as the XF 50mm f/1.0 can feel positively gargantuan when mated to smaller X mount bodies (like the X-T30). If you’ve been skipping the bicep curls at the gym, the XF50mm f/1.0 will make you regret it.
When shot wide-open, the ultra-bright f/1.0 maximum aperture results in gorgeous bokeh and a very shallow depth of field. This can be used to effectively isolate your subject from its surroundings. With a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 75mm (so not exactly a normal lens, per se), the XF 50mm f/1.0 R WR can be perfectly suited for portraiture work. Note that the Fujifilm XF 50mm f/1.0 WR lacks onboard stabilization, so photographers with shaky hands will want to pair it with an IBIS-equipped X mount body such as the X-T4 or X-H1. Videographers and hybrid shooters may also want to look elsewhere as they may find the noisy autofocus motor offputting.
For quite some time, the Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR was the only X mount super-telephoto lens available. While it was highly regarded, many also found the XF 100-400mm’s $1,899 price tag to be prohibitive. With the introduction of the Fujifilm XF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 R LM OIS WR, however, X mount shooters finally have an affordable and compelling alternative.
Despite being significantly cheaper at just $799, the XF 70-300mm features similarly excellent optics, speedy autofocus, image stabilization, as well as weather sealing. It’s a tremendous value that no sports or wildlife photographer shooting with X mount cameras should overlook. The XF 70-300mm actually zooms out slightly wider and sports a marginally brighter maximum aperture towards the shorter end than the XF 100-400mm. The only real drawback is the 25% shorter maximum focal range (the XF 70-300mm has a 35mm-equivalent focal range of 105-450mm compared to the XF 100-400mm’s 150-600mm).
Best Mirrorless Lenses for Nikon Z
Wide: Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S
First introduced back in 2007, the Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8 G ED was the world’s first full frame ultrawide zoom lens to feature an f/2.8 maximum constant aperture. Reviews were overwhelmingly positive and cult status would soon follow. Fast forward to today, Nikon is playing catchup in the mirrorless arms race and a Z mount successor to the legendary 14-24mm needed to deliver. Thankfully, it does so with flying colors.
Despite being smaller and lighter, the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S is every bit as robust as its F mount predecessor. The Z 14-24mm is also optical superior as well, and includes innovations such as a customizable control ring, customizable function button, and an OLED information display.
Finally, the Z 14-24mm addresses its predecessor’s inability to utilize front filters by including a large, 112mm filter-threaded lens hood. This hood allows photographers to attach conventional filters rather than having to rely on specialty filter holders and adapters. Alternatively, gel filters can be used as well via the built-in rear filter holder. You’ll have to remove your lens to swap rear filters, however, so it’s not always an ideal solution when you’re in the field. Astro, landscape, and real estate photographers will want to add the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S to their arsenal.
Normal: Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S
It seems big and bright 50mm lenses are all the rage at the moment amongst mirrorless manufacturers. Although Nikon already has the excellent Z 50mm f/1.8 S on their lineup, more demanding photographers were left wanting as they felt there was room for improvement. Their concerns were addressed with the introduction of the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S. It’s the Z mount’s brightest autofocusing prime lens to date, and second only to Nikon’s own Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct (an all manual lens) in terms of both size and weight.
The increased bulk is understandable, however, as the Z 50mm f/1.8 S can gather an extra stop of light. This can be crucial for available light photography. The wider maximum aperture of the Z 50mm f/1.2 S also means that it produces even creamier bokeh than its f/1.8 counterpart. If you’re in the market for a native 50mm Z mount prime and aren’t deterred by the increased heft or price tag, the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S is the best option around.
For many working pros, a 70-200mm zoom lens is one of the most important tools within their arsenals. With the introduction of the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S, Z mount shooters finally have one to call their own. An evolution of the much-loved F mount AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 E FL ED VR, the Z 70-200mm f/2.8 features a brand new optics design along with other notable improvements.
Vibration Reduction (Nikon’s name for its image stabilization tech, as denoted by the VR in the product names) has been bumped up from 3-Axis/4 Stops to 5-Axis/5.5 Stops. The minimum focusing distance on the wide end of the focal range has been halved from 1.1m down to 0.5m. The Z 70-200mm also includes a customizable control ring, customizable function buttons, as well as an OLED information display. Photographers in need of even more reach can even adapt the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S using optional 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters.
Best Mirrorless Lenses for Sony FE
What the engineering wizards at Sony have done in creating the FE 14mm f/1.8 G Master is nothing short of astounding. Before its release, the only other ultra-wide-angle E mount prime to feature a fast f/1.8 aperture is the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art (also available for L mount and Sigma SA mount). The 14mm G Master not only matches the Sigma both in terms of focal length and light gathering capability but managed to do so within a package that’s roughly a third smaller and less than half the weight.
Like other native E mount lenses that bear the G Master name, the 14mm produces excellent image quality which achieving sharpness across the frame with minimal vignetting or distortions. The 14mm G Master is a worthy addition to any E mount astro, landscape, and real estate photographer’s kit.
Normal: Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 G Master
Not to be outdone by 50mm f/1.2 offerings from Canon and Nikon, Sony introduced one of their very own earlier this year: the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 G Master. Although it’s yet another big and bright 50mm prime, the 50mm G Master sets itself apart by being smaller, lighter, and cheaper than the competition. Impressively, it’s also only marginally larger than the existing 50mm f/1.4 E mount options.
Although some prefer even more diminutively sized f/1.8 “Nifty-Fifties,” the 50mm f/1.2 G Master’s extra stop of light gathering ability can be invaluable for available light photography applications (like astro and event photography). Like other G Master lenses, the 50mm f/1.2’s autofocus is quick and accurate, producing gorgeous results with edge-to-edge sharpness even when shot wide-open. The built-in weather sealing will also keep the 50mm f/1.2 G Master protected against the elements (or drunk wedding guests). This is the 50mm E mount lens to beat right now.
Third-party lens makers have made huge strides in recent years, spoiling us with competitively priced lenses that can stand toe-to-toe against first-party offerings. The Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary is one such example. Designed with mirrorless cameras in mind, the Sigma 100-400mm is available in both E and L mounts. The E mount version competes directly against Sony’s excellent 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. Impressively, Sigma managed to deliver a super-telephoto that offers near-complete feature parity to the G Master within a package that’s smaller, lighter, and most importantly, roughly 60% cheaper.
Despite its smaller frame, the Sigma 100-400mm is weather-sealed and optically stabilized just like the G Master. Thanks to its third stop brighter aperture range, however, the Sony does have a slight edge in terms of autofocus performance over the Sigma. For sports and wildlife shooters on a budget, the Sigma 100-400mm is a serious value proposition that punches well above its weight.
Best Mirrorless Lenses for Leica M
Leica lenses are the stuff of legends thanks to their compact yet tank-like construction, impeccable fit and finish, and stunning image quality. The new Leica APO-Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH is no different. (For those unfamiliar with Leica nomenclature, “Summicron” is Leica-speak for lenses sporting f/2 maximum apertures.) It’s the latest 35mm Summicron for the nearly 70-year-old M mount, and only the fourth M mount lens to date to feature an apochromatic design. This helps to keep chromatic aberrations at bay while maintaining the renowned image quality that Leica lenses are famous for.
Aside from the apochromatic design, one of the 35mm APO-Summicron’s other standout features is its 30cm close-focus distance, making it the closest-focusing 35mm M mount lens to date. As with most things bearing the Leica badge, be prepared to fork over a sizable sum for the privilege of adding a copy of the lens to your collection. It’s worth every one of your hard-earned pennies and any Leica M shooter that doesn’t already own a 35mm lens will want to add the Leica APO-Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH onto their wish list.
Despite being nearly a decade old, the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH continues to be one of the very best 50mm lenses available for Leica M mount. Built like a tank? Check. Compact footprint? Check. Pristine image quality with edge-to-edge sharpness and complete absence of chromatic aberrations? Check, check, and check.
Like the 35mm APO-Summicron we waxed poetic about earlier, the 50mm APO-Summicron also features an apochromatic design to help eliminate chromatic aberrations. For Leica M shooters, the 50mm APO-Summicron is as close to perfection as you’re going to get, and perfection (along with most things Leica branded for that matter) comes with a hefty price tag. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford a copy of the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH, you’ll be rewarded with some truly remarkable images.
Unless you’ve got 13 grand burning a hole in your pocket, you’re most likely not rushing to your nearest camera store to pick up an exclusively manual focus lens. If you’re one of the very lucky few with the means, however, the Leica Summilux-M 90mm f/1.5 ASPH is an absolute treat. While it features the same robust construction as other Leica lenses, the 90mm Summilux is a bit of a departure from traditional M mount lenses in that it’s not very compact at all. It’s one of the largest native lenses currently available for M mount.
Like all M mount lenses, the 90mm Summilux is fully manual. With no autofocus system to rely on, the longer focal length combined with a bright f/1.5 aperture results in a razor-thin depth-of-field that can prove challenging to even the most seasoned Leica shooters out there. Shooting with the 90mm Summilux is not dissimilar to driving a finely tuned, stick-shift supercar. The results can be supremely rewarding but require plenty of experience, patience, and skill. If you’re planning on pulling the trigger on a Leica Summilux-M 90mm f/1.5 ASPH, consider picking up a Visoflex EVF as well for a few hundred more. The Visoflex supports focus peaking and can make shooting with the 90mm Summilux a much less challenging feat.
Best Mirrorless Lenses for Leica/Panasonic/Sigma L
Designed from the ground up for mirrorless cameras, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art is an evolution of the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art that was originally conceived for DSLRs. Available for L mount alliance cameras as well as Sony E mount, this new version offers numerous worthwhile improvements over its predecessor while maintaining the same level of build quality the Art series is known for and an identical $899 MSRP.
The 35mm f/1.4 DG DN delivers superior image quality over the original with corner-to-corner sharpness, more pleasing bokeh, and improved chromatic aberration mitigation. Another notable upgrade is the inclusion of weather sealing, ensuring a worry-free shooting experience even under adverse weather conditions. The 35mm f/1.4 DG DN also features a revamped and more responsive autofocus system powered by a stepping motor and includes a customizable AFL button akin to ones we’ve seen on many of the latest first-party lenses. L mount (and E mount) photographers in need of a 35mm prime that balances reliable performance and affordability need look no further than the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art.
Normal: Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art
Sigma’s had a long history of creating competitively priced alternatives to first-party lenses that deliver comparable performance, and the mirrorless-only Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art is no exception. It combines sturdy build quality, weather resistance, and reliably swift and silent autofocus into a package that’s slightly lighter and more compact than competing 24-70mm full-frame mirrorless options on the market. More importantly, it also addresses the heavy vignetting and periphery sharpness dropoff issues that plagued its DSLR predecessor, the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art, while keeping the MSRP the same at an affordable sum of $1,099.
For reference, first-party direct competitors like the Panasonic Lumix S PRO 24-70mm f/2.8 and the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-70mm f/2.8 ASPH will set you back $2,200 and $2,800 respectively. Note that the 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art lacks image stabilization. As such, photographers with shaky hands will want to pair it with an IBIS-equipped L mount (or E mount) camera body.
The Panasonic Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f/2.8 OIS is a professional-grade telephoto zoom that fills an important gap within the L mount alliance ecosystem by covering the highly popular focal range. The S Pro 70-200mm f/2.8 combines a bright maximum aperture, excellent optical performance, reliable autofocus, dependable image stabilization, and exceptional weather resistance into a Hulk-sized, ruggedly constructed package.
Like many recent pro-grade lenses to hit the market, the S Pro 70-200mm f/2.8 features customizable function buttons as well for enhanced usability. When paired with Panasonic’s S-Line camera bodies, it can even deliver up to an impressive seven stops of image stabilization. The Panasonic Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f/2.8 OIS will satisfy the needs of even the most demanding L mount shooters out there, provided they can manage its heft and stomach the US $2,600 price tag.