Choosing your next Sony Alpha APS-C E-Mount Lens

The A6000, 6300 and 6500 Alpha cameras offer an excellent introduction into the world of creative photography. Most newcomers to the Alpha cameras will probably be purchasing their camera with the SEL PZ 1650 kit lens. Although I have captured some of my best images using a kit lens they do offer certain limitations – namely aperture and limited focal range. The maximum aperture of the kit lens, when zoomed to 50mm, is just f/6.3. Some of the Sony lenses discussed in this movie have an aperture of more than three stops brighter. This enables the creative photographer the option of keeping the ISO lower (lower ISO equals lower levels of noise) when the ambient light is not bright. Wider apertures also offer the creative photographer the option of increasing the blur behind the subject (less depth of field). This gives the subject a greater separation from the background (making it ‘pop’) and also serves to decrease distracting elements in the frame to improve the composition.

Other lenses discussed in this movie are additional or alternative zoom lenses that provide a greater zoom range (more than 3x) or simply gets you a lot closer to your subject – thereby filling the frame. Mark also discusses the best Sony Full-Frame lenses that are suitable for the smaller cropped sensor A6K cameras. One lens he would have mentioned had he remembered to mention it would the affordable and light weight FE 28 F/2.0.

Weight for weight

One advantage to APS-C lenses that is not discussed in the movie is the fact that most APS-C lenses are both lighter and cheaper than their full-frame equivalents, e.g. The E 10-18 F/4 is cheaper and much lighter than the FE 16-35 F/4. Although the zoom range is not directly equivalent they are both ultra wide zooms with the same constant F/4 aperture. The E 55-210 F/4.5-F/6.3 telephoto zoom is also much lighter (less than half the weight) and significantly cheaper than the FE 70-300 F/4.5-F/5.6. Although the FE lens is badged as a G lens, is faster focussing and 1/3 stop brighter at its maximum zoom, both offer the same levels of sharpness.

Fulfilled and unfulfilled wishes

  • Mark’s favourite APS-C lenses are the E 10-18mm F/4 for landscape and the E 50mm F/1.8 for portraiture.
  • Mark would love to see an E 100-300 F/4.5 APS-C lens.

Why is my favourite E-mount lens not covered by this movie?

There are many lenses not featured in this 15-minute review. The Sony E 18-200 is popular for photographers who don’t want to change their lens at all (I personally would choose a two lens kit over a 10x zoom) and the E 24 F/1.8 ZA is a superb lens, but a ‘tad’ expensive for someone just getting into photography using an Interchangeable Lens Camera. There are also other companies who make E-Mount lenses, e.g. Sigma, Rokinon etc. If you are looking at other makes of E-Mount lens I would advise that you make sure they include ‘OSS’ if you are purchasing them for the A6000 or A6300 bodies (as these cameras do not have SteadyShot INSIDE). Some lenses made by other companies don’t have OSS or Autofocus and I would personally advise that these lenses are designed for ‘enthusiasts’ or experienced photographers (and this is not the target audience for this movie). The constraints of making a movie that is not longer than the movie ‘Ben Hur’ means that I made the decision to only cover the Sony offerings that most Alpha users will consider for their second or third lens when building their kit. The lenses covered in this movie were the ones that i personally would recommend to someone building on their initial purchase.

Image Sample Galleries for some of these lenses can be found by clicking on this link:

The girl in the red dress – captured with a Sony NEX-6 and the E PZ 16-50 Kit lens