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Sony FE Mount Guide | Top 5 Prime Lenses

By Anthony Thurston on September 13th 2015

A common theme when talking to anyone about the Sony FE Mount system is an acknowledgment about the lack of lens options. While it is true that you don’t have the seemingly endless lens selection that you get with Canon or Nikon, there are still plenty of great choices that will cover most of your photographic needs.

Today, I wanted to share my top 5 prime lens choices for the Sony FE mount system. This list will cover some of the lens choices that I would recommend for general photography uses. I’ll tackle more specialized (portraits, sports, street photography, etc) in another post.

#1 – Sony FE 55mm F/1.8

sony-fe-55mm-ZAQuite frankly, this is the best all around lens for the Sony FE system right now, in my opinion. The 55mm focal length makes it ideal for a variety of portrait uses, and it is one of the sharpest lenses out there – for any system. But beyond its incredible optics, this lens is also small and lightweight, perfect for those jumping to mirrorless for the weight savings.

If there is one downside to this lens, it is the focus-by-wire manual focus mechanism. It is one of the best implementations of this I have ever used, but it is still nowhere near as nice as a real manual focus lens. I am a fan of manual focus, especially with the ~50mm focal length, but with this lens, it’s annoying enough that I just stick to the AF unless I have time to fiddle with it.

[REWIND: Sony FE 55mm F/1.8 Review]

The price of this lens, coming in around $1000, may also give you pause – but believe me, it’s worth every penny. If I could only get one lens for my brand new Sony FE system camera, this would be it. It does happen to be $100 off right now over on B&H too, so may be worth picking up.

#2 – Sony FE 28mm F/2

sony-28mmWhere the Sony FE 55mm F/1.8 is an expensive piece of glass with optics to back it up, the FE 28mm F/2 is the more traditional quality fast prime that doesn’t break the bank. Sony’s 28mm F/2 offers excellent sharpness, good AF performance, and maintains that small size/weight that is ideal on these smaller camera bodies.

The 28mm F/2 makes the perfect companion to the 55mm F/1.8; they look very similar, and the 28mm makes a great wide angle portrait lens. But what makes the 28mm such a no-brainer for this system is its price. Currently, it is by far the cheapest native FE mount prime lens available.

Coming in at just under $450, this would be my second choice as one of my lenses to get after buying into the Sony FE system. If you like to shoot wide, and the 55mm is too long for you, then this is a great option that won’t break the bank either.

#3 – Zeiss Batis 85mm

batis-85mmThere was a collective gasp from Sony FE mount fans when Zeiss announced their new Batis 85mm F/1.8 lens a while back. As you are no doubt aware, the 85mm focal length is a favorite among portrait and wedding photographers, and this is the first native 85mm lens in the FE mount system with AF.

Not only that, but it features a stunning design, and the optics are stellar, just as you would expect from a Zeiss-branded lens. It also features some interesting and new technology, like an OLED featuring your distance and DoF measurements. It’s an impressive lens that comes at an impressive price.

Coming in at just under $1200, this is not a cheap lens. The optics back it up though, and while you can find 85mm f/1.8 lenses for cheaper from other systems, this lens is a closer match optically to 85mm F/1.4 offerings in terms of optical quality. It is currently hard to get one of these due to the supply shortage, but if you want to get your name on the list, you can find that over on B&H here.

#4 – Zeiss Loxia 50mm F/2

zeiss-loxiaWhere the Batis and all of the previous lenses have been AF lenses, this Loxia line of lenses from Zeiss is manual focus only. On a DSLR system, manual focusing is a pain, which is why many DSLR shooters stay away from MF. The Sony FE mirrorless system is different though, and MF is a breeze.

Part of what makes the system so fun for me you can easily, quickly, and fairly accurately focus manually, thanks to built-in tools like focus peaking and 100% magnification. This Loxia lens from Zeiss offers a superb image quality. Like the FE 55mm and the Batis though, it comes at a price.

Being just under $1000 puts this in direct competition with the 55mm FE, and I wouldn’t recommend getting both. If you live and rely heavily on AF, then go with the 55mm. But if you prefer a manual focus experience – and a stellar one at that – then the 50mm F/2 is a killer option.

#5 – Rokinon 135mm F/2

rokinion-135mmI bet you were not expecting to see a Rokinion lens on this list. Just like the Zeiss Loxia above it, this lens is a manual focus only lens. The Canon 135mm F/2L is probably my favorite portrait lens of all time. The look and feel that it produces is magical.

While this Rokinon lens is not the Canon 135, it does offer that same field of view, and a good image quality. It is also about $550, making it a great deal if you are looking to kit out your prime lens loadout. It is a bit large, mounted on an A7 series body, so take that into account. But overall, this is a killer prime lens when combined with an A7 series camera.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are some good lenses here to choose from if you are looking to get a good prime lens kit for your Sony FE mount camera.

What are your thoughts on this list? Do you agree, or disagree with any of the lenses on it? How would you rank them? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

4 Comments

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  1. Anders Madsen

    While I understand the sentiment behind this post, I honestly thinks that it underscores the present challenge for Sony in the market: When the list with the 5 most general purpose lenses includes two manual focus lenses and only two of the lenses is substantially below $1000, you have users in a VERY tight spot, financially as well as with regard to usability.

    Heck, I run my entire business off the Nikon f/1.8 primes and the 35/50/85 combo is less than the Batis 85 mm alone, or only slightly more than the Sony 55 mm f/1.8 alone.

    It may be that the strategy right now is only to target professionals with a substantial budget for new equipment and a wish to migrate from their existing gear, because I seriously doubt that they see many newcomers going straight for Sony – the price of admission is simply to high in my opinion.

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  2. Allan Zeiba

    Also think that the 90mm macro is not only worth mentioning but I will put it above the Batis, yes the bokeh is a little different (I prefer the 85 on that matter, but that’s a personal preference) the lens is simply amazing also according to DXO is the sharpens lens that they have ever tested

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  3. Eric Frystak

    I am surprised that the 90 mm macro did not make the list. Very close to the 85 mm plus with the macro capabilities as well. Perhaps the bokeh is not as sweet as the Batis?

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  4. Alexander Europa

    Sony is really starting to round out their FE line of lenses which is good. The limited lens selection is what has kept many of us away. I love my Canon gear, but more competition is great for everybody.

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