The Best Sony A7 Lenses (A7, A7r, A7s, A7II, A7rII, A7sII, A7rIII) – For landscapes, portraits, street and action

When Sony first announced the RX1 compact camera with a full-frame sensor, most people in the industry suspected that it would only be a matter of time before the company announced an interchangeable lens version of the camera. That camera was the Sony A7, and although it grabbed the attention of the market for its compact size, the lack of native lenses for the system initially deterred many photographers from investing in it.

Today, the situation has completely changed. There are now seven models in the A7 full-frame interchangeable lens line-up – the first generation A7, A7r and A7s, the second generation A7II, A7rII and A7sII and the third generation A7rIII – and a growing number of FE-mount lenses to match. In fact, in just three years, the lens ecosystem has grown to include dozens of lenses not just from Sony itself but also well-known brands such as Zeiss, Samyang and Voigtlander.

In this article, we’re going to looking at some of the best lenses available for Sony A7 series cameras, most of which we’ve either spent some time with or reviewed. In order to make reading the article more straightforward, we opted to divide the lenses up by photographic genre instead of focal length.

Note: When it comes to the Sony FE-mount system, there is an innumerable number of manual focus and third-party lenses from Canon, Nikon, Sony A-mount and Sigma that you can adapt. However the performance will vary depending on the camera and adapter used. In this article we will concentrate on lenses with a native E-mount.


Ethics statement: The following list is based upon our experience with E-mount lenses. We were not asked to write anything about these lenses, nor were we provided any compensation of any kind. All opinions we express are our own. Within the article, there are affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!


Best A7 Lenses for Landscapes

There are quite a few landscape options for FE-mount cameras, from standard zooms to wide primes. Below you’ll find the lenses we’ve tried and enjoyed the most.

1. Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8

The first of our absolute top three favourite lenses for the FE-mount is the Loxia 21mm from Zeiss. It is without a doubt the one we would recommend most highly for landscapes.

best sony a7 lenses

It is a manual focus lens but this matters less for genres like landscape and architecture photography. It has an all-metal build with blue rubber that seals the mount and stops dust and moisture from entering. It includes electronic contacts for EXIF data and MF assists when turning the focus ring. Sharpness is already excellent at f/2.8 and from f/4 it becomes perfect across the frame. The bokeh at the shortest focus distance is attractive but this isn’t a main reason to buy the lens. All the most common lens issues such as distortion, flare, vignetting and chromatic aberration are either minimal or absent. In short, it is one of the best wide angle lenses we’ve ever used.

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best sony a7 lenses

2. FE 16-35mm f/4

When this lens was released, there weren’t any alternative wide angle lenses to recommend, so it was easy. Today I think the FE 16-35mm is still a good compromise between quality and price if you are looking for versatility. The build quality includes dust and moisture resistance.

best sony a7 lenses

Sharpness is good at the centre up to 24mm. The performance decreases from 28mm to 35mm so it is best to shoot with it below 24mm and take advantage of the shorter focal lengths. The corners can lack some sharpness at certain focal lengths.

Distortion is contained and the lens is free from vignetting and chromatic aberration. Its resistance to flare is quite impressive and the lens has a short focusing distance of 28cm. The autofocus is fast and silent and the optical stabilisation works really well, which is a nice plus for non-stabilised body. This should be enough to consider this lens for landscape photography.

The 16-35mm is not perfect but it offers a good zoom range especially if you are new to the system and don’t want to start investing in multiple primes right away.

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best sony a7 lenses

3. Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2

The Batis 25mm has an interesting angle of view that can work well for landscapes, street and events, so if you are looking for a versatile and fast prime lens, it could be worth checking out.

best sony a7 lenses

Sharpness is excellent at the center and in the corners. The bokeh is very pleasant at f/2 and at short focus distances. There can be vignetting at the fastest aperture but it is easily correctable with the lens profile in Adobe Lightroom. Some chromatic aberration in the corners is also present and there is some barrel distortion (easily fixed in post-production once again). The autofocus mechanism is fast and the OLED screen is useful for astrophotography. The lens is weather-sealed and it fits the A7 series very well.

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best sony a7 lenses

4. Other lenses to consider

The recently announced 16-35mm f/2.8 GM will certainly become a favourite amongst landscape photographers. We’ve yet to try it ourselves but the first reviews suggest that it is not only very sharp but also does an excellent job of controlling flare and chromatic aberrations. What’s more, it provides a soft and creamy bokeh thanks to the 11-blade aperture. The fly-by-wire focus ring is also supposed to be one of the best Sony has ever produced because it feels much like a mechanical focus ring.

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Also announced alongside the 16-35mm was the ultra wide FE 12-24mm. Currently the widest zoom for the E-mount system, it is both smaller and lighter than similar lenses from the competition. It is dust and moisture resistant, and features an AF/MF switch and focus-hold button on the barrel. The only characteristic is lacks is a filter thread due to the bulbous front element.

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Another lens we haven’t tried yet is the Zeiss Batis 18mm. The first reviews are very positive – it seems to be an excellent lens with no real flaws and promises to be a versatile companion for landscapes, architecture and even astrophotography. For now, we recommend that you read this excellent review on philipreeve.net.

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zeiss batis 18mm

There is also the FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM that is getting rave reviews. We saw it at a press event but couldn’t take any landscape shots with it. Given the high price and versatile zoom range, I would suggest it for professional work. We agree with reviewers such as Jordan Steele of Admiring Light and The Camera Store when they say that, as standard zooms go, it has both sharpness and bokeh down to a fine art. The only drawback is the size and weight, both of which unbalance the diminutive Sony A7 body. Otherwise, it is the perfect all-in-one solution not only for landscape work but general photography as well.

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If budget is a concern, you can find some interesting products from Samyang/Rokinon. First of all, the brand recently announced their first two AF lenses which are specifically designed for the E-mount system. One of them is a 14mm f/2.8 which will be the widest prime designed for the A7 system. The lenses are not yet available but we are hoping to review them soon.

best sony a7 lenses

An older manual focus version of the 14mm lens from the Korean brand is available however. The 14mm F2.8 ED AS IF UMC is designed for DSLRs but can also be found in E-mount, which removes the need for an adapter. Sharpness is good at the center and in the corners when stopped down but expect some distortion and vignetting. Here it is really the price that makes this option interesting.

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best sony a7 lenses

Finally, we have the new E-mount lenses from Voigtländer: the 10mm f/5.6, 12mm f/5.6 and 15mm f/4.5. They are an updated version of their Leica M lenses optimised for A7 cameras including electronic contacts to transmit EXIF data. They are manual focus lenses with mechanical rings and give you some of the widest fields of view you can find. Actually the 10mm is the world’s widest rectilinear prime lens ever designed.

We had the chance to use all three lenses over a three week period and we were very impressed by their performance. The 10mm is the most difficult to use of the three due to its extremely wide nature.

best sony a7 lenses


Best A7 Lenses for Portraits

The four main candidates I’ll be talking about here are all native to the E-mount and have autofocus capabilities: the FE 55mm f/1.8, FE 85mm f/1.8 GM, FE 90mm f/2.8 and Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8. Since they are native to the E-mount, there are a couple of advantages that go with using them as opposed to a third-party alternative. First of all, the AF is faster than with adapted AF lenses. Second, you have access to what Mariano Friginal calls a “must-have feature for any portrait photographer” – Continuous Eye-AF. This feature tracks your subject’s eye so that it is always in focus, a great tool for photographers who shoot in a fast-paced environment. Of all the mirrorless cameras out there, the eye detection of the A7r II is the best we’ve tested.

1. Sony FE 55mm f/1.8

Of these three lenses, the FE 55m f/1.8 is the one that stole our hearts from day one and is still part of our collection today. It is one of our top three lenses for the E-mount system. Its angle of view puts it closer to a standard lens but its unique capabilities makes it very suitable for portraits too.

Best Sony E-mount lens for Portraits

Not only is it one of the sharpest lenses in the FE series but it also has a stunningly beautiful bokeh. (If you need proof, just visit the dedicated 55mm f/1.8 Flickr group.) Plus, it is also one of the most compact options from Sony at only 281g and 70.5mm in length. Because of the shorter focal length in comparison to classic portrait lenses (85mm or 105mm), it can be a little short on occasion and may distort faces if you get too close. For upper body or environmental portraits, it works great. The AF motor is fast and silent on all A7 bodies.

If you also own a Sony APS-C camera such as the a6000 or a6300, you can use it as an 82mm equivalent lens, which is very close to the standard 85mm lens for portraits.

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best sony a7 lenses

2. Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8

The Zeiss Batis 85mm was the first portrait lens designed for the full-frame A7 cameras. It is the first classic portrait focal length for the system and isn’t too expensive considering the great optical quality it delivers (although we could argue it is still expensive for a 1.8 portrait lens).

Best Sony E-mount lens for Portraits

The Zeiss logo is your first hint about the optical quality of the lens. The quality of the background blur is excellent with rounded out of focus areas at the center and “cat’s eye” bokeh at the edges and fastest apertures. Sharpness is excellent from f1.8 already and you will encounter some vignetting but easily removable.

It utilises a linear motor, meaning it is both quick and silent. The OLED display is less useful on the 85mm than on the 25mm lens but it doesn’t do any harm. It isn’t the smallest or lightest of lenses at 425g but compared to others in its category, it is certainly on the low end of the scale.

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best sony a7 lenses

3. Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM

The Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM is a recent addition. We haven’t been able to review it completely yet but having tried it briefly at the Sony press event in Amsterdam, I can confirm that it is now one of the most appealing portrait options for the Sony full-frame series along with the Batis 85mm.

sony fe 85mm f/1.4 gm sample images
Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM

This new lens has exceptional resolution capabilities like the Batis and thanks to its circular 11-blade aperture, it has a near-perfect bokeh. This is helped by the brand new XA (extreme aspherical) element with better surface precision that eliminates the “onion ring” effect common in out-of-focus areas.

The only downsides are the size, weight and price. It is about twice as big and heavy as the Batis 85mm, launching it into DSLR territory, and comes at the price of nearly $1800.

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4. Sony FE 85mm f/1.8

Sony recently released a second, more affordable 85mm lens for the FE system: the FE 85mm f/1.8. We haven’t used it yet but many reviewers say it performs in the similar manner to the other 85mm lenses regarding sharpness, especially at the centre. While vignetting is well-controlled, chromatic aberration and purple fringing at the fastest apertures can be an issue. It is also the most compact of all the portrait lenses listed here.

 

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best portrait lenses for sony a6000

5. Sony 100mm f/2.8

The Sony 100mm f/2.8 is specialised lens for portrait work. It provides a smoother bokeh rendition thanks to its apodization element but reduces the light transmission by two stops (T/5.6 equivalent). It includes optical stabilisation, various button and switches on the barrel, and an aperture ring. However, keep in mind that it is also very expensive.

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6. A manual focus alternative

Although we said we would only list AF lenses, it is worth sharing a few thoughts about a less expensive manual focus lens, the 135mm f/2. It is by Samyang Optics once again and was announced last year. It is available in E-mount and its affordable price makes it a valid alternative for those on a budget. You get a true mechanical focus and aperture rings on the lens. Keep in mind that the lens doesn’t have any electronic contacts so it won’t transmit EXIF data. The sharpness is really good and the fast aperture makes it an attractive lens for portraiture. You can check out this review on philipreeve.net.

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best sony a7 lenses


Best A7 Lenses for Street

When it comes to street photography, I always recommend small primes over zooms. Not only do they tend to be more discreet but they also have a faster maximum aperture which can prove useful in low light or for street portraits.

1. FE 35mm f/2.8

sony fe 35mm f2.8

Small, compact and lightweight are the descriptors I’d immediately apply to the FE 35mm f/2.8. And that’s not all – sharpness is excellent across the frame and through the apertures, and the autofocus is quick and silent. Some might complain that the aperture is a little slow but this small trade-off has kept the lens dimensions compact. The only thing that bothers us is the price which is quite expensive for a 35mm f/2.8.

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best sony a7 lenses

2. FE 28mm f/2.8

The 28mm field of view is another classic for street photography. For those who prefer a wider view of the world, the FE 28mm is an excellent choice thanks to its compact dimensions and good overall sharpness.

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We had the chance to use it for a weekend and were impressed by its compactness and lightweight build. Sharpness across the frame is very good from f/8 onward. It is also sharp in the centre at f/2, its fastest aperture. Furthermore, there are two conversion lenses designed specifically for this 28mm that will give you an equivalent field of view of 21mm or 16mm fisheye. This makes it an interesting choice for landscape photography as well. Autofocus is good even in low light conditions; more importantly, it is one of the most affordable prime lens you can find.

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3. Samyang-Rokinon 35mm f/2.8

Speaking of affordable lenses, there is also the Samyang-Rokinon 35mm f/2.8. Because it has only just been announced, we aren’t certain about the optical performance or AF speed but if edge-to-edge sharpness is as good as Samyang claims, we could be looking at a serious competitor for the Sony 35mm f/2.8.

4. Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2

zeiss loxia 35mm 50mm

If you are just as comfortable using manual focus as you are with autofocus for street work, you’ll find the Loxia 2/35 very nice to use thanks to its mechanical rings and electronic contacts that transmit EXIF data. It features a solid metal build, comes with a smooth manual focus ring, a distance scale for zone focusing and an aperture ring, and it activates magnification when you turn the focus ring. It is compact and its size matches the A7 series just perfectly.

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best sony a7 lenses

5. Sony 50mm f/1.8

The most affordable native prime lens you can find is the recent “nifty fifty” 50mm f/1.8. If you are on a budget, this is the most classic standard lens you can start with. We haven’t reviewed it yet and it might not beat the 55mm when it comes to sharpness or bokeh but here what counts is the $300 price tag.

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best sony a7 lenses


Best A7 Lenses for Macro

best macro lens a7

At the moment, there is only two native macro options for the full-frame E-mount system. One is the excellent FE 90mm f/2.8 which delivers razor-like sharpness, 1:1 macro reproduction, and very quick autofocusing. It also has features such as a focus limiter on the barrel, optical stabilisation, and a sliding focus ring.

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best sony a7 lenses

The other is the less expensive FE 50mm f/2.8 macro. It is physically smaller than the 90mm but still gives you 1:1 magnification. It features a focus hold button and an AF/MF switch on the barrel, and the optical performance is up to standard. However, the AF isn’t very fast according to several reviews.

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Once again Samyang offers a manual focus alternative: the 100mm f/2.8 macro provides good quality for the money if you are on a budget. It offers 1:1 magnification ratio, excellent sharpness at the center with very low chromatic aberration. You can see a detailed review here.

It is true that there are many third-party options for other systems that you can adapt to the A7 series such as the Sigma 105mm f/2.8, Sigma 150mm f/2.8 or Tamron 90mm f/2.8, but their performance will depend on the lens, the adapter, and the camera.

For example, when we tried the Sigma 150mm (Canon mount) on our A7r II with the Metabones IV adapter and the Fotodiox adapter, it focused very slowly and frequently wouldn’t lock onto the subject at all. This may not be the case with all lens-adapter-camera combinations, but I would suggesting renting before buying to see if the lens’ performance lives up to your expectations.


Best A7 Lenses for Action

Currently, there are three native telephoto zoom options that are appropriate for action photography with the A7 series, two of which are brand new: the FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM, FE 70-200mm f/4, and FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6.

1. FE 70-200mm f/4

sony fe 70-200 f/4

The FE 70-200 f/4 provides the same focal range as the G Master version but has a slower aperture of f/4. It is also lighter and much more compact, so as long as you don’t need the extra stop of light or the extra reach provided by the 1.4 or 2x teleconverters, this zoom is the more appealing of the two, and is also less expensive. Even the slightly slower aperture isn’t a big issue because all Sony full-frame bodies perform well in low light up to 3200, and a handful like the A7s, A7s II and A7r II perform even better. It includes optical stabilisation, a focus limiter switch and an AF/MF switch. Personally we like it a lot and we’ve used it many times on our A7, a6000 and a6300 bodies.

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best sony a7 lenses

2. FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6

sony fe 70-300

The FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 is a very recent announcement and as such, has only been tested by a select few. What makes this zoom exciting is that it is the first native zoom to reach 300mm. We’ll be able to share more thoughts about this lens once we’ve tested it but judging from what we’ve seen so far, it seems to retain a good balance between compactness and optical quality.

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3. FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM

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This new G Master zoom will definitely become the most appealing option for professionals and serious amateurs when it is released on the market. Having held it at the Sony press event, we can confirm that it is as big and heavy as a DSLR zoom but that is the price you must pay for superior optics, a fast constant aperture and speedy autofocus performance. To extend your reach, there are also two teleconverters that are currently only compatible with this lens: the 1.4x teleconverter (SEL14TC) and the 2x teleconverter (SEL20TC).

4. FE 100-400mm f/2.8 GM

Finally we have the zoom lens that offers the longest reach: the FE 100-400mm f/2.8 GM. It features a robust build, weather sealing and optical stabilisation like all other GM lenses. Sony also promises excellent sharpness. Naturally the lens is compatible with the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters, extending the reach to 140-560mm and 200-800mm respectively but it is worth remembering that you lose one/two stops.

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Conclusion

Just three years ago, there were barely enough lenses in the Sony FE range for it to deserve the title of “system” and indeed, many were wondering if it would ever reach completion. Today, new lenses are being added all the time, not only from Sony but also from third parties such as Zeiss and Samyang who have wholeheartedly embraced the FE range.

I believe we speak for many photographers when we say that we’re excited to see where Sony takes the system in the future!

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