The team, that are four gearheads: Bastian, Jannik and Phillip from Germany as well as David from Australia. All like to use manual lenses and have a passion for the outdoors. None the less they are specialized in different areas so they can provide you with a wider perspective.
Choose the right lens for your Sony Alpha with the help of our independent knowledge gained by writing many in-depth reviews.
We are a team of four photographers who all use the FE system and this blog is focused on lens reviews. So we have an in-depth knowledge of these lenses not only because we use them all the time but also because we have reviewed most of them in detail. We are also independent from any lens manufacturer and when you check our reviews you will see that we do not hesitate to name any shortcomings of a lens.
In this article we only list lenses which have electronic contacts to communicate aperture and focal length to the camera. There are also quite a few lenses which have an E-mount but no electronic contacts. Most of these are SLR-lenses with a modified mount and we decided against covering these because we think that most of them are not very attractive lenses. We do however cover the Laowa 2/15 and Mitakon 0.95/50 because those are attractive lenses for some photographers.
All native full frame lenses for the Sony FE mount (as of March 2018)
Voigtländer 5.6/10 (manual focus)
Widest lens available
Good sunstars and flare resistance
Corner sharpness not great
Recommendation: if you want the widest rectilinear lens available this is it.
Lens design, like clothing, is subject to the whims of fashion. These fashions dictate what tradeoffs the designers make. Every lens is a trade-off between many characteristics. The more important ones are in our eyes: speed, sharpness, price, size, weight, bokeh, chromatic aberration, distortion and vignetting.
The currently fashionable tradeoff that Sony and most others adopt emphasises performance and bokeh at the expense of the size of lenses. The Sony FE 1.4/50 ZA or 2.8/24-70 are good examples of that. These lenses are certainly good tools for some applications where only their excellent image quality matters and their significant size and weight does not. Our point is that a great lens does little good if it is so heavy that you leave it at home because of its weight. So we would argue that probably most photographers would get better results with lenses which are a little slower or a little less perfect but in their bag and not left at home.
Manufacturers focus their resources on faster, bigger and better lenses, which of course makes perfect commercial sense. The pity of it is that this comes at the cost of less fashionable lenses which many of us would probably enjoy more. This article is about kinds of (older) lenses that we see as inspiration for lenses we would love to see made in E-mount but with the best technology available today. By accepting a few minor tradeoffs, rather than just trying to give the photographer performance and speed bragging rights, lenses can be significantly smaller. Sometimes that tradeoff might be speed only, sometimes a little peripheral performance at wide apertures might be traded off for handling.
Before we go any further: we are not talking about simply copying old ‘classic’ lenses (maybe with minor improvements) and launching them on kickstarter. We want as good performance as possible within the constraints of a reasonable budget and size. We are talking about types of lenses which aren’t now being made in E-mount, and which—with the benefit of modern design, materials and electronic contacts —could be a huge asset to our photography. Comfort certainly plays a role as well: Not having to think about an adapter and having exif simply makes life easier.
We’ll start by giving some examples where we think makers have found a good balance between handling and performance. Then we’ll get down to business: we’ll discuss the older lenses that have no modern equivalent, and should have.
We summarize our experience with all the native E-mount and a few (manual) legacy lenses in the 10-20mm bracket to give you a compact and independent resource for choosing the right super- to ultra-wide-angle lens for your Sony a7 cameras. In this summary we also included some adapted lenses we think are worth mentioning.
We have no association with any lens manufacturer apart from occasionally loaning a lens for a review. Before any short introduction we tell you how long we have used a lens and if we have borrowed it from a manufacturer. But in most cases we have bought the lenses new from retail stores or on on the used market. If you want to support our independent reviews please consider using one of the affiliate links. It doesn’t cost you anything and helps us a lot.
If we have left any question unanswered please leave a comment and we will do our best to answer it.
Voigtlander 5.6/10 E
Status: Sample loaned by the manufacturer reviewed by Bastian, who bought one for himself at retail after that. Still often in use.
At f/5.6 most of the frame is pretty sharp, only the extreme corners are somewhat soft. Contrast is always high.
You have to use f/11 for best across frame sharpness, the corners never reach excellent values.
Almost no distortion, quite good flare resistance, beautiful 10-stroke sunstars.
Small and lightweight, decently priced.
Widest rectilinear lens there is in a small package. Downsides are huge vignetting throughout the aperture range and maximum aperture of only f/5.6.
You can easily spend a fortune on lenses for your Sony a7 but you don’t have to. These 34 lenses all cost less than $499 and give you great image quality on your Alpha.
There are certainly other lenses which would deserve a spot in this list but we only include lenses we have used ourselves, so please don’t take it personal if we haven’t included your favorite lens.
We changed the format a bit from our other guides: For each lens we have summarized the defining strengths and weaknesses. We hope this will make it easier to decide for yourself, if the lens could fit your needs. Please make sure to check out our in-depth reviews for a much more detailed discussion of each lens.
Voigtlander 5.6/12 M39
Compared to the DSLR lenses (like the Samyang 14mm 2.8) this lens is ridiculously small. This is a lens that will always easily fit into your bag, which is great if you not intend to shoot this wide on a regular basis. With the filter adapter it is even possible to use standard 77mm filters.
You should be aware of: The corners never reach excellent levels, huge vignetting, slow, not a good match for A7r.