Anyone who knows anything will tell you to invest in glass before you start investing in new bodies. New lenses can transform your images in a better way than a new camera will – with some rare exceptions. The other part of this is simply that lenses can work on multiple cameras, including ones that are still years from release, making them more worthy of the cash compared to digital cameras which will only depreciate in value.
If you need some helping finding some lenses for your Sony a7S III or a7 III (or any E-mount camera), filmmaker Chris Brockhurst has a bunch he prefers and actually uses. He runs through what he uses and why he uses them while showing off some examples that may help you decide what lens to pick up next.
Keep in mind, Brockhurst shoots some specific stuff and might not 100% line up with your needs. He shoots:
- Martial arts
- Real estate
If you have something outside this, birding for example, you might want to look elsewhere for advice. However, this is a great list for most standard shooting with Sony cameras.
Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS
The FE 16-35mm f/4 from Sony is a fun ultra-wide pick. It’s relatively compact thanks to the f/4 and the focal length range works well for cramped spaces or capturing a vast scene. It also has great autofocus and is a good pick for gimbal work.
The main reason Brockhurst picks it up is the stabilization (OSS), which is rare for ultra-wide angle lenses. Using it on gimbals often as well as handheld vlogging the combination of wide-angle focal lengths and stabilization make it stand out from the pack.
Compared to the competition, it is usually cheaper, smaller, and/or has OSS. It’s a rare mix.
Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM
Among my current favorites is the FE 24mm f/1.4 GM. It’s incredibly small and lightweight with superb optics. That f/1.4 is a dream. It’s also a very useful perspective for general shooting and landscapes. Being fast at f/1.4 it is able to get some dreamy footage and work in low light.
Being so sharp and getting tight with the subject are useful for simply capturing good footage of action – whether it is martial arts or weddings. Plus, all the usual Sony goodness is here with fast AF and a de-clickable aperture ring.
Viltrox AF 24mm f/1.8 FE
Not going to spend too much time here, but the Viltrox AF 24mm f/1.8 FE is the new kid on the block and seems to be doing a lot of the same (including AF) as the Sony 24mm but at an extreme budget price.
Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA
One of the first released for the full-frame E-mount system, the Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA became an instant favorite. It’s small, has that fairly natural 55mm perspective, and is decently fast at f/1.8.
The other part is that the optical quality was incredible and it is super sharp. However, the focus distance is a bit farther than you might want and the older AF system is starting to show it’s age next to newer GM lenses.
Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS
If you need to shoot close-ups and details, say rings at weddings, you will want a macro lens. Sony’s full-frame option is the FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS. Getting up to 1:1 magnification is great, but the 90mm focal length and f/2.8 aperture bring added versatility if you want to also use it for portraits.
The OSS system is necessary for keeping things stable as you shoot macros or handheld video. Plus, the focus ring is nice and has hard stops if that’s your thing. Personally, I used to love this lens but it does have a lot of breathing if you want to do extensive video or focus stacking.
Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
For portraits, it’s hard to not recommend the FE 85mm f/1.8. It’s tiny, like the rest of Sony’s f/1.8 series, and comes in at a great price. It compares very well to the f/1.4 GM model thanks to its size, price, and AF system – the GM is noisy! It can also provide a great look for B-roll in addition to portraits so it’ll be a good lens to have in the bag.
Viltrox AF 85mm f/1.8 FE II
Another budget pick from Viltrox is the AF 85mm f/1.8 FE II. Similar in many ways but for a good deal less if you are looking to save some cash.
Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS
A versatile and much-loved lens pick is the classic 70-200mm. Sony’s FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS is a solid option that blends great features with a decent price and weight. Brockhurst has even used this lens on a gimbal. It’s a beautiful image and adds a huge variety of perspectives to your bag without costing a ton or needing you to carry multiple lenses. It’s great, even at f/4.
Do you have your own favorite lens for Sony cameras? I think my pick is the underrated FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS. Image is gorgeous and the 1:2 magnification comes in handy all the time – enough to replace my macro lens.
[source: Chris Brockhurst]
- Sony a7S III Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony a7 III Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens (B&H, Amazon)
- Viltrox AF 24mm f/1.8 FE Lens (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f*1.8 ZA Lens (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 Lens (B&H, Amazon)
- Viltrox AF 85mm f/1.8 FE II Lens (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 GM STF OSS Lens (B&H, Amazon)
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