How to pick a camera lens [FULL GUIDE]

What Lens to Choose for Your Camera

There isn’t yet the perfect lens on the market. Or to wrote it otherwise the Sony 12-400mm lens f1.4 GM OSS doesn’t exist yet and if ever where the build will weight more than 5 kgs. So the question remains: What lens should I use or What lens should I buy next? It depends on what type of photographer you are. Do you prefer shooting landscapes? Maybe portraits shooting suits you best? Or actually you are a journalist photographer that pops into the action and start shooting. Timothy Mayo with an extensive lens comparison article will assist us today in order to have a better idea of the lenses covering the Sony universe.

The Wide Angle Lenses

Here mostly the landscape lovers will find pure pleasure. On the contrary, everyone should have a wide-angle lens in his arsenal ready to assist whenever needed. So which one I use or which ones I suggest? See the list below…. (It’s not in a specific order)

  • Sony 12-24mm f4.0 G Lens (review)
  • Sony 16-35mm f.2.8 GM Lens (review)
  • Sony 16-35mm f4.0 ZA OSS (review)
  • Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 (review)
  • Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art (review)
  • Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens (review)

There are many other solutions out there i.e Loxia, Samyang/ Rokinon etc but the most famous are the above ones. What to say. Each one of them is one category alone. Do I like them? Of course. If I had the possibility to get them to trust me I would. But there aren’t budget-friendly lenses. So let’s start analyzing them:

Sony 12-24mm F4.0 G Lens: Sony’s widest native lens. Is it sharp? Definitely. Colour reproduction and accuracy are beyond par. A viable option for many landscape shooters. It is rumoured that Sony will release her f2.8 version this summer (of 2020) but will cost you your liver (definitely)

Sony 16-35mm f2.8 GM: The workhorse. The one that everyone loves and still everyone critiques. Sharpest from wide open this is the perfect solution for landscapers (but not only. Cost? Around 2500 USD. You can find it cheaper as a second hand but it’s still a lot of money.

Sony 16-35mm F4.0 OSS: If the GM lens makes you cry when you hear the price tag then this is the second-best native lens. Unless you shoot handheld at night this lens is sharp at smallest apertures f8-f11 and can give you very nice results.

Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8: Small, Lightweight and weather sealed. All in one combo. The autofocus is fast and quiet and there an infinite scroll focus ring for when you want to focus the lens manually, along with an OLED display that shows the distance and depth of field to ensure the focusing range can be perfectly set.

Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art: The build quality is typical Sigma Art series (excellent), the focus motor is very quiet and the lens has very good sharpness across the frame. If you like to shoot astrophotography then the wide f/2.8 aperture combined with low coma and vignette makes this lens a very attractive option. The lens is weather-sealed and there’s an integrated rear holder for gel filters, unfortunately, there is no filter thread for conventional filters

Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RDX Lens: The solution from TAMRON. A more budget-friendly approach. For an enthusiast, the photographer is a valid buy and of course value for money. Unfortunately, this lens is out of shelves for the forthcoming 6 months.

My personal choice? I have sacrificed the flexibility of the zoom lenses for the lightweight of a prime. So, the Zeiss Batis 18mm is in my backpack and I’m really happy about my choice. If I have to re-pick though I would definitely choose the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art despite the weight. The performance of the lens counts for me more.

Picking a photography lens

The Normal range lenses

Here the options are limitless. Honestly some good quality lenses fight each other to get the first spot. Lets see them:

  1. Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS (review)
  2. Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD (review)
  3. Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM (review)
  4. Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art (review)

Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS : The lens that Frodo Baggings love. One lens to rule them all. 35% more zoom range at a cost of one stop light. Easy sacrifice. But is it sharp? If you get the lens in tour hands you will get cut. From f4 this lens is tact sharp and its greatest capabilities can be found between f8-f14. I Love it.

Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD : The lens that everyone has tested. Most of the people love it but others will complain about the plastic feel. Its sharp in the center but lacks a bit on the corners. Many professionals use it and love it.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM : If you want the best in autofocus performance then this is still where the Sony G Master shines, but the Sigma 24-70 F2.8 just has a little more sharpness in the centre of the image. Build quality is excellent and the lens is sealed to protect it from both dust and moisture.

Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art : In true Sigma Art lens fashion Sigma has created a fantastic lens that is not only really well built but also significantly cheaper and also a hair sharper than Sony’s own 24-70 F2.8 GM lens.

My personal chice ? If you dont figure it out already its the Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS. This lens is 90% of the time in my camera body. Zooming in/out seamless its a joy and as a landscape photographer, I mainly use it above f8. So why should I go wider? Can I re-pick? The second Sigma in my bag as thus, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art. We say it already, performance !!

The Portrait Lenses

This category exist because of the people who love shooting portraits. Many great options and the most famous are:

  1. Samyang 85mm f1.4 (review)
  2. Sony 85mm f1.4 GM (review)
  3. Sony 135mm f1.8 GM (review)
  4. Sony FE 100mm F2.8 STF GM OSS (review)
  5. Sony 85mm f1.8 (review)

Samyang 85mm f1.4 : Despite the fact that have almost the 1/3rd of the price of the GM lens, the Korean company delivered and optical superior lens. I can tell you that it can resolve easily the 61mpx of the a7RiV. Intrested choice dont you thing?

Sony 85mm f1.4 GM : The Sony FE 85mm F1.4 G Master is one of Sony’s most popular full-frame lenses for shooting portraits. Wide-open at f/1.4 there’s excellent sharpness from the center of the frame to the edges. Flare control and chromatic aberrations are well controlled and the bokeh is silky smooth.

Sony 135mm f1.8 GM : Roger Cicala from tested the Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM lens and said: “This is the sharpest lens we’ve tested. Period. (At last count, that’s out of 300+ lenses tested.) Roger isn’t the only person to praise this lens, many reviewers are saying that this is the sharpest lens that they have ever laid hands on.

Sony FE 100mm F2.8 STF GM OSS : This is a very unique lens and the only Sony FE lens that includes a built in apodization (APD) filter. This is basically a clear glass filter that gets progressively darker the further away from the center of the lens, with the greatest effect when shooting at the maximum aperture.

Sony 85mm f1.8 : If the price of the Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM lens is a little hard to stomach then the Sony FE 85mm F1.8 is an excellent lens and less than half the price of the G Master. Although not quite as sharp as the 85mm F1.4 GM, it’s not far off. Also the autofocus is also suprizingly faster than the GM!

My choice is the Sony 85mm f1.8, I’m happy. It is light portable and convenient. If I have to re-pick I would choose the Samyang/ Rokinon 85mm f1.4

The Telephoto lenses

Here the options are kind of limited. The majority of them are the Sony native lenses :

  1. Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS (review)
  2. Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS (review)
  3. Sony FE F4.5-5.6 100-400mm G Master (review)
  4. Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 Di III VXD (review)

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS : A very good lens. Many use it also as a portrait lens. It is a king but with two negatives. Firstly his price (around 2500$) and secondly his weight. Otherwise, It is a solid option for every Sony shooter.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS : Before the arrival of his GM brother this lens make company many professionals. Not so fast autofocus but from a landscape perspective its a good investment.

Sony FE F4.5-5.6 100-400mm G Master: The lens is weather-sealed against dust and moisture and I had no issues with condensation even in Borneo which was extremely hot and humid. Sharpness across the frame is excellent and DxOMark rate this as the sharpest lens in the 100-400mm focal range. The lens is compatible with both the Sony FE 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters, helping to extend its reach up to 560mm with the 1.4x and up to 800mm with the 2x.

Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 Di III VDX : The newly released Tamron continues in the successful steps of his younger brothers. Many people compare it with the 70-200 GM. If you are a shooter who likes portraits/ baptism/ marriages then I believe you should get it rather than the Sony GM version.

My choice? Of course the Sony FE F4.5-5.6 100-400mm G Master. Its a perfect lens with a very useful range.

Everyone is looking to build his arsenal in order to cover a big range for every needs. As for me, my holy trinity consists of:

  1. Batis 18mm f2.8
  2. Sony 24-105mm G OSS f4
  3. Sony 85mm f1.8
  4. Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM

Do I need another lens? Definitely. We are leaving in a marketing era after all. The two Sigma lenses stated above catch my attention. Both the 14-24mm f2.8 and the 24-70mm f2.8 are under my radar in the near future. Until then, I’m waiting to hear your thoughts.

Harris Kiakotos

I am a Captain on Oil Tanker vessels and a photo enthusiast. I follow my photography passion and I will reply to any inquiry you may have. As so, do not hesitate to contact him here:

African Wildlife Photos

The Editor of African Wildlife Photos (Photography Blog)

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