The brand new Sony a6500 has a feature that will make a lot of photographers happy; built-in 5-axis body stabilization.
Simply put, the body of the A6500 will help you stabilize images even if the lens does not feature OSS (Optical Steady Shot). With most other brands, this is done through the lens, but many don’t have stabilization included.
While this is something Sony has been doing for a long time, it’s never been put in an A6000 series camera before. If you own plenty of non-stabilized lenses and want better results at low light photography (such as weddings, night time, indoors, no tripod), you’ll definitely want to upgrade.
This also means you don’t have to pay too much attention to whether a lens you’re about to buy has stabilization, since you’re already covered.
Best lenses on our list:
- Sony E 18-105mm f/4 G OSS
- Sony E 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3
- Rokinon FE 14mm f/2.8
- Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN
- Sony E 50mm f/1.8
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Best Sony Zoom Lenses
If you want to use one good lens and never worry about switching, you can’t go wrong with the Sony 18-105mm f/4 G OSS, it’s perfect for traveling and all-around photography. One thing we really like is the fixed f/4 aperture, even at 105mm. Many cheap zoom lenses get smaller as you zoom longer, leaving you with either choosing a longer shutter speed or higher ISO. For anything wideangle, Sony 10-18mm f/4-5.6 is your widest zoom choice but it’s far from affordable, which is why you might prefer a prime lens.
For wildlife, sports and action your best option is the Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3, as the crop factor of A6500 makes it even longer. If you’re looking for something even longer then Sony 70-300mm f/4-5.6 will do the job, with better quality and aperture values.
Now let’s take a better look at all of our recommended lenses.
Sony 18-105 f/4 G OSS
Ideal high quality all-around lens, great reach and image quality – See all reviews
If you just want a zoom lens that you can take anywhere and also be able to shoot anything from landscape, streets, to kids and sports, check out the Sony 18-105mm f/4 G OSS. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your kit lens or bought the A6500 body only, the 18-105mm range is what the majority of us use daily.
While many big zooms tend to be barely acceptable when it comes to quality, the 18-105mm is the opposite. From 18 to 105mm it delivers great, sharp images with rich colors, and stays at a fixed f/4 aperture so it’s usable in low light situations.
For even more reach, there’s Sony 18-200mm f/4.5-6.3 but it costs more, is bigger and weighs more and has a smaller aperture at 200mm. Personally I’d go with the 18-105mm unless you specifically need the extra reach over better aperture values and quality. All in all, it’s a lens you can count on using in any given situation without carrying a ton of weight, so it’s the ideal travel lens as well.
Sony E 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3
Best budget telephoto lens for sports, wildlife and action – See all reviews
Wildlife and sports photography are both very exciting, but the majority of super telephoto lenses cost as much as a few A6500’s together. If you’re not looking for extreme lengths and just want a good all-around telephoto, the Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 gives you that and actually delivers good results.
Since the A6500 is an APS-C camera though, its field of view actually gets you 1.5x closer with any lens that you put on. This means that the 55-210mm is actually equivalent to a 82-315mm lens. Mounting on a Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS would get you even closer, but at a higher price.
The range of this lens is enough for casual sports, races, trips to the zoo and even some wildlife. However, one of the reasons it’s so affordable is because at 210mm, the minimum aperture is f/6.3, so while it’s perfectly good for outdoor photography, you will definitely need to raise the ISO when it gets darker. The A6500 is quite solid when it comes to high ISO performance, and the built-in stabilization will also help you when shooting with slow shutter speeds, but this all depends on what kind of a shot you’re looking to get.
Best Sony Prime Lenses
While Sony’s zoom lens choice isn’t as broad as we’d like, you’re totally covered when it comes to prime lenses. For portraits, weddings, or overall high quality images, we totally recommend the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC. It’s sharper than your sharpest kitchen knife, affordable, compact and all the good stuff. There’s also the Sony E 50mm f/1.8 if you want to get closer to your subject and get better looking bokeh.
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN
Best for portraits, low light and general photography – See all reviews
If there’s a lens we absolutely love, it’s the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC. It’s extremely sharp and is actually one of the sharpest lenses available for Sony’s E-mount, it also focuses very quickly and is perfect if you want to get professional like quality shots with blurred background.
The bokeh is also quite good thanks to 9 rounded aperture blades (the more, the nicer bokeh) which is a big plus for portrait photography, or whenever you’re looking for that shallow depth of field look. There’s also the Sony 35mm f/1.8 designed for E-mount cameras as well, but it’s around $100 more expensive and not as sharp as our Sigma winner.
Sigma’s 30mm is brilliant for almost all types of photography, and if you’re simply looking for a compact, light lens that you can use for animals, streets, portraits, general shooting, night time etc., it’s a perfect choice.
Sony 50mm f/1.8
Best for portraits, low light, general photography – See all reviews
Like the 35mm above, the Sony E 50mm f/1.8 is a prime lens with a focal length good for all sorts of photography, from weddings, people, indoor/parties, streets and so on. It’s quite similar to the 35mm except that it gets you 15mm closer, which can make a big difference depending on your style.
If you have a zoom that goes up to 50mm, spend some time shooting at both lengths and see which one you prefer. The 35mm may be more appropriate as a do-it-all lens because of A6500’s crop factor, which makes the 35mm equivalent to 52mm and the 50mmm to a 75mm lens. With the 50mm f/1.8, bokeh also looks better due to the longer length, while AF speed and quality are more or less the same.
Rokinon 14mm f/2.8
Best for landscape, sky, night time and nature photography – See all reviews
The Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 is a manual focus lens, but you’ll rarely need auto focus at such wide angles because the wider the lens, the more is in focus automatically. It’s got a built-in lens hood to reduce the flaring, and it also features multi-layer coating. 14mm is great for capturing as much as possible in your scene, including architecture, seascape, sky photography and more.
With f/2.8 you’re ready to shoot indoors as well, and the A6500’s built-in stabilization will help you in all conditions.