Sony has quickly become one of the most popular brands for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Their e-mount format covers both APS-C (crop) and full-frame sensor sizes, both of which are great for shooting landscape photography. This article covers the best Sony e-mount lenses for landscape photography in both crop and full-frame formats.
Sony E-Mount APS-C Lenses
Sony’s current APS-C camera lineup includes the a5000, a5100, a6000, a6300, and a6500 cameras. These cameras work best with lenses designed for the APS-C format, especially when looking at ultra-wide angle lenses. Lenses designed specifically for APS-C are also smaller and lighter weight, making them better suited ergonomically for the smaller APS-C bodies. However, there are numerous glaring holes when it comes to lens options for Sony APS-C. As such, some photographers may be forced to look at Sony’s full frame lens options in order to fit their needs.
Best E-Mount APS-C Ultra-Wide Angle Lenses
In APS-C format, I consider an ultra-wide angle lens to be less than or equal 12mm. Every landscape photographer should have an ultra-wide angle lens in their arsenal.
Rokinon (Samyang) 12mm f/2
Typical Price: $399
Manufactured as Rokinon here in the States, and as Samyang everywhere else, this is my personal favorite ultra-wide lens. The Rokinon / Samyang 12mm f/2 is a rather “cheap” lens price-wise, but optically it is nearly on-par with the more-expensive Zeiss 12mm Touit. It is manual focus only, and lacks digital communication with the camera body, accounting for its low price. I personally prefer manual focusing in most cases when shooting wide anyway. It’s f/2 maximum aperture is great for night landscapes. Overall, I think this lens is a fantastic value that shouldn’t be passed up.
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Read my full in-depth review: Rokinon (Samyang) 12mm F/2 Lens Review
Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8
Typical Price: $999
Rent it at: BorrowLenses.com
The Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 is perhaps the top-of-line ultra-wide for Sony APS-C. It is exceptionally sharp, however, the Rokinon 12mm gives it a run for its money. The Rokinon also has a faster aperture. Yet there are two factors that may sway you toward the Touit 12mm. First, the Touit communicates digitally with the camera body. This allows EXIF data to be tracked (as is standard with most digital cameras), but also allows manual focusing to happen using Sony’s in-camera system. If you haven’t done this before, it’s pretty slick, allowing the user to zoom in to 100% to make sure that focusing is accurate. If you’re nervous about using the analog distance scale to focus on the Rokinon 12mm, then the Touit may be a good option for you. Also, the Touit also creates much more attractive sunstars versus the ones created by the Rokinon.
The Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 is a great ultra-wide lens for Sony APS-C cameras. Definitely compare and contrast with the Rokinon 12mm offering and decide which one is best for you.
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Sony 10-18mm f/4 OSS
Typical Price: $848
The Sony 10-18mm F/4 is essentially the only wide-angle zoom available for Sony APS-C E-mount cameras. It is reasonably sharp, and is a little more versatile than the 12mm primes listed above. At it’s widest focal length of 10mm, it is even a bit of a wider angle compared to the others. It’s not as fast, but for landscape photographers, this might not be a deal breaker if you don’t do a lot of night photography. Overall, the Sony 10-18mm is a nice, versatile wide-angle zoom that will fit the needs of many landscape photographers out there.
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Best E-Mount APS-C Mid-Range Zoom Lenses
In the digital age of cameras, the mid-range zoom is likely the most popular, versatile, and usable category of lens. For Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras, this category is surprisingly thin. There are some options to consider, but before you spring for one of these lenses, do consider the mid-range prime category further down.
Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 OSS
Typical Price: $998
The Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70 f/4 ZA OSS is essentially the default option for mid-range zooms in the APS-C category. This is lens I myself use about 95% of the time that I shoot with my Sony a6000. I do think it is a nice lens that comes in a reasonably small package. It handles well, has good build quality, and take reasonably sharp photos. It’s wide-angle to short-telephoto zoom focal range is incredibly versatile (equivalent to 24-105mm in 35mm format). However, it is pricey considering that it is good but not top-notch quality in every category. I do recommend this lens, with only the caveat that I think it is slightly overpriced for ts sharpness and build quality. Definitely take a look at the Tamron 18-200mm below before buying this lens.
Purchase the Sony Vario-Tessar 16-70mm f/4 from these merchants:
Read my full in-depth review: Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Review
Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3
Typical Price: $739
A surprising addition to this list, the Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 is a wide-angle to telephoto zoom that handles a large range of focal lengths with surprising proficiency. As you might expect, its performance does start to suffer as you zoom in, but it’s sharpness is impressive in the wide and normal focal lengths. And it does perform reasonably enough in the telephoto realm that it should be a bona fide candidate to be your one-stop shop to cover both mid-range and telephoto. At $739, it’s not necessarily a fantastic value, but is definitely the best value of any APS-C zoom lens available for Sony E-mount. I’d even venture to say that this is the best all around zoom lens available for Sony APS-C mirrorless.
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Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Typical Price: $298
Before the “pancake” 16-50mm kit lens came to be, the Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 was the standard kit lens for Sony E-mount APS-C mirrorless. It’s not a great lens, and only gets mention because the 16-70mm is rather overpriced. The 18-55mm takes photos almost as sharp as the 16-70, but costs $600 less. However, it also has a shorter focal range, and slower max aperture on the long end. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this over the 16-70mm, but I do think it warrants consideration as a budget option in a thin category.
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Best E-Mount APS-C Mid-Range Prime Lenses
These days it seems that mid-range prime lenses are almost only used by street or portrait photographers. Landscape photographers often prefer the versatility of a zoom because they don’t need the crazy fast apertures of the prime lenses. However, there are some great, affordable prime lenses for Sony E-mount. Since the options are so slim in the mid-range zoom category, I suggest taking a look. Consider that you could buy the 12mm, 19mm, 30mm, and 60mm primes and essentially cover ultra-wide to short-telephoto for about the same cost as buying an ultra-wide plus the pricey 16-70mm zoom. I’ve stuck to the Sigma offerings because they’re sharp and cheap so it would be a waste of money to buy any of the Sony or Zeiss primes.
Sigma 19mm f/2.8
Typical Price: $199
The Sigma 19mm f/2.8 is a nice little wide-angle prime that is very affordably priced at $199 retail. It’s also very sharp and comes in a small package that matches the size of the Sony APS-C bodies very well. It’s build quality is solid but exceptional. Its relatively fast f/2.8 aperture is a nice bonus for those doing night photography as well. Overall, this is a sharp, solid lens that offers a budget-minded landscape photographer a lot of bang for their buck.
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Sigma 30mm f/2.8
Typical Price: $169
Another affordably priced lens, the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 is even cheaper in cost: it’ll only set you back $169. It’s also quite sharp and has a super slim profile it is a great fit for a mirrorless body. Like 19mm, it’s build quality is not fantastic, but for the price, they had to skimp on something. Once again, the fast aperture is great at night. Perhaps another alluring factor for this lens is that it’s a great choice for street photography or taking photos at family gatherings. If you’re a landscape photographer that delves into other types of photography as well, the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 is really a screaming deal.
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Sigma 60mm f/2.8
Typical Price: $239
Now we’re just having deja-vu. Yet another fast and affordable Sigma prime lens. The Sigma 60mm f/2.8 is a short-telephoto lens that hits a nice focal-length that is long, but not so long that you will seldom use. It’s got the fast aperture, which can be nice for night landscapes if you like to shoot long (think city skylines). Like the 30mm above, it also a great choice if you do other types of work on the side. In particular, 60mm on APS-C is a great focal length for shooting portraits. At $239 retail, the 60mm f/2.8 is another fantastic value brought to us by Sigma.
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Best E-Mount APS-C Telephoto Zoom Lenses
Let’s go ahead and say that if you don’t already have a mid-range zoom, and are looking for a telephoto zoom as well, just get the Tamron 18-200mm listed above. It covers the same focal lengths plus more, and is sharper and better in every category compared to the 55-210mm listed below. I’d only look at the Sony 55-210mm if you already have the wide and mid-range covered and you still need a telephoto lens. Even then, you might need to look to Sony’s full frame telephoto offerings to meet your needs.
Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3
Typical Price: $348
Rent it with BorrowLenses.com
Sony’s sole offering in the telephoto zoom category for APS-C is the 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3. This is a decent lens, but being a “consumer” grade zoom lens, it’s sharpness is passable but nowhere near great. And at $348, it’s not necessarily cheap enough to seem like an exceptional value. This lens is only here because it is quite literally the only option for a compact telephoto zoom built for e-mount crop-sensors. You may have to look at the Sony 70-200mm or 70-300mm lenses which are much larger, expensive lenses built to fit the larger full frame mirrorless bodies. But my honest recommendation would be to look at the Tamron 18-200 and bundle your normal and telephoto focal lengths into one solid lens.
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Read my full in-depth review: Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS Lens Review
Sony E-Mount Full Frame Lenses
Sony’s A7 series of full-frame mirrorless cameras has made a splash in the digital camera world. Many landscape photographers are taking advantage of these cameras for their combination of high quality and relatively small size. While the lens options in the APS-C category were often puny, Sony is putting more focus on the full-frame lens line-up. For the most part, there are excellent options in every category for your Sony full-frame mirrorless camera.
Best Full-Frame Ultra-Wide Angle Lenses
You will probably only need this one:
Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS
Typical Price: $1,348
A fantastically sharp ultra-wide zoom, the Sony Vario-Tessar 16-35mm f/4 is probably the only wide angle lens you’ll need for Sony full-frame E-mount. I should probably write a few more paragraphs, but I feel like that’s all I need to say. It’s super wide, it’s super sharp, oh yeah, and it’s weather sealed so just go and buy the darn thing. You might even consider this for your APS-C Sony, although it might feel a little big on the smaller body and it won’t shoot quite as wide. If you want to take advantage of the weather sealing on the a6300 or a6500, you might even be forced to get this bad boy. If you’ve got an A7 series Sony, the Sony Vario-Tessar 16-35mm f/4 is a no-brainer, in my opinion.
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Best Full-Frame Mid-Range Zoom Lenses
A great mid-range zoom is essential to any landscape photographer’s kit, and the E-mount full-frame format is bursting with great options in this range. Once again, this list is designed for landscape photographers, so I’m not even going into zooms with f/2.8 in this section because I think they’re probably not worthy of consideration if you should mostly landscapes.
Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS
Typical Price: $1,198
The “obvious” choice, Sony’s Vario-Tessar 24-70mm f/4 is another lens that is amazingly sharp and built for weather. It solidly fits the classic wide-angle to short telephoto zoom range, and makes a great complement to the 16-35mm f/4. If you’re also looking at the Sony 70-200mm f/4, you might as well just get this one because those three lenses are made to be bought as a set and function together in near harmony. I do recommend at least taking a glimpse at the other two lenses in this section in case they should better fit your style or budget. However, the Sony Vario-Tessar 24-70mm F/4 is a fantastic mid-range zoom that comes with the highest of recommendations.
Sony APS-C shooters with the weather-sealed a6300 or a6500 bodies may want to consider this one as well.
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Sony 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6
Typical Price: $498
The Sony 28-70mm f/3.4-5.6 is Sony’s full-frame “kit” lens that comes bundled with some of the A7 series cameras. Although it doesn’t perform as well or have the same build quality as the 24-70mm, this lens is still a solid performer, and is perfect for a budget-minded photographer delving into the world of Sony full-frame. And to be frank, this lens is still solidly above-average when it comes to sharpness, so it’s not even that much of a down-grade in that department. If you’re considering this lens, definitely strive to find it in the bundle with the camera body, as that makes it an even better value. The Sony A7 and 28-70mm kit is perhaps the strongest mix of quality-to-value-to-weight-savings on the market right now.
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Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3
Typical Price: $998
If you’re a fan of carrying as few lenses as possible, this might be the lens for you! The Sony 24-240 f/3.5-6.3 has a great range, stretching from wide-angle well into telephoto. Match this with the 16-35mm f/4 and probably don’t need anything else (unless you shoot wildlife a lot). Of course, it’s not as quite sharp as the 24-70 f/4, but it will get the job done, especially if you value simplicity and weight savings over pixel-peeping. This lens is yet another great option that straddles the mid-range zoom and telephoto zoom categories.
This is also and interesting option for APS-C shooters as it has quite the reach on the crop format as well as improved sharpness since the softer corners are cropped off. However, I still like the Tamron 18-200mm better for APS-C if only because of its smaller size and weight on the smaller crop bodies.
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Best Full-Frame Telephoto Zoom Lenses
Unless you do a lot of wildlife shooting, most landscape photographers don’t need more than 200-300mm on their long end. As such, I’m not covering anything longer than that. Fortunately, within these parameters, we’ve got a couple fantastic options.
Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS
Typical Price: $1,498
The Sony 70-200mm f/4 is Sony’s sharpest telephoto zoom for the full-frame E-mount format. And it really is amazingly sharp. 70-200mm is a classic focal range for a landscape photog’s telephoto zoom. As such, this is the best option for those that strive for the best image quality and are good with a solid but not super long range. However, if you want something with a little more reach, have a look below.
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Sony 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6
Typical Price: $1,198
Sony added this to it’s arsenal as modern photographers have demanded extra range on their standard telephoto zooms. The Sony 70-300 f/3.5-5.6 offers that extra reach while still maintaining a very respectable level of sharpness. The only real trade-off is the variable aperture, but unless you shoot a lot of wildlife in low-light, you probably won’t even care. This lens is also $300 cheaper than its classy cousin, the 70-200mm f/4. As such, the Sony 70-30mm is definitely great value for its price in this class of lens.
This is also a nice option for APS-C shooters that aren’t content with the Sony 55-210mm, as the 70-300mm offers longer range and much better image quality.
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Having narrowed down the best options for landscape photographers in the realm of Sony E-mount lenses, here is a final thought to consider. I currently shoot with a Sony a6000 as my main body (I like to go as light and small as possible). When I started shooting Sony APS-C a couple years ago, it was known that the lens options were not great, but assumed that Sony would be bringing more to the table. It turns out now that Sony has focused on full-frame (which has a fantastic lens lineup), while the APS-C options are still middling. As such, I recommend that if you have yet to dive into the world of mirrorless and are looking a Sony APS-C system, check out some of the other systems as well. I highly recommend looking at Fujifilm as their APS-C lineup of mirrorless bodies and lenses is their focus, and is more much refined and mature than Sony’s APS-C lineup. I also highly recommend the Olympus and Panasonic micro four-thirds systems for the exact same reasons. Not to say that the Sony APS-C system should be avoided altogether, but the Fujifilm, Olympus, and Panasonic systems do have better lens selections. However, if you are looking at mirrorless full-frame, Sony is the way to go.
Read more in this article: Best Mirrorless Cameras for Landscape Photography.
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