Sony E-mount Lenses
Sony has been making more and more E-mount lenses for the NEX cameras during the last couple of years, including some fast prime lenses. While the selection of lenses is nowhere close to what Micro Four Thirds has got to offer today, the available lenses do cover a broad range from wide angle to telephoto. Here is a list of all current lenses for the E-mount by Sony:
- Sony 10-18mm f/4 OSS
- Sony 16mm f/2.8
- Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS
- Sony 24mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E
- Sony 30mm f/3.5 Macro
- Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS
- Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS
- Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS
- Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS
- Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS
With the sensor crop factor of 1.5x, you have to multiply the focal length of each lens by 1.5 to get an equivalent field of view of a full-frame camera. For example, the 55-210mm lens is equivalent to a 82.5-315mm lens, while the 16mm pancake is equivalent to a 24mm lens.
In general, the above Sony E-mount lenses have solid performance characteristics with good overall sharpness and colors. One thing you might have noticed from the above list is “OSS” (Optical Steady Shot) on the last 4 lenses, which means that the lenses are stabilized. This is a disadvantage of the NEX-series cameras – they do not have in-camera image stabilization like Micro 4/3 cameras. While it is understandable that in-camera IS might have resulted in a larger body and could have increased the cost of the camera, I still think Sony should have followed the same approach as in their SLT cameras, which is to use in-camera IS instead of lens-based IS. When working with short focal length lenses, in-camera IS is the way to go, especially when using LCD/EVF for framing shots – see my article on lens stabilization vs camera stabilization to understand the differences. Those shorter focal length lenses also would have greatly benefited from in-camera image stabilization in low-light situations.
As for manual focus, unlike the Nikon 1 lenses, the Sony E-mount lenses feature a manual focus ring for smoother and more precise MF operation. Once you put the camera into manual focus mode through the “Camera” menu, you can configure the camera to automatically zoom in when the focus ring is turned. I found this feature to be quite useful, because you can combine it with the touchscreen. By selecting an area on the touchscreen to zoom into, you can quickly move the desired focus area.
The cool thing about the Sony NEX mount, is that you can use many different lenses with it, as long as you have an appropriate adapter. You can use the A-mount Lens to NEX Adapter, which will let you autofocus A-mount lenses for both stills and video, or the basic LA-EA1 adapter, which only allows MF operation. There are many other adapters available for using Nikon, Canon, Pentax and even Leica lenses on the NEX cameras.
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