Favorite Sony E Mount Lenses (So Far)

One of the more common questions I get asked is about my gear. Its tough to answer because I am constantly trying out new gear. Either looking for equipment that fits my skill set best or testing out focal lengths that I haven’t shot at before. A little over a year into shooting Sony I have tested out a dozen different lenses but wanted to feature my five favorites.

It was hard deciding on just 5 but I did so based on my shooting style. So while this applies to how I shoot it might not for everyone out there. For example, I absolutely loved both the 85mm G Master and the 85mm f/1.8. But, I don’t shoot at that focal length much and prefer a bit wider of a lens.

In this post I will talk a bit about my experience with the lens, what I feel its best used for, and if the lens might be a good fit for you. I have also made some sample galleries to view for each lens so you can get a good idea on what types of images you can capture with the lens.

I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions in the comments. If you have any suggestions for lens’s I should try out or would like me to review I am always up for suggestions!

So, in no particular order, my top 5 lenses are:

  1. Sony 24-70mm G Master f/2.8

  2. Sony 70-200mm f/4

  3. Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4

  4. Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4

  5. Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8

(Note: all of these were shot on my Sony A7iii and editing style might vary some because I’m constantly changing how I edit.)

  1. Sony 24-70 G Master f/2.8

Simply put, the 24-70 G Master is a beaut! This was the lens I bought when I first picked up my A7iii. I wanted something that was versatile but had the 2.8 aperture for portraits. At the time Sony didn’t have many options so I had to suck it up and pay the $2,200 for the lens. Which, I’d say is the biggest negative for this lens. Being my first time using Sony I had to adjust to editing the Sony files but boy this thing is sharp! I was blown away with the details and how clean the RAW files were.

 
Joelle in Olympic National Park  ISO 500 - 35mm - 1/200th sec

Joelle in Olympic National Park

ISO 500 - 35mm - 1/200th sec

 

Once I got a handle on the color science and how to use Sony files (they are much more flat that my Canon Mark III’s files were. Which is a good thing just took time to learn) I absolutely loved this lens. The A7iii does really well in low light so I was able to bump up the ISO if the 2.8 aperture wasn’t quite bright enough. The bokeh on the lens is awesome and never worried about distortion. I ended up selling it because of cheaper options and needed the extra money at the time.

I honestly don’t really have any negatives for the lens other than it is a bit heavy and its price point at $2,200 USD is pretty steep. Wish I could go more in depth but there isn’t much more to say other than its a beast and loved it.

You should buy this if:

  • You’re not broke

  • You need something with versatility

  • You need a weather sealed lens

  • You shoot landscapes, portraits, weddings, lifestyle and commercial work

  • You want to travel light and only bring one lens with you

  • Yeah, pretty much get this if you have the money

Sample Images

 

2. Sony 70-200 f/4

I got this mainly to use for my weddings and engagement shoots. Initially, I was worried about the f/4 for portraits since there was a pretty drastic difference between the f/2.8 version and f/4 version for Canon. But I can honestly say that at no point owning this lens did I ever feel the need to upgrade to the Sony 70-200 G Master.

 
80mm f/4 ISO 320 1/1250 sec

80mm f/4 ISO 320 1/1250 sec

 

I’m a huge fan of using longer lens’s for landscapes. They are great for tricking people into thinking the location you’re at is way more epic than it actually is. Plus, when you show up to National Parks you don’t have to feel left out being the only one crowded around a small stretch of water not rocking a 70-200 on a tripod.

Definitely a quality lens that I would highly recommend to anyone thinking about getting it. I haven’t used the 70-200 G Master, and I’m sure it is a little nicer, but for 1/2 the cost this 70-200 f/4 does everything you need it to without sacrificing much quality.

You should buy this if:

  • You need a telephoto lens and don’t have $2,600 to shell out

  • You shoot weddings

  • You are like me and love shooting landscapes with a longer lens

  • You can get away with the IS in camera for Sony and don’t need a lens with IS

  • You don’t mind an f/4 aperture

Sample Images

3. Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4

Not going to lie here, the Sigma 35 has a special place in my heart. It was my first love and the only lens for long time on Canon. For me Sigma Art 35 is like that ex you keep going back to and can’t seem to stay away from. I keep trying to give other lenses chances but she pulls me right back in. Like I’ll be on a shoot and think “If only I had that Sigma 35 right now things would be so much better”. But really, I don’t think you will be disappointed by this lens at all.

I absolutely love the cinematic feel Sigma Lenses produce. For me, the 35 focal length is the perfect balance between portraits and lifestyle. Its wide but not too wide and why its my go-to focal length for prime lenses.

This set I shot below was all with the Sigma 35 and you can see how it gives this natural feel and you can really use it in a way that puts your audience in that moment with you. I also love a shallow depth of field.

These images of Brytny were shot at f/1.8 ISO 100 1/1600th sec.

The Sigma Art line has gotten some negative feedback with calibration issues for Canon and Nikon. But, with the eye AF for Sony I never had focusing issues.

I have tried the Sony Zeiss 35mm and really couldn’t tell the difference in sharpness and personally liked the feel from the Sigma lens over the Zeiss. If I had to chose one lens to carry with me for portraits and lifestyle it would be the Sigma Art 35.

You should buy this if :

  • You’re looking for a killer prime that you can do lifestyle and portrait shooting with

  • You like to shoot in low light

  • You’re looking to save some cash and don’t care about weather sealing

  • You only have money for one lens and don’t like zooms

  • You want to challenge yourself to only one focal length and get creative with it

Sample Images

 

4. Sigma Art 50 f/1.4

This was my first time ever using a 50mm and I have to admit I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. It has the the same characteristics as I mentioned with the 35mm as far as the feel you get from the Sigma Art Lenses.

I wanted to try this out for portraits and commercial work. I needed something that would be a bit tighter than the 35 but not quite as long of a focal length as an 85mm. The 50mm length isn’t quite wide enough as I would like for lifestyle but if you mainly focus on portrait shooting I don’t think you can go wrong with this lens.

Above is a comparison between the Sigma Art 50mm and Sigma Art 35mm lens’s. You can see the 35 is just a bit wider but both work perfect for portraits. It would just be a personal preference that that point. The lens is pretty large so if you are looking for something lightweight this might not be the best choice. I haven’t used any other 50mm lens from Sony yet but I was highly impressed with this Sigma Art version.

You should buy this if:

  • You shoot mainly portraits

  • You prefer 50mm compared to 35mm

  • You have other lenses in your bag and need a go-to portrait lens

  • 85mm is too tight of a shot for you

Sample Images

 

5. Tamron 28-75 f/2.8

I was skeptical at first on getting this lens. I had heard a lot of hype around it but had to see it with my own eyes. At $850 it is almost 1/3 the price as the Sony 24-70 G Master. When I bought this I only had my 35mm and needed a lens with versatility that wouldn’t break the bank. To my surprise, this lens is actually really, really, nice. It is not quite on the G Master level but it’s not far off and especially for the price point.

 
Hannah shot at 35mm f/3.2 ISO 250 1/250th sec

Hannah shot at 35mm f/3.2 ISO 250 1/250th sec

 

So far, I haven’t minded the wide end being 28mm instead of 24mm. It’s focusing is great and have really enjoyed the colors it produces. The focus and zoom rings are backwards compared to most lenses which took some getting use to. The lens also doesn’t have a manual focus switch on it which is a bit of a bummer but overall it has been really nice.

Compared to what I noticed on the G Master is it struggles a little more in low light but it is much lighter. These guys are hard to find to because of the price point and quality of the lens. If you’re debating getting one but were skeptical like I was, don’t be. This lens is a steal at $850 and I expect to see more and more photographers start to carry it in their bags.

You should buy this if:

  • You’re balling on a budget…..like me

  • You need something with versatility

  • You don’t mind 28mm compared to 24mm

  • You don’t care about not having a manual focus switch

  • You are looking for a lightweight travel lens that is good for landscapes and portraits

  • You find it used anywhere and its in good condition because that’s an even more of a steal

  • Your apartment is decorated from Target and it looks damn good and you could care less its not from a high end furniture store

Sample Images

My Gear & The Switch to Sony

 
Alexis shot using the Sony A7iii with Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 at 35mm, ISO 125, f/1.6, 1/1250th/sec

Alexis shot using the Sony A7iii with Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 at 35mm, ISO 125, f/1.6, 1/1250th/sec

 

I get quite a few DM's asking me about what camera/lens's I use. So I wanted to write a quick review over my current setup and my impressions switching from Canon to Sony.

Currently, my setup is :

  • Sony A7iii
  • Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 Sony E Mount
  • Sony G Master 24-70 f/2.8
  •  Sony 70-200 f/4

(I  just recently purchased the Sigma Art 35mm for Sony E mount a week ago and have only done the shoot with Alexis with it but I love it so far. The Sigma Art 35mm was my go to lens with Canon so was really excited to test it out and see how it compared to the Canon version. I'll give a more in depth review when I'm able to test it out a bit more but here are some sample images below from it with a few of my different presets applied.)

 
Alexis shot using the Sony A7iii with Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 at 35mm, ISO 125, f/1.6, 1/1000th/sec

Alexis shot using the Sony A7iii with Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 at 35mm, ISO 125, f/1.6, 1/1000th/sec

 
 
Alexis shot using the Sony A7iii with Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 at 35mm, ISO 125, f/2, 1/500th/sec

Alexis shot using the Sony A7iii with Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 at 35mm, ISO 125, f/2, 1/500th/sec

 

Now, to get to why I switched from Canon to Sony. I know it's kind of been a hot topic around photography circles about Sony and mirrorless being the cameras to beat so I wanted to put my two cents into the conversation. Full disclosure, as well, I am not apart of the Sony Alpha Ambassador team so I am not being sponsored to write this but is my honest opinion between the two. Also, this is going to not go into the specs as there is plenty of other resources out there for that. But more so wanted to give a review based on my style of shooting and what I liked and didn't like about the camera systems.

I'll admit, it was really hard for me to make the switch as I loved and still do love Canon's colors. The warm tones I was a big fan of and how accurate the skin tones came out. But, the Canon 5D Mark III lacked the video capabilities I was looking for and it seemed that Canon was lagging in keeping up with new and improved technology. My hands also tend to get shaky after long hikes and in high elevations so I was looking for something that had IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization). Another reason looking to switch was the improved AF system with the newer cameras.

At first, I was hesitant to try Sony as I had heard some negative reviews about skin tones and doing a lot of portrait work those are obviously important to me. So, I decided to give Fuji a go as the reviews on the new XH-1 were great and the camera was affordable at $2,000 and Fuji was known for its awesome color science.

My first impressions of the Fuji were great. The AF was way more accurate than my Canon and it had a super silent shutter that sounded like it had a silencer on it. But, the colors I couldn't quite figure out. That is not saying they were bad but just way different than my Canon and any warm colors tended to turn out more yellow/gold/purple than a darker orange/brown. It was also APS-C which I couldn't quite get used to coming from full frame. There is for sure a difference with the depth of field between the two. Most of my portraits are shot between f/1.6 & f/2.8 so the DOF was important to me.

I heard about the Sony A7iii being released in April and how Sony had updated it's color science. So, I traded in my XH-1 and purchased the Sony A7iii with the 24-70 f/2.8 G Master lens. (Below are some Fuji samples)

 
Justine shot using Fuji XH-1 w/ Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 at 23mm, ISO 1600, f/2, 1/640th/sec

Justine shot using Fuji XH-1 w/ Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 at 23mm, ISO 1600, f/2, 1/640th/sec

 
 
HB shot using Fuji XH-1 w/ Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 at 23mm, ISO 320 , f/1.6, 1/1600th/sec

HB shot using Fuji XH-1 w/ Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 at 23mm, ISO 320 , f/1.6, 1/1600th/sec

 

Right out of the gate I fell in love with the Sony A7iii. The eye AF blew my mind how accurate it was. Out of 100 photos I might have 2 or 3 out of focus where my Canon that number would be closer to 15 (yes I know the Art lens's are known for mis focusing). With my Canon Mark III I mainly shot on Sigma Primes. I owned the Sigma Art 35mm, 24mm and 20mm lens's. I tend to shoot quite a bit in low light so have the fast 1.4 aperture came in handy. However, when I first purchased my Sony in April 2018 all the primes on the market cost a pretty penny and didn't have the ability to buy multiple of them. So, I went with the 24-70, which is also quite expensive but delivered the versatility I needed.

It took some getting used to with the EVF (electronic view finder) but once you get the hang of it you learn to love it. The big question though was how are the skin tones? Honestly, at first, I kept seeing the yellow/green tint in the skin tones that I had heard about from other Canon users. Not sure if that was my subconscious looking for it or just the fact that the colors are different from Canon's and my eyes weren't used to it. But, after a few tweaks messing with some camera settings and learning how to edit the files in Lightroom that worry quickly went away. It definitely can be frustrating at first switching camera systems and trying to figure out how the colors work in Lightroom but you get the hang of it pretty quick. The key is spending some time messing with the HSL and Camera Calibration to get the colors where you like them. I'll also note the Sony colors were much closer to Canon than the Fuji colors.

The Sony A7iii  performs awesome in low light/high ISO situations. Below you can see a photo of Bayley and her Westy that was shot at 4,000 ISO. Normally, I wouldn't shoot that high of ISO but I was still getting used the camera controls and had my shutter speed and ISO buttons backwards, whoops. But, you can still see how sharp the image is with very little noise. This was not the case with my Canon as I would usually see quite a bit in the images if I shot about 1600 ISO.

 
Bayley shot using the Sony A7iii with the 24-70 f/2.8 G Master at 70 mm, 4,000 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1,000th/sec

Bayley shot using the Sony A7iii with the 24-70 f/2.8 G Master at 70 mm, 4,000 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1,000th/sec

 

Next, you can see an image I took of Joelle in a harsh lighting situation at Ruby Beach. The camera did an amazing job of being able to bring out details in the shadows and keeping the skin tones looking great. I wanted to test this out as sometimes the dynamic range in my Canon struggled to preserve the skin tones in harsh lighting situations. I don't usually shoot in harsh light but it is definitely good to know how your camera handles in those situations.

 
Joelle shot using the Sony A7iii with the 24-70 f/2.8 G Master at 70mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/400th/sec

Joelle shot using the Sony A7iii with the 24-70 f/2.8 G Master at 70mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/400th/sec

 

The in camera stabilization has also proved to be extremely helpful, especially when it is low light and I need to bring down my shutter speed. Low light is bread and butter so having a camera that in which I am able to keep my ISO down in those situations thanks being able to lower my shutter speed has been awesome.

Overall it's been extremely impressive and given me everything my Canon did and more. Yes, the colors are different than Canon's but I think it's very attainable to get a similar feel to your photos as your Canon images. Going into weddings and shoots where the subject might be moving I feel much more confident with the Sony than I ever did with my Canon thanks to the eye AF and IBIS.

Alexis shot using the Sony A7iii with Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 at 35mm, ISO 500, f/1.6, 1/1000th/sec

Alexis shot using the Sony A7iii with Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 at 35mm, ISO 500, f/1.6, 1/1000th/sec

There was nothing necessarily wrong with my Canon but I was just looking for a few things that my 5D Mark III didn't offer. So while Sony is the right choice for me it might not necessarily be for you. I recommend if you're looking to possible switch rent one and see what you think. Don't be quick to judge the editing as that will come with time. Every camera systems colors will be slightly different and the dynamic range is also different. So the way you might be editing your Canon or Nikon photos wont be how you will edit Sony and vice versa. But, see how you like the EVF, if the eye AF will be a major help for you and even if you like the way the camera feels. It's quite a bit smaller than a DSLR so see if you like the way it feels in your hands.

I hope this was helpful and please feel free to ask any questions you might have in the comments or shoot me an email. I'd also gladly go more in depth in another post if there is anything specific anyone would like me to talk about further.

 

Below I have added some sample galleries for you to look at some Canon and Sony images

Note that most of my Sony images are at f/2.8 or higher while most of my Canon are at f/2 or below. I also have a much greater diversity with my Canon images as I had it for a few years compared to a few months with my Sony. I'll provide an update as soon as I get some more use out of the Sigma Art 35mm for Sony E Mount.  

 

Sony A7iii

 

Canon 5D Mark III

Five Things I Have Learned 6 Months Into Freelance Life

A common question I get asked is "what made me decide to go freelance? I bet it's scary". To answer the scary part, yeah, it definitely was and still is. I mean when you put it into perspective, there is no security blanket to fall back on, and you are 1000% betting on yourself. But, it also has been the most rewarding 6 months in my professional career so far. I know that I am building on something that directly represents me and what I'm about. So here are some things I have learned and advice to anyone who is potentially looking to make the jump.

 
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1.) Be Honest With Yourself

Best piece of advice I can give to anyone who is thinking about quitting their job and looking to go into a freelance position is to be completely honest with yourself and if this is what you are looking for. What I mean by this is, that know if you can handle uncertainty, and be in a constant state of flux when you start. You are not going to have a steady paycheck every two weeks, and there really isn't a "routine" to everyday life. You are essentially the artist, marketer, accountant, sales rep and customer service manager all in one. So you need to be prepared to learn about all of those on top of the actual creating aspect. Its stressful, but awesome. Personally, I'm thankful for my sports background that made me a highly competitive person in which I refuse to settle for becoming average, or just getting by. I think you need to have that mentality of wanting to be the best and not letting anyone tell you different. If you have that,then I think you'll love and thrive in the freelance life. 

 
 
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2.) Freelance is so much more than creating

One of the toughest things I have had to learn is that you have to be just as good at business, as you are at creating. Looking at peers who are also in the freelance world, those who are succeeding are the ones who are great at running a business. People will try to take advantage of you and not pay you what your worth, which is just how the world works. If you can buy something cheaper, you're not going to say no, right? So it's important to know your value and the value you are providing for companies, and quality of work you are providing for others. A common frustration among most photographers/artists I talk to is that our skill set is not valued in the way it should be. It takes years of practice, time and money to gain the knowledge and skill to become a professional and it's important that you understand your value. Know image rights, contracts, etc. This will all help make you look more professional and also save yourself from being taken advantage of.

 
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3.) Sometimes you need to spend more to get more back

When I first started, I came in with a "don't spend any money" mindset. But, I quickly realized that me being cheap and not paying for quality or for someone else to handle a task for me, was actually costing me more money and time. Instead of paying someone with a graphic design background to help me with something I would try to do it myself.  Two days later I'd be right where I started and essentially wasted all of that time I could have spent on other aspects of my business. So sometimes it's best to just bite the bullet as it will save you a lot of time and headaches down the road. Once you get a steady income flow and want to learn more about whatever aspect you are outsourcing then great. But starting off its important to get the ball rolling and not be stagnant.

 
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4.) You're a professional, act like it

If you want to be taken seriously, you can't approach clients like you're just some bro off the streets with a camera. Build a website, create quality business cards, make a professional email address. Don't keep your old gmail address you have from middle school. If a client receives an email from hotchic72@gmail.com pretty sure you will have a hard time being taken seriously. First impression is so pivotal when it comes to anything in life. It's important that clients know you mean business and you're not an amateur. So take pride in your work and your company. 

 
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5.) Failing is not a bad thing

You will be turned down, and a great idea you had will not work out the way you planned. But, this isn't bad and you shouldn't get down on yourself about it. Life is all about learning and take "failure" as a chance to learn and better yourself. Nobody is perfect and a pitch you had that worked with one client might not work with another. This is just how the business goes, but it is no reason to become discouraged. Believe in yourself and know that you are great at what you do. People have obviously taken notice of your talents to make you take the leap or give you the thought if you should or not. Know you are talented, and if someone says no to you, then just bust your tail to make sure that when they see your work next, they realize they should have said yes.