lenses for sony cameras

Which lens to choose for your Sony video camera?

Looking for a good piece of glass for your Sony video camera? I’m in the same situation. I own a Sony FS5 and FS7 (and an A7rii) and I’m looking for a great quality lens.

I would love to have a lens with aperture 1.4, stabilisation, autofocus, a range of 16 ~ 200, parfocal, no breathing… That lens simply does not exist. Add to that another problem: there are way too many lens options nowadays. They all have their positives and negatives.

Solution: a comprehensive overview. Hence I wrote this blogpost with a summary of lenses available for native Sony E mount and usable for video work. This is not a list for the best photo lens.

Choosing a lens

Aan het werk, filmenWhen choosing a lens for video operation I think there are 4 main questions to be asked:

  • Are you looking for a zoom lens or a prime lens?
  • Do you need autofocus capabilities, image stabilisor or is a manual lens ok?
    • Autofocus is very usefull when filming with A7 camera’s on a gimbal, or if you’re in a hurry
    • Manual lenses are the best for tripod shooting
    • Stabiliser are needed for handheld
  • What minimum aperture do you need? Will f/4.0 do or is f/1.4 required?
    • The lower the f-stop, the more light sensitive and shallower the DoF, but at the price of sharpness
  • What is your maximum budget?

The list: what you need to know

Only lenses I deem suitable for video work are on this list. Not the ‘usual’ photo lenses. Information is based from manufacturers and review websites. Most lenses are for S35mm sensor (or cropped sensor use). For more and detailed info go to the manufacturers website.

Consult this list to filter through the available options. It is always best to go out and test a lens before you decide to buy. Go to a shop or rent the lens for a weekend. If you have any questions or remarks please feel ree to use the comment section down below.

Sony PZ video zoom lenses

These are the original kit lenses that came with the FS5 and FS7. They are designed to work with these camera’s.
Especially the 18-110 is an excellent fit, good quality, and should be the first zoom lens you want on the FS5 or FS7.
Downside: aperture goes only to f/4.0 so it is not really a winner in low light. 

Sony 18-110

E PZ 18–110 mm F4 G OSS

The defacto goto lens for Sony video camera’s. Excellent for FS7 and FS5. This is the first lens you should buy. 

  • Autofocus (switchable to manual)
  • Image stabilisation
  • Parfocal and low breathing
  • Excellent range
  • Integrated lens-cap
  • Aperture only f/4
4/5
  • Price $3450

Sony 28-135

FE PZ 28-135mm F4 G OSS

Previous version of the general video lens. Is followed up by the newer 18-110. There is no reason why you want this lens. Zoom by wire is annoying, range is not wide enough for a zoom.

  • Autofocus (switchable to manual)
  • Image stabilisation
  • Parfocal and low breathing
  • Clumsy range (not wide enough)
  • Aperture only f/4
  • Zoom by wire
  • Previous model
2.5/5
  • Price $2450

Sony 28-105

E PZ 18–105 mm F4 G OSS

El cheapo budget version of a zoom lens. Comes with the FS5 kit. Generally considered mediocre quality. It is lightweight but the quality is not convincing. Has focus and zoom by wire, meaning you can never get the manual focus right.

  • Autofocus
  • Image stabilisation
  • Not parfocal
  • Aperture only f/4
  • Zoom and focus by wire (annoying)
  • Mediocre quality
1/5
  • Price $575

Fujinon MK zoom lenses

Surprisingly lightweight zoom cinema lenses. Excellent image quality. Good handling, large rings, long focus throw, 0.8 gears for follow focus.
Has backfocus adjustment and macro function. T-stops. Fully manual: lacking autofocus possibilities or image stabilisation.

Fujinon MK 18-55 T2.9

Excellent full manual zoom lens. Parfocal, wide, great Fujinon lens quality, build like a tank and still lightweight. This is almost the holy grail in affordable cinema zoom lenses for Sony video cameras. Unfortunately no autofocus, no stabiliser.

  • Excellent image quality
  • Aperture f/2.8
  • Parfocal and low breathing
  • Excellent range
  • Macro function
  • Superb handling
  • No autofocus
  • No image stabilisation
4.5/5
  • Price $3799

Fujinon MK 50-135mm T2.9

The semi-tele version of the MK lens. Also great quality, parfocal, no breathing, F/2.8. if you consider zoom lenses and can work manually than the MK serie should be top of your list. The range is a little less usable. 

  • Excellent image quality
  • Aperture f/2.8
  • Parfocal and low breathing
  • Macro function
  • Superb handling
  • No autofocus
  • No image stabilisation
3.5/5
  • Price $3999

Zeiss Loxia prime lenses

Serie of small prime lenses with great image quality. Zeiss look & feel. Fully manual. 
Small and lightweight but handling can be awkward due to small rings close to the mount.
Demounting is a bit difficult. Declickable aperture ring. Minimum aperture differs for each lens.

Loxia 21 2.8

3.5/5
  • Price $1275

Loxia 25 2.4

3/5
  • Price $1299

Loxia 35 2.0

3/5
  • Price $1100

Loxia 50 2.0

3.5/5
  • Price $800

Loxia 85 2.4

2.5/5
  • Price $1190
  • Excellent image quality
  • Aperture between f/2.0 and f/2.8
  • Declicked
  • No autofocus
  • No image stabilisation
  • Awkward handling

SLR Magic MicroPrime cine lenses

SLR Magic is not a well known brand but they have a great range of cine lenses for multiple mounts. It is said their HyperPrime lenses are their best offering (with APO glass), but a bit bulky and originally for PL mount (with other mounts as an option). The cheaper Cine serie has some critical reviews around the internet about sharpness (or lack of it). The fairly new MicroPrime serie is an interesting and affordable one: these lenses are made for Sony E mount. They are fully manual, build from metal, low aperture, T-stops, internal focussing and every lens has the same dimensions and weight. Markings on the lens are only in feet, unfortunately not available in meters. Recently they added a 18mm as well

SLR MagicPrime 25 1.5

4/5
  • Price $800

SLR MagicPrime 35 1.3

4/5
  • Price $800

SLR MagicPrime 50 1.2

4/5
  • Price $800

SLR MagicPrime 75 1.5

4/5
  • Price $800
  • Great image quality
  • Aperture already from f/1.2
  • Large rings, has gears, good handling
  • Strong build
  • Markings only in feet, not in meters
  • No autofocus
  • No image stabilisation

Veydra prime lenses for EF mount

Originally designed for MFT mount, these Veydra lenses are rebuild for Sony E mount. They are small and only cover S35 mm sensor. 
They have 0.8 gears, handling the lens is really good, T-stops, every lens is 2.2. Fully manual.
A direct competitor to the Zeiss Loxia serie, with the big difference that these lenses are designed for cinema/video use.
Not available in every store.

Veydra 19 2.2

3/5
  • Price $1200

Veydra 25 2.2

3/5
  • Price $1200

Veydra 35 2.2

3/5
  • Price $1200

Veydra 50 2.2

3/5
  • Price $1200

Veydra 85 2.2

3.5/5
  • Price $1200
  • Great image quality
  • Aperture f/2.2
  • Large rings, has gears, good handling
  • No autofocus
  • No image stabilisation
  • Not available everywhere
  • Company has troubles with supply and service
  • Wider Veydra lenses (12mm, 16mm) suffer from vignetting

Sony GM serie zoom lenses

The new generation of high quality lenses from Sony is labelled with an orange G. Intended first for photography, these lenses are usefull for videographers as well. Full frame, aperture f/2.8 (controlled via the camera) and excellent optics. The focus ring is electronically coupled with the focus motor: fly-by-wire and without witness markings. Though not ideal it is said to be workable. The GM lenses should be very good when using on gymbals, stabilizers and on autofocus. Especially the 16-35 is made for wide shot gymbal work. Expect newer generations of video cameras to have more advanced autofocus systems, this is where these lenses will shine.

FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM

4/5
  • Price $2200

FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

3/5
  • Price $2200

FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM

4/5
  • Price $2600
  • Excellent image quality
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Aperture f/2.8
  • Autofocus
  • Manual focus with fly-by-wire
  • No focus markings
  • No aperture ring
  • No image stabilisation (except the 70-200)

Sony GM serie prime lenses

The GM primes should be the best lenses in terms of picture quality produced by Sony. Tacksharp, nice bokeh, can go to f/1.4 and still lightweight and small. The focus ring is electronically coupled with the focus motor: fly-by-wire and without witness markings. Though not ideal it is said to be workable. The aperture ring is declickable. The longer lenses have image stabilization. During focus the lens is breathing slightly. The GM lenses should be very good when using on gymbals, stabilizers and on autofocus. Expect newer generations of video cameras to have more advanced autofocus systems, this is where these lenses will shine.
I expect more prime lenses in this serie to become available like the 50mm 1.4 GM and 35 1.4 GM.

FE 24mm F1.4 GM

3.5/5
  • Price $1400

FE 85mm F1.4 GM

4/5
  • Price $1800

FE 100mm F1.4 GM

4/5
  • Price $1500
  • Excellent image quality
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Aperture f/1.4
  • Autofocus
  • Image stabilization (for 85mm and 100mm)
  • Declickable aperture ring)
  • Manual focus with fly-by-wire
  • No focus markings
  • Breathing

Rokinon XEEN Cine lenses (for Sony E mount)

The Rokinon XEEN are lenses are real cinema lenses. They are a rebuild from their vdslr lens serie. They are big, bulky, heavy, robust, have the same front diameter, 0.8 gears for follow focus, completely manual, no breathing, no stabilization. These are not your typical  run & gun lenses. But for a cinema lens they are really affordable and offer a great value. Better glass is on the market but for this price it is a good deal.

There are multiple focal lengths available:

  • 14mm  $1500
  • 16mm $1500
  • 20mm  $1500
  • 24mm  $1500
  • 35mm $1500
  • 50mm $1500
  • 85mm  $2000
  • 135mm $1500
  • Great image quality
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Aperture ranging from t/3.1 to t/1.5
  • Robust and affordable
  • No breathing
  • Bulky and heavy
  • No autofocus or stabilization
3/5

This list is not yet complete!

That’s not it! I started writing this list in November 2018. More to come soon:

  • Sigma Art series zooms and primes
  • Sigma cinema lenses
  • Tamron cinema lenses
  • Rokinon/Samyang

If you have any questions or remarks please feel free to use the comment section down below.

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