Are you 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 always looking for the next best lens.
I would love to have a lens with aperture 1.4, stabilisation, autofocus, a range of 16 ~ 200, parfocal, no breathing… But such a 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.
How do you choose a lens
- Are you looking for a zoom lens or a prime lens?
- Do you need auto capabilities like autofocus, image stabilizer 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
- Autofocus will become even more important with new cameras like the Sony FX9 and FX6
- Manual lenses are best for precision work
- Stabilization options are good for handheld and run & gun
- 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
- The bigger the sensor of your video camera, the shallower the DoF will become
- What is your maximum budget?
What you need to know about this list
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 or bokeh monster.
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: no autofocus possibilities or image stabilisation. These lenses are for cropped sensor only: will work great on FS5 & FS7 but not full frame sensor cameras like the FX6 and FX9 (only on APS-C mode)
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.
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 option: 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. They have an organic and certain look to the image. Markings on the lens are only in feet, unfortunately not available in meters. Recently they added a 18mm as well
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.
Update September 2019: Veydra is out of business, these lenses are not available for sale anymore.
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 ideal for wide shot gymbal work.
Expect newer generations of video cameras like the Sony FX9 AND FX6 to have advanced autofocus systems, this is where these lenses will shine.
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 like the FX9 and FX6 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.
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
Sigma Cine zoom lenses
Affordable high quality cine zoom lens. The zoom range is a bit strange but many people seem to love these lenses. Obviously only for manual control. The cine zooms are are a direct further development of the Sigma Art series lenses. If you want small, light & autofocus go for the equivalent lens from the Art series. These cine lenses are heavy and a bit more difficult to operate handheld. Bokeh is beautiful, flares are fine but there is some slight focus breathing.
Sigma Cine prime lenses
Also derived from the Art series photography lenses (some call it a rehoused version) are the Sigma Cine primes. There is a vast range from 14mm up to 135mm. All lenses are T1.5 and have gears at the same distance. For cinema glass these are not cheap but still affordable and you get a lot of quality. Razor-sharp, lovely bokeh (especially the 85mm).
There are multiple focal lengths available ranging from 14mm up to 135mm. Prices:
Sigma Art Series
The extremely popular Sigma Art series is available for Sony E-mount. These lenses are a budget friendly alternative for many video shooters. There are zoom lenses and primes. These lenses are photo lenses (with breathing, a short focus throw etc.) but still very usable for video. Image rendering is great, bokeh is nice, stabilization is missing, build quality above par.
With newer systems like the A7R mark 4, the Sony FX9 and FX6 video cameras the autofocus is not working as fast as native Sony lenses: the Art lenses use contrast detection instead of phase detection, this makes them slower.
There are multiple prime lenses available: 14mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm macro, 85mm, 105mm macro, 135mm etc.
And also zoom lenses: 14-24mm, 18-35mm (very popular one)
This list is not yet complete!
That’s not it! I started writing this list in 2018. More to come:
- Tamron cinema lenses
If you have any questions or remarks please feel free to use the comment section down below.