Some of my favorite focal lengths include the 20mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm. So, the choices I have mentioned here will reflect this.
There are some amazing options in these fixed focal lengths.
- Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G
- Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM
- Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA
- Sony Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA
- Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM
- Sony FE 28mm f/2
- Sony FE 35mm f/1.8
- Sony 50mm f/1.8
1. Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G
The FE 20mm f/1.8G is a dual-purpose lens. On the one hand, this is a great lens for shooting stills, especially if you’re into landscape and interiors and other genres where you need to capture a wide angle of view. On the other hand, this is a great lens for shooting videos as well.
This is a G lens, so, I assume there is going to be some difference in build quality when compared to a G Master lens. However, the lens does feel solid in the hand, despite being on the lighter side at 373 grams.
The lens has decent weather sealing, with a weather-sealing gasket that keeps the elements out.
The maximum aperture of the lens is f/1.8. This means that it can capture a lot of light and also blur out the background to capture that cinematic feel.
That said, not all videos need to be shot using a razor thin DoF. Many videographers prefer to shoot at f/4 or even smaller apertures. There are many advantages to that. I will discuss those as we progress.
The lens complies with the autofocusing features of the Sony FX6. However, for precise manual focusing control, you also get a dedicated manual focusing ring. I like the chunky manual focusing ring that dominates the front end of the lens. It’s extremely smooth and turns very precisely.
The lens makes it easy to switch from auto- to manual focusing. Additionally, there is a focus lock button to lock the position in autofocusing mode.
All that said, however, you may notice some focus breathing. This occurs when you push or pull the manual focusing ring.
The lens comes with an aperture ring on the lens barrel. For video shooting, this will come in handy. Just in case you’re wondering, yes, the aperture ring does make a clicking sound when you turn it. But the good news is you can de-click it and that will allow you to turn the aperture ring noiselessly – ideal for video shooting.
In terms of sharpness, the lens is crisp in the middle of the frame, even wide open. Though sharpness drops when you push toward the corners, I did not notice too much drop in contrast.
The lens does recover a lot of corner sharpness when stopped down by about a stop. Do note that this is primarily a stills lens, so a majority of users would be perfectly happy to stop down the lens to increase the overall sharpness. For someone shooting videos, one would be hesitant to lose the ability to blur the background and emphasize the subject.
There is very little color fringing, if any at all. Even at f/1.8, which is wide open, the lens shows very little color fringing.
There are many reasons to love the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G. Pricing wouldn’t be one of them. However, if you’re looking to shoot professional quality videos and need something that’s tack sharp, offers excellent resolution, and gives a lot of bang for your buck, then the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G is a great choice.
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2. Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM
If budget isn’t a constraint, I would pick a prime lens such as the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM. This is an expensive lens no doubt, but at the same time, it is a joy to work with.
The 24mm is a wide-angle lens that can capture a panoramic view of the scene in front of you. This is an excellent lens for shooting dramatic sequences for indie films or for capturing a grand, wide-angle view at a destination wedding.
Having said that, the lens is still manageable if you wish to capture a shallow DoF by keeping your subject in the middle of the frame. Speaking of shallow DoF, the lens can produce intriguing background blur as well. For example, if there are lights in the background and you wish to blur them out, the lens can produce cat-eye-shaped blobs behind your subject.
Let’s move on to the build quality of the lens. It weighs 445 grams and feels great in the hands. This is a Sony G Master lens and comes with the build quality to match that tag.
The lens also has a metal lens mount and there is a thin weather sealing gasket around it that should be able to hold itself in bad weather.
The fast f/1.4 aperture ensures that the FE 24mm can shoot in low light (in room ambient light), giving you the flexibility to shoot without artificial lighting if required.
Speaking of aperture, the lens comes with a dedicated ring that allows you to change the aperture without having to take your eyes off the viewfinder. As usual, the aperture ring is clickable, but you can de-click it to assist you when shooting videos. When you do this, the aperture change becomes silent.
The front part of the lens is dominated by a manual focusing ring. The manual focusing ring turns very smoothly and offers a good response. As usual, there is an auto/manual focus switch as well as a focus hold switch.
Still, on the subject of focusing, there is some very noticeable focus breathing that I can see when rocking the focusing ring.
Coming down now to the sharpness and performance of this lens. The center image is sharp. There is also a fair bit of contrast in the images. However, I noticed some fringing as well. This does go away when the lens is stopped down and at f/2, you can’t ask for a better quality picture.
At the corners of the frame, you can see some softness and a drop in resolution wide open. Again, this improves when the lens is stopped down. However, corner sharpness does not match center sharpness even when the aperture is dropped down, though the best corner sharpness appears at f/4. Beyond that, there is no additional improvement in sharpness at the corners.
3. Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA
The 35mm is a very versatile lens and second on my all-time favorite lens list. It’s great for street photos, indoors, weddings, and even for a little bit of landscape photography. Not to mention that this lens is also great for shooting videos.
Because it’s a f/1.4 lens it can come in handy when shooting in low-light situations – indoors, shooting after dusk with street lights, and so on.
Also, because the lens shoots with a wide open aperture you can focus on the subject and blur out anything in the background. It’s easy with an f/1.4 aperture to shoot that visually stunning shallow DoF cinematic look if that’s your style.
Let’s quickly talk about the build quality of the lens. At 630 grams, this is one of the heaviest prime lenses that you will come across. The lens consists of 12 elements arranged in 8 groups. The front filter size is large – 72mm.
The lens has a metal lens mount and solid build quality. However, interestingly, there is no weather sealing on the lens.
There are two control rings on the lens. The first one is the manual focusing ring that allows easy and precise manual focusing control.
The second one is the aperture control ring. By default, this ring turns with a click. However, you can easily de-click it so that it turns smoothly and without making any sound. This helps when shooting videos.
Something that’s not great for shooting videos though, is the slight focus breathing.
Coming down now to the sharpness and contrast. The lens is reasonably sharp in the middle of the frame and fairly consistent to the corners of the frame. Sharpness and contrast improve slightly as you stop down the lens.
For someone who would be using this lens at f/1.4 for a shallow DoF though, I don’t see any issues.
4. Sony Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA
This 50mm prime has a fast aperture of f/1.4. If you’ve been following this blog then you know by now that the 50mm is my favorite focal length. It’s versatile and offers so much flexibility in different shooting situations.
The 50mm is a favorite among both full-frame and APS-C shooters. APS-C shooters love the lens for shooting portraits. With a full-frame camera such as a Sony FX6, getting too close to a subject for a tight shot can cause a bit of distortion around the edges of the frame. The same goes for a 35mm lens. They’re best used for compositions where the subject’s torso is visible and not the whole body.
Let’s look at the design and the build quality of this lens. The lens features 12 elements arranged in nine groups. The aperture diaphragm is made up of 11 rounded blades. This is a very heavy lens weighing a little less than 800 grams.
If you want a lighter lens you would be better off using one of the budget prime lenses that I have mentioned below. These are much lighter than the Sony Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA that would offer you greater convenience when shooting videos for an extended period of time. With the Sony Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA you will feel the weight of the lens when using a gimbal or hand-held stabilizer.
The 50mm gives you a standard view of the scene in front of you. It’s neither wide-angle nor too long and is roughly what the human eye sees.
The f/1.4 aperture allows you to play around with the DoF. You can shoot with the widest aperture possible which will allow you to blur out the background while highlighting the subject.
The lens is built to withstand the test of time. A lot of metal has been used along with plastics. The lens features a metal lens mount but there is no weather sealing.
The aperture ring on the lens by default comes as a clicked version. However, there is a switch that you can flick to de-click the lens. De-clicking allows you to change the aperture smoothly without the customary clicking sound. This is handy when shooting videos.
The manual focusing ring allows you to get good control over the focusing aspect. The ring turns smoothly, and the results are precise.
Coming down to the image quality now. The results are very encouraging in the middle of the frame as the sharpness is great. The corners are very good as well. Wide open at f/1.4, this is very impressive.
5. Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM
At nearly 1800 dollars US, this is a really expensive lens for someone who is just starting out. But then the FX6 isn’t exactly a cheap camera if you want to pair the best with the best, this is a great option.
The 85mm is ideal for capturing a tight portrait composition of your subject. This focal length is widely considered the best for shooting portraits (for still photography). Additionally, this lens has very little distortion at the edges, which is great for rendering facial features correctly.
Let’s talk about the build quality of this lens. This is a Sony G Master lens and, like any other G Master lens, the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM comes with excellent build quality. The lens mount is metallic and I can see some weather sealing around the lens mount that suggests that the lens is able to withstand a bit of inclement weather.
At 820 grams this is one of the heavier options listed here. The lens has a chunky manual focusing ring that turns precisely and smoothly and responds well. There is an auto/manual focusing switch and a focus hold button as well.
Speaking of focusing, the lens does show some amount of focus breathing but it’s fairly insignificant compared to some other lenses listed here.
At the other end of the lens is an aperture ring that allows you to adjust the aperture of the lens without having to take your eyes off the viewfinder. The aperture ring makes a clicking sound every third of a stop but you can always de-click it when you need to shoot videos.
Many of the lenses that I have mentioned in this list do not have image stabilization built-in. This includes the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM. When working with these lenses and a non-stabilized camera, it’s better to use a gimbal or a stabilizer or at least a tripod.
In terms of performance, the lens is very sharp straight out of the box. Though still not the sharpest that I have tested, this lens holds its own, even wide open at f/1.4. The contrast is good too. Stopping down the lens does improve the contrast and sharpness. Corner sharpness is very good too. I also didn’t notice any color fringing that could pose a problem.
See also: Best Sony E Mount Lenses in 2023
6. Sony FE 28mm f/2
The 28mm is a slightly wider focal length and offers an angle of view that’s slightly narrower too. The angle of view offered by the lens is 75 degrees.
Between the 20mm and the 28mm, I’d prefer the slightly “narrower” look of the 28mm. There is less barrel distortion with the 28mm and I feel the videos look a bit more natural.
The 28mm has a maximum aperture of f/2 – smaller than the f/1.8 lens that I discussed above. That means there is a small difference in the amount of light that the 28mm can let in compared to the 20mm that I reviewed above.
Also, because the f/2 aperture is about a third of a stop slower, some videographers would be inclined to think that they will achieve less out-of-focus effect compared to a f/1.2 or even a f/1.8 lens.
Many beginner videographers feel that they have to incorporate a very thin DoF to achieve that “cinematic look”. But that’s not always necessary. You don’t always have to shoot with the widest aperture. If you look at some of the greatest blockbusters in Hollywood you will notice that the shallow DoF rule does not apply at all times.
The Sony FE 28mm f/2 is a simple design consisting of 9 elements arranged in 8 groups. This is an extremely lightweight lens at just 200 grams – much lighter than the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G that I discussed above.
I don’t mind a lightweight lens because when I am using a gimbal it helps me to balance and handle that weight without any issues. The Sony FX6 is compatible with a range of gimbal systems including the likes of the DJI RS 3 Pro, the Zhiyun CRANE 4, and the Zhiyun CRANE 3S PRO. When you’re wielding a camera like the FX6 attached to a heavy lens (such as a wide zoom with a wide open aperture) it puts a lot of stress on your arms.
The lens feels decent in the hands. However, I suspect that the build quality isn’t on par with some of the more expensive lenses made by Sony for their FE mount cameras. The lens does have a metal lens mount, which is reassuring.
The 28mm has a manual focusing ring. it’s very smooth to operate and gives precise control over the manual focusing functionality. Should you want to use autofocusing, you’ll be happy to hear the autofocusing motor is silent to work with.
Wide open (f/2), the lens is very sharp in the middle of the frame. However, there is a fair bit of chromatic aberrations.
Having said that, I have already mentioned that it’s not necessary to always shoot with the widest aperture when shooting videos. So, you can easily stop down the lens by a stop or a stop and a half and chromatic aberrations will go away.
Stopping down the lens also improves corner sharpness. Wide open at f/2, the lens does suffer from a fair amount of softness at the corners.
7. Sony FE 35mm f/1.8
The 35mm is a great focal length for shooting street photos and general wide-angle shots. It’s significantly narrower than the 20mm that I discussed above but yet has its benefits to offer to a videographer who is looking for a compact standard prime lens with a fast wide aperture.
Shallow DoF is the forte of this lens. If you want to highlight your subject in the middle of the frame and blur out the background, this lens is a great option. The f/1.8 aperture is ideal for this style of shooting.
However, just to reiterate myself, not all great films are shot using a razor thin DoF. If you prefer a shallow depth of field, you can easily achieve that with the FE 35mm f/1.8 too. All you have to do to achieve this is shoot with your subject closer to your camera, open up the aperture, and leave some space between the subject and the background.
At just 281 grams, this is a very lightweight lens and for someone using a hand-held gimbal or camera stabilizer, this is ideal.
The build quality of the lens is something that raises some question marks though. Despite the lens having a metal lens mount, the structure is mostly made out of plastic. The weather sealing is flimsy too. That said, unless you’re shooting in inclement weather conditions, this should not be a problem.
The front of the lens barrel has a large manual focusing ring. The manual focusing ring turns smoothly, giving you precise control over the focusing. An easy-to-use auto-to manual focusing switch allows you to switch between the modes quickly. There is also a Focus Hold button on the barrel.
Speaking of focusing, the lens does not show a lot of focus breathing. If you are a video shooter, this is great news.
The lens is reasonably sharp right in the middle of the frame, even when shooting at f/1.8. However, this is not the best that I have seen. There is also some chromatic aberration. Moving towards the edges of the frame, the results are definitely softer.
Stopping down the lens improves the sharpness quotient and also takes care of chromatic aberrations. I feel the best performance of the lens is achieved at f/4.
8. Sony 50mm f/1.8
This is a budget variant of the 50mm f/1.4 ZA listed above. If the 50mm f/1.4 is too expensive, this is a great alternative. You still get a superb, fast aperture of f/1.8 and have a much lighter lens to work with. Additionally, the lens costs less than 200 dollars (U.S.) and doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Let’s talk about the construction of the lens first. The lens is largely plastic-made. The weight is only 186 grams which gives away the build quality. There is no weather sealing on the lens, although there is a metallic lens mount.
One thing that appears rather strange to me is that the rear elements of the lens being so far away (or rather deep) into the lens frame. Although this doesn’t change the flange distance, it appears as if this is a repurposed DSLR design.
There is a large manual focusing ring on the lens that allows the photographer (or the videographer) to control focusing manually. It turns precisely to give you good control over the focusing.
One thing I need to mention, in case any of the readers are planning to use this lens for still shooting with any of the other E-mount mirrorless cameras, is that this lens has horrible autofocusing performance. I haven’t seen a slower and more hesitant AF performance in a lens in a long time. Having said that, as a video maker, I assume that you’re going to shoot with manual focus for the most part so this won’t be a problem.
There is no aperture ring on the lens. So, you cannot control the aperture without digging into the menu system. I don’t see a problem with this unless you wish to change the DoF during a scene.
On to the image quality, in the middle of the frame, wide open, the lens is acceptably sharp. The contrast is also acceptable. However, the corners of the frame aren’t too sharp. Stopping down does result in some performance improvement.
Additionally, there isn’t much distortion, which is great for shooting videos.