Which NEX Lenses Are Compatible with Sony’s Hybrid AF?

Sony NEX-6 Review 1

I wrote not too long ago about the limited number of lenses that were compatible with Sony’s A99 and it was popular because many had never read the features footnote. It turned out that it was either old news or you were just shocked. Sony did a great job of pushing it as a major feature of the camera without ever mentioning that it only works with (at the moment) a select few Sony lenses.

Well here I am again with what we can call a public service announcement about the Sony NEX Hybrid AF found in the latest NEX-6 and NEX-5R cameras. Like the A99 the NEX sensors have built in AF points in the sensor and these help provide the camera with faster more precise AF acquisition  Another hyped big deal feature of a Sony camera but what lenses actually work with the new system?

Information is scarce on the web and I was unable to find an up to date current list of Hybrid AF compatible lenses. I would expect that individual lenses would have this information either on their own specs and features page, nope, I even checked the footnotes and they aren’t there either.  In the official press release of the NEX-6 and 5R you can find what was compatible at the time of the announcement but nothing more current.

This list includes the following lenses:
– E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS

– E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS

– E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS

– E 24mm F1.8 ZA Sonnar T*

– E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS.

Sony says that these are the only five lenses that are compatible and they state in the release that “firmware updates will steadily expand the range of cameras offering Hybrid AF support”. So far we haven’t seen a firmware update for more of the Alpha lenses to be supported but I am sure they will come with time.

The reason for this write up is that am informed viewer commented on my Sony NEX-6 review letting me know that I didn’t see the increase of AF speed from the new hybrid system because  the lenses I used were not compatible. This is what shocked me, I was using the brand new Sony E 10-18mm f/4 lens and the recently announced E 50mm f/1.8 lens. Shocked is a bit of an understatement and I immediately thought… “oh no, not another one of these…”. Another excellent job of the marketing team at Sony who eluded the fact that only a set amount of lenses support the new top feature. Why, oh why, was the brand new lens that was introduced at the same time as the cameras left behind? I’m not sure what their thought process is, maybe it’s just the lack of communication between the teams at Sony.

Maybe I am spoiled by Nikon’s long supported lens system or call it what you want. I expect a system that is only a few years old to be support every new lens on the market or at least from a certain point on. In the case of the 50mm not being supported the 24mm f/1.8 lens came out before the 50mm and has full Hybrid AF support. I don’t have a problem with what Sony is doing I just expect them to be a bit more transparent with the process. Let us know estimated dates for firmware so people can buy with a clear head. Clean up and add details to their site for each lens. At least for heavens sake clean up the site with more accurate information, the Sony A99 features page still says (at the time of this writing) that the camera comes with PlayMemories which we all know does not (along with other incorrect details). Sony this is all I ask of you, just a fact checking and clarification.

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