Perfect Portraits: 3 Budget Portrait Lenses For the Sony E System under $1,000

Portrait photography is no doubt of the those niches of photography that attracts many new photographers to the industry, both as hobbyists and professionals–and finding budget friendly portrait lenses can be tough. That said, the overwhelming majority simply doesn’t have the budget to spend on top class professional portrait lenses, so today we are taking a look at some of the top budget oriented portrait lenses for the Sony E System.

If you have another camera system no worries, we will be following this up with budget portrait lens roundups for other systems as well. Previously we have looked at Fujifilm’s X-Series, and Canon’s EOS system, and will continue on to the other systems after we hit Sony’s today.

Sony FE 50mm F1.8


Sony’s E mount lens lineup, especially their FE lenses, are not exactly known to be budget friendly, at least until recently. Sony’s 50mm F1.8 is an incredible value for their full frame A7 series cameras and is a great performer on the crop bodies as well. 50mm is a popular focla length for general portraiture, so this will work out perfectly for you guys. In our review we said:

“The Sony 50mm f1.8 for the full frame E mount system is a beautiful lens when it comes to image quality. Like other 50mm f1.8 lenses, that’s its strongest feature. That’s not to say that it’s at all bad though, but it’s understandably lacking in other aspects that we’re used to.” — Read our full review // [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DLMD5O6′ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b1e4dc4e-042b-11e7-b338-d5fdff153dc8′]

Sony FE 85mm F1.8


85mm is one of those focal lengths that gets shouted from the rooftops when anyone asks about good portrait lenses, and until very recently Sony did not have a real budget option in this category. We love the FE 85mm and as a budget 85mm option we can’t find any flaws with it. Our review will be published soon, but in the mean time we had this to say about it in our initial thoughts:

“The Sony FE 85mm F1.8 is the company’s second entry into the entry-level/budget F/1.8 prime lens category. So far most indications are that just like the FE 50mm F1.8 was/is, this will be a solid option for Sony users looking for native glass without having to drop over $1,000 or more on Zeiss or G Master lenses.” — Read our Initial Thoughts // [amazon_textlink asin=’B06WLGFWGX’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2a947083-042d-11e7-b7b2-ef9180070b4c’]


Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM lens review sample images (30 of 35)ISO 4001-1600 sec at f - 2.0

Shooting wide open on most lenses can produce some color fringing. Except in the most extreme of circumstances, this is not something to be worried about as it can and should be fixed in post-production in a few seconds.

Sony FE 35mm F2.8


As we have mentioned in our other Perfect Portrait posts, 35mm is a popular focal length for a more lifestyle and environmental portrait look. This lens may not be the fastest lens that a portrait shooter is used to, but at F/2.8 it is still plenty fast enough for most situations with todays cameras and the results it produces are great. The one caveat being that its pricepoint is right up near our $1000 budget cutoff.  In our review we said:

“…It’s an incredible lens. On the A7 it will focus like a speed demon. On the A7r it will resolve more detail than your mom will want to see in her face. Then when you’re all done with that, you can take it out into inclement weather with no problems. Then there is your excellent color rendition and class leading sharpness.” — Read our full review // [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FSB79KU’ text=’Buy One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5ce7681c-0430-11e7-819e-9365aed697a1′]

Other options

We generally like to only suggest lenses that we have used and reviewed on our own so that we can be confident in our reccomendation. That said, for SOny specifically there are a few budget options that should be considered that we have not had a chance to get our hands on yet. Here are a few of those options:

  • Rokinon AF 50mm F1.4 – [amazon_textlink asin=’B01J9SR100′ text=’Check it out’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’93b3cf8c-0432-11e7-b715-d538e5bb178f’]
  • Rokinon 100mm F2.8 ED UMC – [amazon_textlink asin=’B00VBHS1UW’ text=’Check it out’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cbdd8dec-0432-11e7-b459-97dffd4cc9d6′]


Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.