Sony’s Oddly Very Expensive Lens is a Remnant from the NEX Days

The Sony 24mm f1.8 Lens is almost 10 years old and was developed for the NEX system.

The saying goes that cameras deteriorate in value but lenses hold onto it; and in the case of Sony that’s a very true statement. Almost 10 years ago, Sony introduced their NEX 5 and NEX 3 cameras – these two cameras would be the precursor to the wildly successful mirrorless camera system they have today. The NEX system was E mount and years later, they would simply just incorporate it into the Alpha series to give it a bit more history along the lines of Minolta. They launched with a pancake lens that was mediocre at best though fun to work with. And a bit later on came their first very serious optic: the Sony Zeiss 24mm f1.8. If you’ve been a photographer for a while (and according to our reader survey, many of you have been for well over five years), then you know how important this lens was.

Before I go on, here are some sample images that were shot with the Sony Zeiss 24mm f1.8 lens awhile back when we reviewed it and used it much more frequently.

By all means, it was a fantastic lens for its time when the sensors had less megapixels as the Sony NEX 5 had 14.2MP. And now with cameras like the Sony a6500 having 24MP the lens has surely started to show its age and is bound to get an update sooner or later. Though at the same time, it still remains to be one of Sony’s most pricey prime lenses.

Sony’s own website lists the Sony Zeiss 24mm f1.8 at $1,099.99. Amazon has it a bit cheaper. By all means, that’s an expensive prime lens. To put this into perspective, we went to our Sony FE lens guide and looked at the prices of a number of full frame lenses comparatively.

  • Sony 35mm f2.8 FE: $779
  • Sony 28mm f2 FE: $448
  • Sony 85mm f1.8: $598
  • Sony 50mm f1.8: $229
  • Sony 55mm f1.8: $969

If you haven’t understood the point I’m making, it’s that Sony’s arguably better, full frame lineup of prime lenses are more affordable, can do double duty seeing that they can cover both APS-C and full frame, have weather resistance in most cases, and are newer so and therefore of better quality. Yet somehow or another, that one Sony lens hasn’t dropped in price comparatively. Over a number of years, I’ve asked Sony reps about this lens and why its price is still what it is. None of them, even the product managers, could figure it out. To be fair, Sony has been innovating at such a fast pace that they probably forgot about something from almost 10 years ago.

So what would I price this lens at? If you look at how other manufacturers price their lenses and cameras, the larger the imaging circle the more expensive the lens is. When you put the 24mm f1.8 on a full frame camera, it doesn’t give you full frame coverage. So I’d say somewhere in the $200 mark although I don’t think that asking $375 is at all unreasonable. Again though, you’ve got other options by buying full frame glass and mounting it to you camera.