If you are looking to step into the world of prime lenses, these 35mm and 50mm lenses for your Sony camera are a great place to start.
If you have wondered about prime lenses but have always shied away from them, perhaps now is the time to reconsider. There are some very affordable prime lenses available on the Sony platform. The 35mm and 50mm focal lengths are firm favorites with wedding, event, street, and portrait photographers for a reason. Here we will look at two options for each that offer outstanding performance, and they won’t break the bank.
You really can’t go wrong with either focal length, but there are some some genres of photography that suit each of the prime lenses here, even though there is only a 15mm difference in focal length. 35mm prime lenses are perfect for wedding photographers, event photographers, and documentarians thanks to being slightly wider. 50mm prime lenses are fan favorites when it comes to portrait work and street photography, as this focal length is closest to what eyes sees naturally.
Lets take a look at what these two different primes lenses have to offer.
Rokinon 35mm F2.8
When doing articles like this we always try to include a cheaper option. This way those on the fence about using a particular type of lens can see that you can get quality glass for little money. The Rokinon 35mm f2.8 is one such lens that is low in price, but is high in quality and performance. For under $300 you will get a lens that wont break the bank, but will produce sharp images.
In our review we said:
“In some ways, I want to say the Rokinon 35mm f2.8 is a bit sharper than the Sony Zeiss version. But I could be wrong. You see, every time I shoot with the Sony Zeiss version I always surprise myself. It’s pretty much as sharp as Sigma’s but not as sharp as the 35mm f1.4 Sony offers.”
The Rokinon 35mm f2.8 features seven elements in six groups, and has seven aperture blades. These optics are capable of producing images that are at times sharper than the much more expensive Sony Zeiss version of this lens. Colors that are rendered are really nice, and they have their own look and feel to them which makes this lens stand out from say Sigma or Sony lenses. Bokeh when shot wide open at f2.8 is really pleasing to the eye too.
Rokinon are perhaps best known for their manual focus lenses, but this 35mm is an autofocus lens and it performs really well too. We did notice a little slow down in low light situations, but overall it’s a stellar performer. The overall build quality is great, the image sharpness is up there with the best on the Sony platform, and it’s under $300. This is the perfect piece of glass to jump into the world of primes lenses with.
Buy now ($299): Amazon
Rokinon 35mm F2.8 Image Samples
Pro Tip: Just like everything else, prime lenses get dirty too. It is always worth keeping a basic lens cleaning kit in your bag for those times when you get fingerprints, grease or dirt on your glass.
Sony 35mm F2.8
The Sony 35mm f2.8 Zeiss is on the other end of the spectrum in price when compared to the Rokinon 35mm, but this lens isn’t aimed at those who are perhaps looking to try out prime lenses for the first time. The Zeiss is aimed at those who want the the best quality in terms of overall performance, build quality, and optics. At just under $800 it’s not exactly cheap, but you are getting a solid piece of glass.
In our review we said:
“This lens is sharp, not too contrasty, has magnificent bokeh, and is devoid of any flaws.”
The Sony 35mm f2.8 features seven elements in five groups, and has seven aperture blades. As you would expect from a lens carrying the Zeiss name, images produced are super sharp from edge to edge, and are free from distortion and chromatic aberration. Colors that are produced are beautiful, and the bokeh for a f2.8 lens is really satisfying. The Sony 35mm is very quick when it comes to focusing, and the focus motors are nice and quiet.
One of the biggest differences between this lens and the Rokinon is that the Sony 35mm f2.8 is weather sealed. We took it out in a downpour to try it out and it performed flawlessly. Overall build quality is fantastic and you know you are holding something quite special in your hands. Prime lenses are known for being easy to use thanks to their smaller foot print, and at just 0.26lbs this lens is as light as a feather, and can easily be used for hours on end.
If you are looking for a high quality 35mm prime lens for your Sony camera you should definitely check out the Sony 35mm f2.8. Solid build quality, excellent weather sealing, razor sharp images, gorgeous colors: whats not to like? This is one of the prime lenses you should take a look at if you are in the market for a 35mm.
Buy Now ($798): Amazon
Sony 35mm F2.8 Image Samples
Pro Tip: Primes lenses are great to use for long periods of time due to their low weight, but you still want to make sure you are comfortable during long sessions. Using a camera sling will improve your overall shooting experience as it will evenly distribute the weight of your gear across your entire upper body. They are inexpensive, and far better than the neck straps that come with your camera.
Sony 50mm F1.8
50mm primes lenses are a must have for all photographers, and it’s really the first place I would recommend someone should start if they are looking to upgrade from their kit lens. Fortunately Sony users have a great, cheap option when it comes to the ‘nifty fifty’; the Sony 50mm f1.8. This lens is small, lightweight, capable of producing some great images, and under $250.
In our review we said:
“Generally speaking in terms of nifty 50 lenses, you can’t really get much better here. Sony’s 50mm f1.8 is right up there with the Canon 50mm f1.8 in terms of image quality. It’s got great color output, is very sharp, very little chromatic aberration (and even then you’ve really got to look for it) and bokeh that isn’t bad overall.”
The Sony 50mm f1.8 has a pretty small footprint, and it only weighs 0.4lbs which means you can stick this lens on your camera and walk around with it for a long time without it causing any problems. As you would expect at this price point, the lens is made from plastic, but it doesn’t feel cheap. Inside the body of the lens you will find six elements in five groups, and seven rounded aperture blades.
The optics are capable of producing very sharp images, even when shot wide open. The colors produced are typical Sony, you’ll even find that skin tones are reproduced accurately which is great because the 50mm focal length is great for portrait work. Chromatic aberration is kept under control nicely, and when shot wide open, the nifty fifty produces some very nice bokeh.
Focusing speeds in good lighting conditions are very fast, but you will find that those speeds drop a little in low light situations. But for the price you’re paying it performs very well. If you are looking to grab your first 50mm and don’t want to spend a fortune, this is one of the 50mm primes lenses you should take a closer look at.
Buy now ($248): Amazon
Sony 50mm F1.8 Image Samples
Pro Tip: While Sony has come a long way when it comes to battery life in their cameras, it’s still always a good idea to have plenty of extra juice in your camera bag. These batteries are affordable and perform to the same specs and standards as the original Sony ones. Don’t be caught out, keep a few extras on your person.
Rokinon 50mm F1.4 AF FE
Is it a little strange that there is another Rokinon lens making this list? Had this been a few years ago I could see that, but Rokinon have upped their game in a major way, and their newer autofocusing lenses are doing things that should not be possible at their price point. If you are looking for a solid 50mm that produces outstanding images with gorgeous colors and bokeh for under $600, this might be the lens for you.
In our review we said:
“Wow, that’s really what I need to say first and foremost about the new Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE. It’s sharp, contrasty, has gorgeous bokeh, no major aberrations, and is really gorgeous. The lens has a bit of character to it, but I sort of wish there was more of it such as more lens flares, etc. Most photographers who aren’t looking for that and instead want something technically pleasing they can pixel peep will enjoy this lens.”
Nine elements in eight groups, and nine aperture blades make up the internal optics of this lens and they can produce some truly stunning results. Images from this lens will continually make your jaw hit the floor. They are razor sharp, have beautiful color rendition, are contrasty, and the bokeh will take your breath away. The Rokinon 50mm f1.4 is also very quick when it comes to autofocusing speeds, even in low light conditions.
The Rokinon 50mm f1.4 also has outstanding build quality overall. The all-metal body feels really nice in the hand, and the large focusing ring provides a nice place to rest your hand. We really wish this lens was weather sealed, but for a f1.4 lens under $600 that really cannot be expected. The is one of the larger prime lenses out there and weighs in at 1.29lbs, but the overall design and nice ergonomics make this lens a joy to use.
If you want one of the best 50mm primes lenses available for Sony bodies then you really should take a look at this beautiful f1.4 from Rokinon. You won’t be disappointed.
Buy now ($598): Amazon
Rokinon 50mm F1.4 Image Samples