Lens Recommendation Request

Donielle

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I just bought the a600 and am looking for a better lens for portraits in particular, but as in general. I am underwhelmed by the 3.5-5.6 lens that came with the camera. I have a wide angle prime lens for my Nikon that was great for portraits, but the fixed nature of the lens is obviously limiting. I’m not a professional, so I’m really looking for one lens that could serve relatively well for low light, portrait and for everything else. I’m open to spending about $1,000 so long as it can mostly serve as my all around lens. I also love how small and light the Sony is compared to my Nikon, so would like to keep the bulk down if possible. Suggestions would be appreciated!
 

Antonio Correia

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Donielle, even being a new comer to Sony cameras I used my wife's Sony 85mm f/1.8 with her A6500 and I have no doubt that the lens is superb. Just look at the photograph bellow
Myself, I am moving to Sony...

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somnambulist_squirrel

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I just bought the a600 and am looking for a better lens for portraits in particular, but as in general. I am underwhelmed by the 3.5-5.6 lens that came with the camera. I have a wide angle prime lens for my Nikon that was great for portraits, but the fixed nature of the lens is obviously limiting. I’m not a professional, so I’m really looking for one lens that could serve relatively well for low light, portrait and for everything else. I’m open to spending about $1,000 so long as it can mostly serve as my all around lens. I also love how small and light the Sony is compared to my Nikon, so would like to keep the bulk down if possible. Suggestions would be appreciated!
If I were to go spend $1000 on lenses for that body, I would buy these 3 awesome primes for that body: Sigma 16mm f1.4, Sigma 30mm f1.4 and Sony FE 50mm f1.8. All are super sharp, and great in low light. You cover the same range as the kit lens, but with FAR superior image quality and low light performance. Total cost for all three, shipped, right now on B&H Photo is $1001.52.
 

Donielle

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Donielle, even being a new comer to Sony cameras I used my wife's Sony 85mm f/1.8 with her A6500 and I have no doubt that the lens is superb. Just look at the photograph bellow
Myself, I am moving to Sony...

Thanks. I used this lens at a camera store to take a picture of my daughter and really liked it. But I'm wondering about its utility for purposes other than portraits. I was trying to avoid a fixed lens because of the lack of flexibility and zoom. Have you taken other photos with it that are not portraits?
 

Donielle

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If I were to go spend $1000 on lenses for that body, I would buy these 3 awesome primes for that body: Sigma 16mm f1.4, Sigma 30mm f1.4 and Sony FE 50mm f1.8. All are super sharp, and great in low light. You cover the same range as the kit lens, but with FAR superior image quality and low light performance. Total cost for all three, shipped, right now on B&H Photo is $1001.52.
Thanks for your suggestions. I was hoping to avoid a prime if possible to give me more flexibility with just one lens. Even though I love my prime portrait lens for my Nikon, for on the go light travel purposes, I really am looking for a lens I can use for most purposes without having to switch all the time. Is this just wishful thinking?
 

somnambulist_squirrel

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Thanks for your suggestions. I was hoping to avoid a prime if possible to give me more flexibility with just one lens. Even though I love my prime portrait lens for my Nikon, for on the go light travel purposes, I really am looking for a lens I can use for most purposes without having to switch all the time. Is this just wishful thinking?
Maybe one of the newer Tamron f 2.8 zooms? The Sony 16-70 f4 is an option in your budget, but it isn't especially fast at f4 max. All of those primes are pretty light, and together not much more unwieldy than the bigger zooms. It does mean switching lenses on occasion, but how much will you need to, really? My camera nearly always has a 50 on it, so I would think the 30 would be a great walk-around lens. Seems to me you could likely even get away with just the 16 and 30 as a travel kit.
 

Donielle

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Maybe one of the newer Tamron f 2.8 zooms? The Sony 16-70 f4 is an option in your budget, but it isn't especially fast at f4 max. All of those primes are pretty light, and together not much more unwieldy than the bigger zooms. It does mean switching lenses on occasion, but how much will you need to, really? My camera nearly always has a 50 on it, so I would think the 30 would be a great walk-around lens. Seems to me you could likely even get away with just the 16 and 30 as a travel kit.
Thanks. Was looking at the Tamron 2.8. Was hoping for some verified users other than Amazon reviews. Can't decide if I'm better off with that or a prime that goes to 1.8...
 

bdbits

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For a zoom, I would take a look at the Sony 18-105mm/f4 G lens. This is an APS-C lens, full-frame equivalent would be a 27-140mm. I've not owned this lens myself but it gets decent results from what I have read and seen on it. It is also relatively inexpensive, B&H has it at $598. The f4 could be an issue if you do a lot of low-light, otherwise seems to fit the bill.

I was going to suggest the Tamron 28-85mm/f2.8 but that is a little bit long at 42-128mm equivalent. If you do not care about wide angle shots, it would be a solid choice, and the 2.8 would be better in low light obviously. It is worth consideration, and I have seen photographers discussing it leaving a positive impression. Tamron is also coming out with a 17-28mm/f2.8 but then the reach is not as long (27-42mm equivalency). So that would be wide-to-normal focal lengths. Kind of a trade-off here for APS-C form factor.

Almost forgot the Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3. It's right about $1000 and obviously has a great zoom range but is a bit larger lens. There is always something that has to give.

Primes are almost always better image quality than zooms, in my opinion, especially on a budget. But zooms now can be pretty decent and may be all the quality you need.

Check our showcases for image samples, or google image search with the lens maker and focal length will often turn up some samples.
 

somnambulist_squirrel

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My office just received (today) an a6300 and the 18-105 lens for shooting video of classroom events and such. It's a sizeable lens. Not sure I would want it as my travel option. I will try to take a few shots with it in darker spots and post up the results.
 

WNG

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If you're looking for more speed and low light performance:
The Sigma 30mm f/1.4. One of the sharpest primes for the a6000. On a budget, the best performance value prime is the 50mm f/1.8 OSS. Perfect for portraits.
They yield 45mm and 75mm FOV respectively. The Sigma would be more versatile, as I find the 50-60mm primes to be too tight a lot of the times.

For zooms, the choice would be the f/2.8 Tamrons. The upcoming 17-28 for the wider perspective giving you ~26-48mm on APS-C.
The 28-75mm will only give you a low of 48mm.
The Tamrons are within your budget cap.
 
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Richard Crowe

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As far as a portrait lens for any A6xxx camera there is a plethora of choices available some at pretty low prices, especially if you are willing to purchase used copies.

A lens between 50mm and 60mm is a great portrait focal length for a crop camera...

I have a Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS lens that does a very nice job and can usually be had from $150-$200 or so...
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I also have an Sony 85mm f/1.8 which I purchased used from Adorama for $450.00 This is an excellent portrait glass for head and shoulder portraits but, is a bit more pricey than the 50mm f/1.8 OSS lens.
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I also use some older vintage lenses with adapters for my portraits. I like the images that they render. This was shot with a 135mm Meyer Optik Gorlitz Orestor 135mm f/2.8 adapted with a 0.7 focal reducer...
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However, if I were in the market for a really great portrait lens for an APSC sensor camera, I would take a serious look at the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 e-mount. I have not used this lens but I have heard wonderful things about it...
 

mattia

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As a weird slightly out there option, you might consider the Sigma 18-35/1.8 (Canon mount) with an MC-11 adapter - they also have a 50-100 which may provide a better portrait range but be limiting as an all-rounder. AF speed should be decent but won’t be as snappy as native, so some reading may be in order. Also not compact lenses.

I personally find a good prime will go a long way, and for APS-C I would go with either the Sony 24/1.4 or Sigma 30/1.4 native options - giving you either a 35mm or 50-ish mm fast prime. Which works for me, makes you work a little harder to get an interesting image, but are wide enough (particularly the former) to be all-rounders. I could probably be satisfied with just a fast 35mm equivalent for the vast majority of my shooting. This is more or less the FoV most phones have as well.
 

Antonio Correia

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... Have you taken other photos with it that are not portraits?
Sorry, no :)
My wife has used it here (stolen from face)
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Christop82

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I would start with a 30mm sigma prime. Either the f1.4, or f2.8. Both are excellent. From there you can decide if you shoot wider or longer. I find that the 45 / 50mm FF focal length equivalent is very versatile.

Edit: On second thought , the newer samyang / rokinon 35mm f2.8 would be a good option. It will also cover a FF sensor should you decide to add an A7.
 

Donielle

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Sorry, no :)
My wife has used it here (stolen from face)
Very nice!
I would start with a 30mm sigma prime. Either the f1.4, or f2.8. Both are excellent. From there you can decide if you shoot wider or longer. I find that the 45 / 50mm FF focal length equivalent is very versatile.

Edit: On second thought , the newer samyang / rokinon 35mm f2.8 would be a good option. It will also cover a FF sensor should you decide to add an A7.
Thanks!
 

Donielle

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As a weird slightly out there option, you might consider the Sigma 18-35/1.8 (Canon mount) with an MC-11 adapter - they also have a 50-100 which may provide a better portrait range but be limiting as an all-rounder. AF speed should be decent but won’t be as snappy as native, so some reading may be in order. Also not compact lenses.

I personally find a good prime will go a long way, and for APS-C I would go with either the Sony 24/1.4 or Sigma 30/1.4 native options - giving you either a 35mm or 50-ish mm fast prime. Which works for me, makes you work a little harder to get an interesting image, but are wide enough (particularly the former) to be all-rounders. I could probably be satisfied with just a fast 35mm equivalent for the vast majority of my shooting. This is more or less the FoV most phones have as well.
Thanks!
 

Richard Crowe

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You can shoot portraits with any focal length lens but, If I were considering a lens to use with my APSC Sony cameras primarily for standard (not environmental) portraits, I would definitely not go with a lens much shorter than 50mm. We tend to shoot portraits using shorter focal length lenses from closer distances in order to fill our frame with the subject. This closeness to the subject tends to add distortion to the face (nose longer, etc.).

When shooting with a longer focal length lens, you tend to capture a more pleasing rendition of your subject's face. Additionally when shooting with a longer focal length lens, it is easier to separate the subject from the background with selective focus.

This portrait was shot wide open with a Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 lens on my A6500. The background is totally OOF which provides separation of my subject. The 85mm lens on a crop sensor camera equates to a 127.5mm on a full frame camera and is my favorite portrait lens for my A6500. It is more pricey than the Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS lens but, I was able to get a good deal on a used copy of the 85mm.

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OTOH, the 85mm on a crop camera is not an all around lens. If I needed to pick a lens that I could use for a lot more venues than just portraiture, and if I only had one lens, I would pick the 35mm f/1.8 Sony OSS or the 30mm f/1.4 Sigma.
 
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