all sony e mount lenses

Looking Back

10 Years of Sony FE Lenses

Creating 'Tomorrow's lenses, today' has always been more than a clever marketing phrase for Sony; it is a philosophy.

“Sony has always been a technology company,” says Jazz Sidharh – Lens Marketing Manager, Sony Europe. “We know what technology we are developing and can take advantage of that. Any lens created must work not just with the current generation of cameras, but also for what is coming next. We’re always thinking about future development.”

That future development started more than three years before the launch of the Sony Alpha 7, with the launch of the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5 - the company's first E-Mount cameras.

From the inception of the E-mount, the view was always to create a full-frame camera and lenses,” says Jazz. “We wanted to create products that allowed photographers to really enjoy their photography: a small, lightweight, full-frame camera system with a great selection of lenses. This formed the basis of our lens choices when we first launched the camera.”
looking sideways at a sony 12-24mm g master lens

Along with the groundbreaking Sony Alpha 7 and Alpha 7R, Sony announced the FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS, Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA and Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA. The two Zeiss lenses were developed by Sony alongside the iconic German lens manufacturer, with whom Sony has held a longstanding partnership. “It was great to be able to kickstart the launch of the full-frame cameras with those two fantastic lenses,” Jazz says. Sony have since continued to add to the range over the years, creating groundbreaking lenses, which still hold iconic status amongst Sony Alpha users.

man holding a stripped down sony fe 50mm f1.2 g master lens

“A big moment for us was launching our G and G Master series of lenses. The first G series lens was the FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS lens, released in 2014. Around this time, we started to push the boundaries with the lenses our engineers were creating. We saw big developments in autofocus technology, both processing speeds and motor technology. The resolutions were improving as we began to be able to produce special types of glass elements - Aspherical Elements, and super Extra Low Dispersion Glass. Two years after we introduced our G series lenses, we launched our class-leading G Master series.”

There were three G Master lenses launched in 2016: the FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM, the FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS, and the FE 85mm f/1.4 GM.

trinity of original sony fe lenses

“These lenses were extremely special to us,” says Jazz, “because they are the pinnacle of our lens technological design using unique Sony features, such as the XA element. The XA element allows us to achieve extremely fine surface precision that is kept to within 0.01 micron, for an unprecedented combination of high resolution and beautiful, smooth background bokeh in our G Master lineup.”

Three lenses will always be standard for photographers: the trinity of a 16-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, and 70-200mm f/2.8, which Sony completed in 2017 with the release of the FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM.

“For an enthusiast or professional photographer, this trinity of lenses is one you will always find in their kit bag. We pride ourselves on listening to feedback from our users and implementing their needs where possible. We've just completed the second iteration of these lenses with the recent launch of the 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II, and worked with our engineers to create lenses that are smaller, lighter, have faster autofocus speed, and improved performance for video.”

trinity of F2.8 g master zooms from sony

© Albert Dros

The improvements aren't just on paper either - there is a weight saving of almost 1kg on the previous generation, which is significant to travel photographers, where every gram counts.

With the launch of the Alpha 9 in 2017, the time was right for Sony to start introducing the telephoto lenses required for wildlife and sports. The FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS was the first of these lenses, followed in the coming years by the FE 400mm f/2.8 and FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lenses. “These are essential lenses for us,” Jazz continues, “they were the first lenses where we used fluorite elements. And again, because we're using XA elements and XD linear motors, it keeps these lenses as light as possible, which is a big advantage on larger telephoto lenses.”

The large telephoto lenses will continue to come. In January of this year, Sony announced the development of the FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens that will be available soon, in time for the major sporting events of next summer.

alexandra szmigiel with her sony alpha camera and telephoto lens

Sony European Imaging Ambassador / Aleksandra Szmigiel

The comprehensive lens lineup currently boasts seventy-two lenses. Fifty-one of those are full-frame, and 21 are APS-C, including teleconverters. The advantage of the E-mount is that whether you are starting your journey on an APS-C sensor camera, such as the ZV-E10, or you are a professional with a 50 megapixel Alpha 1, or even a filmmaker shooting with an FX6 Cinema camera, you can take advantage of any of those seventy-two E-Mount lenses.

Sony's technologies allow them to create new lens designs that haven't been done before, bringing new ideas to market. Examples are the recent FE 20-70mm f/4 G and 70-200mm f/4 Macro G OSS II. “We're really pushing boundaries with these two lenses. With a teleconverter, you are covered from 20-400mm with a 1:1 macro capability,” says Jazz.

2 marbled white butterflies sitting on a flower

© Petar Sabol | Sony α7R V + FE 70-200mm f/4 Macro G OSS II + 2x Teleconverter | 1/13s @ f/13, ISO 250

One of the ways that Sony can create tomorrow's lenses is because everything from the cameras, sensors, lenses, and software is developed in-house.

There is a deep connection between the components, whether we are talking in a lens in terms of optical design, the individual lens elements, the linear motors or actuators, the chassis - the hardware is all linked and works in conjunction with the camera. The image sensor, processor, screen, viewfinder, and, more recently, the AI chip. Everything is deeply connected, which allows us to get the best performance from the cameras and the lenses.”
man holding a sony aspherical lens

In a changing creative world, Sony engineers are creating products that meet the demands of creators, whether they are shooting photographs, video, or both. “How people use cameras has changed,” says Jazz. “Photography is still hugely important, but videography and filmmaking have come a long way. It's more than just professionals who are doing it now. Vloggers are crying out for compact, lightweight lenses while retaining the highest possible quality. So, we're going to continue to innovate; we are listening to feedback and the needs of our photographers and filmmakers and want to meet the needs of Sony users now and in the future.“



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