Best Sony 35mm lens
I have recently decided to flesh out the photography section of our blog so that it could be more precise, and in particular the camera equipment section. After writing a lot of generic articles about cameras and lenses, I’m taking it a step further by trying to help you choose a specific lens, whether it’s a telephoto lens, a wide-angle lens, or a macro lens.
Now that I already told you about wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle lenses from the brand, I decided to write this article on the best 35mm lenses for Sony mirrorless cameras. Many photographers consider the 35mm as the “all-purpose” focal length. It is equivalent to a standard focal length, even though the crop factor on an APS-C sensor will give you a focal length equivalent to 50mm on full-frame. In this article, I decided not to make the distinction between lenses dedicated to APS-C sensors and those dedicated to full-frame. If you own a Sony APS-C camera (type A6000 to A6600), you can have a look at our article on the best 24mm Sony lenses, which is equivalent to a 35mm angle of view on a full frame camera. For an equivalent field of view for a Micro 4/3 sensor (Panasonic and Olympus cameras), you will have to look at 17mm lenses. The article is therefore more adapted to people with a full format camera, or even APS-C, keeping in mind that a Sony 35mm mounted on your camera, will give a longer view.
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So, for which purpose can a 35mm lens be used as a priority? While 20mm and 24mm prime lenses are still widely used for landscape photography, a 35mm lens will turn out being less useful in this field. The angle of view is a bit narrower, and you get a fairly wide view, approximately equal to that of the human eye. A 35mm can be used for travel photography, everyday photography, street photography, reportage, or environmental portraiture. Most 35mm lenses have large apertures (between f/1.2 and 2.8) and will allow you to isolate your subjects to some extent, especially if you get close to them.
If you want to go further in your choice of lenses, I invite you to look in detail at the page listing all the lenses available for Sony full frame cameras. Of course, they are suitable for Sony APS-C cameras, type A6600.
How to choose your Sony 35mm lens - Which criteria to consider?
Like our article on 24mm lenses, I had to remind you the elements you should consider when choosing your future 35mm lens. All these elements (to consider when choosing a camera lens) are mentioned in the link above (generalist article dedicated). Of course, these are the technical elements to look at, and it will be necessary to also take into account the financial aspect, as it usually remains determining for the majority of us.
By the way, you can check out our full article on the best Sony 50mm lenses of the moment!
The maximum aperture
Knowing that it is a prime lens, no need to talk about the choice of your focal length here. The maximum aperture of your lens is the first thing to look at closely, which should guide you in your choice.
As far as I know, you can find apertures from f/1.2 to f/2.8. As a reminder, the aperture is the number behind the “f/” on your lens. The smaller the number, the more light the lens will be able to collect (and vice versa). Having a larger aperture will essentially allow you to do three things:
- Get more blur in your images (either in the foreground or in the background),
- Capture your images faster. Remember that every time you open an aperture (e.g., from f/4 to f/2.8), you will double the amount of light reaching the sensor. Therefore, you will be able photographing twice as fast. This is why lenses with large apertures are also called “fast lenses”,
- Since you can capture twice as much light, you will be able, if you wish, to reduce your ISO by 2, allowing you to keep a better image quality.
Then, it will be up to you to determine the interest you have to own a 35mm lens with a larger or smaller aperture. On a 20mm wide angle lens, especially if you use it for landscapes like I do (so essentially between f/5.6 and f/11), the interest of having a large aperture is really arguable. On a 35mm, the interest is however much more present. Indeed, you will use it to highlight an element, and what would be better than being able to blur a background, for example?
However, you should know that usually, the larger the aperture of your lens, the heavier and longer the lens, the larger the diameter of the filters, and obviously, the more expensive it will be. For example, I think that the cheapest lens (I’ll mention it in the text straight after) opening at f/1.4 is the Samyang 35mm f/1.4 FE AF, which already costs between 500 and 600€. The f/1.8 lenses will be more affordable, around 350€ for the cheapest ones (third-party brands).
This is the second essential point for me, even if I find it less important than on a 20 or 24mm which will be used much more for landscape photography. You can certainly be capturing landscapes with a 35mm, but I personally think it is already too narrow. For a portrait lens (environnemental), a 35mm is perfect.
Considering the classic use of 35mm, I often tend to say “who can do more, can do less”. In other words: if you can buy a lens with a large aperture, it will be useful for example in low light conditions (evening, morning) or indoors. On the other hand, if you choose a lens opening at f/2.8, you will be a little more limited in difficult conditions. Once again, it’s all a matter of choice and budget.
However, you should know that some 35mm lenses, such as the Tamron 35mm f/2.8 Di III OSD, can be used in proxy photography with a magnification ratio of 1:2. Of course, the lens does not open as much as other classic 35mm, but you will have the possibility to get much closer to the subject. Also, you will be able to get a shallow depth of field, as short with your 35mm f/2.8 in “proxy mode” as with a classic 35mm f/1.8 not allowing you to get closer to the subject. Indeed, the amount of blur in the background also depends on the distance you have with your subject.
So, prime lens or zoom?
This is a question you’ll probably ask yourself when searching. You might be thinking “why not considering standard zoom lens (like 16-35mm) that already includes a 35mm focal length?”. And this is logical to ask this question.
Simply put, you’re not going to find any zoom lens offering apertures as large as the ones you’ll find on a fixed focal length. At best, you’ll get f/2.8 on a 16-35mm, whereas you’ll be able to find 35mm lenses with f/1.8, f/1.4 and even f/1.2 apertures. You can clearly do a lot more with your photography. Finally, don’t forget that a 16-35mm zoom lens will always be heavier and longer than a 35mm fixed lens.
Most 35mm lenses do not offer stabilization. Conversely, you will be able to rely on your large aperture for taking pictures of your subjects faster and limit blurred movements. Moreover, you will be able to enjoy the internal stabilization of full frame cameras (like A7III) and recent APS-C cameras, like A6600.
This is another point to take into account. The 5 lenses mentioned here as being “the best” all have an all-weather construction with seals, so that the risks of dust and fungus intrusion are limited, for example. Within the cheaper 35mm options, you will find some which will not be tropicalized. Let’s see if this is an important element to consider for you, according to your photographic habits.
Even if I have to admit that it is not a determining criterion for me, it is still a point to look at. It will all depend on your use, if you travel with your equipment or if you just use it when doing some walks near your home. It is up to you to judge the importance of 200 or 300g more in your backpack.
Autofocus or manual?
Just as the 24mm, the interest in choosing a manual focus lens nowadays seems to me rather limited, unless you find a lens offering a much better image quality with autofocus, for example for a cheaper price, which could be then justified. But be aware that depending on the type of picture, you will be more limited with a MF (manual focus) lens.
Choosing a Sony lens or a third-party brand?
This is an eternal debate when choosing any lens, not just a 35mm. Like the 24mm, Sony does offer what I currently consider the best 35mm: the Sony 35mm f/1.4 GM. However, this is a very expensive lens, and few people will be able to afford it. Well-known third-party brands like Sigma, Samyang and Tamron offer very nice alternatives that can save you a lot of money while keeping a quality not far from the native brand. I’m especially thinking of the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art or the Samyang 35mm f/1.8 FE AF, two very good quality 35mm lenses for less than half, or even a third of the price of the Sony. Clearly, if you can afford the “best of the best”, so why go without? If not, third-party brands will be there to help you. The age of “mediocre” Tamron and Sigma lenses is now over.
Best Sony 35mm lens with AF
As the 24mm, I’ve decided to propose here the best 35mm for Sony cameras. Of course, this ranking is subjective, but I’ve tried to take into account all the elements I consider as the most important when choosing a lens: image quality, optical defects, compactness (weight/size), build quality, autofocus, various options, and of course the price. Everyone will judge by his budget and what he considers acceptable for the purchase of a 35mm.
Here below, the six best 35mm lens for Sony (with autofocus) that I consider the best at the time of writing this article (click on the links below to go directly to the details).
- Sony 35mm f/1.4 GM
- Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art
- Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art
- Samyang 35mm f/1.8 FE AF
- Tamron 35mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M 1:2
- Sigma 35mm f/2 DG DN I C
In the table below, I resume all the interesting characteristics you’d know to make the best choice of your 35mm prime lens.
|Sony 35mm f/1.4 GM||Amazon B&H|
|Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art||Amazon B&H|
|Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art||Amazon B&H|
|Samyang 35mm f/1.8 FE AF||Amazon B&H|
|Tamron 35mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M 1:2||Amazon B&H|
|Sigma 35mm f/2 DG DN I C||Amazon B&H|
1 - Sony 35mm f/1.4 GM
“Late” for some time in the 35mm range, Sony has just released a new masterpiece: the Sony 35mm f/1.4 GM. We are on the very high-end of Sony, in the same line as the 24mm f/2.4 GM or the 135mm f/1.8 GM. The brand has managed to produce a very high-quality lens, all in a relatively light package (525g) and small size (9.6cm long). In comparison, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 (which will be detailed later on) is heavier and longer.
As for all other GM lenses, Sony offers a manual focus ring, an aperture ring, and a button allowing you to switch from AF to MF. Also, note that the lens has a minimum focus of only 25cm, offering a greater magnification ratio than other conventional 35mm lenses. Clearly, the manufacturing quality of this lens appears to be top notch and offers in addition an all-weather construction. Its 11 circular blades guarantee an exceptional out of focus area quality. All the reviews mention a really very effective autofocus without any flaw.
Concerning the image quality, we are once more on a very high level. On this 35mm Sony lens, the center is already stunning at full aperture, and even the corners are still very good (better than the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art and the Sigma f/1.2). We are on an excellent level of sharpness! Very few optical defects to deplore, except a strong vignetting if you shoot wide open, which will be corrected without worries by the camera itself or Lightroom. Clearly, in terms of image quality, this is the best currently available.
To conclude, Sony has hit very hard with the release of this very nice lens, which remains, with the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art, the two best Sony 35mm, far ahead of the others. The advantage of the Sony compared to the Sigma will be a much lighter size (40%). Unfortunately, as for the Sigma below, the price is high (more than the Sigma f/1.2) and those with a smaller budget will surely have to consider the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art instead, which still offers an already remarkable image quality for a much lower price (around 850€).
2 - Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art
This 35mm from Sigma is quite simply one of the best 35mm for the Sony FE mount that you will find nowadays, just behind the Sony 35mm f/1.4 GM. It is also, to my knowledge, the only lens with such a large maximum aperture! However, as for other high-end lenses, this one is not affordable for all. We have here a lens of exceptional quality, but heavy, long and expensive.
In terms of size, you are dealing with a 14cm long and 1090g beast, all in a non-stabilized format but made to face the elements (all-weather construction). The lens has a nice wide focus ring, a button to switch from AF to MF, a manual aperture ring, as well as a customizable AF-L button to lock the autofocus. So much to say it, this is a very high-quality lens, on the same level as the Sony GM. The users and reviews talk about an autofocus of very high level.
Move on with the image quality: we are, once again, on something exceptional, and all tests show a superlative image quality, right from the full aperture at f/1.2. Even the edges and extremes are very good. Slightly behind the one of the Sony 35mm f/1.4 GM (especially at full aperture), this 35mm still offers an exceptional image quality. The quality of the bokeh produced is truly remarkable. The only defects that can be noted with this lens are its tendency to flare as well as ghosting. We can also note a significant distortion, but largely corrected in post processing.
In conclusion, this lens is just splendid and offers a remarkable quality of construction, image, and bokeh. Of course, this is an expensive lens (about 1200€), but the feedback mentions a “fair” price considering the performances and the very large maximum aperture offered. In addition to the price, the weight and the size will surely put some people off. If you can afford it, then you won’t be disappointed. Otherwise, there are other very nice alternatives mentioned below like the Samyang 35mm f/1.8 FE AF. In my opinion, you can choose this Sigma f/1.2 over the Sony f/1.4 GM mainly for its unique f/1.2 aperture and its slightly cheaper price.
3 - Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art
Recently released in May 2021, Sigma offers here a great lens, suitable for mirrorless cameras, and very rightly placed in terms of price between the f/1.2 and f/2 version. It replaces the Sigma 35mm F/1.4 DG HSM Art, originally designed for DSLR cameras, all in a lighter and more compact format. The lens weighs 640g, which is 450g less than the f/1.2 version, and 11cm long, which is also slightly less than the f/1.2 version but a bit longer than the Sony f/1.4 version.
This lens, sold with the lens hood don’t offer image stabilization but has an all-weather construction and a special front lens coating to limit smudges. As with the f/1.2 version, it offers a manual focus ring, a manual aperture ring (suitable for both photography and video), a button to switch from AF to MF and an AFL button to lock the focus. Like the Sony f/1.4 and Sigma f/1.2, the 11 aperture blades ensure a beautiful bokeh. When it comes to autofocus, it is apparently exemplary, even if it is said to be a little slower than the Sony and is not compatible (for now) with the 30ims/s of the Sony A1 (of course, not everyone can afford it, eh!).
The image quality is, as you can imagine, extraordinary from the full aperture at f/1.4 in the center, and superb on the edges too. The sharpness seems to be very slightly below the Sony f/1.4 (the sharpest) and the Sigma f/1.2. In practice, the difference will be very little visible on a 24MP sensor like a Sony A7 III. Regarding the optical defects, nothing particular to reproach. It is noted that the lens could perfectly be used for astrophotography.
With the release of this new lens, I think Sigma has “aimed accurately” between the f/1.2 version, which is surely too heavy and expensive for many photographers, and the f/2 version which remains below the quality level and, for some, not bright enough. For only 850€, this seems to be a great alternative to the Sigma f/1.2 and the Sony f/1.4 GM.
4 - Samyang 35mm f/1.8 FE AF
Released in spring 2020, Samyang continues its momentum of bright lenses, on its “Tiny” series. The lens is sold with its lens hood and a storage case. Weighing only 210g for 6cm long, it is quite a compact and light lens. We are obviously far from the weight/size of the 3 lenses presented above, even if we are clearly not in the same league.
The lens, not stabilized but with an all-weather construction, offers a maximum aperture of f/1.8, which will already allow you to do great things in photography. It has a manual focus ring which can be adjusted with the “Lens Station and the adapted software from Samyang”, admittedly for an extra 50€. However, you can set the focus ring to 2 modes: mode 1 is for example dedicated to use the ring as an aperture ring, and mode 2 to use it as a manual focus ring. The reviews talk about a quality autofocus, working as well in video as in photography.
The sharpness of the lens is very good at full aperture in the center, but a bit softer in the corners. Closing at f/2.8 greatly improves things and the image quality produced becomes better than with the Sony FE 35mm f/1.8, its main rival in this category. Regarding optical defects, we can note pronounced chromatic aberrations at full aperture, and a not-so-great resistance to flare. The bokeh is said to be of good quality.
In conclusion, after its 18mm, 45mm and 75mm, Samyang offers here a quality lens with a very good image quality, a powerful AF, an all-weather construction, and all this for much cheaper than the Sony FE 35mm f/1.8. In my opinion, for people with a tighter budget and still looking for a nice lens, you can’t be disappointed with this 35mm. I actually recommend it more than its rival, the Sony 35mm f/1.8 FE.
If you want to know more about this lens, I wrote a comprehensive review of this Samyang 35mm.
5 - Tamron 35mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M 1:2
I’ll end this article about the best 35mm for the Sony FE mount with this Tamron 35mm f/2.8. The brand keeps on building its prime lenses after the release of the 20 and 24mm. In the same line, this 35mm from Tamron offers a reduced weight (210g), ditto for the size (6.5cm) and, like other Sony FE prime f/2.8, a magnification ratio of 1:2, which Tamron calls “macro” (perfect for close up photography already).
This lens offers an all-weather construction with several seals and a fluorine coating on the front lens. Note the 67mm filter diameter, which is identical to all Tamron lenses for Sony (except for the new 150-500mm, with a 82mm diameter). The quality of the lens is relatively good. Be aware that you do not have an AF/MF button on the lens, so you will have to go through the camera to switch from auto to manual, and vice versa. The autofocus is given as correct, but many feedbacks talk about a rather slow AF, not at the top of what it should have been, especially in low light situations or in video.
The image quality is very good, comparable to the Sony FE 35mm f/1.8. In fact, according to the tests, the Tamron would be even better than the Sony Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f/2.8. The bokeh quality is said to be very good despite the shape of the bokeh balls which become octagonal as soon as you close beyond f/5.6. The optical defects are very well managed on this Tamron, both in terms of A/C and flare resistance.
In the end, Tamron offers a very nice lens, with good image quality, very few optical defects, a good general construction and a very interesting “macro photography option” to get really close to the subjects. For the advertised price, considering what the lens does offer, and if you don’t need a larger aperture, this Tamron remains a very good choice.
6 - Sigma 35mm f/2 DG DN I C
Here is the last lens I would like to mention. This 35mm f/2 from Sigma is part of the new “I-Series” which is characterized by high-end, all-metal lenses in a compact, lightweight package. As mentioned above, there are already many other 35mm lenses for Sony, but this option can be quite interesting if you like “attractive lenses” and do not necessarily need a very large aperture.
Regarding characteristics, the lens weighs only 325g and is 6.5cm long. It has an all weather construction, a maximum f/2 aperture and a 58mm filter diameter. The build quality is excellent (better than my Samyang 35mm f/1.8), all metal. The autofocus is said to be very fast (STM motor). There are two rings on the barrel. The focus ring (on the front) is well designed. There is also an aperture ring (not clickable) by 1/3 stop with an auto position. There is also an AF/MF switch on the barrel.
Regarding image quality, it is already excellent at full aperture in the center, but slightly behind on the edges. Closing at f/4 clearly improves the sharpness and homogeneity of the image. It is certainly below the Sigma 35mm f/1.4, but it is still a very high level. Optical defects are globally well managed, despite the presence of a pronounced vignetting at f/2 which decreases towards f/4. Barrel distortion is slight and chromatic aberrations are almost non-existent. The quality of the bokeh is also remarkable.
In the end, Sigma signs here a very nice lens, perfectly built, offering an excellent image quality with few optical defects. If you are looking for a 35mm Sony, Sigma offers here a very nice lens to consider! Its price is still higher than my Samyang 35mm f/1.8 (but which is inferior in terms of image quality and build construction).
The 6 lenses mentioned above are summarized in the sortable table below.
|Lens||Max. aperture||Filter||Dimension (D / L)||Weight||Min. focus distance||Best Price|
|Sony 35mm f/1.4 GM||f/1.4||67mm||76 x 96mm||524g||25cm||Amazon B&H|
|Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art||f/1.2||82mm||88 x 136mm||1090g||30cm||Amazon B&H|
|Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art||f/1.4||67mm||76 x 110mm||645g||30cm||Amazon B&H|
|Samyang 35mm f/1.8 FE AF||f/1.8||58mm||65 x 63.5mm||210g||29cm||Amazon B&H|
|Tamron 35mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M 1:2||f/2.8||67mm||73 x 64mm||210g||15cm||Amazon B&H|
|Sigma 35mm f/2 DG DN I C||f/2||58mm||70 x 65mm||325g||27cm||Amazon B&H|
Any other 35mm alternatives to consider?
As with my article on the best Sony 24mm, I won’t go into detail about the three alternatives mentioned below. I consider them all to be less good and less interesting than the 6 mentioned above. However, here are a few things to remember about each.
- Sony 35mm f/1.8 FE
- Samyang 35mm f/2.8 FE AF
- Samyang 35mm f/1.4 FE AF
Of course, I feel compelled to place the Sony 35mm f/1.8 FE as an alternative too. The lens weighs 280g for 7,3cm long and has an all-weather construction. The image quality is however below the Sigma f/2, and obviously below the 5 lenses offered above. In my opinion, considering the price given (600€), I’d rather choose the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art (slightly more expensive) or the Samyang 35mm f/1.8 FE AF (almost half the price).
I go on with the Samyang 35mm f/2.8 FE AF. We can’t really compare it with the above-mentioned lenses actually. This Samyang is admittedly small and very light (85g), but it also offers an image quality well below the other lenses mentioned in this article. For about 300€, it is still a compact and cheap lens. However, if you don’t need a large aperture beyond f/2.8, I would largely advise to choose instead the Tamron 35mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M 1:2, as it offers a much better build and image quality.
Last alternative which may be considered: the Samyang 35mm f/1.4 FE AF. You might be surprised to see this 35mm f/1.4 at the end of the ranking. I don’t put it here because it is bad, but it is simply below the Sony 35mm f/1.4 GM (obviously) as well as the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art, and even most 35mm f/1.8 or even f/2.8. The image quality is still good, but the lens remains quite big and heavy, and does not have an all-weather construction. However, it is offered at a softer price.
I’ll stop here regarding the alternatives, but there could be others to discuss. I won’t mention for example the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, corresponding to an DSLR version adapted to mirrorless cameras. The recently released Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art offers better image quality, all in a more compact and lightweight package.
Which 35mm manual focus lenses to consider?
As with the 24mm, there are more than a dozen manual focus lenses that can be adapted to the Sony FE mount. There is a bit everything: some are good, some not so good, some really expensive and others rather low-cost. I don’t think that it is interesting today to choose a 35mm manual focus lens, especially when you see what third party brands like Tamron, Sigma or Samyang are able to offer in terms of quality and price. Personally, I won’t do without autofocus for street, event, wedding, reportage photography, well, for any kind of photography suitable for a 35mm.
However, if you want to have a good overview of what is available in 35mm manual focus, I have listed them all in the table below (in theory…if you see some that are not in the list and would deserve to be, feel free to let me know in comments).
|Lens||Max. aperture||Filter||Best Price|
|Zeiss 35mm f/2 Loxia Biogon T*||f/2||52mm||Amazon B&H|
|Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC||f/1.4||77mm||Amazon B&H|
|7artisans 35mm f/1.4||f/1.4||46mm||Amazon B&H|
|7artisans 35mm f/2||f/2||43mm||Amazon B&H|
|KIPON Iberit 35mm f/2.4||f/2.4||49mm||Amazon B&H|
|Mitakon Zhong Yi Speedmaster 35mm f/2||f/2||55mm||Amazon|
|Viltrox 35mm f/2 FE||f/2||43mm||Amazon|
|Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic||f/1.4||58mm||Amazon B&H|
|Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 ASPH SE Nokton||f/1.2||58mm||Amazon B&H|
That’s it, this article about the best 35mm lenses with AF for Sony full frame cameras is already over. As for the other articles of this type, this page required a lot of work of compilation, reading, research, etc. If you want to support our blog and our work, you can go through the links in the article to buy your lens. We get a small commission without the price changing for you, and this allows us to remain independent in our writing.
We sincerely hope that the advice given here will be useful and that it will allow you to choose your future Sony 35mm lens! In the meantime, don’t hesitate to tell us what you thought of the article! By the way, most of these lenses can be considered as the best Sony lenses (Full article).
To keep reading about photography equipment, I invite you to have a look at the article detailing the best wide-angle lenses for Sony cameras!
See you soon,