The Sony A6500 is an excellent mirrorless camera, with features better than the already-great A6300.
It’s got a 24 megapixel APS-C sensor, 425 AF points, 4K video recording and shoots at 11 frames per second.
However, the most exciting features are definitely the built-in 5-axis sensor stabilization, a touch-screen LCD and bigger buffer for JPEG and RAW. This makes it a much more attractive choice for sports, wildlife and low light shooters, and having touch-screen makes everything easier (video as well).
Resolution wise, we recommend the same lenses as we do for the A6300 since they both have 24MP, but now you don’t have to worry whether a lens is stabilized; it’s all done in the body.
Best Sony Zoom Lenses:
Best Sony Prime Lenses:
There isn’t one best lens for everything, and while someone may prefer shooting with an all-around zoom, someone might be looking for a couple of prime lenses. Our guide covers it all.
We’ve checked out all Sony and Sigma lenses compatible with the A6500 and selected the best ones for the money. We removed what we felt is overpriced or doesn’t have good optical quality. The following 8 lenses are great for plenty of different photography scenarios without breaking the bank.
Best Sony Zoom Lenses:
1. Sony 10-18mm f/4 G OSS
Best wideangle for landscape, streets, indoor
The Sony 10-18mm f/4 G OSS is the widest zoom lens available.
Aperture stays fixed at f/4 regardless of your length, which seems to be a standard for almost all Sony’s zooms and it’s something we like. While f/4 is not the best aperture for low light, it’s still better than f/5.6 or f/6.3, something that’s common when zooms under $1000.
You’ll most likely use it for landscape, but auto focus is still quick and usable for shots on the go. Distortion is very well controlled for a lens this wide, but vignetting at f/4 and 10mm will have to be corrected either in the camera or in post process, as you’ll most likely find it too strong.
The lens is also really light, yet feels solid and is mostly made of metal. It’s far from heavy at 0.50 lb (225g). The minimum focus distance is 0.82 ft (0.25m) and it takes 62mm filters.
It’s a perfect lens for landscape, streets, buildings, nature and even for traveling. It’ll be fine indoors too, but you will probably have to raise the ISO when in dim light.
2. Sony 18-105mm f/4 G OSS
Best all-around/travel zoom
The Sony 18-105mm f/4 G OSS is our favorite all-around zoom lens. It may be a little bit heavy for some of you, but the quality at this price is absolutely worth it.
Focal length is great for pretty much everything; landscape, streets, indoors, portraits, animals, closer sports and much more. At 15.1 oz it’s not the lightest lens when compared to other Sony zooms, but it’s still pretty light to be honest. In return, you get a fixed f/4 aperture at all lengths and really sharp images.
Colors, contrast, sharpness are all top notch, and it feels great in hand as well. If you’re looking for that one zoom to do it all, this is it.
It’s usable at f/4 but in certain the situations at 18mm, the vignetting is fairly visible. One stop smaller and it gets all better. We
We also considered the Sony 16-70mm f/4, but for $300 more, all you get is less reach and a lighter lens. If weight is absolutely the most important factor to you then it will be a good all-around lens, but simply looking for the best value for your money, nothing beats the 18-105mm.
3. Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS
Budget telephoto for animals and sports
Want a cheap and lightweight telephoto for animals? The Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS is your best option.
Quality is quite good, although at 210mm the lens tends to produce a little soft results. Given the price though, it’s you the most affordable way of getting into telephoto photography, and is the only inexpensive E mount zoom anyways. The A6500’s 1.5x crop factors makes it an equivalent of a 85-320mm lens. Stopping down to f/8 at 210mm improves the quality quite a lot, but you don’t always have the possibility to do that.
If you like traveling light, the 55-210mm is ideal as it only weighs 12.17 oz (345g). The lens extends as you zoom (typical at this price) and the zoom ring feels very smooth, not too stiff.
4. Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS
Best wildlife and outdoor sports telephoto
The Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS is a much better choice than the telephoto above, assuming you have the money of course.
First of all, it goes 100mm longer and delivers optically better images at 300mm than the 55-210mm does at 210mm. The extra reach also makes it so much better for wildlife and sports. At 300mm, its field of view on the A6500 is equivalent to a 450mm lens!
The second reason why it’s worth more money is the aperture range. As you can see with the lens above, its maximum aperture is f/6.3 at 210mm. The 70-300mm at 300mm has a bigger (f/5.6) max aperture, letting in more light so you don’t have to raise the ISO speed that much. Plus, the auto focus speed and accuracy are greatly improved as well.
The lens features 2 ED elements for improved quality, 4 aspherical elements for reducing the aberration, ghosting and comma, and it feels much better in hand. The downside is the added weight (1.88 lb) vs 0.76 lbz), almost 3x heavier and a longer design. It’s also got 9 instead of 7 diaphragm blades which results in better looking bokeh.
Simply put, the 70-300mm is worth more money but only if you have the budget and are serious about getting the best for wildlife, outdoor sports and general action. Indoors, you’ll have to raise the ISO speed to get acceptable shutter speeds, but by a lesser amount than with the 55-210mm above anyways.
Best Sony Prime Lenses:
Looking for the best quality? Sony’s prime lenses are incredibly sharp (at least the majority of them) and they’re small enough to compliment the A6500’s small body.
1. Sony 24mm f/1.8 Zeiss
Sharp prime for travel, landscape, indoors, streets
Mounted on the A6500, the Sony 24mm f/1.8 is equivalent to a 36mm lens on full frame.
That length is more or less the best for street photography unless you prefer mainly isolating your subjects. The 35mm length is also great for environmental portraits, indoors in low light, events and traveling.
It doesn’t have OSS but that’s where the new A6500 hops in; it’s got 5-axis built-in stabilization so even lenses without OSS are stabilized! Plus, you have to shoot around minimum 1/30 to get sharp results with it, but in extreme situations OSS will come handy.
The lens is very sharp, images have rich colors and contrast. It’s also usable at f/1.8 but corner sharpness gets better as you stop down of course. Auto focus is also quick and silent, and it rarely hunts in bad light (review at PhotographyBlog).
It’s the most expensive prime on our list, but is worth every dollar if you need a compact, well built wide/standard prime lens.
2. Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS
Compact lens for portraits, all-around, travel, low light
The Sony 35mm f/1.8G OSS provides an excellent length for portraits, weddings, casual photography and low light scenes.
For low light photography, an aperture f/1.8 is always good to have. Compared to f/2.8, it lets in almost twice as much light and you’ll appreciate it when shooting in low light and trying to use a fast shutter speed, or keep the ISO low.
For achieving a shallow depth of field (blurred background), a big aperture is also a must, anything bigger or equal to f/2.8. This makes it great for portraits, weddings, pets and whenever you want your subject to pop out.
The lens is really light (5.5 oz/155g) and accepts 49mm filters. For shooting on to go, or traveling light, the focal length + weight make it an excellent companion. Its auto focus is quick and accurate although you can expect it to hunt a little bit in low light.
3. Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS
Portraits, weddings, all-around, concerts, pets, food
If you’re more into portraits and isolating your subjects, the Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS is great.
The 50mm length on APS-C is equivalent to a 75mm lens on full frame. It sits between the ‘standard’ and ‘telephoto’ range so it it’s good for both casual (but not wide) photography and weddings, concerts, any situation where you can’t always be too close to your subject.
It’s more or less like the 35mm above; same aperture, similar weight and size. The 50mm is around $150 cheaper though! Quality wise, it’s similar to 50mm f/1.8’s from other brands; usable and sharp at f/1.8, but by f/4 everything gets even better (including corners). But if you’re shooting in low light and want good results, you can expect them at f/1.8 so no worries.
4. Sigma 60mm f/2.8 EX DN Art
Sharp lens for portraits, weddings, concerts
The Sigma 60mm f/2.8 is cheap but a steal for the money. It’s tack sharp, small and super compact.
While you do lose almost 1 f-stop of light compared to the 50mm above, and “only” gain 10mm in focal length, the end result is worth it. This Sigma piece of glass offers stellar performance; images are sharp, colors and contrast are beautiful.
Priced almost identically as the 50mm, it’s slightly smaller and weighs less. You can check out Sigma’s specifications and the MTF chart right here, it looks impressive.
The field of view is equivalent to a 90mm lens, auto focus is quick, accurate, and the lens features Sigma’s multi-layer coating to reduce the flare and ghosting.
If you’re looking for a long lens and are okay with f/2.8, you’ll love it.
Types of Lenses:
- Wideangle – Useful for capturing a lot in your scene (usually from 8 to 35mm)
- Standard – Where most photography happens (from 35 to 85mm)
- Telephoto – For subjects far away (85 to 600mm, only a few lenses that go higher)
- Macro – 1:1 ratio that magnifies your subject to real life size (usually from 60 to 180mm)
Best for landscape, architecture, indoors, nature and the sky (astrophotography). Since the A6500 has an APS-C sensor, don’t forget about the 1.5x crop factor.
Perfect for every day stuff, whether you’re taking pictures of your kids or shooting an outdoor event. The 35 to 85mm is a range that’s perfect for people, streets, traveling, weddings, food, you name it. Prime lenses in this range are affordable and have a big aperture so you can easily blur the background, but zooms give you good quality too, just with added weight and size.
These allow you to get really close to your subject, and are great for sports, concerts and wildlife. Sure you can move closer to your subject, but sometimes that’s impossible or not worth the risk.
Want to shoot bugs, small products, details or just want to explore the world that we don’t usually see? Macro lenses make your subject appear as big as it is in real life.
Zoom and Prime
- Zoom lenses – Focal length can be changed by twisting the zoom ring
- Prime lenses – Fixed focal length, can not be changed
Simply put, a zoom lens allows you to get closer to your subject by rotating the zoom ring (like the 55-210mm that goes from 55mm, everything between, and 210mm).
A prime lens on the other hand is always at the same focal length (for example, 50mm). Quality is usually better and the maximum aperture can be bigger without making the lens huge in size.