There are two classes of “best” lenses. The first is the literal best quality lens you can buy. Usually expensive, sometimes bulky, but with rave reviews and class-leading performance. Then there is the second class. This is what is actually the best and most effective lens for most users and takes into account things like price and size.
Filmmaker Levi Allen put together a list of the best and most effective lenses for his full-frame Sony a7S III adventure kit. This is the list I think most people would get a lot out of because while we might love to pick up that expensive and heavy FE 50mm f/1.2 G Master, most of us don’t need that.
General priorities for Levi are specific to his needs for adventure doc, selfie shots, and client videos. Priorities include being lightweight, the full-frame look, good AF, stabilization, and being easy to use. There are also all native mount as Levi finds that easiest.
FE 20mm f/1.8 G
An all-time favorite is the 20mm f/1.8. It’s easy to see why, the 20mm comes it at a relatively affordable price, it has a quite fast for the focal length f/1.8 aperture, and it’s a wonderful size. A wide-angle prime is ideal for a lot of handheld use since you can minimize the appearance of shake. Mounted on a gimbal things get even better. Plus, it’s a fun look when you get close.
For his self-films talking headshots the look is great and gives plenty of room in the frame in tight spaces he normally works in. Plus, that f/1.8 aperture is fast enough to get a shallow depth of field. Performance is top notch as well, especially with autofocus and it just smoothly tracks him.
FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS
24-105mm is the way to go. And, this version has OSS built-in for stable footage.This is your all-rounder. Perfect for quick grab-and-go shooting since it covers practically everything you need. If there is no time to swap lenses then the
For image quality that f/4 is a potential concern, but if you zoom to the tele ends even at f/4 you are getting decent control over the depth of field. It’s also affordable, has more reach than the f/2.8 options, and has optical stabilization.
Talking about video specifically the 24-105mm fills a huge spot in the bag without being too specialized and large—like a 70-200mm might be.
FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA
A fast, lightweight, normal prime is essential to any kit. The 55mm f/1.8 ZA fills that need in Sony’s lineup. It’s an older lens, but it is a gem and part of the original release of the a7 series. This one in particular is a bit pricey for sure, though it earns a fair bit of that price with its size, quality, and speed. Autofocus is a key point that Levi addresses and this lens is smooth for AF.
FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS
The 16-35mm f/4 was the only potential mistake lens in the kit. It serves the purpose of being a versatile wide-angle lens with built-in stabilization. However, the f/4 aperture really doesn’t give you can control over the depth of field. Plus, the stabilization is not super helpful for video and has some unnatural shake.
An alternative option that is recommended is actually the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD. It’s still small and lightweight but gets to that useful f/2.8 range. It’s a great lens that I have tried out and would definitely agree with this recommendation.
As an aside in the middle of the video, Levi takes a second to call out his Lume Cube Panel GO LED light. It’s tiny and with a little bit of control does a great job for the price. It’s size and effectiveness make it a worthwhile consideration for many kits if you want to bolster your lighting setup.
This is a good selection, but everyone has their own favorite lenses. What is yours? Mine right now has to be a combo between the FE 24mm f/1.4 and the FE 100mm STF.
[source: Levi Allen]
- Sony a7S III Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon, Adorama)
- Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens (B&H, Amazon, Adorama)
- Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens (B&H, Amazon, Adorama)
- Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G Lens (B&H, Amazon, Adorama)
- Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens (B&H, Amazon, Adorama)
- Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens (B&H, Amazon, Adorama)
- Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens (B&H, Amazon, Adorama)
- Lume Cube Panel GO (B&H, Amazon, Adorama)