Best lenses for the Sony a6500

Best Sony a6500 Lenses

So you've bought the compact Sony a6500. How do you choose which lenses to pair with it? Read on to see the best lenses for the Sony a6500.

Camera Gear Guides | Lens Guides | Sony Lens Guides | By Marc Bergreen | Last Updated: August 29, 2023

You read the review of the Sony a6500 and picked one up of your own… and now it’s time to complete your kit with a selection of lenses! There are so many options at different price points that it can be difficult to choose.

That’s why I’ve done the work for you and listed my top choices below.

Sony E 24mm f/1.8

Great low-light performance, feather-light, sturdy build quality and execeptional auto-focus makes this a must have lens for the Sony a6500.

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The first thing to consider when choosing lenses is what type of subjects you like to shoot. Portrait photographers tend to want something on the medium to telephoto range to create nice bokeh.

Landscape photographers usually tend to want something wide angle to capture large scenes.

If you’re like me, you shoot a variety of subjects and want several camera lenses to cover a broad range of focal lengths. In addition, you want a do-all lens to keep on your camera most of the time to document a variety of scenes.

If you’ve chosen the Sony a6500, most likely you appreciate a small form factor. It fits in your pocket, so you don’t want to attach a big lens to it and make the camera less compact.

Several of the options below pair well with the small body. Check out my top lenses for the Sony a6500 in the table below and read on for all the details.

Best Sony a6500 Lenses in 2023

Image Product Features
shk2-table__imageSony 24mm f/1.8OUR #1 CHOICE
  • Great in Low Light
  • Razor Sharp
  • Fast Auto Focus
  • Great Build Quality
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shk2-table__imageSony 16-70mm f/4BEST ALLROUND ZOOM
  • Extremely Versatile
  • Smooth Bokeh
  • Compact & Light
  • Great Value
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shk2-table__imageSony 20mm f/2.8BEST FOR TRAVEL
  • Featherlight & Tiny
  • Versatile Focal Length
  • Great Auto Focus
  • Affordable
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shk2-table__imageSony 10-18mm f/4BEST WIDE ANGLE
  • Dramatic Perspective
  • Razor Sharp
  • Good Build Quality
  • Great Image Stabilisation
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shk2-table__imageSony 35mm f/1.8BEST VALUE ALLROUNDER
  • Useful Focal Distance
  • Great Bokeh
  • Lightweight & Compact
  • Great Value
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shk2-table__imageSony 50mm f/1.8BEST FOR PORTRAITS
  • Amazing Bokeh
  • Compact & Light
  • Great for Portraits
  • Great Image Stabilisation
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What Type of Lenses Work with the Sony a6500?

Sony a6500

Sony a6500 with Sony 16-70mm f/4

There are two main types of lens for Sony ‘E-mount’ cameras: ‘FE’ and ‘E’ lenses. The ‘E-mount’ itself simply refers to the mount on the camera body itself, where the lens attaches. (There’s also a lesser known A-mount, made for Sony Translucent Mirror type camera bodies, but that won’t come into play here.)

The difference between ‘E’ and ‘FE’ lenses is simple: E lenses were made for Sony’s crop sensor APS-C cameras (i.e. the Sony alpha a6500 and other a6xxx cameras). FE lenses were made for Sony’s full-frame line-ups (like the A7 series).

Sony FE lenses can be used on all Sony mirrorless cameras whether full frame or not, but perform with a 1.5* focal length multiplication on APS-C cameras.

The only reason to buy FE lenses for your a6500 is if you’re planning to upgrade to a full-frame mirrorless Sony in the future or you already have one and want to share lenses between the two. Otherwise, it’s best to stick with the lenses designed for your system.

The E lenses are generally smaller and lighter than their full-frame (FE) counterparts. They’re also much more affordable.

Sony a6500 Lens Reviews

For this review, I’m going to concentrate on native Sony lenses made for Sony cameras. Sure, there are plenty of excellent third-party options out there, but I believe ‘native’ lenses tend to out-perform third-party options.

1. Sony E 24mm f/1.8

Best Lenses for Sony a6500 - Sony 24mm f1.4

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Focal Length: 24mm (equivalent to 36mm)
225g (7.9 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 63 x 66mm (2.5 x 2.6in)
Filter Diameter: 49mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.16m (6.3in)

This lens immediately impressed me with its sturdy build quality. Upon holding it, you can feel the quality and know that it will last!

The quality feels similar to other full frame E-mount lenses I own, despite the fact that this is a crop sensor lens designed for the a6500 series.

With the all-metal barrel, it feels solid, but it must have some plastic in the design because it is surprisingly light. I would compare it in feel to the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8.

This lens is one of the larger APS-C E-mount lenses, likely because of the fast aperture.

At f/1.8, it lets in a lot of light, pairing nicely with the Sony a6500’s low light photography performance. Together they make a great combo for dark shooting environments.

The focus ring on the Sony 24mm f/1.8 feels smooth and has a nice grip. Again, the metal design is a nice touch. The autofocus is also fast and effective.

Additionally, this is an impressively sharp lens. As a prime, I expect it to be sharp, but the quality exceeded my expectations.

Even at the widest aperture, the image was very usable across the whole frame. The sharpness improves at f/2.8 and maximum sharpness is reached at f/4.

Best Lenses for Sony a6500 - Sony 24mm f1.4

Sony A6500 + Sony 24mm f/1.8 | 1/800 f/4 ISO 200

The only drawbacks of this lens are that it is slightly heavier and not as compact as some others. This is likely due to the improved build quality and sharper optics.

I’ll take higher quality and sharper over lightweight in almost every scenario. If you’re looking for a do-all, high-quality prime lens for your Sony a6500, the Sony 24mm f/1.8 is it.

I chose this as my favorite because of the focal length. Over the past 8 years, I’ve shot with a lot of lenses but have homed in on the 35mm focal length.

With an equivalent focal length of 36mm, this lens is a perfect partner to the a6500.

It’s great for shooting portraits, landscapes, family, and travel. It just works so well for so many subjects!

Talk to most photojournalists and they will tout the flexibility and utility of the 35mm focal length.

A lot of people tell you your first lens should be “nifty fifty”, but I think a 35mm is a much better choice!

2. Sony E 16-70mm f/4

Best Lenses for Sony a6500 - Sony 16-70mm f4

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Focal Length: 16-70mm (equivalent to 24-105mm)
308g (10.9 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 67 x 75mm (2.6 x 3 in)
Filter Diameter: 55mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.35m (13.8in)

Everyone loves a mid-range zoom. It’s the lens that can stay on your camera all the time and be ready to shoot any subject.

Personally, I am a fan of prime lenses, but if you’re looking at a zoom, the Sony 16-70mm f/4 is the one to get for your Sony a6500. It covers a wide range of focal lengths and has a constant f/4 aperture.

At the wide end, this lens is great for shooting landscapes. At the telephoto end, it does an awesome job at creating smooth bokeh for a clean, sharp portrait.

Another feature is the compact design. It tucks nicely into a pocket or jacket, making it the one lens you can take with you to shoot a variety of scenes. Mounted on the compact body of the Sony a6500, this makes a superb travel combo.

If you are looking for an extremely compact setup, I’d recommend going with a prime lens, but if you want a wide range zoom, the 16-70mm is a great choice.

Additionally, I was very satisfied with the sharpness of this lens. It provides exceptional quality for the wide range of focal lengths.

Best Lenses for Sony a6500 - Sony 16-70mm f4

Sony A6500 + Sony 16-70mm f/4 | 1/4000 f/4 ISO 200

Like the above lens, I’m a big fan of the metal-feeling design. It is the heaviest lens in this review, but the quality/flexibility are worth it.

The autofocus of this lens is awesome for outdoor scenarios, but slowed down slightly indoors due to the maximum aperture of f/4.

The faster prime lenses in this review are slightly more effective in dark situations.

While the weight is a drawback, the Sony 16-70mm f/2.8 still weighs 150g (5 oz) less than the a6500 camera body.

This provides a nice balance while remaining much lighter than equivalent setups from other camera manufacturers.

  Because of the APS-C crop factor, the lens has to have a wider focal length to achieve the equivalent of a full frame camera. This causes the lens to have more distortion at the wider focal lengths.

The distortion is acceptable – it just creates a slightly different look than you would see from the full frame equivalent. It doesn’t bother me too much, but is worth knowing about.

Overall, the Sony 16-70mm f/2.8 is the most versatile zoom lens and a great choice for someone looking to use one lens for everything.

3. Sony E 20mm f/2.8

Best Lenses for Sony a6500 - Sony 20mm f2.8

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Focal Length: 20mm (equivalent to 30mm)
69g (2.4 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 63 x 20mm (2.5 x 0.8in)
Filter Diameter: 49mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.2m (7.8 in)

Of all the lenses in this review, I find myself gravitating towards this one because of its amazingly compact design.

Mounted on the Sony a6500, it feels more like a point-and-shoot camera than a high quality mirrorless setup.

The pancake design is awesome for creating images in an incognito situation.

If you’re looking to have a camera setup that puts the smallest camera between you and your subject, the Sony 20mm f/2.8 is it!

Similar to the Sony 24mm f/1.8 mentioned above, this lens has a really nice focal length. Although I prefer 35mm, this 30mm equivalent lens is a close second.

The Sony 20mm f/2.8 straddles the line between a 50mm “normal” lens and wide angle, giving you the best of both worlds.

It’s perfect for travel, family, portraits, and landscapes – it’s a do-all lens for a wide variety of subjects.

Best Lenses for Sony a6500 - Sony 20mm f2.8

Sony A6500 + Sony 20mm f/2.8 | 1/800 f/4 ISO 200

The build on the Sony 20mm f/2.8 is as rugged as I’d like it to be. This is probably due to its compact, super-light design.

If feels like its mostly made of plastic. Still, the fact that it’s so lightweight might help it survive a drop.

The wide angle distortion is evident but not overwhelming. I find it tolerable, especially for shooting landscapes and close-up action sports.

The autofocus of this lens is fast and effective, something that surprises me considering how affordable this lens is.

At f/2.8, the moderately fast aperture was handy, allowing me to shoot in darker scenarios – if you shoot a lot in lowlight, you might want to consider the Sony 20mm f/1.8 (review), which offers another stop of light.

An added bonus is the lens hood, which adds another degree of protection to the Sony 20mm f/2.8’s front element. If you ever forget your lens cap, this hood makes a world of difference in protecting your lens. It also protects it a bit from rain and snow when shooting in inclement weather.

Final verdict? A very effective lens in an ultralight package!

4. Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS

Best Lenses for Sony a6500 - Sony 10-18mm f4

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Focal Length: 10-18mm (equivalent to 15-27mm)
225g (7.9 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 70 x 63mm (2.8 x 2.5in)
Filter Diameter: 62mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.25m (9.8in)

Being a fan of wide angle lenses, this was the first lens I owned for my Sony a6500.

It allows you to create dramatic landscape images with an equivalent focal length similar to the 16-35mm full frame lens (my favorite Sony zoom lens).

The Sony 10-18mm f/4 is for creating Instagram-worthy images featuring person dwarfed by a huge landscape.

This wide to super-wide zoom range will immerse the viewer in the frame, capturing sweeping vistas with ease.

The other advantage of this lens over other wide angles is the compact size. I spend a lot of time skiing with it zipped in my jacket or climbing with it hanging off my harness.

Best Lenses for Sony a6500 - Sony 10-18mm f4

Sony A6500 + Sony 10-18mm f/4 | 1/2000 f/6.3 ISO 400

The build quality of this lens is fairly decent. I’d prefer more metal in the design. Still, I’ve put this lens through a lot and it’s held up through everything.

I use it a lot while camping/hiking and it didn’t have any issues.

The all-round sharpness of the Sony 10-18mm f/4 is excellent for the price.

The autofocus works as expected and takes advantage of the overall strengths of the excellent a6500 AF system.  Even working at the wide-angle end of the focal length, I rarely had issues with hunting or seeking. My subjects always came out in focus.

For a wide angle zoom at this price point, the Sony 10-18mm f/4 is surprisingly sharp throughout the frame, especially if you focus at or beyond its hyper-focal range of 1.5 meters (5 ft).

With its constant f/4 aperture, the Sony 10-18mm f/4 suffers a little in low light situations.

If you’re looking for an astrophotography lens, I’d suggest something like the Rokinon 12mm f/2. It has a manual focus, but performs amazingly when shooting the night sky.

Still, for all intents and purposes the Sony 10-18mm f/4 is a fantastic zoom at a more than fair price. Its versatility and awesome perspective make it a dead ringer for any a6500 kit.

5. Sony E 35mm f/1.8 OSS

Best Lenses for Sony a6500 - Sony 35mm f1.8

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Focal Length: 35mm (equivalent to 52.5mm)
 154g (5.5 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 63 x 45mm (2-1/2 x 1-13/16in.)
Filter Diameter: 49mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.3m (0.99ft)

Read almost any photography how-to guide and it will suggest that beginners learn with a standard 50mm lens.

The Sony 35mm f/1.8 is a great option for those looking for a 50mm equivalent on their a6500.

This nifty fifty equivalent will encourage you to zoom with your feet and frame up subjects with more purpose.

It fits the bill for an inexpensive, fast prime lens, and should definitely be on the shopping list of all Sony a6500 owners.

Best Lenses for Sony a6500 - Sony 35mm f1.8

Sony A6500 + Sony 35mm f/1.8 | 1/640 f/4 ISO 200

The Sony 35mm f/1.8 has a nice compact design that pairs well with the a6500. Its f/1.8 aperture allows you to shoot in low light and capture dark scenes.

The 50mm focal length is a great blend of a portrait lens and an everyday lens that performs relatively well at both.

The bokeh is smooth and consistent with some sharpness towards the middle of the frame.

My main complaint is that this lens isn’t the sharpest. It suffers most at the wider apertures and doesn’t get much sharpness until you stop down a lot. For a prime lens, this is rather frustrating.

What it lacks in sharpness, it makes up for in just how affordable this lens is, and its lightweight and compact design.

The build quality on the Sony 35mm f/1.8 is pretty good, although it does feel like a mostly plastic design. Still, I’ve dropped min a few times and it’s still going strong!

The autofocus easily matches the exceptional performance of the Sony a6500. It finds its target quick and fast. No complaints there!

Final a verdict? The Sony 35mm f/1.8 is a fantastic option for those looking for the classic “nifty fifty” for their Sony a6500!

6. Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS

Best Lenses for Sony a6500 - Sony 50mm f1.8

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Focal Length: 50mm (equivalent to 75mm)
202g (7.1 oz.)
Size (Diameter x Length): 62x 62mm (2.4 x 2.4 in)
Filter Diameter: 49mm
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.39m (15.3 in)

This lens surprised me. At first, I wasn’t sure I would like it, but it quickly grabbed my attention.

It’s not typically a favorite focal length for a prime lens, but I found myself picking it up on several occasions. The 75mm equivalent will compress a scene and direct the viewer’s eye.

Lens compression really aids in bringing backgrounds closer to the viewer. The overall effect makes it seem like a backdrop is closer than it really is.

Additionally, the f/1.8 aperture on the Sony 50mm f/1.8 will allow you to create dreamy bokeh that isolates your subject from the backdrop.

The other lenses in this post don’t come anywhere close to creating that classic portrait look.

Also, the telephoto focal length of the Sony 50mm f/1.8 will create pleasing images that show proper proportions of faces in portraits.

This lens is a great choice for photographing people, whether you’re doing mainly headshots or full body portraits.

Best Lenses for Sony a6500 - Sony 50mm f1.8

Sony A6500 + Sony 50mm f/1.8 | 1/800 f/4 ISO 200

For its speed and focal length, this lens is surprisingly compact. In fact, it’s considerably lighter than other comparable lenses.

Considering its low price point, the sharpness of this lens is really pretty extraordinary. For me, it performed much better than expected.

The build quality is pretty similar to the Sony 35mm f/1.8 – light and mostly plastic. Still, considering the small size of the Sony a6500, this isn’t a bad thing, as it balances well on the camera body,

Final verdict? If you’re looking for a lens that takes beautiful portraits while not breaking the bank, the Sony 50mm f/1.8 is your guy.

In fact, if you haven’t yet bought any lenses for your Sony a6500, this is probably one of the first lenses you should get.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best lens for Sony a6500?

Which lens will work best for you really depend on what you shoot. If you’re doing a little of everything, the Sony 24mm f/1.8 is our top pick. It’s a versatile focal length, had excellent build quality, and images come out nicely sharp.

What Sony lens is best for portraits?

Our favorite portrait lens for the Sony a6500 is the Sony 50mm f/1.8. It delivers that classic portrait look, with beautiful, creamy bokeh that separates subjects nicely from the background.

Can I use full frame lens on Sony a6500?

Yes, all Sony FE (full frame) lenses can be used with the Sony a6500. Just be aware that the focal lengths won’t quite match – you have to apply a 1.5* focal length multiplication.

What is the sharpest Sony lens?

If you’re looking for a razor-sharp prime lens, we’d recommend the Sony 24mm f/1.8. On the zoom side of things, the wide angle Sony 10-18mm f/4 is our zoom of choice.

Best Sony a6500 Lenses | Final Words

Sony_a6500_lens reviews

The Sony a6500 with Sony 16-70mm f/4

There are so many lens options for the Sony a6500, it can be difficult to wade through them all. I hope I’ve narrowed down the field for you a bit with my list of the 6 best lens choices available.

To choose the best lens for you, you’ll need to consider what you’re going to be using it for, and then weight that against its features, price, size/weight, and over all performance.

One nice thing about investing in camera lenses, is that they tend to hold their value. That means you can often sell it pretty easily if you find it doesn’t work for you.

Know of any great  Sony a6500 that aren’t on this list? Let us know in the comments below.

Sony E 24mm f/1.8

Great low-light performance, feather-light, sturdy build quality and execeptional auto-focus makes this a must have lens for the Sony a6500.

Check Current Price


  1. Stuart Whitman on April 25, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Sony FE 85mm 1.8 paired with any of the Sony A6000 series cameras is great as a mid range telephoto prime giving approx 130mm equivalent. I’ve had this for about a year and use for running/cycling sports photography and the images are pin sharp. A good quality lens which is great value – highly recommended.

    • Mark Condon on April 28, 2019 at 9:18 am

      I own that lens too, Stuart. I use it mainly on an a7III, but as you said, it’s also a fantastic lens for an APS-C camera such as the a6 series. Small, light and razor sharp :-)

  2. Will on April 18, 2019 at 1:46 am

    Marc, you failed to mention the absolute best APS-C Sony lenses are not made by Sony. Is there a reason you didn’t include the Sigma 16mm or 56mm 1.4? Absolutely, without a doubt, the best lenses you could buy for any APS-C system.

    • Mark Condon on April 19, 2019 at 5:31 am

      We limited this list to native Sony lenses, Will. 3rd party lenses are great, but the topic of another article.

  3. Marc Bergreen on April 8, 2019 at 12:48 am

    Hope you enjoyed my review! Let me know if you have any questions below :)

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