What makes Sony camera lenses better than its rivals?

The most important decision a photographer makes is the choice of the right lens for a camera. While some photographers will invest heavily in a camera body than in a lens, more photographers will tell you that the choice of the lens is far more crucial. The right lens helps you create a signature style. But, more importantly, you carry a good lens with you, even when your camera body changes. So, a good collection of lenses, unlike several other photography tools, stays with you for a long time.

Recognising this, companies like Sony, have focused on building a formidable collection of lenses that can be matched to the company’s many cameras. You can view a full list of the best Sony lenses available in 2020. Let us look at how Sony has managed to consistently produce camera lenses that put it ahead of its rivals.

The first-mover advantage: Sony was among the companies that pioneered mirrorless technology in commercially marketed cameras way back in 2008-2010. As a result, its technology has evolved significantly in the last decade. For instance, the autofocus on the Sony basic full-frame camera now comes with a real-time eye. While optical in-body stabilisation was not included with the A7, it is now a given on the A7 III. Battery life, which has always been a sticky point in mirrorless camera technology has more than doubled in the last decade. As the world increasingly sees mirrorless cameras as being the technology of the future, and the slow but steady phasing out of DSLRs continues unabated, Sony is in fact far ahead of the game.

A wide range of choices: As a result of both this first-mover advantage and its consistent focus on a strategy that hinges around creating its own in-house technology, Sony has amongst the broadest line ups of lenses in the market. While its A-mount lenses cater to DSLRs, its E-mount lenses are for mirrorless Sony cameras (Alpha 7 series, Alpha 6000 and 5000 series, and NEX series). Since 2010, Sony has released over 65 E lenses for mirrorless cameras. Together, these lenses cater to wide price and feature requirements. Starting from lower-end kit lenses to general all-purpose lenses and finally Sony’s top-notch high-end G Master series, there is something in there for everybody, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro photographer.

An interchangeable lens strategy: Sony lenses can be used across the Sony camera ecosystem. But it’s A-mount lenses and E-mount lenses are not interchangeable, as these have different diameters, Yet it is still possible to use an A-mount lens on an E-mount body, and vice versa, albeit with the support of a mount. This is also true of third-party Sigma and Tamron lenses, which are especially compatible with Sony cameras, and come at a far lower price tag. In fact, even competitor lenses from Nikon and Canon can be paired with a Sony body, using an adapter. However, the disadvantage there would be the absence of communication between your camera and lens. So, the most recommended option would still be to pair a Sony camera with a Sony lens from its vast interchangeable offerings.

The only integrated camera company: Sony’s focus on creating its own in-house technology for product development also makes it the only fully integrated camera company. That it means it uses its own technology to make all elements of its camera system, be it optics, actuators, sensors, processors, or displays. In fact, since 2019, Sony has been the world’s largest manufacturer of CMOS image sensors, with its chips being used in digital cameras, tablet computers and smartphones. In addition, it is also the leading producer of electronic viewfinders globally. This means that all the technologies that Sony uses in its cameras are available in-house and can be developed in an integrated fashion. It rarely ever simply only assembles its products.

The difference is AI: This combined head start often puts Sony ahead of the game. It was also this strength in in-house technology that drove the innovation that saw Sony give the world its first Walkman and PlayStation. It also helped Sony lead the shift from DSLR to mirrorless camera technology, and now also puts it at the forefront of the first moves to integrate AI to create more intelligent camera technology. The AI autofocus in Sony’s A7 III camera solves a problem that wildlife photographers have perennially struggled with, automatically detecting and tracking the eyes of animals that they are photographing. And this could potentially just be the beginning of a long journey, where AI continues to make our cameras more intelligent.

But among the many advantages of using a Sony camera, remains its interchangeable lens strategy, which means that it can be paired with any third-party lens that beats it on either price or quality. So even as Sony takes on the best glass in the world, it must constantly innovate to stay ahead of the game. In this market of many choices and prices, it clearly remains an advantage customer, while keeping Sony on the path of continuous innovation.