Which Lens to Buy Next for My Sony Alpha Camera?

Three big reasons to buy a Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 for Sony full frame mirrorless cameras. First, it’s an ultra-wideangle capable of sweeping wide shots that are sharp edge-to-edge and span 94°. Second, it’s a 1:2 Macro lens (one-half life-size) that focuses as close as 4.3 inches. Third, this 2.5-inch lens costs just $249.

You can order this amazing lens from Amazon for just $249.

Tamron makes three Prime Lenses for Sony full frame mirrorless cameras. Of course, they also work great on Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras, too. In addition to the 20mm f/2.8 featured here, they offer a 24mm f/2.8 and a 35mm f/2.8. All are 2.5 inches tall, focus to 1:2 Macro and are priced right.

Tamron offers three prime (non-zoom) lenses for Sony E-Mount. All are 2.5 inches tall, and all are 1:2 Macro focusing. The other two Tamron primes are the Tamron 24mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 which you can order from Amazon for $199, and the Tamron 35mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 which also can be ordered from Amazon for $199. Note that these may be temporary price reductions. 

We reviewed these three Tamron prime lenses in detail a short time ago, Tamron Prime Lenses for Full-Frame Sony Mirrorless Cameras Review.

The Tamron 20mm f/2.8 (Model F050) has weather protection built in, but I always caution people to avoid direct exposure to rain and snow when possible. Same goes for sand, blowing dust and children with juice boxes.

After writing that review I decided that the 35mm f/2.8 would be a good choice for an everyday lens, based on the kind of shooting I often do. It’s small and light (2.5 inches and 7.4 ounces) and very sharp. The f/2.8 aperture is fast enough for indoor work, especially considering the high quality performance of my Sony Alpha camera at higher ISO settings.

So I bought one, and I’ve been pleased with it in every way. The 35mm focal length on my full frame Sony mirrorless has an angle-of-view of about 63° and is close to the mathematical normal focal length for 35mm-size sensors, nominally 43.3mm.

Farmers Markets provide an excellent practice arena to polish your photographic skills. Not a bad place to shop, either. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

The mathematical “normal” focal length for any camera format is derived by using the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate the diagonal measurement of its sensor. The sensor in the Sony Alpha a7RII measures 35.8 x 23.8; the true diagonal is about 42.9mm.

The 35mm f/2.8 proved so useful that I decided to add the 20mm f/2.8 to my bag. Man, was that ever a good decision!

One very cool thing Tamron did with the filter size: they’ve standardized on 67mm for almost all of the lenses in their Sony mirrorless lineup. Sounds trivial at first, but think about it. No more frustration when swapping lens caps during lens changes. And you can buy one 67mm Polarizer (or other filter) and use it on several different lenses—as opposed to buying a different size for each non-matching lens.

For instance, consider the K&F Concept 67mm Black Diffusion softfocus filter. It costs $36, and while that doesn’t break the bank necessarily, you’d be more hesitant if it didn’t fit several of the lenses for your Sony a7RII.

Additionally, Tamron lenses are fully compatible with Sony’s built-in camera features including Fast Hybrid AF, Eye AF and in-camera lens corrections (shading, chromatic aberration, distortion). So they allow me to make full use of the image-enhancing features Sony provides.

Are Prime Lenses better than Zoom Lenses? Many years ago this was largely true, but thanks to breakthroughs in computer-based optical design and the utilization of specialized, rare-earth glass, any differences are marginal. Primes are usually smaller and faster, so in some instances it may possible to get sharper images than you could with a zoom; however, those reasons are user-based, or work-habit-based, not product-based. This is my opinion; if you think primes are better, perhaps yours is, so we have no argument.

FeaturesSpecificationsOptical Design

Tamron’s 20mm f/2.8 is a fun lens. It’s ultra-wideangle, so you can shoot room interiors, groups of friends and architecture like never before. Plus it focuses to 4.3 inches and produces 1:2 macro images. If you’ve never shot close-ups with an extra-wide wideangle, you’re in for a happy experience.

At the core, Tamron’s 20mm f/2.8 is an ultra-wideangle lens. All of the other features (close-focus, fast aperture, compact size, etc.) are frosting on the cake. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

For travel, it’s ideal. Great for landscapes, scenery and cityscapes. I wish I’d had this with me last time I was in Japan. The streets in Osaka are narrow and it’s difficult to take everything in. Also, the Tamron 20mm f/2.8 lens weighs less than 8 ounces and is only 2.5 inches long. You’ll hardly know it’s in your bag.

Except for the fact that I shot this myself, I wouldn’t believe this outstanding macro performance from a 20mm ultra-wideangle lens. The lettering on this (borrowed) $100 bill is so crisp that you can almost hear it crackle. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

The Tamron 20mm f/2.8 features a nearly silent AF drive motor. The OSD in the lens’s full name stands for Optimized Silent Drive. This innovation is especially helpful when shooting video—no one wants motor noise on their movie soundtrack.

Nice, colorful shot, no? Well, look at the fractional below. The big green stem on the left is the same as the tiny green stem circumscribed in the inset. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

The sharpness, edge-to-edge, along with consistent corner-to-corner illumination, is amazing. I hunted but could not find any unsharpness or vignetting in the corners (which sometimes can occur when using very wide wideangle lenses).

If you own a Sony full frame mirrorless camera, this lens makes an excellent addition to your kit.

I enjoy playing with Sony’s built-in Picture Effects. This is an example of Illustration. Sadly, Sony removed many of these special effects from current Alpha models. The Farmers Market venue is ripe for Picture Effects (pun not intended). ©Jon Sienkiewicz

Price and Availability
You can order the Tamron 20mm f/2.8 lens from Amazon for just $249. Prices of Tamron’s other two prime lenses for Sony full frame mirrorless camera are as follows: Tamron 24mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 can be ordered from Amazon for $199, and the Tamron 35mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 can be ordered from Amazon for $199. Note that these may be temporary price reductions.  Tamron lenses purchased from authorized Tamron dealers are protected by a 6-year USA Limited Warranty.

Shot in normal color and converted to monochrome using Photoshop: Image/Adjustments/Black & White. Included here because it showcases the versatility of using an ultra-wideangle lens in close quarters. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

A Word in Favor of Farmers Markets
Farmers Markets, like the two illustrated in this story, offer diverse photographic opportunities. There are so many different colors, textures and shapes, and always a great variety of people who are invariably casual and friendly. Farmers Markets are a good place to shoot impromptu portraits, close-up/macros shots, clashing colorful abstracts and much, much more.

Hard to believe that this is a 600-pixel-wide crop of the 100% enlargement of a digital image. All of the cropped images in this story are the same: 100%. Here you can easily read even the small print (“*Weather permitting) on the Farmers Market sign. Believe me; from where I was standing it was just a blur. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

Farmer’s Markets are an assorted collection of the many venues you might pursue photographically, starting with urban street shooting. In other words, Farmers Markets are the perfect place to polish your skills.

—Jon Sienkiewicz


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grgurb's picture

This article inspired me to buy a lens. Not this particular one though, the 35mm version. I had been looking for a close focusing lens with autofocus and a wider field of view than my manual focus 85mm macro.
The lens should be here today and I am looking forward to using it, costs only $199.00 on sale so a great bargain!

Jon Sienkiewicz's picture

Hey, I hope you enjoy it.
As I mentioned in the article, the 35mm f/2.8 is a great everyday lens for just about any subject.