Sony Lens Mount Naming Have You Confused?

Sony has come a long way in a short amount of time with their Alpha camera system, and in their wake they’ve left a few different product names floating around (NEX, E, FE, A) that may have newcomers confused. Here’s a breakdown of what it all means.

In this video, Sony Artisan and kick-ass Sports Photographer Patrick Murphy-Racey sets up an arrangement of NEX (now discontinued), crop-sensor, and full-frame Alpha mirrorless cameras to show exactly how they all came to be and how they work with each other.

As mentioned in the video, one of the great things Sony did when laying out the design plans for their Alpha mirrorless cameras and lenses was they made APS-C and full-frame E-mounts identical so that they can be directly fitted on any Alpha mirrorless APS-C or full-frame camera. This means a full-frame lens like the FE 85mm f/1.4 GM can still mount directly to the APS-C a6500, and an APS-C lens like the brand new E 18-135mm f/3.5–5.6 OSS can be mounted directly to the full-frame a7R III camera. In the latter case, the camera will recognize an APS-C lens in mounted and automatically crop the image area down to the appropriate size where there will be no black edges (this drops down the amount of effective megapixels of your outputted images as well).

One area where I see many people get confused is with Sony’s two distinct lines of A-mount and E-mount lenses. While NEX, FE, and E mount lenses are all made to fit interchangeably, the A mount is not compatible into that system without an adapter. I think what happens if that people assume the “A” is short for Alpha, and think since they own an “Alpha 7” camera the two should work together. The A-mount is in fact different, however, and made to be fitted onto Sony’s DSLR cameras.

Cover image by Rakesh Gohil via Pexels.

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They really should have left the Alpha branding to the A-mount bodies only but I was told the NEX branding was gaining so much popularity that Sony probably felt like it had to kill it before no one remember the Alpha A-Mount line, which Sony ended up doing it themselves anyway... Interesting to find the video lens are E-Mount too.

I have shot with Sony cameras for a long time, so I know what is what. But it is really confusing for the uninitiated.
That is the same with more companies.
Sony FE lenses that will fit on all e-mount cameras and E-mount lenses that crops the image on full frame e-mount bodies but will fit anyway. A mount lenses that won't fit on e-mount cameras.
Canon EF-S lenses that won't fit on full frame bodies but EF lenses that will fit on most aps-c and aps-h bodies.
Canon mirrorless that is completely different.
Nikon lenses with or without motor in the lens that work with certain camera bodies and won't work on other camera bodies.

Most people that aren't enthusiast even don't know what aps-c, ff, 1 inch sensors are.

Well, he did NOT get into the original AMC Alpha Mount Camera as introduced in 1985 by Minolta as the Alpha / Dynax / Maxxum mount, which has since been acquired by Sony, who retained the Alpha / AMC nomenclature.

Mounts -- there are now 2 mounts:

1 - Alpha-mount, A-mount, same since 1985, ( with only evolutions in the number of contacts to drive in-lens zoom motors, otherwise ... ), all A-mount lenses and cameras are interchangeable ( ... except that a lens's zoom motor, if it has one, will not respond when mounted to a camera with fewer contacts than the zoom motor needs ).

2 - NEX-mount, which eventually settled down as the e-mount, which was inherited into the Alpha family nomenclature for marketing simplicity, unrelated to the technical differences between the original AMC Alpha Mount Cameras and the original NEX e-mount cameras.

For most photographers, the additional benefit of the e-mount that was not mentioned is that the depth between the lens mount and the sensort is shallower than almost any other camera, permitting space for adapters to fit other maker's lenses to e-mount cameras.

Sony makes the terrific Alpha-mount-to-e-mount adapters that have full function for every AMC Alpha Mount Camera lens, including original Alpha / Dynax / Maxxum lenses from 1985 and later, when used on e-mount cameras.

Adapters by independent makers are available to fit almost any other lens you can find onto a Sony e-mount camera.

Frame size -- there are only 2 capture sizes:

1 - Full Frame equal to 35mm film.

2 - APS-C 52% crop frame compared to 35mm film.

Combinations of mounts and capture sizes:

Both the A-mount and e-mount camera systems have models with full-frame sensors or APS-C-sensors.

That's it.



2 mounts - original A-mount and newer e-mount, all e-mount cameras accepts all e-mount lenses, and all e-mount cameras accept all A-mount lenses using an adapter, and all e-mount cameras accept all other lenses using adapters from independent makers.

2 capture sizes -- full frame equal to 35mm film, and APS-C equal to APS-C film, which is 52% of the size of 35mm film, all Sony A-mount and e-mount cameras of any sensor size accept all lenses regardless of the lens being designed for full frame or for APS-C, rendering an automatic crop or a vignette ( or no compromise if the lens is that good ).

In other words,

-- buy any Sony camera,

-- mount any lens, use a lens adapter for e-mount cameras if needed and available,

-- and shoot.


Not complicated at all.