Sony is said to be releasing six new E mount lenses in the next 12 months. Given the size and quality of the range of Sony glass, what do you want and what do you expect? And what do the likes of Tamron, Zeiss, Sigma, and Rokinon/Samyang have planned?
Sony Alpha Rumors has had heard from a trusted source that Sony has new glass in the pipeline, but there are few details at this stage. It’s thought that one will be APS-C, while most will be telephoto primes and longer zooms, with the possibility of an update to some of the existing lenses, such as the 70-200mm f/4 G or 85mm f/1.4 GM.
Some will be hoping for a version two of the 24-70mm f/2.8 GM. This lens is now just shy of four years old, and if Sony’s recent lenses are anything to go by, there’s room for improvement — faster autofocus, sharper results, and perhaps a slightly more compact build all seem feasible. There’s also speculation that Sony is about to give users a fast wide-angle GM lens, with many owners clamoring for something like an f/1.8 18mm prime.
The lens line-up for Sony has expanded dramatically in the last few years, especially with third party manufacturers such as Sigma, Tamron, and Samyang filling in many of the gaps and producing more affordable options. The last major release for full-frame cameras from Sony was the FE 35mm f/1.8, which has garnered some excellent reviews in recent months and filled one of the huge gaps in the range of Sony glass.
Sony now has the opportunity to extend into slightly more niche lenses. Some will be eager to see the ultra wide-angle autofocus prime mentioned above, which would make many astrophotographers very happy or perhaps even a fisheye.
Sony a6x00 shooters might be a little frustrated to find that only one of the six lenses is expected to be APS-C, and many would have been keen to see a fast ultra-wide-angle zoom as well as a telephoto zoom for crop-sensor cameras. As it stands, there are a few fast manual focus primes such as the Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 and the Rokinon/Samyang 12mm f/2.0, but anyone wanting an f/2.8 zoom and/or autofocus lens at these focal lengths will need to go full-frame.
For telephoto zooms, something like a 50-140mm or 55-200mm f/2.8 would please a lot of Sony APS-C owners. Quite why Sony is reluctant to pad out the range of APS-C glass further is a bit of a mystery.
Time to Refresh the Fifty?
Canon has put a bit of pressure on Sony thanks to an impressive array of RF lenses that are pushing the bounds of what “pro” lenses should be. It will be interesting to see whether Sony decides to try and match the likes of the RF 50mm f/1.2L or the RF 28-70mm f/2L. There’s always speculation that the diameter of Sony’s FE mount might be a limiting factor, though I doubt you’ll hear anyone at Sony admit it, while the Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 would suggest that it’s within the realm of possibility. And on the subject of 50mm primes, is there space for something else in-between Sony’s nifty fifty and the Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8 ZA?
The Olympics Approach
As mentioned, Sony Alpha Rumors is expecting some telephoto primes, and Sony might be wise to start filling out its offering for sports and wildlife shooters, especially with the Olympics approaching fast. A 500mm f/4, a 300mm f/2.8 GM, or perhaps a 200mm f/2 might be in the pipeline, and there’s been plenty of talk over the last year of a 100mm f/1.4 GM, a lens that was patented at the same time as the 135mm f/1.8 GM, which saw its release in April last year.
Tamron and a Fast 35mm?
Tamron has been incredibly productive over the last two years, especially with its Sony products. Being slightly more specialist, the 17-28mm f/2.8 hasn’t proved as ludicrous in sales as the much-respected 28-75mm f/2.8, but it’s now in my lens bag as a replacement to my (adapted) Canon 16-35mm f/2.8. The trio of f/2.8 primes is about to be completed, as the 20mm is expected to reach shelves within the next month (see my reviews of the 24mm and 35mm), and the 70-180mm f/2.8 will complete its trinity of zooms with intelligent compromises by the end of spring.
Tamron will not be resting on its laurels, however, and more Sony glass is definitely on its way (as many as six, if you believe the rumors), making me excited at what is in store. A little frustratingly, Tamron swerved from producing a 35mm f/1.8, perhaps because Sony owns a share of Tamron, and a direct competitor to Sony’s new 35mm f/1.8 would have been a bit awkward, especially so soon. This is not to say it won’t happen, but it probably won’t be in 2020. I wonder if a 35mm f/1.4 lens is more likely, especially given the rave reviews received by the SP 35mm f/1.4 for Canon and Nikon DSLRs.
It’s worth noting Tamron will not simply take the Canon/Nikon-mount SP and simply port it to Sony. In Tamron’s opinion, converting existing glass for different mounts is a recipe for oversized lenses and autofocus issues. If Tamron chooses to build this lens, it will be from the ground up.
The other reason for Tamron to pursue a 35mm f/1.4 is that the Sony 35mm f/1.4 ZA is open to competition. Lens Rentals noted last year that the Sony 35mm f/1.8 puts it to shame, and the ZA is a 2015 lens that has a reputation for a lot of variability between copies. Zeiss and Sony will be continuing their partnership, but there’s definitely potential for Tamron to step in here, unless Sony has plans for its own 35mm f/1.4, or perhaps even a f/1.2 GM to raise a few industry eyebrows and offer some competition to Sigma.
I reached out to Tamron, but they’re keeping their plans under wraps for the time being. Given the patent application last year for three f/2.0 primes — 20mm, 40mm, and 85mm — there’s a chance that one of these might appear, but that would be an incredibly fast turnaround, even for Tamron. Plus, Tamron may have plans for RF and Z-mount glass, which might take the focus away from Sony for the next year or two.
Having produced four chunky lenses for Sony in 2019, Sigma is not giving much away in terms of its releases in 2020. Three Arts (35mm f/1.2, 14-24mm f/2.8, and the 24-70mm f/2.8) and one Contemporary (45mm f/2.8) demonstrated a very productive year, and the 24-70mm f/2.8 in particular will be a welcome addition to the options available to Sony users when it reaches the shelves. The beginning of February is now looking most likely.
Sony Alpha Rumors is reporting that a 70-200mm f/2.8 from Sigma is due to appear in the very near future, continuing to position the manufacturer nicely between the expensive glass made by Sony, and the affordable lenses produced by Tamron. Sigma's MC-11 adapter has been pivotal in drawing Canon shooters across to Sony, and Sigma will be working hard to capitalize on photographers who want to finish the transition between systems. Sigma will be a little frustrated that its trinity of zooms didn't arrive a bit sooner, and it might now be in a race to release its tele zoom ahead of Tamron's forthcoming 75-180mm f/2.8.
Late last year, Sigma filed patents for three f/1.2 lenses: 35mm, 40mm, and 50mm. The 35mm f/1.2 already exists, but will we see either of the others come to market in 2020? Of the two, the 50mm seems more likely.
Tokina has just announced its brand new atx-m 85mm F1.8 FE which is due to start shipping on February 7. This tele prime is the first of Tokina's new atx series, with RF and Z mounts looking likely in the near future. Entering a crowded field, it's a very reasonable $500 but it will have to work hard to draw customers away from Sony's own 85mm f/1.8 or even Samyang's 85mm f/1.4, both of which are only a shade more expensive.
What Do You Want?
No doubt there's more than a few lenses missing from this list. Zeiss will have plans but was reluctant to comment on any specifics. What else is going to emerge over the next 12 months, and what is missing from your gear bag that you'd like to see filled? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.