Best Portrait Lenses for Sony A6000 – 2020 Guide

Andy
| Last Updated: January 4, 2021

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Sony was the first brand to launch mirrorless cameras and has since then continuously released powerful lineups of the cameras.

The Alpha series dominates the mirrorless camera's market due to its professional functionality packed into a compact body. To take great pictures, a great camera needs to be paired with the right lenses.

A6000 is a top tier camera from Sony's Alpha series, and to take portraits that match its potential, we've looked into a few lenses that would go well with the camera.

Comparison of the Best Portrait Lenses for Sony A6000

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilization
  • 7-blade circular aperture for better defocus effects
  • Elegant aluminum alloy exterior
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  • Features 9 rounded aperture blades
  • Great for lowlight and for creating depth of field
  • Small size for portability
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  • Best for the Money
  • Double-gauss configuration
  • Large F1.8 maximum aperture for enhanced defocusing
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  • Edge sharpness is very impressive
  • Consists of 6 Groups 9 Elements
  • Offers electronic control of the shutter
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  • Optical design for better peripheral sharpness and contrast
  • Comes with direct manual focus
  • Built-in image stabilization
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What is a Portrait Lens?

A portrait lens is a camera lens that allows photographing a person or a group of people capturing their personality or emotions. Usually, an ideal portrait lens has a focal length ranging between 70 to 135mm with an aperture that is moderately wide with shallow depth of field for excellent low light performances. A portrait lens allows the person to stand out and be the main element of focus in the entire picture.

The long focal lengths helps shoot close-ups despite being shot from a distance. A wide aperture would create a shallow depth of field, blurring the background, ensuring that your subject is the only point in the image that is tack sharp.

How to Choose an A6000 Portrait Lens

A portrait lens has characteristics that create a beautiful photograph where all the focus lies precisely on your subject. Type of lens, aperture, and focal length are the essential features that need to be looked into before settling on one.

Prime vs Zoom Lenses

Prime lenses have a fixed focal length, while zoom lenses have a range of focal lengths. Also,  prime lenses are lighter and faster to use and produce very sharp images. They, however, offer only one focal length so you cannot adjust between them. This might be a disadvantage for beginners who are still not too familiar with the working of cameras but offer a significant advantage to professional photographers who use them to get precisely the sort of picture they want. Prime lenses are expensive, and you have to carry more than one to get various focal lengths.

The zoom lenses are very suitable for beginners as they can experiment between various focal lengths.  With zoom lenses, you get a variety of styles and perspectives. However, sharper images are obtained by prime lenses.

Aperture

With portrait photography, you need only the subject to stand out. For that, you need the camera to open wide enough to blur the rest of the parts, including the background in the picture. A wide aperture lying between f/2.8 to f/5.6 would provide a shallow depth of field enough to make the person stand out against a nicely blurred background.

Focal Length

The focal length is yet another feature that makes or breaks a great portrait. Long focal lengths are perfect for shooting a portrait as they give you the advantage of shooting from a distance without creating distortions. A longer focal length in this way yields more realistic proportions

Quick Take - Best Sony A6000 Portrait Lenses 

Before we dive into our review, here are the best portrait lenses for Sony A6000:

  1. Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS
  2. Sigma 30mm F1.4
  3. Sony - FE 50mm F1.8

Review of the Best Sony A6000 Portrait Lenses

A6000 is a mirrorless camera that belongs to the Alpha series released by Sony. It matches its name in functionality and definitely is an alpha among the mirrorless cameras. We’ve reviewed a few lenses that go well with the A6000 to ease your decision regarding the lens.

Best Overall:
Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS

Sony - E 50mm F1.8 OSS Portrait Lens (SEL50F18/B), Black

PROS

  • A prime lens with a fixed focal length of 50mm
  • The diaphragm is made of 7 blades, the aperture that maximizes to F1.8 for incredible defocusing effects
  • Aluminum alloy body is lightweight, compact, and resistant to damage
  • The diaphragm blades are circular producing smooth background blurs

CONS

  • Produces dim corners on the photograph
  • Lacks weather sealing and is not weather resistant
  • Auto-focus does not work well and fails to detect subject especially in wide aperture

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers of the Sony E 50mm include both amateurs and professionals, and it’s safe to say both are equally blown away by the image quality. The camera produces incredible photographs with a nicely blurred background, and the subject occupying the foreground is crisp and sharp. The smooth contrast between the background and foreground is ideal for portraits.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The low aperture settings that would make the subject stand out in front of a dreamy, blurred background is a feature that cannot go unappreciated, especially in a portrait lens. The image stabilization technology reduces blur that might result from hands shaking, so you don't have to carry your tripod everywhere.

Who Will Use This Most

We think the lens is so good it would deliver the result in anyone's hands, be it professionals or beginner hobbyists. The 7-blade circular diaphragm blades produce a bokeh so smooth that it would please all portrait photographers. Image stability makes it easier to use in the hands of beginners who might still be getting to learn how to stabilize their hands for a tack sharp photo.

Bottom Line

This prime lens delivers prime results as well. It has a remarkably full aperture mode and a long enough focal length. That combined with the circular blades producing smooth and distortion-free blurry backgrounds. The lens pairs well with the A6000. And users who've used both in a combination have found it to produce incredible results.

Runner-up:
Sigma 30mm F1.4

Sigma 30mm F1.4 Contemporary DC DN Lens for Sony E

PROS

  • 9 round blade diaphragm produces ultra-smooth bokeh
  • The focal length of 30mm suitable for various types of photography
  • A large aperture produces bright pictures with blurred backgrounds
  • Constructed with a thermally stable composite to withstand temperature variations
  • Stepping ring auto-focus motor for smooth rotation settling on the sharpest focus point

CONS

  • Does not support image stabilization
  • Might produce noticeable barrel distortion
  • Manual focus mode focuses by wire making it challenging to use

What Recent Buyers Report

Users have found the lens to be among the finest F1.4 lenses out there and much cheaper compared to the competition as well. Its lightweight and the size complements the small body of a mirrorless camera. Both amateurs and professionals have found it very usable with special appreciation for its smooth and incredibly accurate auto-focus.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Portraits require wide apertures, which means the lower the F stop, the better. The F1.4 enables background to de-focus, unlike any other in the same price range. The auto-focus is very fast and accurate, allowing fast point and shoot activity. The lens produces great results, even in low light portrait photography.

Who Will Use This Most

We think that the lens is suitable for low-light portrait photography and for any other portraits that do not require a lot of movement. The lens does not support image stabilization and would require a tripod to eliminate the distortion by shakiness. The lens is a use-for-all when it comes to portraits except for sports portraits that require capturing players in motion.

Bottom Line

Once you get the hang of the focus by wire feature, the lens is exceptional when it comes to sharp images and exceptional optics. The lens is highly suitable for A6000 for portrait photography thanks to its wide aperture and small size. Moreover, it is suitable for the APS-C format that complements the A6000's APS-C sensor and supports Sony E mount.

Best for the Money:
 Sony - FE 50mm F1.8

Sony - FE 50mm F1.8 Standard Lens (SEL50F18F), Black

PROS

  • Manual focus is smooth to rotate and also sharp
  • The long focal length of 75mm allows shooting from a distance
  • Wide F1.8 aperture produces beautiful de-focused background effects
  • Seven blade circular aperture gives smooth submerged background blur
  • Incorporated asymmetrical elements control chromatic aberration and distortions

CONS

  • Does not support image stabilization
  • Slow auto-focus makes it difficult to use in dim light
  • Auto-focus takes time hunting for the best focus and makes a lot of noise

What Recent Buyers Report

The recent buyers have found the lens to serve the purpose well for its price. It produces such a smooth, sophisticated blurred background that all eyes lie on the subject in focus. The bokeh produced is very uniform. The long focal length is extremely useful to take portraits from a distance, eliminating distortions in facial features that arrive from a close proximity capture.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We think that the lens is great at minimizing aberrations and distortions. It has asymmetrical elements that counter aberrations while double glass configuration minimizes glare and field curvature producing sharp optical characteristics. The F1.8 wide aperture and the long focal length produce clear, high-quality images conveying the emotions and personalities that you want to show through your photography.

Who Will Use This Most

Considering the features, the lens is lightweight and pairs really well with the A6000, producing a combination that is efficient yet easy to carry around. The lens makes it easier to be used during travel or to cover events based on long hours such as weddings without tiring your hand. It would be enjoyed by all levels of photographers, however, newbies will find some difficulty working out the auto-focus.

Bottom Line

With the features that it offers at a price, it asks for the Sony - FE 50mm F1.8 is almost too good to be true. It combines a dynamic structure with extreme performance and versatility in use. An easy to operate lens perfect for sharp tack portraits captured against a smooth, blurry, and uniform background.

MEKE 85mm F1.8 Manual Focus Full Frame Large Aperture Standard Medium Portrait Lens with Electronic Aperture & EXIF Information Transmission for Sony E-Mount Cameras A7 A7R A7C A7RII A7SIII A7SII A9

PROS

  • Nine round-bladed diaphragms for uniform bokeh blur
  • The long focal length of 85mm suits portrait photography
  • Supports Sony E Mount and is compatible with APS-C cameras
  • The manual focus ring is smooth in operation and non-electronic
  • Wide aperture F1.8 blurs the background and lets light in for shooting in the dark

CONS

  • The auto-focus is rather slow
  • Auto-focus makes lots of whirring sounds during rotations
  • The lens is not weather resistant and is subjected to damage under the rain and extreme sunlight

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the recent buyers have reported the lens to be well made with the standard overall construction and excellent performance in terms of portrait photography. The auto-focus takes its time adjusting but delivers once it is set. It is easy to mount and use, and offers a large focal length giving the space needed to shoot great portraits.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The features supported by this lens make it undoubtedly a classic portrait lens. With its 85mm focal length, you can focus from around 3 feet away and a sharply visible subject. A good quality bokeh background is obtained at F4 in such a way that it has no vignette. The lens transmits EXIF information making it easier to keep the record.

Who Will Use This Most

This Meike lens is very user-friendly and does not involve any deep understanding to operate. It would particularly favor beginners interested in portrait photography due to its versatile usability. It could be used in light and dark, day time and night time shoots, as well as for shoots involving movement if you can work your way around with its manual focus.

Bottom Line

A great price for even greater performance. Ultra-rich colored photographs with smooth edges and background. A focal length large enough to allow shooting from a considerable distance. All the elements that make for a great medium standard portrait lens. You are guaranteed to enjoy the results it produces with the ease it produces them.

Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8 Prime Fixed Lens

PROS

  • Lightweight yet reliable external aluminum layout
  • Intelligent optical design reduces flare and ghosting in images
  • 35mm long focal length gives a minimum focus distance of 0.99ft
  • F1.8 is an aperture wide enough to produce excellent shots without much effort
  • The built-in optical steady shot mechanism reduces destabilization during the shooting

CONS

  • Not weather resistant or waterproof
  • Fringing might appear during a shooting
  • The focal length might not be long enough for shooting from a considerable distance

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of the buyers have really enjoyed using this lens, especially because it is so lightweight it could be easily carried around without being a burden. Moreover, it produces crystal sharp images with the background melting into a beautiful blur. The auto-focus is sharp and instant and does not produce whirring sounds. The aperture is wide enough to suit a blurry background and also lets a lot of light in making it a great option for low-light use as well.

Why it Stands Out to Us

What is required of a lens is to produce a sharp image with the subject in focus without creating distortions? This Sony lens supports a mechanism that takes image stabilization to another level. The Optical Steady Shot feature stabilizes image projection while you are capturing it. The ED glass remarkably removes chromatic aberration at telephoto ranges providing high contrast images produced by superior optics. The lens is a great option for all sorts of portrait photography.

Who Will Use This Most

The Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8 is especially useful for novices who are getting accustomed to portrait photography. Since a lot of early-stage learning is dependent upon mastering the relationship between focus and the rest of the mechanisms, the smooth and instant auto-focus is a lot of help. The beginners can create stunning portraits in AF mode while they learn their way around the manual focus. Similarly, it is great for professional photographers who work at great speed, saving them the trouble of setting the manual focus for each shot.

Bottom Line

Sony has been dominating the lens game for a long time, and this lens is no exception. Remarkable capabilities at a very suitable price allows anyone to create amazing portraits with ease. It aids the whole process with its fast auto-focus and great image stabilizing mechanisms.

Benefits of Investing in a Quality Portrait Lens

Here is why you need to invest in a good quality portrait lens;

A Great Impact on Your Photography

A quality lens is no less important than a quality camera. As seen earlier, a lens affects your image's depth of field, background blur, and stabilization. These things greatly influence how your photograph turns out. A good lens is as essential to a camera as an hour hand to a clock. Without it, the camera simply would not be living up to its potential.

Quality Influences Longevity

A consistency in finesse in the production of your content requires a timely upgrade of most of your equipment. But a lens is a part of the whole scenario that is a big investment. A quality lens, if taken care of properly without testing it to extremes and giving it a good cleaning service now and then would serve you for a long time. With the proper care provided, you would be working with your old, loyal companions for a very long time. 

Compatibility

Often times, you find a lens that is very well suited to your portrait needs but is not supported by any of your camera bodies. With the modern and quality lenses, you find compatibility with almost all camera models. This saves you from the hassle of carrying and shifting between too many lenses and bodies as well as takes care of your pocket.

Conclusion

The A6000 is a great choice for portrait photography. A lens suited to portrait photography should produce smooth bokeh backgrounds without compromising the focus of the subject, as well as, have a considerable focal length. All the lenses reviewed to provide you with all of this and that too at exceptionally reasonable prices. You are sure to enjoy working with any of them.

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Andy

Hi, I’m Andy. I’ve been taking pictures for just about as long as I’ve been old enough to hold a camera. I studied photography in community college after high school but was encouraged to follow a career path that was more stable. I do gigs here and there on the side but never took the leap to focus my efforts full-time. When Pam reached out to me through a mutual friend, I jumped on the opportunity to be a writer. Favorite type of photography: macro and street.