Sony FE vs. E Lenses: Main Differences

Sony FE vs E Lenses: Main Differences

If you are looking to purchase a new lens for your Sony camera, you may be wondering if you should go with the FE or E-lens. Both Sony lenses can provide their own unique benefits and drawbacks, so it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you.

The first differentiation between the FE and E-lenses is their size. The thing is the FE-lenses are much larger and heavier than the E-lenses. This can be a serious drawback if you are looking for a portable option. However, the extra size of the FE-lenses allows for greater light gathering ability and sharper images.

Another key difference is the value. The FE-lenses tend to be more costly than the E-lenses, so it is important to consider your budget before making a purchase. However, keep in mind that the quality of the FE-lenses is typically worth a few bucks.

In this article dedicated to Sony lenses, photography experts will discuss the main differences between the FE and E-lenses. In such a way, you can make an informed decision about which one is best for your needs.

What Sony Lens Type Do You Actually Require?

What Sony Lens Type Do You Actually Require?

The latest cameras made by Sony usually require two various types of lenses. They’re manufactured for digital E-mount-ready cameras specifically.

E and FE-lenses are both great options – it depends on the camera type that you own. If a user has a digital full-frame camera, then the FE-lens can be a good option. However, if a user owns an APS-C camera, then it is wiser to pick an E-lens. Either way, you can’t go wrong with either of these Sony lenses.

Bear in mind that EF-lenses are constructed for full-frame devices specifically. On the contrary, E-lenses are created with the thought of full compatibility with APS-C cameras. Bear in mind that both types – E and FE-lenses – are commonly applied on full-frame/APS-C cameras. Nevertheless, only E-lenses produced by Sony can be applied to compatible digital APS-C cameras [1].

What Does FE Mean On Sony Lenses?

The E-Mount is compatible with full-frame/APS-C sized sensors. Commonly the sensors include cameras produced by Sony. The glasses for this system are referred to as EF glasses. They are typically suitable for use with E-mount cameras – think of the A7 series [2].

Typically, an FE glass should be applied to an APS-C E-mount camera. When this happens, the image circle is cut/cropped by the smaller sensor. The main benefit of applying an FE-glass on an APS-C camera is that all of the glass’ features are utilized, such as autofocus and image stabilization.

What Does FE Mean On Sony Lenses?

FE designation on a Sony glass denotes that the optics have been produced with the compatibility to fit full-frame E-mount cameras. The largest image circle of an FE-glass is large enough for the coverage of the sensor. In such way, the vignetting occurs in the corners of your photos. This ensures corner-to-corner sharpness and brightness.

What Are E-Lenses?

E-glasses/lenses, on the contrary, are created for Sony APS-C cameras such as the one shown here:

  • a6400;
  • a6600;
  • a6100;
  • a6300;

These models have a cropped sensor. When an E glass is applied on a full-frame camera, the image may appear like it is zoomed by default.

APS-C cameras are more on the beginner to enthusiast-level of the consumer, so you don’t need all of the pricey components like full weather sealing. Glasses equipped with APS-C cameras will be less costly than FE glasses. This happens because they are typically made for smaller digital SLR cameras and won’t have all of the traditional bells and whistles [3].

Get to Know the Key Differences Between E and FE-Lenses Made by Sony:

  • Optics. Sony FE-lenses typically have better optics than E-lenses. This means that they can provide sharper images with less distortion and chromatic aberration;
  • Aperture. Sony FE-lenses usually have larger maximum apertures than E-lenses. This means that they can let in more light, which is quite useful in very low-light situations;
  • Image Stabilization. Some FE-lenses also feature image stabilization, while most E-lenses do not. Image stabilization can help to reduce camera shake and blur, making it ideal for handheld shooting.
  • AutoFocus. All Sony FE-lenses offer autofocus, while some E-lenses do not. If you plan on using your lens for video or action photography, autofocus can be very beneficial.
  • Weather Sealing. Many Sony FE-lenses are also weather-sealed, while most E-lenses are not. This means that they can better withstand the elements, such as dust, moisture, and heat;
  • Build quality. FE-lenses tend to be produced with top-notch materials than E-lenses. This results in a sturdier lens that is less likely to break or suffer from wear and tear over time;
  • Image stabilization. FE-lenses often have built-in image stabilization, while E-lenses typically do not. This feature can be useful if you should reduce the blur in photos (in a case, you shoot with longer shutter speeds or in low-light conditions);
  • Cost. FE-lenses tend to be more expensive than E-lenses;

What Are E-Lenses?

Sony’s best lenses will be found in the G and GM (G-master) series, which are available at a lower price. The G-master series is specially designed for Sony’s latest camera models that have been announced, such as the Sony a6400.

The pricier lenses will always be better in terms of build quality and image quality. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re perfect for everyone.

E-lenses are designed for cameras intended for amateurs, whereas most FE-lenses are designed for cameras geared toward professionals. E-lenses are less likely to need complete weather sealing, as well as other costly and specialized components that are more typically seen in professional environments [4].

Sony’s full-frame camera lens lines are said to have the greatest potential and quality, comparable to those of Canon and Nikon. The overall quality of the FE will be superior.

The G and GM series is the finest Sony lenses. These series’ lenses are among some of the most popular among professional photographers.

What FE and E-lenses should you buy for Sony cameras? The pricey lenses will always offer the best image quality. However, they may not be perfect for everyone.

It depends on your needs as a photographer. If you need a lens for a professional environment, then an FE-lens would be ideal. However, if you are an amateur or enthusiast, then an E-lens would be better suited for your needs [5].

What are A-mounts and E-mounts?

A-mount is a lens mount designed by Sony for its Alpha range of DSLR cameras. The Sony Alpha series of DSLRs feature a proprietary lens mount known as A-mount.

What are A-mounts and E-mounts?

E-mount is a lens mount designed by Sony for its NEX series of mirrorless cameras. The Sony E-mount is a lens mount created by Sony for its NEX series of mirrorless cameras.

The main difference between A-mount and E-mount is that A-mount lenses are designed for use with DSLR cameras, while E-mount lenses are designed for use with mirrorless cameras.

Both lens mounts allow you to interchangeably use different lenses on your camera body, but the type of camera body will determine which lens mount you need to use.

DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras have been around since the early 1990s and were the standard type of digital camera until mirrorless cameras became popular in the 2010s. DSLR cameras use a reflex mirror system that directs light from the lens to the viewfinder, while also sending light to the image sensor to capture the photo.

Mirrorless cameras, on the other hand, do not use a reflex mirror system. Instead, they use an electronic viewfinder (EVF) or an LCD screen to display what the camera is seeing. This means that mirrorless cameras are typically smaller and lighter than DSLRs since they don’t need to accommodate a reflex mirror system.

So if you own a Sony A-mount lens, it can only be used with Sony A-mount camera bodies. If you have an E-mount lens, it may only be used with E-mount camera bodies. Nevertheless, adapters exist that allow you to use A-mount lenses on E-mount camera bodies and vice versa.

When it comes to image quality, both A-mount and E-mount lenses are capable of producing high-quality images. However, the lenses in Sony’s G and GM series are generally considered to be the best of the best. These lenses are designed for professional photographers and offer the highest level of quality in terms of build quality and image quality.

Comparison of Sony FE and E Lenses

Sony offers two types of lenses for their mirrorless cameras: FE lenses and E lenses. While both lens types are compatible with Sony’s E-mount cameras, there are some key differences between the two. This table compares the main indicators of Sony FE and E lenses to help you decide which one is best for your needs.

Indicator Sony FE lenses Sony E lenses
Image circle coverage Full-frame (36x24mm) APS-C (23.5×15.6mm)
Focal length multiplier 1x (on full-frame cameras) 1.5x (on APS-C cameras)
Number of lenses available Over 50 Over 30
Price range $200-$2,500+ $200-$1,500+
Size and weight Larger and heavier Smaller and lighter
Image quality Generally higher Depends on specific lens
Autofocus speed Generally faster Depends on specific lens and camera
Compatibility with teleconverters Compatible with Sony teleconverters Not compatible with Sony teleconverters

This table provides a comparison of the main indicators of Sony FE and E lenses. FE lenses offer full-frame image circle coverage and a 1x focal length multiplier, while E lenses offer APS-C image circle coverage and a 1.5x focal length multiplier. FE lenses also tend to have higher image quality and faster autofocus speeds, but they are generally larger and more expensive than E lenses. Additionally, FE lenses are compatible with Sony teleconverters, while E lenses are not. Ultimately, the choice between FE and E lenses depends on your specific needs and preferences.

If you want to take pictures like a pro, read our other articles below:


What is the best Sony lens/glass for low light?

The Sony FE 24-70mm f/². Eight GM Glass is considered to be the best Sony lens/glass for low light, as it has a large maximum aperture that allows more light to enter the camera. Additionally, this glass features built-in image stabilization, which can help reduce blur in photos taken with longer shutter speeds or in low-light conditions.

Will an E-lens work with E-mount cameras like the Sony A7?

The Sony E-Mount Adapter allows you to connect 35mm PL glasses to Sony cameras. It adds a magnification factor of 1.11x when connected to the glass. It is designed for use with the Sony A7-series cameras [6].

What is the crop factor on E-lenses?

The Sony E-Mount has a crop factor of about 23. So, for example, a 50mm glass on a Sony E-Mount camera will have the field of view of a 115mm glass on a full-frame camera.

This is due to the smaller image circle produced by an E-mount glass. When applying an E-mount glass on a full-frame camera, the image will be automatically cropped to APS-C size.

An FE-mount glass can also be applied on an E-mount camera, but there may be some vignetting at the edges of the image. Mainly this occurs the larger image circle made by an FE-mount glass is not fully utilized on an APS-C sensor camera.

In general, the FE glasses are sharper than their E-mount counterparts. Nevertheless, there are a few exceptions considered.

For example, the Sony 35mm f/28 is one of the sharpest FE glasses, while the Canon 35mm f/28 is significantly better in the corners.

What is a full-frame camera?

A digital single-glass reflex camera (DSLR) with a 35mm image sensor and a sensor identical to that of a film 35mm camera is referred to as a full-frame camera [7].

A full-frame DSLR offers several advantages over an APS-C DSLR, including:

  • Wider field of view. This is due to the larger sensor size, which captures more light than an APS-C sensor;
  • Better low-light performance. Again, this is due to the larger sensor size, which allows for better ISO performance;
  • Shallower depth of field. This is because the larger sensor size gives you a wider angle of view, which in turn gives you a shallower depth of field;

There are some disadvantages to using a full-frame DSLR as well, including:

  • Heavier and bulkier camera body. This is because the larger sensor size requires a bigger camera body;
  • The glasses are pricey. This is because the larger sensor size means that you need glasses with a wider field of view, which are typically more costly;

What is an E-mount?

The Sony NEX (a.k.a. New E-mount Experience) stands for an E-mount. It is a specific glass mount created by Sony for their NEX cameras [8].

E-mount lenses are divided into 2 categories:

  • FE (full-frame);
  • E (APS-C);

Sony and third-party producers currently offer 43 native FE glasses, as well as 83 native E glasses.

E glasses are made for APS-C models like the Sony a5000. Another big distinction is that FE glass typically costs quite a bit more than E-zooms or primes.

So, if you own an APS-C camera and want to get into shooting portraits or landscapes with fast prime glass, an E-mount would likely be the more economical route.

On the other hand, if you have your heart set on a full-frame camera and can afford the pricier FE glasses, they will offer better performance in low light and greater overall sharpness.

Do FE-lenses operate on E-mount?

Yes, an F-mount glass may be applied on an E-mount camera with an APS-C sensor. Due to the high-quality sensor and large image circle, vignetting is no longer an issue. The only disadvantage is the reduced field of view.

On the other hand, E-mount glasses can not be used on F-mount cameras as the image circle is too small. The result would be severe vignetting. Even though there are adapters available that allow you to mount an E-mount glass on an F-mount camera, most experts do not recommend it as it will impact image quality.

To put it simply, if you want to use a Sony FE glass on an APS-C sensor camera, you can do so without any problems.

There are no dark corners surrounding the picture to produce vignetting since the center of the glass is automatically cropped to APS-C size [9].

What is meant by an APS-C camera?

The term “APS-C” comes from the fact that these cameras use the same size sensor as a traditional 35mm film camera.

Crop sensor cameras are those that have a sensor that is approximately 24mm x 16mm and uses the APS-C format. These types of cameras are also sometimes called “cropped frame” or “APS-H” cameras.

A full-frame DSLR has a sensor that is the same size as a 35mm film frame, whereas an APS-C DSLR has one that measures around 24mm x 16mm.

As a result of this smaller sensor, there is what’s known as a “crop factor”.

One of the main advantages of using an APS-C camera is that it allows you to use glasses with a longer focal length than what you would be able to use on a full-frame camera. This is due to the fact that the APS-C sensor size is smaller than a full-frame sensor, which means that the glass will have a narrower field of view when used on an APS-C camera.

Can users gear the FE-lens for the Sony a6000 camera?

All FE glasses are completely compatible with all E-mount crop-sensor cameras. If you believe you’ll be purchasing a full-frame camera in the future, this is probably the best option.

On the other hand, if you know that you’ll never use a full-frame camera, then it’s probably best to save some money and purchase an E-mount glass. EF-S and DT glasses are not compatible with full-frame cameras and will produce a severe vignetting effect.

Is FE considered a full-frame?

The short answer is yes, Sony FE-glasses are absolutely full-frame. This means that they will work with any Sony camera that has a full-frame sensor. The main benefits of using a full-frame glass are that you’ll get better image quality and low-light performance.

Additionally, full-frame glasses tend to be sharper and have less distortion.

If you’re looking for a Sony glass to use with an APS-C sensor camera, then you’ll want to look for an E-mount glass. These glasses are specifically designed for use with APS-C sensor cameras and will provide the best image quality possible. Keep in mind that you may see some corner vignetting if you use an EF or EF-S mount glass on an APS-C sensor camera, as the image will be cropped to fit the smaller sensor size.

However, there are some tradeoffs to consider when using a full-frame glass. One is that they tend to be larger and heavier than APS-C or Micro Four Thirds glasses. This can make them more difficult to carry around, especially if you’re traveling light. Another downside is that full-frame glasses can be more expensive than their APS-C or Micro Four Thirds counterparts.

What does “E” mean on Sony lenses?

The Sony FE mount uses E-mount, which is optimized for Sony’s mirrorless cameras with an APS-C sensor, such as the Sony Alpha A6000. When an E-mount glass is typically applied on a full-frame camera, the picture will be automatically cropped to APS-C proportions. The smaller image circle generated by an E-mount glass is responsible for this.

On the other hand, when a Sony FE glass is used on an APS-C sensor camera, there is no cropping of the image. The full-frame size sensor will be utilized which allows for full utilization of the field of view that the glass provides.

An EF or EF-S mount glass can also be applied on an E-mount camera, although there may be corner vignetting. Because the larger image area produced by an FE-mount glass is not completely utilized on an APS-C sensor, this is the case.

Can you apply an APS-C lens on a full-frame camera made by Sony?

Theoretically, yes – but photography experts don’t recommend it. The reason is that APS-C glasses are designed to work best with APS-C sensors. 

Because full-frame sensors are so much larger, employing an APS-C glass on a full-frame camera may cause significant issues.

First of all, you’ll get a lot of vignetting (think of dark corners in your photos). This is because the glass isn’t big enough to cover the entire sensor. Second, your images will be soft around the edges. And third, you might have some issues with autofocus.

On a full-frame camera, however, you can’t apply an APS-C glass. The image circle generated by an APS-C glass is insufficient to cover the entire sensor area.

So while you can technically use an APS-C glass on a full-frame camera, some experts wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re absolutely sure that’s what you want to do.

What is the sharpest Sony FE-lens?

At 50mm, Sony’s 50mm f/14 GM is the clear winner. It’s one of the sharpest FE glasses, and it has no noticeable field curves. Canon’s 50mm f/14 STM is a close second, but it has very slight field curvature.

On the 16mm side, Sony is somewhat better in the middle, but Canon is much better on the 35mm side.  Sony’s 35mm f/28 is one of the sharpest FE-glasses, while Canon’s 35mm f/28 is significantly better in the corners.

In general, Sony’s FE-glasses are sharper than their E-mount counterparts. However, there are a few exceptions.

Useful Video: Sony Lenses for Beginners | Native E Mount – FE vs E