Sony vs Canon Lenses

by Enche Tjin on December 18, 2008

Sony has been pretty active and aggressive in recent years in digital SLR market. Sony DSLR department inherited technology from Konica Minolta that does not exist anymore. In camera section, Sony has any camera for any class. From entry level: Sony A200, enthusiast: Sony A300/A350, Semi-pro: A700 and Professional full frame Sony A900.

In lens department, we can see a huge gap between entry level lens and pro level lens. Let’s compare Sony lens collection with Canon lens collection.

Note: The price might change, and if the market price change, it tends to be lower.
BC is build quality, IQ is image quality

Wide and Telephoto prime lenses

Wide and Telephoto prime lenses

As we can see, Sony prime lens collection is not only less compared to Canon lens, but they are also quiet expensive. Most of the lens are for professionals. The most affordable of the crop is Sony 50mm f/1.4 a standard lens which is around $350.

Update: In 2009, Sony launches new crop for affordable lenses, including Sony 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens. This lens is around $150.

Standard, Telephoto zoom and Macro lenses

Standard, Telephoto zoom and Macro lenses

In the wide general purpose lens section, Sony delivers many options for entry level to professionals. For professional, Sony offers 16-35mm f/2.8 and 24-70mm f/2.8. For enthusiasts, there are many to choose, 16-105mm is a affordable versatile lens, and 16-80mm produces great quality image but a bit expensive.

Sony also has superzoom telephoto that is ideal when you only want to travel with one camera and one lens but you still want to have a lens that have wide coverage of focal length. The lens is also great for social events outdoor such as a parade.

In telephoto zoom lens section, Sony only have several lens in the market. Two of them are entry level lens (usually called kit lens), and the other two are for professionals. So we can see there is a huge gap between entry-level and professional grade lens.

It is also interesting that Sony just launch the 70-400mm lens. This lens focal length is very flexible, mechanically excellent and the image quality is great.

In macro lens category, Sony lenses are overpriced.

In Conclusion
I feel that Sony is focusing in only two kinds of photographer, one is entry level users that buy a cheap digital slr with kit lens and use it for years. The other one is professional photographers.

Looking from lens collection, there are very limited choice for entry level users to grow to enthusiasts level because there is a huge gap on the price between entry level and pro level lenses.

The price of the professional grade lenses are also relatively expensive. It is mostly because Sony have to share the profit with Carl Zeiss, the famous lens manufacturer. Also because of the size of the market share Sony posseses right now, It is quiet hard to find a used or bargain lenses.

The expensiveness of Sony lens is a bit disappointing because Sony cameras offer built-in body stabilization. So the lens should be less expensive than lens-based stabilization that Canon or Nikon offer.

Because Sony digital SLR is still in infant and will keep growing, we hope that in the future Sony makes more lenses to bridge entry level users and professionals, and set a more competitive price.

New Sony lenses
Sony DT 30mm f/2.8 Macro
Sony 28-75mm f/2.8 SAM

Comments from old blog platform

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

I found your lens price comparison listing to be misleading. Sony includes lens hoods as standard on their lenses, whereas with Canon they are optional for extra cost, which reduces the actual price difference.

Also for Canon users wanting image stabilization, IS lenses, they cost more. With Sony image stabilization is camera based. Lens based is only slightly better. (you did mention about image stabilization, but conveniently hide it from the price list comparison in writing. Many may just make conclusions based on your price list) Canon doesn’t have this on all their lenses, yet in camera image stabilization benefits alls lenses (less effective on shorter focal lengths, but still nice to have).

If you are going to do a comparison, include all the facts rather than mislead/exagerate the price difference.

Sony has only been doing DSLR’s for 3 years, and their lens list keeps growing, but has a long way to catch up to very well established companies like Canon and Nikon.

Enche Tjin
If you look at the table, I paired the corresponding lens.

for example Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS and Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 SSM,
Both lens has IS, Canon has lens based and Sony is camera based.
But yet, Sony lens is still around $200 more expensive.

But you have one point that is good which is in prime lenses, Sony lenses can get advantage on IS, while many Canon prime lens does not have IS yet. But in some telephoto prime lens, where Canon lens has IS, Sony lenses are still more expensive.

However, I also evaluate availability. Canon and Nikon has affordable 50mm prime lens which is around $100, but Sony does not have.

I do realize that Sony is a new player and I have stated it in the last sentence.

Thank you for the comment.

Perfect Silhouette Photography
Sony and Nikon lenses cost more than canon’s for one big reason, they’re sharper. This is from lab tests conducted by independent companies. Canon’s lenses are good but not the best around any block. More lenses aren’t better if you do not need that many for your purposes. I shoot professionally with two Sony A700s w/ grips, V4 firmware, and can honestly say it pretty much eclipses both Canon’s 40D and 50D. The Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 and Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G lenses are mainly what I use for weddings with an occassional change to a prime. Sony is catching up and with some great innovations.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith April 21, 2010 at 11:22 am

You forgot to mention that sony can use most of the old Minolta lense. That greatly improves on the selection.

Ralfh May 19, 2010 at 9:20 am

Hoped that sony lenses go cheaper

kreiu October 4, 2010 at 1:52 pm

i’d rather says like this :

sony have huge experience in electronic such as home appliance, computer@laptop etc, but is new in DSLR section. why sony do not produce their own lens instead using carl zeis? this is strategic marketting. they trying to use quantity vs quality. yes maybe sony lens are bit expensive but what are they trying to do is to give quality in picture.

maybe canon and nikon are most preferable by asian people, as the lens are bit cheaper, as asian people are in lower & middle income country,as we can see this is also canon strategy.

i dont mind spending few hundreds more for lenses as long as it offer more quality, and have all round block purpose rather than change it frequently. u just can bring fewer lens instead of bring more.

we also can see that sony have more offer for profesional category, as only pro will understand the quality it offer. for entry level, and intermediate, sony pratically doenst what it takes to compete with canon and nikon.

at the end, its all up to user. which type they like, and they financial excess to those lens and body. if u beginner category, have stictly budget, therefore canon and nikon are more suitable to y’all. but it will bring difference when u are at pro level., as u might wanna consider those option. not to mention, sony use ccd instead of cmos sensor.


DCP June 1, 2011 at 5:57 am

Sony is a huge supplier of home appliance, but price is not cheap. Honestly speaking, it is good for using.

Mnadeep Singh May 23, 2013 at 9:52 am

like tihs

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