Choosing a New Lens for my Sony NEX Mirrorless Camera

Exactly two summer ago, I took my first steps into the world of digital photography when I decided to buy myself a better camera.

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Source: KODAK.com

At the time, I was still working with very basic equipment: I had a standard point-and-shoot camera by Kodak and an iPhone with no memory left to take another photo. Looking to step up my photography, I started considering upgrades.

I started teaching myself all about more sophisticated cameras. I had to learn what to look for – what things meant.

So what was ISO?
When exactly would I need a larger aperture?
What did one shutter speed do that another one couldn’t?

It wasn’t long before I found myself making my first big decision. Was I going to buy a typical full-body DSLR or one of the newer compact mirrorless system cameras? Two years ago, these cameras were often called MILCs or mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. In 2014, I’m really not sure what we call them. “Mirrorless cameras” would be my best guess.

Comparing my options.
Comparing my options.

I knew I’d find a better selection of lenses if I bought a DSLR but every website was making claims about DSLRs becoming ancient technology of the past. There was no a need for bulky DSLRs when mirrorless cameras were a fraction of the size and still contained the same size sensor capable of producing beautiful photographs.

I decided to go mirrorless.
I saved up money and bought myself the Sony NEX-F3.

I have been using this camera ever since then and I absolutely love it. I HIGHLY recommend mirrorless cameras if you’re looking for something lightweight, portable, and capable of taking high quality photos.

For the past two years, I’ve used the standard 18-55mm kit lens and taken everything from up-close macro shots to wide landscapes. My only issue with Sony’s mirrorless camera has been the reality that e-mount lenses are limited and expensive! Plus, newer technology means fewer options in terms of second-hand items and whatnot.

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Sony NEX Lenses (Source: Sony.com)

I’ve been feeling restricted with my current lens lately. The kit lens prevents me from taking crisp pictures in lowlight conditions and doesn’t achieve as shallow of a depth-of-field as I’d like to see. I have two trips this summer and I want a new lens capable of casual street photography, clear shots in lowlight conditions, and producing a smooth bokeh effect.

Pancake Lens! (Source: Sony.com)
Pancake Lens! (Source: Sony.com)

I don’t know if I should get a pancake lens, 35mm, or 50mm lens. (The camera isn’t full frame – it’s an APS-C sized sensor.) I would get the pancake lens for extra portability but it doesn’t offer much in terms of additional capability.

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50mm Lens (Source: Sony.com)

I would buy the 50mm because it’s the cheapest but I’m worried it’ll be too zoomed in to use as my primary lens. I’d rather not carry both lenses with me at all times, if possible…

35mm Lens (Source: Sony.com)
35mm Lens (Source: Sony.com)

Last but not least, there is the 35mm lens! I have a feeling this is the one I’ll end up buying. It’s a standard prime less at a fixed focal length that is pretty close to a nifty 50mm on a full-frame camera. It’s shorter than the kit lens so it’ll be “more portable” than my current lens. Plus, the 1.8 aperture means better low-light photos and smoother bokeh in the background.

Sony NEX F3 with the 35mm F1.8 Lens (Source: SonyAlphaLab.com)
Sony NEX F3 with the 35mm F1.8 Lens (Source: SonyAlphaLab.com)

Any opinions on which lens I should save up for?
The 50mm is $300 and the 35mm $450.

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