Best Kit Lens Upgrades for Sony E-mount Under $1000
When purchasing a new camera, a kit zoom can get you pretty far. If you're on an APS-C sized body like the a6300, it likely came with a micro-sized 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 or the slightly larger 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6. Full-frame shooters might recognize the FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 instead.
These are great, extra-affordable lenses to start with and learn the basics on! However, there will likely come a day when you've outgrown these starter lenses and want to explore other options. Some photographers insist that the best upgrade path is to move into prime lenses, but if you prefer the versatility of a zoom, you've got a few options as well.
Of course, there's the best-of-the-best Full-Frame G-Master lineup which includes the classic zoom trifecta of 16-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, and 70-200 f/2.8. However, even when buying pre-owned equipment, these can be prohibitively expensive. Also worth noting is the excellent 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6, the ultra-wide 12-24mm f/2.8 and the more-affordable-but-still-over-$1000 12-24mm f/4, 70-200mm f/4, and my favorite for travel, the 24-105m f/4 OSS. (Although, if we have a BGN-grade in stock, you can pick that last one up for under $1k.)
There's also the impressive 16-55mm f/2.8 G for APS-C, one of the absolute best zoom lenses you can grab for your a6500. All of these lenses will last you through multiple generations of camera body upgrades, but at a price of over a thousand dollars. When just starting out, this can be a daunting number.
Thankfully, there are options for the rest of us who can't drop a spare grand on a zoom lens. Below, you'll find the top Sony E-mount zoom lenses available under $1000 for your APS-C or FE full-frame mirrorless body.
It's rare to find an ultrawide zoom for APS-C systems. If you love shooting landscapes, architecture, or just enjoy getting more scenery in your shot, this is the zoom lens for you.
Often paired with the standard kit zoom, this supremely affordable telephoto provides phenomenal reach at a price anyone can achieve. If you're interested in trying out nature photography or sports, make sure this long zoom is the second lens you grab.
This lens is a beast, with a 6x zoom length, a motorized power zoom, and optics that are sharp enough to earn it an honored Sony 'G' badge. Often paired with Sony's Super-35 FS Cinema cameras for their smooth zooms, this lens is practically made for all-in-one video usage.
Years ago, Sony paired with legendary lensmaker Zeiss in order to bring a line of powerful, high-quality optics to their mirrorless systems. This lens gives you a bit more reach than the original kit lens, with a steady f/4 aperture throughout the entire zoom range. You won't regret spending a little extra when you feel the unmistakable build quality and see the 'Zeiss look' on your images.
This limited-edition lens gives you true all-in-one ability with an impressive range. Acting as the ultimate affordable walkaround lens for smaller-sensor Sony cameras, the 18-200mm makes for an excellent vacation or travel camera where a single lens is the best course of action.
The ultimately affordable super-telephoto zoom for APS-C gives you the reach you need to test out those backyard birding skills or sideline sports shots. With built-in optical stabilization, you'll be able to snap the game-winning catch like never before.
FE Full-frame Lenses
Another lens co-produced by Sony and Zeiss, this compact ultrawide takes full advantage of your full-frame sensor for stunning architecture, real estate, landscape, and street photography. With the same amazing build quality as the other Zeiss collaborations, this lens gives you the ability to get more in the shot, opening up angles you never thought possible with a kit lens.
Compact, convenient, contrasty and sharp, the Sony Zeiss 24-70mm is the ideal general-purpose lens. At a third of the price of its much larger and much heavier cousin, the 24-70mm f/2.8 GM version mentioned above, this is a precision-machined tool built for creating your dream images every single day.
The 70-300mm is powerful enough to bring you right into the action without weighing down your camera bag. An additional focus hold button on the side of the barrel allows for continuous autofocus during fast-action moments, and its nine-bladed rounded diaphragm gives you smooth and natural out-of-focus areas perfect for long portraits.
Possibly the ultimate in convenience, this lens truly is an all-in one, covering angles from relatively wide to a tight telephoto. While it may have a smaller aperture than some other options, it's hard to argue with the focal length range that stretches longer than a 24-70mm and a 70-200mm combined.
Third-Party Options from Tamron
An all-purpose option for APS-C cameras, this lightweight option gives you the equivalent field of view as a 27-300mm lens in a full-frame camera. The addition of Vibration Control stabilization means that even when you zoom in close, you'll see far less wiggle from shaky hands.
While this superwide lens doesn't quite cover the same ground as the 16-35mm GM, it's a stunning competitor at a fraction of the price. This lens performs with quick autofocus and sharp detail, providing a wonderful alternative on the wide end of a wedding photographer's toolkit.
This standard zoom lens took the photo and video world by storm when it was released in 2018 as an affordable option to the high-end Sony GM offering. Cheaper and lighter than even the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN, the Tamron version can be seen in the camera bags of both professionals and hobbyists alike.
While third-party options for the must-have f/2.8 telephoto are still limited, this zoom offers impressive reach, quick autofocus and quality construction at a stellar price point. Rounding out the Tamron FE trifecta nicely, this lightweight telephoto is the perfect way to capture wildlife or events on a budget.
No matter which you end up choosing, you can get it even cheaper when trading in your used kit lens. We'll buy your pre-owned equipment and give you 10% bonus value when you apply it to your purchase.