Introduction

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As Sony's full-frame mirrorless lens lineup has grown, there is a certain irony that as the company started on churning out some really, really good lenses, like the 12-24mm F4, the 24mm F1.4 and the eye-searingly sharp 135mm F1.8, a large portion of Sony's customer base was yearning for something much simpler. And much smaller. And cheaper. For a couple of years, "I just want a 35mm F1.8!" was one of the most oft-posted comments underneath our Sony lens coverage.

Finally, on July 9th in the year of our Lord 2019, Sony answered those users' prayers and released the FE 35mm F1.8. And peace did fall across the land, and there was much rejoicing - for about five minutes until we all found something else to complain about.

Product images by Dan Bracaglia, all other photographs by Rishi Sanyal unless otherwise noted.

Key specifications:

  • Compatibility: Sony E-mount (full-frame and APS-C)
  • Focal length: 35mm (52mm equiv. on APS-C bodies)
  • Maximum aperture: F1.8
  • Minimum focus: 22cm (8.7" - max magnification 0.24X)
  • Construction: 11 elements in nine groups (incl., one aspherical)
  • Weight: 280g (10 oz)
  • Dust and weather-resistant
  • Diameter / Length: 66mm x 73mm (2.6" x 2.9")

The FE 35mm F1.8 joins the FE 28mm F2 and FE 85mm F1.8 in the non-GM, non-G lineup, and shares some similarities with both earlier lenses. You won't find any fancy exotic glass inside the 35mm F1.8, and Sony doesn't claim that these lenses are up to the GM standard of durability when it comes to weather-sealing, but they're sharp, small-ish and relatively affordable primes, all coming in at under $800 MSRP.

You'll find just one unconventional piece of glass inside the FE 35mm F1.8 - an aspherical element, towards the rear of the lens.

Placing the focusing optics at the rear of the lens allows optical designers to greatly reduce focus breathing.

The FE 35mm F1.8 is the priciest of the bunch, at $750. This is noticeably more expensive than the film-era 35mm F1.8 lenses of yore, but as we'll see, just like the recently-reviewed Nikon Z 35mm F1.8 S, it belongs to a new generation in more ways than just one.

The Sony FE 35mm's size, weight and cost make it a perfect companion to the A7 III, but it's equally at home on the higher-resolution sensor of the A7R III and A7R IV. In fact, - spoiler alert - we'd recommend it over the costlier Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 ZA for almost every use-case.