Buying a branded lens isn't always the best option and can cost you extra money – let’s look at ten of the top third-party optics
Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE
This lens is a moderate wideangle autofocus prime designed for Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras. It’s the third Samyang lens designed for the Sony FE mount, following on from the AF 14mm f/2.8 FE and the AF 50mm f/1.4 FE. Best of all, it’s sharp, relatively inexpensive and is a great option for situations when you want to be unobtrusive.
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art
If you’d like an ultra wideangle zoom with an f/2.8 aperture, this excellent optic presents an attractive saving over alternatives such as the Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8 G ED (£1,799). It’s a little soft at the edges wide open, but it handles distortion well and tops this off with quiet autofocus and robust build quality, albeit not weathersealed.
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
If you’re after one of the nest 50mm primes, look no further. This optic delivers sublime image quality and renders out-of-focus highlights beautifully. It’s a heavy lens that handles best on DSLRs that feature large grips, such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Nikon D850.
Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5- 6.3 DG OS HSM Sport
This large and heavy telezoom is intended to kill two birds with one stone, essentially combining 70-200mm and 150-600mm zooms into one. It incorporates optical stabilisation effective to 4-stops, features an HSM motor for fast and quiet AF and accepts filters via a 105mm thread.
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Macro EX DG OS HSM
This lens offers a sensational close-up performance. It has optical image stabilisation with a 4-stop benefit in shake reduction. What’s more, it feels robust and handles well. It’s a must-have lens if you like to reproduce subjects at life-size.
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD
This mid-range standard zoom is designed for Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras. Its large aperture makes it great for low-light shooting and enables you to isolate subjects from their surroundings while producing attractive blur behind. It’s an ideal walkabout lens.
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2
This telephoto zoom offers a big saving over Canon and Nikon’s 70-200mm offerings, which cost closer to £2,000. With excellent optics, effective image stabilisation, fast autofocus and a weathersealed construction, it offers excellent value for money. Indeed, it gives up little compared to its pricier rivals and shouldn’t be disregarded from your shortlist. Overall, this is one of Tamron’s nest lenses yet and comes highly recommended for the enthusiast and semi-pro.
Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD
If you’d like a fast, image-stabilised 85mm prime, this lens is well worth a closer look. The short telephoto focal length is ideally suited to portraiture, both on full-frame and APS-C cameras. On APS-C it provides a 135mm-equivalent angle of view, and although you may glance at the price and think it’s a lot to pay, it’s smaller and cheaper than any 85mm f/1.4 alternatives you might look at. It must also be said that the build quality is excellent compared to some older designs.
Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD
This compact, lightweight telephoto zoom is aimed at keen amateurs who want to get close to distant subjects without having to splash out more than £1,000. It’s compatible with APS-C and full-frame cameras, but vignettes heavily on the latter. The supplied tripod collar is a welcome addition.
Tokina Firin 20mm f/2 FE MF
This manual-focus fast wideangle prime lens is designed for Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras. It combines impressive optical quality with a robust, all-metal barrel design, and features a traditional aperture ring that can be set to either clicked or clickless operation. It’s a great complement to a standard zoom.