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Sony FE VS E Lenses. What Is The Difference Between These SEL Lenses?

What Is An SEL Lens? 

SEL stands for Sony E-mount Lens and they are a range of lenses that fit Sony cameras with E mounts.

Hasselblad E-mount cameras are also compatible with these SEL lenses.

What Is A Sony E-Mount Camera? 

Sony E-mount cameras are MILCs (otherwise known as mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras) and are not to be confused with A-mount cameras which are older Sony DSLRs/DSLTs which they don’t sell anymore. 

An example of one of the most popular Sony Mirrorless Cameras out there right now is the Sony A7 III.

What Types Of SEL Lenses Are There?

Within the SEL lenses, the main things to note are lenses that are denoted with the following:

  • FE
  • E (also just known as e-mount) 

What Does FE Mean On Sony Lenses?

The FE lenses are lenses that are designed to be used with E-mount cameras which have full-frame sensors. 

Examples of full-frame E-mount Sony cameras include:

Related Post: What Is The Difference Between Crop Sensor Cameras VS Full Frame Cameras?

Can I Still Use A FE Lens On An Aps-C E-Mount Camera? 

Yes, it is possible to use an FE lens on an APS-C E-mount camera however you must remember that due to it being a crop sensor camera that there will be a crop applied to the FE lens. 

The crop factor on E-mount APS-C cameras is 1.5x, so a 20mm FE lens will have an equivalent focal length of 30mm instead (20×1.5=30). 

What Is An E Lens?

While FE lenses are specifically designed for full-frame cameras, E lenses are designed for APS-C cameras like the following: 

E lenses will tend to be cheaper than FE lenses because they will be geared towards APS-C cameras.

APS-C cameras are more on the beginner to enthusiast level of consumer where you don’t necessarily need all the expensive components such as full weather sealing.

Are FE lenses better quality than E lenses?

Canon and Nikon lenses that are designed for full frame cameras will always be the best in the line up in terms of quality and potential – this pattern also applies for Sony.

FE lenses will tend to be higher quality in terms of the materials used and the build quality in general.

While Canon has high end lenses like the L series, Sony’s best lenses will be found in their G and GM (G-master) series lenses. 

Can I Use An E Lens On A Full-Frame E-Mount Camera Like The Sony A7 Or Sony A7s? 

You can use standard E-mount lenses that are designed for APS-C cameras on full frame E-mount cameras. 

However, the full frame camera will need to be put into a crop mode where only part of the full frame sensor is used so the camera automatically compensates for the lens and adds a crop. 

The crop as mentioned before is 1.5x.

So if your lens is 20mm and is an E lens made for APS-C it will look like a 30mm whether you put it on an APS-C or a full frame camera.  

This is not recommended because you are not using the full capabilities of the full frame sensor.

If you do have a full frame camera then buying an FE lens is a better option in terms of image quality.

What Is The Crop Factor On Sony E Lenses?

The crop factor when discussing Sony E lenses is the same whether you are using an APS-C camera or if you’ve placed an E lens designed for a crop sensor on a full-frame camera. 

The crop factor is 1.5x. 

Should I buy a FE or E lens? 

While you can use both types of lenses on all types of E-mount, each type of lens has their own pros and cons. 

In general, FE lenses are better in the long run and tend to be higher quality and more suited to professionals.

They work well on both APS-C cameras as well as full-frame.

If you are using an APS-C camera now, but think you will be investing in a full frame in the future then investing in a good quality FE lens can be good since they will last you a long time. 

E lenses will be great for beginners because they are generally more affordable.

Another situation where E lenses could be better is if you want something very wide angle since FE lenses that are wide angle can be especially expensive.

But remember that whatever lens you get, you should take good care of them the best that you can.

You can quite easily reduce the lifetime of a good quality lens if you don’t take care of it right.

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