Person holding mirrorless camera with Nikon Nikkor lens
Nikon

What to Look For in a Mirrorless Camera Lens in 2022

The mirrorless mount SLR lenses we list here fit a variety of shooting needs, but there are certain features they all share. They’re resistant to impact and weather. They have top-tier glass inside. And they all produce amazing images.

They’re among the best mirrorless lenses available from top manufacturers, so bear in mind that they’ll be priced accordingly—but we’ll recommend budget alternatives where appropriate.

Advances in mirrorless SLR technology mean that even your standard 50mm f/1.8 lens is miles ahead of the one you got for your first DSLR. Nikon and Sony’s standard primes, in particular, yield great images. The lenses here are even more advanced.

When shopping for a lens, think about what you shoot. What focal lengths would provide the most utility? Do you need to get close to the action, or are you doing most of your shooting in a studio? The lens you buy, especially if you’re working within a certain budget, will depend on the work you do the majority of the time.

An 85mm prime, for example, works brilliantly for portraits but may not be enough reach for a wildlife shooter. An ultrawide zoom of 15-35mm would make a great addition to an architectural photographer’s bag.

If you usually shoot in natural light, consider lenses with a wider aperture. They allow you to let more light into the lens and shoot handheld in dimmer lighting situations. Mirrorless systems also let you bump up the ISO pretty high. That increased ability to utilize available light is important for someone like a photojournalist shooting on the fly.

As with any piece of gear, you’ll also want something that’s built well. Many lenses on this list offer increased image stabilization, weather sealing, and impact resistance to cut down on camera shake and allow for shooting in less-than-ideal conditions.

Whether you’ve just switched to mirrorless or are looking for the next curated piece of gear to add to your kit, here are some of the best mirrorless SLR lenses on the market.

Best Mirrorless Wide-Angle Lens: Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM

Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM on purple background
Canon

Pros

  • Weather sealing
  • Wide constant f/2.8 aperture
  • Image stabilization
  • Compatible with screw-on filters

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Only available for Canon users

Canon’s RF 15-35mm F2.8 L is a versatile wide-angle zoom lens with an excellent max aperture, image stabilization, and the sharpness people expect from Canon’s L line of lenses. The 15-35mm focal range lets you shoot from ultrawide angles to the more standard 35mm, making it perfect for architectural work, interiors, and creative portrait photography.

This is the first native lens in this zoom range for Canon’s mirrorless line, offering a hair wider angle than its DSLR counterpart, which goes to 16mm at the wide end. It also pairs a constant f/2.8 aperture with that wide angle.

A bonus—it can take screw-on filters, something you don’t usually get with lenses this wide. Those features and weather sealing make a multipurpose workhorse lens that adds value to any kit.

Best Mirrorless Wide-Angle Lens

Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L

This top of the line zoom from Canon delivers stunning wide angle shots at multiple focal lengths.

Best Mirrorless Ultra-Wideangle Lens: Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 G Master

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 G Master on blue background
Sony

Pros

  • Ultrawide variable angle
  • Good for video
  • Max aperture of f/2.8
  • Pro-grade construction
  • Sharp images, even wide open and at wider angles

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Doesn't take front-attaching filters
  • Only for use with Sony E mount

Sony continues to earn its reputation for great optics with the FE 12-24mm F2.8 G Master lens. Providing a wide constant aperture for this zoom range at f/2.8, the 12-24mm is a solid addition to the G Master line.

Architectural and interior photographers will love this lens, and the 24mm focal length makes it a good option for video. Like most high-end mirrorless lenses, this ultrawide is weather sealed for extra protection.

Despite an ultrawide lens, which can show barrel distortion and lack of sharpness at wider apertures, this lens makes excellent images on even high-resolution cameras. It also focuses quickly and, while slightly heavy for this lens, is still compact.

One thing to note if you use accessories like ND filters: this lens can’t take traditional front-mount filter attachments. Like many offerings from Sony, this lens has a pretty steep price tag. If your budget isn’t in that range, Sigma’s 14-24mm ultrawide is a solid pick that is over $1,000 less.

Best Mirrorless Ultra-Wideangle Lens

Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 G Master

A precision-engineered ultra-wideangle lens from Sony perfect for professional architecture shots.

Best Mirrorless Telephoto Lens: Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S

NIKON NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S with lights in background
Nikon

Pros

  • Excellent image quality
  • Wide constant f/2.8 aperture
  • Pro-grade construction
  • 5.5 stop vibration reduction
  • A great multipurpose zoom

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Only for Nikon's Z system

Nikon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto is the next evolution of its legendary DSLR counterpart for its mirrorless Z line. Not too bulky for a telephoto, this lens can be used for anything from portraiture to events to sports—anything you need to get a little closer to shoot. And all of that is at a wide constant aperture of f/2.8.

Nikon’s updated telephoto zoom lens comes with lots of nice bells and whistles, like two customizable function buttons on the lens barrel, enhanced vibration reduction, and half the minimum focusing distance of Nikon’s 70-200mm DSLR lens. Autofocus is also super fast and very quiet, perfect for wildlife photographers who don’t want to disturb the fauna.

Of course, all of this will cost a pretty penny—but when it comes to the best mirrorless lenses, that’s more or less a given.

Best Mirrorless Telephoto Lens

NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S

The mirrorless update to Nikon's legendary 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto is great for everything from sports to studio work.

Best Mirrorless Lens for Street Photography: Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM

Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM on green background
Sony

Pros

  • High-quality images
  • f/1.4 max aperture
  • Multipurpose 35mm focal length
  • Weather sealing

Cons

  • High price tag
  • Only for Sony E mount

Sony’s FE 35mm F1.4 GM puts one of the best focal lengths for street photography in a powerful and compact package with a large max aperture of f/1.4. Paired with a smaller mirrorless camera body, this unobtrusive lens still delivers quality optics and excellent low-light capability.

Despite the lighter weight, Sony’s 35mm G Master is built well and weather sealed. Nice extras include an aperture ring that can operate silently and a customizable function button on the lens barrel. Fast autofocus is great for capturing street shots or just the right moments at events.

If this lens is too pricey for you, Sony’s standard 35mm f/1.8 costs hundreds less and delivers surprisingly good photos.

Best Mirrorless Lens for Street Photography

Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM

A high-end update to the classic 35mm focal length, Sony's G Master lens delivers fantastic images.

Best Mirrorless Portrait Lens: Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM on yellow background
Canon

Pros

  • f/1.2 max aperture
  • Built to pro standards
  • Incredible image quality
  • Perfect for portraits but adaptable for other uses

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Only for Canon R cameras

The Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L is a monster of a portrait lens, super sharp even wide open at f/1.2. It’s built with shock resistance and weather sealing, has excellent optical quality, and comes with extras like a customizable control ring. Being the next iteration of Canon’s already impressive 85mm 1.2 L DSLR lens, this is no surprise.

Just remember that weather-sealed doesn’t mean waterproof. Some rain or a spilled drink will be fine, but we wouldn’t recommend submerging the lens completely without a waterproof housing.

Widely considered an ideal focal length for portraits, this 85mm prime really shines when combined with the eye autofocus common in mirrorless camera systems. The f/1.2 aperture is a full half-stop brighter than similar lenses with a max aperture of f/1.4 and allows for even more background blur wide open.

Best Mirrorless Portrait Lens

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM

The classic focal length for portraits meets Canon's L line in this updated take on a favorite.

Best Mirrorless Macro Lens: Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

Canon RF100mm F2.8 L on purple background
Canon

Pros

  • f/2.8 max aperture
  • SA adjustment ring
  • Eight-stop image stabilization
  • Great for portraits and macro detail work

Cons

  • Not as versatile as other lenses
  • Expensive

Another entry from Canon, the RF 100mm f/2.8L is sharp, fast, and versatile. A good lens for macro shots, portrait work, or even close-up video shots, it’s built with the quality inherent to Canon’s L line. At an impressive 1.4X magnification factor, this lens lets you get truly close up.

Canon’s newest 100mm macro Includes cool extras like a spherical aberration (SA) ring that adjusts the bokeh look at wide apertures. Canon also claims eight stops of image stabilization, meaning you can pull off handheld with this lens even in dimmer lighting conditions and low shutter speeds, as the built-in stabilization should be able to compensate

Best Mirrorless Macro Lens

Canon RF100mm F2.8 L Macro IS USM

Canon's newest 100mm macro is a solid performer equally capable of studio and closeup detail work.

Profile Photo for John Bogna John Bogna
John is a freelance writer and photographer based in Houston, Texas. His ten-year background spans topics from tech to culture and includes work for the Seattle Times, the Houston Press, Medium's OneZero, WebMD, and MailChimp.Β Before moving to The Bayou City, John earned a B.A. in Journalism from CSU Long Beach.
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