10 Best Wide Angle Lenses | May 2017

10 Best Wide Angle Lenses
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Best High-End
★★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★
We spent 38 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Whether you want to capture more of your indoor family events or you're a professional photographer looking to minimize chromatic aberration in your architectural work, there's a wide angle lens on our list with your name on it. We've included options great for everything from landscapes and astrophotography to discreet street work, ranked by clarity, versatility, and durability. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best wide angle lens on Amazon.
10
If you invested in a mirrorless system to downsize your kit, then the Olympus 9mm ƒ/8.0 Fisheye should fit right in. On the company's micro-four-thirds sensor, the actual focal length is 18mm, and the model's pancake-style body takes up almost no space.
  • built-in protective shield
  • all glass elements
  • manual focus only
Brand Olympus
Model V325040BW000
Weight 2.1 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
9
The Sigma 10-20mm ƒ/3.5 EX DC may not be the fastest option to make it into our rankings, but its smooth skin tone reproduction, detachable hood, and modest price point make it a competitive choice in a pretty crowded market.
  • 13 elements in 10 groups
  • 82mm filter size
  • not full-frame compatible
Brand Sigma
Model 202101
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0
8
Filmmakers who use DSLRs as their primary means of video capture will appreciate the specifications of the Rokinon Cine DS 14mm T3.1. It features a silent aperture adjustment that, along with its long-throw focal ring, is notched for follow-focus devices.
  • available for five major mounts
  • 11-inch minimum distance
  • does not autofocus
Brand Rokinon
Model DS14M-C
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0
7
Chromatic aberration is all but nonexistent, even at the fastest settings of the Nikon Nikkor 24mm ƒ/1.4. This is thanks both to the use of aspherical elements and to the company's exclusive nano crystal coating, which greatly cuts down on ghosting.
  • rear internal focus
  • silent wave motor
  • 9-blade rounded diaphragm
Brand Nikon
Model 2184
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
6
Mounted on one of the company's APS-C sensor bodies, the focal length of the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 14mm ƒ/2.8 R converts to roughly 21mm, keeping it farther from fish-eye territory than one might first suspect, and making it one of the most versatile options in the system.
  • minimum focus just over 7 inches
  • 3 ed and 2 aspherical elements
  • slow to autofocus
Brand Fujifilm
Model 16276481
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
5
The specs on the Canon EF 24mm ƒ/1.4 L II make it one of the most effective options for astral photography on the market. It has a slew of additional merits, but its wide collecting and aperture areas result in minimal tracking, even in low light.
  • manual focus override
  • corrects for field curvature
  • some vignetting at its fastest speed
Brand Canon
Model 2750B002
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
4
For rangefinder shooters looking to capture architecture, landscape, or starry scenes, the Leica Summilux-M 24mm ƒ/1.4 is fast, functional, and incredibly well-built. Its price tag reflects this build quality, however, as it does the renowned brand stamped on the body.
  • rectangular metal hood
  • depth of field guide
  • floating glass elements
Brand Leica
Model 11647
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
3
One of the widest, fastest primes in the company's lineup, the Canon EF 14mm ƒ/2.8 L is comprised of 14 elements in 11 groups, including two UD-glass and two high-precision aspherical pieces. The result is an image with tack-sharp quality and very little distortion.
  • gel filter holder at rear
  • 114-degree diagonal angle of view
  • built-in lens hood
Brand Canon
Model 2045B002
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0
2
As Sony's selection of high-quality E-mount cameras continues to grow, options like the Voigtlander Super Heliar 15mm ƒ/4.5 find their way to market, providing the kind of stellar clarity previously reserved for rangefinder shooters.
  • minimal spherical aberrations
  • silent aperture control
  • 1-year warranty
Brand Voigtlander
Model BA329B
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0
1
The Nikon Nikkor 14-24mm ƒ/2.8 is the widest of the three zooms in the company's coveted holy trinity. It's also sharp and fast enough to be one of the only zoomable options in this focal length worthy of any attention, as it outperforms primes, as well.
  • weather-sealed design
  • 14 glass elements
  • ultra-high-speed autofocusing
Brand Nikon
Model 2163
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

A Glass Menagerie

Camera lenses have guts. Lots of them, more often than not, and a fair amount of those guts are made of glass. Even in this very generalized diagram you see a good ten glass elements–or individual glass lenses–in three groups.

It may make you wonder: Why so much glass? Well, a lens can be used to direct, magnify, or to focus light, and it takes a combination of magnification, direction and focus to allow a desired photographic object to appear on a camera sensor as sharply as it does to the naked eye, maybe even more sharply.

This is, of course, one of the reasons that higher end lenses are more expensive. They often start with a wider front element for maximum light collection, which improves the camera's ability to see in low light.

But a larger lens out front will cause more refraction, which must be compensated for by a precise combination of elements between the front glass and the back glass.

Optical glass can cost around $2,000/kilogram, and a good lens can weigh upwards of 5 kg, most of which is plastic and lightweight metal, so you can see how these things get pricey fast.

Want To Go Wide? Know Your Crop Factor

While Crop Factor might sound like the name of a competitive farming reality show (and maybe it should be), it's actually a way of understanding how much of the focal length your lens claims will actually make it into your image.

If you mount any lens built for a 35mm film camera before the digital revolution changed just about everything on a modern full frame DSLR, you don't have to worry about crop factor.

If you mount a modern digital lens on a modern full frame DSLR, well, you have to check to see if that lens was built for a full frame or an APS-C sized sensor.

What's the difference between full frame and APS-C? Well, an APS-C sensor is smaller in area than a full frame sensor, the latter of which was designed to replicate the area of a 35mm piece of film.

As a result, an APS-C sized sensor can only collect a fraction of the light projected onto it through a lens designed for a 35mm sensor. And, conversely, a lens designed specifically for an APS-C sized sensor will project a smaller image onto a full frame sensor.

So, when buying a wide angle lens, make sure you know what size sensor you're shooting with, and be prepared to do a little simple math to know what your actual focal length will be.

For example, let's say you own a Nikon D90, which has an APS-C sized sensor in it, and you buy that Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens up there at number 5. Well, that lens is built to project onto a 35mm sensor, so if you put it on your D90 you have to look along the left hand side of the chart there to get the real focal length.

In Nikon, the crop factor from a full frame lens–or FX lens (APS-C lenses are signified as DX, not FX)–is 1.5x. So, a 50mm FX lens gives you a 75mm focal length on an APS-C sized sensor.

If you own a body with an APS-C sized sensor and you're looking to go as wide as you can, shoot for the highest rated lens with the lowest focal length around, or you might end up tighter than you wanted.

A Field Of Constant Innovation

Early in the advent of photography, in the first few decades of the 19th century, cameras utilized a single lens to bend light toward the negatives or positives of the day.

That design was quickly found to be insufficient, as the manner in which a convex lens bends light makes it very difficult to focus an image across a flat plane. It's like trying to make applesauce with a cheese grater (who does that?); you have to keep turning the apple because the grater is a flat surface and the apple is curved.

This is a phenomenon called Petzval Field Curvature, and lens makers for the next 175 years would find new ways of grouping and spacing lens elements to minimize this effect and maximize image clarity while keeping both the cost and the weight of a lens in check.

Recently, however, a new design has been patented by the folks at Sony, made available by the more pliable materials with which manufacturers can make camera sensors.

Essentially, Sony solved the problem of catching curved light waves with a flat surface by curving the surface itself. Sony's curved sensor promises to allow for less expensive lenses that are smaller and lighter, though it's still only a patent without a prototype.



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Last updated on May 19, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.


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