8 Best Wide Angle Lenses | March 2017

We spent 32 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Professional and amateur photographers will get outstanding shots with one of these high-tech, wide angle lenses. They're ideal for photographing a big scene, capturing a smaller scene in a limited amount of space, or to create a close-to-subject perspective that gives the viewer a sense of presence. Skip to the best wide angle lens on Amazon.
8 Best Wide Angle Lenses | March 2017

Overall Rank: 3
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 2
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 8
Best Inexpensive
The Opteka HD Aspherical Lens has an ultra-wide 6.5 millimeter focal length that lets you capture almost as much as the eye can see. It comes with a removable hood for use in sunlight, but note that the hood can creep into the frame.
This Sigma EX DC HSM ELD Aspherical Super Wide Angle Lens has a maximum aperture of F3.5 throughout the entire zoom range, which makes it a great choice for indoor shooting, including use for studio photography.
Compatible with the EOS 20D and Digital Rebel bodies, the Canon EF-S 10-22mm has a circular aperture design producing natural highlights perfect for artistic images. This lens can create frame-filling images from objects 5.4" across.
Great for travel, event coverage, or general photography, the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G for Nikon DSLR cameras produces some of the most detailed full-frame images out there. It can't zoom, but it captures crisp images easily cropped later.
  • quiet autofocus with manual override
  • equal to 75 mm focal length on dx camera
  • image slightly soft at large apertures
Brand Nikon
Model 2180
Weight 11.2 ounces
With its compact size and premium design, the Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4R delivers sharp images as well as beautiful bokeh for artistic shots. This lens costs more than many high-quality cameras, but it's a professional grade tool.
  • compatible with fujifilm x-mounts
  • features 7 round-edged aperture blades
  • auto focus is a little slow & loud
Brand Fujifilm
Model 16405575
Weight 12 ounces
Professionals agree, the Sigma 18-35mm, designed for use with Pentax cameras, is great for capturing fast moving images, even in low light, and is a superlative choice for use in more optimal conditions. Note that it is rather heavy.
  • solid and well constructed
  • designed for aps-c sized sensors
  • ideal for both landscapes and closeups
Brand Sigma
Model 210109
Weight 2.5 pounds
The Nikon 14-24mm Nikkor, built for Nikon F (FX), has a lightning fast aperture and features exclusive ED Glass and a Nano Crystal coating. The lens has twin extra-low dispersion lens elements for stellar resolution and contrast.
  • professional dust & moisture resistance
  • optimized for fx- and dx-format sensors
  • ultra high speed autofocusing
Brand Nikon
Model 2163
Weight 3.4 pounds
The Rokinon Cine 35mm T1.5 has a de-clicked aperture made for use with Canon EOS DSLR cameras. It works for capturing stills of tranquil nature, fast-action sports, and more, and is suitable for video capture as well.
  • amazing price given the quality
  • follow focus compatible
  • includes lens pouch and 1 year warranty
Brand Rokinon
Model CV35-C
Weight 2.4 pounds

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.

As of early last year, 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: 03/25/2017 | Authorship Information