With the best wide-angle lenses, photographers and videographers can shoot with a unique perspective. Offering a field of view much wider than that of the human eye, the best wide-angle lenses allow expansive vistas and eye-poppingly expansive views to fit into a single frame, opening up myriad possibilities when compared to a standard lens.
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• What are the best camera lenses to buy?
You tend to see ultra-wide lenses in the hands of landscape and architecture photographers. This makes practical sense, as landscape photographers tend to want to squeeze as much of a fabulous view into a frame as possible, and architecture photographers will sometimes be working to fit a lot of building into a frame from limited vantage points. Ultra-wide lenses can be as useful indoors as outdoors for this purpose.
There are more possibilities for these lenses, however. The generous viewing angle means you can get really close to a subject, allowing the background to shrink away, and create an exaggerated perspective. The apparent distance between foreground and background will appear greatly increased, creating a unique "look" that isn't achievable otherwise.
Ultra-wide zooms are generally preferred to ultra-wide primes, to the point that the choice of ultra-wide primes is pretty limited, especially when using a crop-sensor body. This is partly because the difference of a millimetre or two is pretty significant when you're talking ultra-wide. This means that a wide zoom offers a huge amount of shooting versatility, and it's good to make use of the entire zoom range when you're using one. It's also worth noting that the long end of a wide zoom will often provide better optical quality than the wide end of a standard lens, with less distortion and vignetting. A 10-24mm lens is therefore worth using to its full extent, not just as a 10mm lens as some photographers tend to!
For many reasons, an ultra-wide zoom is a great lens to have in your toolkit, allowing you to open a whole new world of creative shooting opportunities. So join us as we pick out the best wide-angle lens buys for a wide range of cameras…
The best wideangle lenses
Best for Canon
The latest incarnation of Tamron’s 10-24mm represents a sizeable step up in build quality and all-round performance, compared with the previous edition. It matches both of Canon’s ultra-wide EF-S 10-18mm and 10-22mm zooms for maximum viewing angle, at 107.5 degrees, while beating them for long-end reach.
Naturally, the longer 24mm gives a lot of overlap with, say, an 18-55mm standard zoom. That might seem a bit superfluous but it can actually be very helpful, reducing the number of times you need to swap between different lenses while shooting. The Tamron has better build quality than both Canon lenses, while adding weather-seals and a fluorine coating on the front element, and it comes complete with a hood.
The new edition features fast and near- silent HLD (High/Low toque-modulated Drive) autofocus and 4-stop VC (Vibration Compensation). It also beats both Canon lenses for image quality, especially in terms of corner-to-corner sharpness.
For the ultimate in wide viewing angles on Canon full-frame cameras, there’s no beating the own-brand EF 11-24mm f/4L USM, which delivers an astonishing 126 degrees on the diagonal. However, it goes similarly large on selling price, putting it beyond the reach of most of us. This Sigma Art lens is well under half the price and, while it has a more modest 114-degree maximum viewing angle, it’s a really fabulous lens as well as being a full f/stop faster than the Canon.
Build quality is excellent with a high-quality feel throughout, a full set of weather-seals and a fluorine coating on the front element. The ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system is fast and whisper-quiet and top-notch glass includes a large, ultra-high-precision moulded glass element at the front, along with three FLD (‘Fluorite’ Low Dispersion) and three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements.
Sharpness in amazing right into the corners of the frame and, remarkably for such a wide-angle lens, there’s virtually zero distortion even without using in-camera corrections. If you want to go even wider without spending silly money, look no further than Sigma’s companion 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art lens.
Designed for EOS R-series full-frame mirrorless cameras, this is the wide-angle member of the f/2.8 ‘trinity’ zooms. As you’d expect from such an ultra-wide lens with a fast f/2.8 aperture rating, it’s quite big and weighty but is nevertheless smaller and lighter than, for example, the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 Art lens for Canon SLRs. Unlike the Sigma, the RF lens has a separate hood that enables the easy attachment of filters or filter holders via an 82mm thread. It almost matches the Sigma for maximum viewing angle, at 110 degrees, while adding a 5-stop image stabilizer that’s great for handheld shooting indoors or at twilight. Other highlights include a rapid and virtually silent Nano Ultrasonic autofocus system and stellar image quality. It’s a superb lens but, then again, it really should be at the price.
Best for Nikon
Compared with Nikon’s own-brand 10-20mm and 10-24mm lenses, this Tamron gives the same maximum viewing angle of 109 degrees on the diagonal, while also matching the latter for overall zoom range. It’s much sturdier than Nikon’s cheaper 10-20mm and has better overall build quality than Nikon’s pricier 10-24mm. It’s the only one of the three that comes complete with a full set of weather-seals and a moisture/grease-repellent fluorine coating on the front element. Autofocus is driven by a speedy yet practically silent HLD (High/Low toque-modulated Drive) motor and the aperture is electromagnetically controlled. However, be warned, this makes the lens incompatible with some older SLRs including the D3000 and D5000. Image quality is excellent with impressive sharpness and negligible color fringing, even at the extreme corners of the frame.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with Nikon’s own 12-24mm f/2.8 zoom but this Sigma is every bit as good and generally only costs about two-thirds of the price to buy. It has top-notch build quality, complete with comprehensive weather-seals and a fluorine coating on the front element to repel moisture and grease. High-tech glass includes three aspherical elements, three FLD (‘Fluorite’ Low Dispersion) elements and three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements.
Autofocus is rapid and whisper-quiet in operation, and image quality is fabulous. Sharpness remains excellent even in the extreme corners of the frame and, unlike the Nikon lens, the Sigma is virtually distortion-free, even at its shortest zoom setting. If you want something even wider and don’t mind a slower aperture rating, Sigma’s sibling 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art zoom is the one to go for.
Like most of Nikon’s Z-mount prime and zoom lenses, the 14-30mm has a fairly modest aperture rating. This enables a relatively compact and lightweight build, perfect matching the design ethic of Z 6 and Z 7 full-frame mirrorless cameras. It’s certainly no lightweight in terms of features and performance, however, packing four aspherical elements, four ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements, and a super-fast yet virtually silent autofocus system. Build quality is excellent with the inclusion of wide-ranging weather-seals, Nano Crystal Coat and a fluorine coating on the front element.
As with all other Nikon Z-mount S-line lenses that we’ve seen, image quality is gorgeous and particularly impressive in terms of sharpness. Another bonus is that the removable hood enables the easy fitment of filters or filter holders, via an 82mm attachment thread.
Best for Fujifilm
Some lenses are designed in such a way that they are just a pleasure to use, and the Fujinon XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS WR is one such optic. Its high-quality metal build gives it an unmistakeably premium feel, and having an aperture ring is such a welcome addition, infinitely preferable to scrabbling around in menus.
The specs of the lens are not out of this world but are perfectly adequate for a lens of this type – when working at these focal lengths, you probably don't need much more than f/4, for instance. It's much lighter and more affordable than Fujifilm's big flashy flagship wide-angle zoom, the XF8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR (more on which below), and if you want something more affordable and less fussy, the Fujinon XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS WR is just the ticket. It even includes useful features like weatherproofing and optical stabilisation, which is not bad at all for a lens at this price.
Read more: Fujinon XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS WR review
The Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS is an excellent lens for landscape photography, coming complete with image stabilization and a filter attachment thread. This 8-16mm, however, has neither and is about twice the weight and twice the price. Nevertheless, its reduction of 2mm in minimum focal length enables a stunning upsized viewing angle of 121 degrees. Remarkably for such a super-wide zoom, it also has a fast and constant f/2.8 aperture.
As one of Fujifilm’s ‘Red Badge’ lenses, it has premium build quality and handling, with comprehensive weather-seals and multiple control rings. Up-market glass includes four aspherical elements, six ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements and three Super ED elements, along with Nano-GI Coating. Superb corner-to-corner sharpness benefits from a correction element in the optical path to reduce field curvature.
Best for Olympus/Panasonic
A millimetre might not sound a lot but every little helps when you’re trying to maximize wide-angle coverage with a Micro Four Thirds camera. As such, this Olympus lens goes 1mm shorter than the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 Asph, which we favor the best lens for landscapes for Olympus and Panasonic MFT users. The Olympus doesn’t have the Panasonic lens’s filter attachment thread, due to its integral hood, but the maximum viewing angle is boosted from 107 degrees to 114 degrees, which makes a very noticeable difference in real-world shooting. The Olympus also has the advantage of a fast and constant f/2.8 aperture rating, whereas the Panasonic lens drops to f/4 towards the long end of the zoom range.
Optical finery includes two aspherical elements, one dual spherical element, one ED (Extra-low Dispersion) element, three Super ED elements, and two HR (High Refractive index) elements. Everything’s wrapped up in a dust, splash and freezeproof casing that features a lens function button and manual focus clutch. Image quality is fabulous in all respects, from great sharpness to a complete absence of distortion.
Best for Sony
Sony’s APS-C format Alpha mirrorless cameras are particularly slim and lightweight, making them great for everyday shooting. This ultra-wide-angle zoom follows suit, with dinky dimensions and a weight of just 225g. Even for an APS-C format lens, that’s pretty light considering that the f/4 aperture rating remains constant throughout the entire zoom range. Equivalent to a 15-27mm zoom in full-frame terms, the lens gives a generous maximum viewing angle of 109 degrees, so you can squeeze a lot into the picture.
The autofocus system is quick and virtually silent, while Optical SteadyShot is worth about three stops. That’s not particularly impressive by the latest standards, but still very much worth having, especially for shooting indoors or at twilight. The optical path features a Super ED (Extra-low Dispersion) element but, for optimum sharpness, it’s best to stop the aperture down to at least f/5.6.
We were already impressed with Sony’s FE 12-24mm f/4 G zoom, but this lens is even better. You'll pay significantly more for this f/2.8 version, but this sets a new benchmark for a wide-angle zoom lens for Sony mirrorless cameras. It's a big lens that's noticeably larger than the f/4 version, but it still balances and handles well when mounted on a full-frame mirrorless camera like the Alpha A7R IV. As you'd expect, the image quality is simply stunning, while the smooth, fast and quiet autofocus is a joy. It's not for everyone this lens, but if you're looking for the best wide-angle lens for your Sony camera, this is it.
Not to be confused with Sigma’s excellent 14-24mm DG HSM Art lens for Canon and Nikon DSLRs, this ‘DN’ version for full-frame mirrorless cameras has a completely different design. The revised optical path includes three aspherical elements, one FLD (‘Fluorite’ Low Dispersion) element and no less than five SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements. New NPC (Nano Porous Coating) is also added, along with Sigma’s more conventional Multi-Layer Coating, to minimize ghosting and flare.
The Sony-fit lens also gains a gel filter holder in the mounting plate, which can come in handy as there’s no filter attachment thread at the front. The maximum viewing angle of 114 degrees is noticeably larger than the 107 degrees of Sony’s Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS lens, and the Sigma is also a full f/stop faster. It lacks the Sony lens’s optical stabilization (as does Sony's FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM), but that’s no real issue if you’re using a recent Sony camera that features sensor-shift stabilization. Image quality is highly impressive although vignetting and short-zoom barrel distortion can be noticeable. Even so, automatic in-camera corrections are available.