Wide-angle lenses are the preferred accessory for photographers exploring vast landscapes and architecture. Camera manufacturers generally group together lenses with the longest focal length, either 28 mm or 24 mm in some cases, which is not enough in most cases.
Although these basic lenses prove to be a pure disappointment in most cases, wide-angle lenses offer more than the practical advantage of a wider viewing angle. They can do much more than the basic 28mm lens fails to do.
If you’re a Canon user, we’ve selected the best wide-angle lenses for you right here. Nikon DSLR users can stay here and continue reading.
Nikon DSLRs are divided into two groups. Beginner/enthusiast models up to the D500 have APS-C size sensors (Nikon calls them the “DX” format), while models from the D610 onwards have full frame sensors (FX format).
As for Canon DSLRs, you have to choose a lens adapted to the size of the sensor, because a full-frame super wide-angle lens will not give you such a wide angle of view on an APS-C format camera.
The difference is that you can use smaller DX-format lenses on full-frame FX cameras, but in “cropping” mode at reduced resolution. This is not ideal, but if you get one of these lenses for your Nikon DX and then switch to a Nikon FX later, you will still be able to take advantage of it.
- Sigma 24mm f/1.4
- Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art DG
- Nikkor Fisheye 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5
- Nikkor AF-S 20mm f/1.8
- Nikkor 14-30mm f/4 S
- Nikkor 28mm AF-S f/1.4E
- Nikkor PC 19mm f/4E
- Nikkor AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G
- Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art DG
- Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 ED
First of all, here are the characteristics that I have taken into account to rank the objectives below, from the most important to the least important for me:
- The general quality of the image: From sharpness to distortion, it all comes down to the quality of the image. A lens may excel in all other respects, but few photographers would buy it if it failed all the optical tests.
- Price/Value: For most of us, the price (or, more precisely, the value) of the lens is simply the second closest factor to image quality – and another potential breakthrough. Wide-angle lenses cover a wide range of prices. The lenses below sell for $290 at a minimum to $1,900 at a maximum.
- Size/Weight: Wide-angle lenses can become heavy. Some of them weigh as much as telephoto lenses, easily exceeding the kilo bar. For many landscape and travel photographers, a lighter lens is simply a necessity.
- Filtering Capability: Many wide-angle lenses don’t have a filter slot screwed into the front. To use filters with unscrewed lenses, you’ll need to purchase a large, expensive adapter as well as larger, more expensive filters.
- Auto or Manual Focus: Three of the thirteen lenses listed below are manual-focus only. This usually saves money and weight, and manual focusing is not the end of the world for many wide-angle shooters. That said, most photographers also prefer the option of autofocus, all other things being equal.
- Focal length(s): I consider anything longer than 24mm to be “wide angle”, although all the lenses below are at least a little wider than that. I give extra points to lenses that reach 14 or 15 mm, as well as to zooms with a wider than expected focal range.
- Maximum aperture: This feature is only important for astrophotographers, but it is an important subset of wide-angle shooters. Lenses with an aperture of f/2.8 (or greater) can capture more light than f/4 lenses, resulting in a brighter, quieter Milky Way.