The 7 Best Wide Angle Lenses to Buy in 2018 for DSLR

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Wide-angle lenses are an essential part of every photographer's arsenal. They allow DSLRs to capture more in a single shot than a typical lens — an excellent idea if you find yourself shooting in small spaces or merely want to change your perspective. With virtually every manufacturer producing at least one wide-angle lens — and third-party producers adding even more to the market — there are many options to choose from. Luckily, our research experts have taken the time to find the best wide-angle lenses for your needs. We even sent one of our top picks home with our testers so they could try shooting with it themselves and report back.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
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5

A good lens is hard to find on the cheap, and if you do manage to find one, you want to make sure you’re not investing in something that’s going to break in just a few months. That’s why, when you’re talking about “budget” lenses, you’re really talking about a price range of about $150 to $200. Among these lenses, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G lens is probably the best budget wide-angle lens you can find for Nikon cameras. It’s got a standard wide-angle focal length of 35mm, which closely matches that of the human eye. That means images will reveal themselves fairly close to what you imagined—that is, of course, if you know what you’re doing. This prime lens also has a maximum aperture of f/1.8 and a minimum of f/22. There’s an ultrasonic autofocus (AF) motor with full-time manual focusing. And the whole thing can be found for just under $200.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best Nikon DSLR lenses.

Best Wide Angle Nikon Lens: Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM

A magical combination of excellent wide-angle and low-light performance, the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens is a great choice for Canon DSLR owners. Incorporating Optical Image Stabilization, specialized coatings to minimize ghosting and two UD elements to minimize image aberrations, the Canon adds inner focusing and ring USM for accurate and quick auto focusing. Full-time manual focus is also available with a minimum focusing distance of 0.92 feet across the entire zoom range of the lens.

Built for all weather conditions, this Canon lens is both dust and water-resistant, which enables it to perform in both professional and consumer-friendly conditions each and every time. Beyond protection against the elements, the circular aperture of the Canon lens and its nine blades allows for beautiful, soft background photography.

Reviews praise its performance and image results under even the worst kind of lighting and photo conditions. At just 1.4 pounds, the Canon EF 16-35mm lens will quickly become a go-to for Canon DSLR owners looking for the best in wide-angle photography.

Check out our other reviews of the best lenses for Canon DSLRs on the market today.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: EF S 10-22m f/3.5-4.5 Lens

A go-to choice for many Canon DSLR owners, the EF S 10-22m f/3.5-4.5 has a combination of image quality and affordability that make it a terrific choice for an everyday lens. Incorporating an optical image stabilizer, superior autofocus and a full-time manual focus with a simple turn of a ring add fuel to the fire that this Canon lens is a must-own.

With a minimum distance of just 9.5 inches for close focusing, subjects as small as 3.6 x 5.4 inches can fill the frame. The relatively compact size has this lens weighing 0.85 pounds, which makes it more than light enough to carry around in a bag. The wide angles from the focal length of this lens are bound to impress even professional photographers with an equivalency to a 16-35mm zoom. The three aspherical lens elements, Super-UD element and ring-type USM all help assure terrific photo quality.

While there’s no image stabilization built-in, the lightweight build should help keep this lens steady in your hand as you're grabbing shots of a wedding, sporting event or a landscape photo in a national park.

Best Ultra Wide Angle Nikon Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ELD SLD

Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ELD SLD
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If you want to be able to capture the breathtaking majesty of the Grand Canyon or some other scenic vista, you’ll probably want an ultra wide-angle lens, which is typically defined as any lens with a focal length shorter than 15 mm. For Nikon shooters, there’s the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM. The fixed aperture and super short focal range make it ideal for landscapes and architecture, but it may also be a good fit for professionals shooting portraits. It’s got a hyper-sonic motor for quiet and super speedy autofocus, as well as a petal-type hood that blocks out extra light and cuts down on internal reflection. It’s a thoroughly mid-range wide angle lens, but the tech behind this little devices is sure to impress even the most seasoned photographers. There are also styles for Canon, Pentax and Sony DSLRs. It may not be a good go-to, all-purpose lens, but it’s certainly an ideal pick for a growing collection of lenses.

Best Ultra Wide-Angle Lens Overall: Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM FLD AF

For the best ultra wide-angle performance available today, the Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM FLD AF is an outstanding choice for Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony DSLR owners. A one-of-a-kind lens, the Sigma is the first to offer a minimum focal length of just 8mm. Designed with APS-C image sensors in mind, the lens offers an equivalent field of view to 12-24mm lenses.

Integrating Sigma’s new FLD glass elements, the lens helps compensate for color aberration and color correction while producing excellent image results throughout its entire zoom range. The inclusion of HSM technology allows for the autofocus zoom to be both mechanical and manual with a minimum focusing distance of just 9.4 inches from a subject.

Ultimately, Sigma has produced a lens that excels at landscape shooting, capturing architecture, building interiors, photojournalism, wedding photography and so much more. The 1.22-pound weight and 4.17 inches in length make it compact and portable, so it fits perfectly in an overnight bag, backpack or dedicated camera bag.

Best Budget Wide-Angle Canon Lens: Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM

Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM
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Another budget-friendly option for Canon shooters, the EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM is fairly versatile for the wide-angle category. It’s got a focal length of 24 mm and a maximum aperture of f/2.8. It’s actually the slimmest and lightest lens in the EF-S series of Canon lenses. It also has full-time manual focus while in the One Shot AF (autofocus) mode. It produces stellar images with a fast autofocus, and it’s small enough to fit in any kit bag. The price is such that you don’t have to worry too much about regretting the purchase, particularly if you’re a highly active photographer with an extensive lens collection. Consider this a solid option if you’re a Canon shooter looking to purchase your first wide-angle lens, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money.

Best Premium Wide-Angle Lens: Sigma Art 12-24mm

Sigma upgraded its already celebrated Mark II premium wide-angle zoom lens with the new Art edition. The lens sports low dispersion glass with a multilayer coating that minimizes distortion and brings out the most in contrast. The lens is also durable, with fluorine coatings and front and rear elements as well as a weather-sealed mounting.

Another major upgrade is changing the aperture from a f/4-5.6 variable rating to a constant f/4, which, along with a much-improved optical path, produces stunning landscape shots. Since it has f/4 aperture throughout the zoom range, it is a full stop brighter than before which grants photographers faster shutter speed that is great for nature and city photography. The lens has up to 4.9x magnification, with Hyper-Sonic Motor technology allowing for quiet and quick autofocus even when capturing images at a distance. 

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 10 hours testing one of the most popular wide-angle lenses available. To really get the full experience, they tried it in different settings throughout the day and into the evening. We asked them to consider the most important features when using this wide-angle lens — like aperture and durability — and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Wide-Angle Lens

Mount - The most critical aspect of any lens you purchase is the type of camera mount it supports. The wide-angle lens you are buying must have the same style of mount as your DSLR — otherwise, it won’t fit onto your device.

Focal length - We note how much we can see within a frame by the focal length. Consider how wide you want your lens to be, with wide-angle lenses as long as 35mm and super-wide options as short as 8mm — the lower the number, the more you can fit in a single shot.

Aperture - The F-stop (or aperture) of a lens denotes how much light it allows in and how well you can isolate a subject from its background with a beautiful blur effect. Cameras with a lower F-stop number are great for shooting in low light situations, but higher F-stops allow for more of the photo to be in complete focus.

Test Results: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G (Best Overall)

5

What We Like

  • Easy to install

  • Captures wide range of shots

  • Focuses fast

What We Don't Like

  • Fair performance in low light

  • No real zoom functionality

Overall, our testers thought that this lens was “very capable” and takes “very clear” images at a variety of distances. “It can capture details in both the foreground and background of landscape images without any major setting changes,” said one reviewer. “It focuses very fast and hardly needs adjusting.” Unfortunately, though, one of our testers had trouble with low lighting: “After a few tries, I stopped shooting in some darker locations because the images came out poorly or with too much flash,” he said.