Best Ultra-Wide and Wide-Angle Lenses

Best Ultra-Wide and Wide-Angle Lenses


 

 

It’s our first day for Camera of the Year Awards, and we’re kicking things off with the ever-popular categories of ultra-wide angle and wide-angle lenses. It was a busy year for wide lenses, with new optics arriving from a wide range of manufacturers across nearly every lens mount and camera system.

Sigma was especially busy this year, releasing excellent full-frame prime lenses in both ultra-wide and wide-angle categories. Panasonic was prolific this year, as well, launching excellent new wide primes for its Micro Four Thirds and full-frame S system cameras. Not to be outdone, Sony released five (!) new ultra-wide and wide-angle lenses, including a trio of APS-C lenses. However, we can’t give awards to every great lens that launched in 2022 — we must select the very best. Read on to learn the winners of our “Best Ultra-Wide Angle Lens” and “Best Wide-Angle Lens” awards for 2022. You’ll also find links to our extensive coverage for each lens, where you can read much more about the winning lenses. 

Looking ahead, tomorrow we’ll reveal the winners of our “Best Telephoto Lens” and “Best Super-Telephoto Lens” categories, so be sure to come back to learn which long lenses took the crown this year. If you missed this morning’s Camera of the Year announcement for “Best Camera for Beginners” and “Best Camera for Enthusiasts,” you can read all about those awards here. If you haven’t voted yet in our Reader’s Choice Award poll, be sure to do so before the poll closes later this week. 

 

 

As you’ll also see in the “Best Wide-Angle Lens” section, it’s been an excellent year for Sigma. The company released a pair of F1.4 “Art” lenses this summer, the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art and the Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art. The lenses, both available for E-mount and L-mount, deliver excellent build quality and optical performance across the board.

 

The Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art lens is in a class of its own. While the F1.4 aperture makes the lens quite long and heavy, it also sets it apart from the numerous 20mm F1.8 lenses on the market. The Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art is the fastest 20mm prime lens available for full-frame mirrorless cameras.

The Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art, in particular, is a unique offering. Alongside the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM Art for DSLR cameras, the new Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art for mirrorless cameras is the only full-frame 20mm F1.4 lens available. There are 20mm F1.8 lenses but no other 20mm F1.4 lenses. While the extra speed adds a bit of weight and size to the 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art, it also provides more utility in low-light situations, especially for night sky photography. While the same focal length and aperture as the older DG HSM Art version, the new DG DN Art iteration is all-new, with a new appearance, design and optical formula. The fast aperture also allows for unique shallow depth-of-field images with an ultra-wide perspective.

 

Sony A7R IV with Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art lens at F1.4, 1/3200s, ISO 100.

For photographers looking for the unique qualities of an ultra-wide angle perspective, you’ll be hard-pressed to do better than the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art lens. It’s a great option for full-frame E-mount and L-mount cameras thanks to its excellent optical performance, fast aperture and outstanding $899 price point.

More info: Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art Hands-on Review / Gallery

Buy now: Amazon, Adorama and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals

 

Best Ultra-Wide Angle Lens, Runner-up: Panasonic 9mm F1.7

One of the few Micro Four Thirds lenses on our list this year, the teeny tiny Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 9mm F1.7 made a big impression. This compact ultra-wide angle lens offers MFT photographers an expansive 18mm-equivalent field of view, and the bright F1.7 aperture gives it excellent light-gathering capabilities for astrophotography, low-light shooting, and pretty good shallow depth-of-field potential when combined with its good close-focusing distance.

 

 

In our testing, the lens proved impressive in most areas. It’s sharp, even wide-open, and focuses very quickly and closely, making it surprisingly versatile for a variety of subjects. It’s a fantastic addition to Panasonic’s Micro Four Third lineup and to the MFT system as a whole. It’s small, light, sharp and doesn’t cost a pretty penny, either. At just $500 MSRP, it undercuts several other wide and fast primes in the MFT system, which makes it even more of a compelling choice!

 

Olympus E-M1 Mark III + Panasonic 9mm F1.7: F1.7, 1/5000s, ISO 200. This image has been edited.

More info: Panasonic 9mm F1.7 Hands-on / Gallery

Buy now: Amazon, Adorama and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals

Best Ultra-Wide Angle Lens, Runner-up: Panasonic S 18mm F1.8

We have yet another Panasonic lens to make our list of Best Ultra-wide Angle lenses of the year, this time it’s a fast ultra-wide prime for Panasonic’s full-frame cameras, the Lumix S 18mm F1.8. One of several F1.8 primes for Panasonic’s L-mount mirrorless cameras, this 18mm variety is the widest of them all, yet it shares essentially the same size, shape and weight as the rest of them. It’s a key feature that makes them all easily swappable — great for video shooters who use gimbals, cranes or other balance-sensitive equipment. A fairly simple lens in terms of its design, the 18mm F1.8 is nevertheless lightweight but ruggedly built with a dust- and moisture-resistance design.

 

 

Optically, the lens proved very sharp, even wide open at F1.8, and remains sharp throughout much of its aperture range. The F1.8 aperture and wide field of view make this not only a generally great landscape lens but also a good choice for astrophotographers. Focusing speed was very good, while close-focusing performance was even more impressive, allowing for nice, dramatic close-up wide-angle shots. Overall, the Panasonic Lumix S 18mm F1.8 is simply a solid, all-around great choice for L-mount shooters looking for a sharp, capable ultra-wide angle prime lens.

 

Panasonic S1R + Panasonic S 18mm F1.8 at F8, 8s, ISO 100. This image has been edited.

More info: Hands-on Review / Gallery

Buy now: Amazon, Adorama and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals

 

Announced alongside the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art, the 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art may not deliver a unique experience like its wider sibling, but it has distinct strengths. One of its greatest strengths is its affordable $799 price tag. That’s $600 less than the Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM lens. Of course, we aren’t going to knock the Sony 24mm F1.4 GM – it’s a fantastic lens, but for Sigma to achieve the same focal length and aperture at a significantly reduced price is great news for photographers on a tighter budget. 

 

The Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art is a moderately compact, lightweight wide-angle prime lens

The Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art lens is a suitable choice for landscapes and even environmental portraiture. It’s also much more compact and lightweight than the 20mm F1.4 lens, weighing just 520g (18.3 oz). The lens exhibits minor image quality issues at F1.4 but also delivers beautiful bokeh. As always, there are tradeoffs.

 

Sony A7R IV with Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art lens at F11, 1/8s, ISO 100.

That said, the Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art is a great, fast wide-angle prime lens for full-frame mirrorless cameras. It delivers high-end performance across the board at a very fair price. Bravo, Sigma, for its outstanding new wide-angle lenses in 2022.

More info: Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art Hands-on Review / Gallery

Buy now: Amazon, Adorama and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals

 

Best Wide-Angle Lens, Runner-up: Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G

So far, all of our top wide and ultra-wide lenses this year have been primes, but this Sony 16-35mm is our first zoom lens to make the list, and it’s quite an impressive and unique one at that. The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G lens is unique among Sony’s several other 16-35mm full-frame lenses in that this one has Power Zoom, making it a really handy wide-angle lens for video creators. Of course, it works great for still photographers, too, but its primary use case is with hybrid creators who do both. You can manually zoom the lens, but the zoom ring is electronically controlled and can be operated directly from a compatible camera body, which is pretty cool. Plus, the lens is all internally zooming. The zoom behavior and speed are also adjustable.

 

 

Optically, the lens is very sharp lens across its full focal length range, especially in the centers, and even when shot wide open. There is some vignetting and distortion, but they are easy to correct if desired. Focusing is extremely fast thanks to its XD Linear Motors, and the good close-focusing distance allows for great close-up shots. Overall, this is another very impressive lens in Sony’s already-extensive lens lineup. If you find yourself in need of a wide-angle lens and you shoot lots of video as well as photos, consider the compact, lightweight and excellent power-zooming 16-35mm F4 lens.

 

Sony A7 IV + FE PZ 16-35mm F4: 16mm, F6.3, 1/320s, ISO 100

More info: Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G Hands-on Review / Gallery

Buy now: Amazon, Adorama and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals

 

• • •

We’re still running our poll through the end of this week for our Reader’s Choice Award!

So get in your vote today!

 

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