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!

 

Imaging Resource Camera of the Year 2022:
Best Cameras for Beginners and Enthusiasts



A landscape photography journey through the Lake District with Mads Peter Iversen


by
Jeremy Gray

posted Wednesday, November 23, 2022 at 10:45 AM EST

 

 

Photographer Mads Peter Iversen recently visited the picturesque Lake District in England. It’s a great place for landscape and nature photography, and Iversen captured a diverse range of excellent images. In the hour-plus long video below, Iversen breaks down many photos, delivering tips on composition, lens selection, camera settings, and much more.

Iversen starts at a famous picturesque stone bridge, Ashness Bridge, for some long exposure photography. It’s a good example of approaching a scene that is frequently photographed. Just because many other photographers have shot a scene doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to put your spin on it. Iversen used a polarizing filter on his Sony 16-35mm lens and shot at 16mm, F8 and ISO 100. With these settings, his shutter speed was around 1/8 to 1/5s, which worked very well for the speed of the stream. It can be tempting to use very slow shutter speeds and get very smooth water, but often, it’s better to shoot at faster speeds to retain some of the water’s detail.

Iversen’s next shot goes from ultra-wide (16mm) to just over 300mm using his Sony 100-400mm telephoto zoom lens. It highlights the importance of having a diverse kit for landscape photography. While traditional “landscape” lenses, like ultra-wide and wide-angle zoom lenses, are important parts of any great landscape photography kit, there’s also a place for longer telephoto lenses. Sometimes the best landscape photo isn’t the grand vista shot, but rather a much smaller scene within the scene. A long lens is indispensable to ensure you get those shots when they’re available.

When doing landscape photography anywhere, and perhaps especially in a place like the Lake District, you are truly at the mercy of the weather. Luckily for Iversen, he was treated to “perfect” early morning conditions at Loughrigg Fell. It was one of those situations when you could look almost anywhere in the scene and find an interesting composition. Further, with the fog and early morning light, the scene was very dynamic, so new shots were regularly popping up.

There are so many amazing photos and excellent photography tips jammed into Iversen’s new video. If you don’t have the hour to watch the entire thing now, you should bookmark it and come back to it later. It’s an amazing watch for any landscape photography enthusiast.

To see more from Mads Peter Iversen, visit his website and follow him on Instagram. You can also catch up on more of his videos from the Lake District on his YouTube channel.

(Via Mads Peter Iversen) 



The 10 best compact cameras, according to National Geographic


The OM System (aka Olympus cameras) just released the flagship OM-1 camera, a major upgrade from the beloved Olympus E-M1 series.   

The OM-1 has a similar layout to the E-M1 series but it packs a super fast stacked sensor for high-speed stills shooting at up to 10 FPS mechanical and a blazing 120 FPS electronic. An updated sensor brings better low light performance and subject detection autofocus algorithms that can detect cars, planes, animals, and humans.  

This model also has hand-held high-res shooting (you can take 50 MP images out of a burst of 16 frames) and the Live-ND filter, which simulates a neutral-density filter. In addition, computational photography for handheld shooting emulates some tripod-based long exposure shooting (for example, a blurred waterfall). The pro line lenses have a high-quality build, integrated lens hoods, smooth zoom and focus rings, and round bokeh visualization (background blur). 

The OM-1’s lens options make it ideal for birders and wildlife watchers. The new 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO gives you a lightweight 300-800mm range and an integrated teleconverter up to 1000mm handheld. Tom tested this lens/camera combo and had a blast photographing birds in his neighbourhood without his arms getting too tired. For more: OM Systems  

Tip: The best lenses include the Olympus 12-100mm F/4 IS PRO (24-200mm), 12-24mm f/2.8 II PRO (24-80mm f/2.8 equivalent), 40-150mm F/2.8 PRO (80-300mm pro zoom), 7-14mm PRO (wide-angle zoom), 300mm F/4 IS PRO (600mm F4 equivalent), 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO (300-800mm f/4.5).

Fujifilm X-S10