Finding the best wide-angle lens for Nikon cameras can feel like a tedious, time-consuming journey. However, if you’re armed with the right information from the start, you’re more likely to enjoy the shopping experience and come away with a high image quality lens that fits your camera and your life perfectly.
Prime Lens Options
- Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG (Best for the Money)
- Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC (Best Value)
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG
Best for the Money
This lens has a focal length of 24mm and an aperture of f/1.4. These features allow it to provide high image quality in low-light conditions and a rapid flow of images. The combination of glass lenses that comprises the final lens minimizes potential distortions and protects the materials from UV damage and excess photo glare.
Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC
This ultra-wide lens has a minimum focusing distance of about 11 inches and a fully adjustable aperture. For the price, it’s one of the best wide-angle prime lenses for Nikon that’s available. The 14mm ensures that both landscape photography and wedding photography results in high-quality, balanced images with ideal exposure and no loss in focus.
Additional Primes to Consider
- Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 20mm f/2.8D
- Venus Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D
- Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art DG HSM
- Venus Laowa 15mm f/4 Macro
- Nikon PC NIKKOR 19mm f/4E ED
- Altura Photo 8mm F/3.0
- Rokinon 10mm F2.8 Ed As Ncs Cs
- Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art DG HSM
- Nikon Z-mount
- Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4S
Zoom Lens Options
- Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ELD SLD – (Best Overall)
- Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G – (Best for Nikon DX and D3300)
- Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-120mm – (Best for Nikon D750)
- Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II – (Best for Nikon D3400)
- Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 – (Best for Nikon D3200)
- Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art – (Best for Nikon FX)
- Nikon 70-300 mm f/4-5.6G – (Best Budget Option, Best for Nikon D5200)
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ELD SLD
Best Nikon Lens Overall
This incredibly versatile wide-angle lens is a fantastic option for any Nikon owner looking for a zoom lens. It has a maximum length of 20mm and a fantastically wide aperture, allowing for a wide range of sight.
The lens requires virtually zero UV or flare-resistant filters, as it’s coated in materials to reduce ghosting and flares. Its high-speed automatic-friendly lens is a great choice for anyone hoping to take on a variety of photography projects, including weddings, scenic vacations, and energetic sporting events.
Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G
Best for Nikon DX and D3300
The wide-angle option for Nikon DX and D3300 cameras features a maximum length of 20mm and an adjustable instant of constant aperture for variable exposure. It offers up to a 109° view, allowing photographers to capture an exceptionally wide shot.
One of the most outstanding features of this particular lens is its minimum focal distance of only .8 feet. You can also choose to easily upgrade to a UV lens when purchasing this model.
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-120mm
Best for Nikon D750
The price point for this wide-angle lens might detract from its overall appeal, but not by much. It’s perfectly suited for the Nikon D750. This lens is capable of achieving a uniquely diverse set of wide-angle views with a length that varies between 24mm and 120mm.
Truly, this model is one of the most hardworking and capable zoom lenses for Nikon. After owning this lens, you may not need to invest in another one for quite some time.
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II
Best for Nikon D3400
This wide-angle lens has a focal length that varies between 11mm and 16mm, making it one of the most capable wide-angle lenses on the market. It has an adjustable aperture with a minimum size of f/2.8, ensuring excellent exposure while taking photos in low-light settings. Also, with a two-lense system, this lens puts an end to distortion and dispersion.
Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6
Best for Nikon D3200
This wide-angle lens has a focal length of only 10mm to 20mm, making it a mighty choice for any photographer hoping to get a highly detailed landscape photograph. This focal length does vary depending on the user’s specific camera and settings. This lens also sports a highly adjustable aperture, allowing for a wide range of exposure-perfect photos.
Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art
Best for Nikon FX
Though the price of this wide-angle lens might be a turn-off for some shoppers, its image quality and capability make it an incredibly attractive option. The max focal length of 24mm allows users a little wiggle room in terms of image focus and definition, and it’s fixed aperture is sized to keep photos bright and well-lit. The only potential downside is its heft, as it weighs 1.5lbs.
Nikon 70-300 mm f/4-5.6G
Best Budget Option / Best for Nikon D5200
Those with a Nikon D5200 should be happy to know that the best wide-angle lens for their camera is also the most budget-friendly option. And with a maximum focal length of 30mm, it’s a great balance between traditional 35mm options and more extreme 14mm lenses. Another interesting thing to note is that this lens is compatible with 62mm filters.
Additional Zooms to Consider
- Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM FLD AF
- Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G
- 52mm 0.43x Altura
- Tamron AFA012N700 SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD
- Opteka 15mm F/4 LD UNC AL 1:1
- Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro
- Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
- Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 Pro DX
- Tamron 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 DI-II VC HLD
- Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
What Can You Do with a Wide-Angle Lens?
A wide-angle lens is a specialized lens that ensures photographers capture large objects or scenes clearly without omitting any part. They tend to feature a short focal length, making them better-suited for landscape photography or group shots.
That said, some wide-angle lenses are perfectly capable of zooming in and out. These types of lenses are called zooms. Wide angle lenses that have static, short focal length are called primes.
While zooms can capture a wide variety of wide shots from many distances, primes can only focus on subjects that are fairly close to the photographer. Because zooms are slightly more capable and complex, they tend to cost more than prime wide-angle lenses.
However, prime lenses can produce outstanding image quality, and in some cases, they’re far better than zooms. Knowing the difference between these two types is vital to choosing the right lens.
But understanding when to use a wide-angle lens is crucial to using one correctly, and getting the most out of your equipment.
When Should You Use a Wide-Angle Lens?
There are several occasions where you might want to switch to a wide-angle lens. You’ll find some of the most common ways photographers use wide angle lenses below. This brief overview can help inspire you to take on wide-angle projects and become more familiar with them.
Of course, don’t let this guide prevent you from experimenting with your wide-angle lens. After all, innovation only happens when individuals decide to try new things. Still, let’s explore some of the ways that amateur and professional photographers use their wide-angle lenses.
When Photographing Weddings
Weddings are often lively events with many attendees. Wedding photography is a hugely popular industry, as nearly every couple wants to remember their big day. And while the desired style of photography varies from couple to couple, most choose to incorporate at least a few staged group shots.
Capturing all of wedding guests in a single shot can be a significant challenge, especially for larger wedding parties. A wide-angle lens can ensure that every family member and friend has a place in your grandest wedding photos.
This type of lens can also show all of the extravagance and opulence of a wedding, allowing couples to also reminisce about the decorations and ceremony. Of course, if you’re interested in taking high-quality shots of landscapes with great image quality, a wide-angle lens can also be beneficial.
When Taking Landscape Shots
Whether you’re a dedicated travel photographer or just someone who enjoys taking photographs of wildlife and landscapes, a wide-angle lens can achieve better, clearer images.
When attempting to capture a mountain, a field, a swamp, or any other large outdoor scene, the right lens can ensure that every blade of grass and touch of color comes into perfect focus. Wide-angle lenses are best suited for these types of endeavors and can help produce fantastic landscape images.
For Sports Photography
Most sporting events take place in massive stadiums and arenas. As such, it can be a challenge to capture shots that provide an overview of the action, rather than focusing on single parts of the playing field.
Wide-angle lenses can help photographers get shots of all the action. Rather than focusing on a single player or a group of players, a wide-angle lens can show the full frame of action. These photographs can also be helpful to referees, as they show a high resolution play-by-play of the game.
Of course, choosing the right wide-angle lens for each of these projects requires a little forethought. That’s why it’s crucial to be familiar with what aspects to look for when choosing a lens for Nikon cameras.
How to Select the Right Wide-Angle Lens
There are several factors to consider when choosing a wide-angle lens. Some of the most imperative features to explore and compare include:
- Size and Weight
- Depth of Field
- Able to Withstand Meteorological Conditions
After finding a wide-angle lens with the right mount type for your Nikon, the best lens size and weight for your gears, the desired depth of field, and high durability, you can concentrate or specific features like filters, price, and focal length.
Choose the Mount
Fortunately, Nikon cameras don’t have a wide variety of lens mount types. In fact, they’ve used the same few mount types for more than fifty years. The most popular of this mount is known as the Nikon F-mount. It has a thread diameter of 44 mm.
However, the Nikon 1-mount (40 mm thread diameter) and the Nikon S-mount (55 mm thread diameter) are also applicable. With the exception of the Nikon 1-mount, all of these mounts are roughly the same size at 35 mm.
All Nikon cameras accept bayonet mounts, though it is important to check that your preferred lens is the right size and has the right thread diameter for your camera.
Consider Size and Weight
Adding a wide lens to your camera is bound to result in added weight. If your lens is overly large or heavy, it can affect your ability to take high image quality. Prime wide-angle lenses tend to be less weighty and a little more compact than other lenses.
Still, no matter the size or weight of your wide-angle lens, it should be able to provide an excellent depth of field for your photographs.
Depth of Field Measurements
A photographer hoping to capture multiple in-focus subjects may want to invest in a lens that allows for greater depth of field. Wide-angle lenses are often better at showing a wider field of focus thanks to their shorter focal lengths. This allows photos to show both near and far objects clearly.
Wide-angle lenses can produce fantastic shots, but it’s also important to choose one that can withstand meteorological conditions. This means rain, wind, snow, and intense UV radiation or sunlight.
Even the best wide-angle lens could fall flat if it’s prone to fracturing, shattering, or rusting. Weather is often the most common cause of these issues.
Intense winds may result in a cracked lens if an errant twig or pebble happens to meet the glass lens. Also, rain can cause electronics to malfunction, in addition to kick-starting rust. Snow can also cause moisture damage, and extreme sunlight can even melt internal plastic components.
If you’re determined to use your wide-angle lens to take landscape photos, sports shots, or wedding snapshots, you’ll want to make sure that it can withstand extreme weather, sudden collisions, and accidental drops.
What to Consider Before Buying
Now that you’re familiar with the basics of how to choose a wide-angle lens, it’s time to take a moment to consider additional features and factors. It’s important to review:
- Focal Length
- Prime or Zoom
- Focus Modes
- Weight, Cost, And Size
- Intended Use
- Projection And Distortions
- Additional Features
Taking all of these various features into account before making a final decision can help ensure that you end up with the best possible wide-angle lens for Nikon models and your needs. It’s often best to begin with focal length before moving on to other potential lens features.
Determine Focal Length
Focal length can be a fairly complex idea in photography. When choosing a camera lens, focal length primarily refers to how well a specific lens can zoom in and focus on a specific subject. Lenses for Nikon cameras with higher focal lengths tend to be better at focusing on distant objects.
In general, it’s common to find zoom wide-angles lenses for Nikon cameras with longer focal lengths, and prime lenses with shorter ones.
Choose Prime or Zoom
As discussed earlier, these lenses differ in their ability to magnify a specific subject or focal point. However, they also differ in size, weight, price, and photographic capability. Let’s take a brief moment to compare these two different types of lenses.
- Prime. As mentioned previously, prime lenses tend to be fairly lightweight, compact, and restricted in terms of zooming. However, what they lack in zoom capability they more than make up for in image quality.
- Zoom. Zoom lenses are often a bit heftier and longer than prime lenses. They’re ideal for photographers who desire a wide-angle while still being able to zoom and focus on specific subjects.
Think About Aperture
A camera lens’s aperture is the dark covering that increases or decreases in size, much like the human pupil. This component affects several things, including exposure and depth of field. Apertures are classified by size, and the larger the number associated with a specific aperture, the smaller it’s bound to be.
In general, landscape photography works well with lenses that have an aperture of about f/16, and close-up wide-angle shots benefit from smaller apertures that are f/22. Still, it’s a challenge to settle on an aperture before fully understanding focus modes.
Know Your Focus Modes
Most modern cameras function via a series of autofocus modes. Nikon DSLR cameras typically have four primary modes that users can choose from. They are:
- Focus Lock
- No Focus Lock
- Continuous Focus
Automatic focusing can be helpful, but it can also be a frustrating feature, especially for those who often photograph in-motion scenes or landscapes. Removing the standard focus lock or using a continuous focus can solve these problems.
Understanding your camera’s focus modes and settings can help you figure out what kinds of wide-angle shots you’d like to take, and what kind of lens you’ll need. However, it’s important to remember that filters also play a large role in this decision.
Decide on Filters
Camera lens filters typically attach the outside of a lens. They can provide a wide range of effects, including color saturation and UV filtration. Filters can also protect sensitive lenses from harsh conditions or potential dangers.
When using a lens filter with a wide-angle lens, it’s important to avoid polarized filters. These can result in unevenly lit landscape photos. Using UV or colored filters is often the better option. However, carrying around a hefty camera, filters, and additional accessories can be cumbersome.
A camera and its equipment could easily cost upwards of $2,000. Investing in a wide-angle lens is an additional cost, and it’s vital to consider your preferred lens’s weight, size, and cost.
Contemplate Weight, Cost, And Size
Most wide-angle lenses are incredibly lightweight. They can weigh anywhere between a few ounces to just over a single pound. They’re not typically much heavier than that. Still, if you’re snapping photographs without a tripod or stabilizing piece of equipment, a heavier lens could be a burden that affects your ability to effectively take photos.
Prime wide-angle lenses tend to be about three inches in width, length, and height. Zoom lenses are often about the same size, though they can be a little larger than prime lenses. Exact size and weight vary from model to model.
Wide-angle lenses vary in cost between about $100 and $2,000. The exact price fluctuates depending on the brand, any potential sales or discounts, and item features. There are quality wide-angle lenses available for photographers of nearly every budget, though higher-priced models do tend to showcase more features.
The types of photographs you intend to take with a wide-angle lens can help you determine which one is right for you. For example, if you’re looking to take high-quality wedding photos of large groups of attendees at a nighttime wedding, you may want to choose a lens that works well in low-light settings.
If you’re more determined to photograph rolling hillsides or crashing waves, you may want to choose a lens with zoom capabilities and a variable aperture. Deciding how you’d most like to use your new wide-angle lens is crucial, and it can be a fun exercise that inspires you to make the best choice.
Understand Projection And Distortion
Just the human eye’s lens is often imperfect and skewed, a camera’s lens can record distorted images due to imperfections in the lens’s shape or build quality, or the camera’s focus. A wide-angle lens that is too small or too large can cause image distortion, especially when focusing on small subjects.
Understanding lens projections can also help when choosing a wide-angle lens. Most camera lenses attempt to project images as they are in real life, without distortion. However, depending on your position, on the current lighting, and several other factors, images can quickly become distorted when projections are skewed.
Check Out Other Features
A wide-angle lens can have a handful of additional features, including extra accessories, cleaning supplies, storage equipment, and added weather resistance. Depending on how you intend to use your wide-angle lens, it may be worthwhile to take advantage of these additional features.
Learn How to Use a Wide-Angle Lens
Even if you own top-notch equipment, it isn’t worth much if you can’t operate it. Let’s address how to use a wide-angle lens so that you can make the most out of your photographs. To use a wide-angle lens, you’ll need to:
- Understand the Properties of the Lens
- Get in Close and Fill Your Frame
- Keep the DSLR Level
- Check the Edges
Without further ado, let’s begin with exploring lens properties and qualities.
1. Know What You’re Working With
Camera lenses have several different properties to take into account, including focal length and aperture. Understanding your preferred wide-angle lens’s properties can help you acquire the perfect shot.
2. Approach Up-Close and Fill the Frame
Wide-angle lenses do well when they have at least a single focal point to give the rest of the image more depth and intrigue. To achieve this effect, it is essential to approach your subject closely and fill the entire frame of your shot. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
3. Keep Your DSLR Level
Unless you’re purposely shooting at unconventional angles, it’s imperative to keep the DSLR level. Doing so ensures you get the precise focus, exposure, and look that you desire from your images. A collapsible tripod can easily keep your camera steady during photoshoots.
4. Inspect the Edges
If you’ve properly filled your frame, you should have plenty of material to work with. Now it’s time to check your edges. Do you have all of your subjects in focus and in view? If not, it might be a good idea to quickly retrace your steps and adjust your position.
While it’s important to get close to your subject when snapping a wide-angle shot, it’s also important for that photograph to contain all of the information you’re attempting to convey.
Other Questions People Ask About Wide-Frame Lenses
Below you’ll find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions concerning wide-angle lenses.
- What Focal Length is Best with a Wide-Angle Lens?
The best focal length for a wide-angle lens is subjective. The most popular option tends to be 35mm. Any focal length less than 24mm is technically a fish-eye lens. While these lenses do have their advantages and proper applications, they’re not the obvious choice for most wide-angle work.
- Is a Wide-Angle Lens Necessary For Landscapes?
You do not need a wide-angle lens for landscape photography, though having one can be incredibly helpful. Other types of lenses are often designed to handle simpler subjects. As such, they can struggle to properly capture detailed landscapes and outdoor environments.
- Is an 18mm Considered a Wide-Angle Lens?
18mm is technically an ultra-wide-angle lens. It provides a viewpoint that seems to bubble, often resulting in what is known as the fish-eye effect.
- Is a 50mm Technically a Wide-Angle Lens?
50mm lenses are not typically considered to be wide-angle lenses. However, they can be manipulated to provide wide-angle photographs.
- Does a 55mm Count as a Wide-Angle Lens?
55mm lenses aren’t often thought of as wide-angle lenses. They’re often used in portrait or macro photography due to their ability to provide an intense amount of short focus on a specific, nearby point.
- Which Sizes Are Standard for a Wide-Angle Lens?
Most wide-angle lenses are between 14mm and 35mm.
- Are a Telephoto Lens and a Wide-Angle Lens the Same?
Wide-angle lenses for Nikon cameras with a great build quality are ideal for photographs that capture larger-than-life subjects or expansive spaces. Telephoto lenses are a fantastic option for those doing professional portraits, unique candid shots, and outdoor photography.