They’re great for landscapes, street shots, interiors and much more!
So many professionals and serious shooters rely on wide-angle prime lenses; that’s because single-focal-length lenses deliver an unmatched combination of versatility and high performance.
The lenses typically provide much wider apertures than comparable wide-angle zooms. This results in an extended low-light shooting range and also facilitates the creative control of depth of field.
In addition, most wide-angle primes provide beautiful, natural bokeh that’s especially useful in capturing compelling portraits and landscapes. Other notable plus points are their relatively compact form factor; excellent balance and handling; and a brighter viewing image—which is crucial when looking through the eye-level optical viewfinder of a DSLR.
Finally, and most important, the best wide-angle primes, including those here, are unsurpassed in terms of sheer image quality and the ability to capture fine detail. That’s why most pros, even those who depend on wide zooms, typically pack at least one wide-angle prime; it gives them a unique perspective and an unmatched edge in creating images that stand out and have a greater esthetic and commercial impact.
What’s a Wide-Angle Lens?
A “normal” lens is defined as one with a focal length equal to the diagonal of the format. For the full-frame (24x36mm) format, the actual diagonal measures 43.27mm. That means the so-called “50mm normal lens” is actually a little longer than it should be for historical reasons we won’t get into.
Suffice it to say that a 50mm lens has a somewhat narrow diagonal field of view (FoV) of 46.8º. Moreover, a 45mm lens provides a 51.4º FoV; that is roughly the same as what a human can see sharply in a single glance when looking straight ahead.
What’s more, wide-angle lenses have progressively wider FoVs and shorter focal lengths than normal lenses. For example, a 35mm lens has a 63.4º diagonal FoV when covering the full-frame format; a 28mm lens has a 75.4º FoV, and a 24mm lens has an impressive 84.1º FoV. Lenses wider than that (e.g., a 20mm with a 94.5º FoV) are really ultrawide-angles. That’s a worthy subject for another day. Subsequently, all of the wide-angle prime lenses detailed here provide actual or full-frame–equivalent focal lengths ranging from 24mm to 35mm.
We’ve selected 12 exciting and innovative wide-angle primes offered by major camera companies and independent lens manufacturers. We sure hope it inspires you to check out the scores of other fascinating wide-angle primes we couldn’t include here.
12 Top Wide-Angle Prime Lenses
Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art
Sigma’s superspeed f/1.2 prime provides enhanced low-light shooting capabilities and creative depth-of-field control; that’s thanks to its ultrawide aperture. It also delivers outstanding image quality even wide open. That’s facilitated by an advanced optical formula employing three SLD (special low dispersion) elements and three aspheric elements (one double-sided). They minimize spherical aberration and distortion and enhance sharpness.
The full-frame lens also uses a hypersonic motor for quick, quiet, precise autofocus (AF); provides full-time manual focus override; and has a built-in autofocus lock (AFL). Moreover, its 11-blade diaphragm elevates its inherently beautiful bokeh. Other features include weather-resistant construction; a solid brass bayonet mount; and a water- and oil-repellent coating on the front element. In Sony E and Leica/Sigma/Panasonic L mounts, $1,499.
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED
It’s the fastest full-frame (FX format) Nikkor lens in the popular 28mm focal length. And it’s a great choice for Nikon fans shooting in low light and/or employing selective focus techniques. It utilizes an advanced optical design incorporating two ED (extra-low dispersion) glass elements to minimize chromatic aberrations and color fringing; plus, three aspheric elements control spherical aberrations. As a result, it’s capable of capturing extremely sharp images of outstanding clarity and color fidelity. Nano Crystal and Super Integrated coatings also suppress flare and ghosting.
Furthermore, its silent wave motor provides swift, smooth, quiet AF with anytime manual focus (MF) override. In addition, it uses a rear focusing system to maintain overall length and enhance AF speed. An electromagnetic diaphragm enhances exposure control stability, which is crucial in continuous shooting at high frame rates. Other features are a fluorine coating on the front element to repel moisture and resist smudging; dust and moisture resistance; and a rounded 9-blade diaphragm to enhance its inherently artistic bokeh. In Nikon F mount, $1,799.95.
Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 Di USD
Released to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Tamron’s acclaimed high-performance SP series, this is a versatile wide-aperture wide-angle prime. It’s great for general events, street shooting, low-light work as well as art photography. That’s due to its impressive image quality and ability to isolate subjects using enhanced depth-of-field control. Moreover, it incorporates four low dispersion elements and GM (glass molded) aspheric elements to minimize chromatic and spherical aberrations and distortion.
In addition, Tamron’s second-generation BBAR-G2 coating suppresses flare and ghosting. Another feature is an ultrasonic silent drive (USD) motor with a dynamic rolling-cam mechanism. It provides quick, quiet, precise AF with full-time manual focus down to 11.8 inches. For full-frame DSLRs, the lens also features a rounded 9-blade diaphragm for pleasing, natural bokeh; moisture resistance; and a fluorine coating on the front element to resist dust and smudges. In Canon EF and Nikon F mounts, $899.
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
A member of Canon’s elite L series, this outstanding wide-aperture 24mm boasts rugged weather resistance and pro-caliber construction. It also has an advanced optical design. For the full-frame format, it includes two ultra-low dispersion (UD) elements and two large-diameter aspheric elements to minimize chromatic aberrations, color fringing, spherical aberrations and distortion. What’s more, each element features a sub-wavelength coating (SWC) to suppress flare and ghosting. The result: it can capture images of extremely high sharpness and clarity.
Its fast f/1.4 aperture also facilitates low-light use and provides heightened depth-of–field control. Other features are a ring-type ultrasonic motor (USM) motor for quick, quiet AF with full-time manual focus override; a floating internal focusing system to help maintain consistent image quality from 9.8 inches to infinity; and a rounded 8-blade diaphragm for artistic bokeh. In Canon EF mount, $1,549.
Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 ED AS UMC CS
This is a fast Canon EF-S-mount, wide-angle, manual focus Rokinon lens for APS-C-format cameras. While compact, it provides a full-frame-equivalent focal length of 25.6mm with a 79.5º angle of view. Thus, it is an excellent choice for low-light shooting, landscapes, architecture, general photography and creative applications requiring shallow depth of field.
The lens also incorporates two aspheric elements and one extra-low dispersion element to minimize chromatic aberrations and ensure crisp images with accurate color rendition. Rokinon also added ultra multi–coating (UMC) to increase light transmission and minimize ghosting and flare. The 13-element, 11-group lens focuses down to 7.9 inches. It comes with a lens hood as well as a pouch. $349.
Pentax HD Pentax–FA 35mm f/2
This sleek, compact, high-performance lens is made for full-frame Pentax K-mount cameras. The wide-angle prime lens from Ricoh Imaging incorporates hybrid aspherical elements to minimize spherical aberrations and distortion as well as capture images of impressive sharpness. It also employs high-definition (HD) coatings throughout to suppress flare and ghosting and enhance contrast.
Additionally, an SP (super protect) coating is applied to the front element to repel moisture and resist smudges. Its fast f/2 maximum aperture extends its low-light capabilities and provides enhanced depth–of–field adjustments. Moreover, the lens focuses down to 11.8 inches using AF or manual focus control. It also features a classic 6-element, 5-group optical design and comes with a lens hood and case. $399.95.
Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Asph
This is a sleek, fast, compact, high-performance Lumix lens. It provides the classic 35mm-equivalent focal length with Panasonic and other Micro Four Thirds (MFT) format cameras. A wide f/1.7 aperture makes it ideal for low-light photography and creative depth-of-field control. Moreover, its moderately wide-angle coverage is very popular with street, travel as well as art photographers.
Based on an advanced optical formula, the lens employs one ultrahigh refractive index (UHR) element and two aspheric elements; they reduce spherical aberrations and distortion, as well as yield outstanding edge-to-edge sharpness and illumination. In addition, Nano Surface coatings minimize flare and ghosting and enhance contrast and color fidelity. Moreover, a stepping motor delivers swift, smooth, nearly silent AF, benefiting both still and video applications. Also, a rounded 7-blade diaphragm achieves smooth out-of-focus image quality when using shallow depth-of-field techniques. $249.99.
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary
Here’s a high-spec, ultrafast, wide-angle prime lens in Sigma’s Contemporary line. It provides a 24mm-equivalent focal length on Sony E-, Leica/Sigma/Panasonic L- and Canon EF- and M-mount cameras. On MFT-mount cameras, it achieves a 32mm-equivalent focal length. Its wide f/1.4 aperture facilitates low-light photography and also provides extended depth-of-field control for selective focus effects.
What’s more, its cutting-edge optical design features three FLD (fluorite-equivalent) elements; two SLD (special low dispersion) and two molded aspherical elements. They minimize chromatic and spherical aberrations for sharpness and clarity in both still and video applications. Individual elements feature Sigma’s Super Multilayer coating to suppress flare and ghosting for greater contrast and color fidelity. Other features are a stepping AF motor for quick, quiet, precise AF (with full-time MF) down to 9.84 inches; a rounded 9-blade diaphragm to augment its beautiful bokeh; a solid brass lens mount; and dust- and splash-resistant construction. In Sony E, Canon EF-M, MFT and L mounts, $399.
Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95
The Nokton 17.5mm is a unique superspeed, manual focus 35mm-equivalent, wide-angle prime lens. For Micro Four Thirds (MFT) format cameras, this Voigtlander lens is an outstanding choice for low-light shooting; it’s also great for creating selective focus effects. In addition, the lens’s 10-blade diaphragm enriches its inherently beautiful natural bokeh.
Moreover, for video work, its selective aperture control system allows noiseless aperture changes for depth-of-field control. Featuring a 13-element, 9-group design, the lens focuses down to a mere 5.9 inches for compelling close-ups. In addition, it employs aspheric lens elements to minimize aberrations to capture crisp images. In MFT mount, $799.
Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM
This versatile, wide-aperture, wide-angle prime lens is a member of Sony’s prestigious G Master series. It’s perfect for landscape, nature and street photography in low light, while also providing creative control of depth of field with its f/1.4 maximum aperture. Its optical design boasts three ED elements to minimize chromatic aberrations. Plus, three XA (extreme aspherical) elements vastly reduce spherical aberrations, creating images of exceptional sharpness and clarity. And a rounded 11-blade diaphragm contributes to its attractive bokeh.
Nano AR coating is used throughout to suppress flare and ghosting, as well as to produce contrast and color fidelity. Additionally, the lens uses a direct-drive supersonic wave motor (SSM) with an AF/MF switch for swift, virtually silent AF and more responsive manual focus. It also has a focus hold button and a manual aperture ring that aid in handling. Other features are moisture-resistant construction and a water- and smudge-resistant coating on the front element. In E mount, $1,399.99.
Zeiss Milvus 25mm f/1.4 ZE
Zeiss developed this exceptional high-speed, wide-angle prime to provide full-frame Nikon and Canon DSLR shooters with a cutting-edge alternative. The manual focus lens can cover a wide variety of subjects—from landscapes, architecture and interiors, to astrophotography. Its wide f/1.4 aperture facilitates working in difficult lighting as well as offers depth-of-field control when employing selective focus techniques.
Based on a sophisticated Distagon design, it utilizes two aspheric elements and no less than seven anomalous partial dispersion elements. Together, they minimize spherical and chromatic aberrations, yielding images of extraordinary sharpness and clarity over its entire range. Other features include a floating element system to maintain consistent image quality from 9.8 inches to infinity; a wide rubberized focusing ring that aids focusing precision; a rounded 9-blade diaphragm; moisture resistance; as well as a beautiful frosted anodized barrel that improves tactile control. In Canon EF and Nikon F mounts, $2,399.
Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
Combining the versatile 35mm focal length with a wide f/1.4 aperture, this is a high-performing, full-frame wide-angle prime. A great choice for a wide variety of subjects, this Samyang lens particularly shines in street shooting in low light and fine art portraiture where creative control of selective focus is crucial. Its sophisticated optical design utilizes two aspheric and two high refractive index elements; they minimize spherical aberrations and achieve images of commendable sharpness and clarity over the entire aperture range.
What’s more, ultra multicoatings minimize flare and ghosting and enhance contrast. The lens also features a dual linear supersonic motor (DLSM) to ensure quick, precise AF. Also, a 9-blade diaphragm contributes to its smooth, rounded bokeh. Another feature is an internal focusing design that maintains overall length at all distances and prevents the front filter ring from rotating when using polarizing filters. In Sony E mount, $499.