Wide-angle lenses capture bigger views than normal, allowing you to squeeze very large subjects into the frame. They can prove invaluable whether you’re trying to photograph a large building, cramped interior, sweeping landscape view, or even just a big group shot.

They’re also ideal when you literally can’t step back any further, and are the standard kit of estate agents and realtors who want to make a room look bigger than it really is.

Most kit lenses include basic wide-angle coverage equivalent to a focal length of 28mm, but this is just a starting point in the world of wide-angle photography. Ultra-wide lenses allow you to squeeze even more into the frame and can deliver spectacular results.

So if you’re into landscape or architecture photography or regularly find yourself having to step-back to squeeze-in the desired shot, then get yourself an ultra-wide lens. The models below are all ideal.

Best Nikon Wide-angle Lenses

Sigma 12-24mm f4 Art review

Sigma's new 12-24/4.0 zoom is a very competent lens: Its optical performance is up there with the reference 15-30mm zoom from Tamron, it has only minor distortions and finally offers a constant f4.0 focal ratio - although f2.8 would have been even nicer. Most importantly it goes down to 12mm focal length offering a whopping 122 degrees angle of view which is only surpassed by Canon's 11-24mm f4.0 lens at almost twice the price. So although the new Sigma is not exactly cheap it earns a Highly Recommended rating.

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Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4 review

Optical performance plus build quality: The Zeiss 28mm f1.4 Otus delivers sharpness, contrast, resistance against contra light, coma, loCA, purple fringing, Bokeh on a very high to exceptional level even at f1.4 and puts this in a package that exudes quality in every aspect of its physical presence. This is really the lens that you can use wide open with little to no compromise in optical performance and in that it is the best wide-angle lens I've tested. But you have to focus manually. So I'd say: This is not a lens for everybody - even if you forget (if you can) the steep price. You should clearly understand what this lens can and cannot do for you before considering getting one. With regard to the price: yes, the Otus is clearly an expensive lens, but take a look at Leica's lenses and you understand that top-notch optical performance has its price. Compared to Leica Summilux-M f1.4 ASPH lenses the Zeiss Otus looks fairly priced. Summing it all up I think the Zeiss 28mm f1.4 Otus has well earned a Highly Recommended.

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Sigma 24-35mm f2 Art review

If you're looking for a wide-angle lens on a full-frame body you may consider the Sigma 24-35/2.0 DG HSM Art the ideal candidate: It covers three customary focal lengths (24/28/35mm) in one bright f2.0 zoom that performs as you would expect from a member of Sigma's highly acclaimed "Art" series: It's sharp at all focal lengths, has relatively little vignetting for such a wide-angle lens and shows only little longitudinal CAs and moderate coma. The build-quality supports Sigma's claim to have developed and manufactured a lens to professional standards although there's no weather sealing at the lens-mount. But other than that the Sigma 24-35mm f2.0 DG HSM Art plays on a very high level and as such earns our Highly Recommended rating.

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Nikon 24mm f1.4G review

The Nikon AF-S 24/1.4G ED is a worthy member of Nikon's professional line of f1.4 primes. Wide-open it exhibits a soft degradation of sharpness towards the corners of a full-frame sensor without the pronounced dip at the DX-corners that some more modern designs display. And it needs only little stopping down to produce very good results across a 36MP sensor. But since 2015 there's tough competition from the Sigma 24/1.4 Art that delivers less coma, less loCA, less distortions, and sharper image center at a price 1000 EUR lower. And with a build that looks (at least from the outside) tougher than Nikon's - except for the missing weather sealing. But the Nikon delivers an impressive performance nonetheless and probably has an advantage regarding serviceability over the long run which could be a decisive factor for professionals. This, along with the uniform performance earns the "old" Nikon lens a Highly Recommended rating, although if you don't need weather-sealing, the Sigma 24mm f1.4 ART delivers excellent results and represents great value.

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Sigma 20mm f1.4 Art review

The Sigma 20/1.4G Art is the latest lens in Sigma's line-up of wide-angle "Art" lenses. You can produce shots with image quality that were impossible at a wide open aperture of f1.4 not long ago. It has relatively little vignetting for such a wide-angle lens and shows only little longitudinal CAs and moderate coma. Plus its resistance against flare and glare is pretty good which is quite important for such a wide-angle lens. The build-quality and the new design support Sigma's claim to have developed and manufactured a lens to professional standards. Only the occasional misses of the AF (when using phase-detect autofocus on my D810) made me a bit nervous. But this may be an individual problem of my copy, or an issue when mounted on a D810. Regardless of the body though, you'll have to make do without a standard filter-thread plus there's no weather sealing at the lens-mount which seems a bit out of place for a lens targeted at professionals. But other than that the Sigma 20mm f1.4 DG HSM Art plays on a very high level and as such earns our Highly Recommended rating.

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Sigma 24mm f1.4 Art review

The Sigma 24/1.4G Art is another winner in Sigma's line-up of wide-angle "Art" lenses. You can produce shots with image quality you might think were impossible at a wide open aperture of f1.4. It has low distortions, normal vignetting, little longitudinal CAs, plus a fast and reliable AF (after some tuning with the USB-dock). And the build-quality and the new design support Sigma's claim to have developed and manufactured a lens to professional standards. I was quite impressed to see this lens surpass the optical performance of the venerable Nikon AF-S 24mm f/1.4G in almost every aspect. Except for this dip in APS-C/DX corner performance at close distances. And I miss the weather sealing at the lens-mount which seems a bit out of place for a lens targeted at professionals. But other than that the Sigma 24mm f1.4 DG HSM Art plays on a very high level - and it does deliver this impressive performance at a price that is much lower than the 24mm f1.4 models from Nikon or Canon. This clearly earns the new Sigma lens our Highly Recommended rating.

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Tamron 35mm f1.8 VC review

The new Tamron 35/1.8 VC is a very versatile and interesting lens: It offers a fast f/1.8 aperture combined with image-stabilization that is good for two stops in my tests. That makes this lens hold out longer in dimly lit situations. It produces sharp images right into the corner of a full-frame sensor and can focus close up to a magnification of 1:2.5 which is ideal for capturing small subjects. On top of that it's relatively small and light. The only thing standing against a Highly Recommended are the color aberrations of this lens which can be pretty nasty at times. But the Tamron 35/1.8 VC clearly earns a Recommended. Regarding the performance the price of this lens seems okay although compared to the Sigma 35/1.4 Art and Tamron's own 24-70/2.8 VC it looks a bit on the high side.

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Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 VC review

Tamron's 15-30/2.8 Di VC USD has a lot going for it: The range is very practical for a wide-angle zoom, and starting at 15mm it almost never leaves you wanting. And a constant f2.8 aperture plus very good image stabilization makes it a very attractive proposition for those that don't carry around a tripod all day and need to take images indoors or under low light. Top this off with an image quality that surpasses the once king of the hill, the famed Nikon AF-S 14-24/2.8, in almost every aspect at a lower price and you have a lens that clearly earns a Highly Recommended. There are only two downsides in my view: the bulk/weight and that you cannot use filters. But still: For me this is the new reference in the ultra-wide-angle full-frame zoom class. Just make sure that you get a well-centered copy.

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Nikon 20mm f1.8G review

Good points: Good to very good performance at closer distances even wide open; quiet and reliable AF operation; weather sealing at the lens-mount. Bad points: Green outlining/haloing in the background when shooting wide open; needs stopping down to f5.6 to achieve critical sharpness across the full frame.

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Nikon 16-35mm f4G VR review

"Stuck in the middle" comes to my mind: The Nikon 16-35/4.0G VR has a lot going for it: the zoom range is very practical for a wide-angle zoom, and starting at 16mm, not 18mm as other alternatives do, is also a slight plus. Plus a constant aperture and image stabilization make it a proposition that would be pretty attractive had it not been for the somewhat disappointing performance especially considering the price. For a lens costing close to 1000 EUR I'd have expected a better image quality - simple as that. It's also not the lightest and smallest zoom in this range. Still, valued on its own it is a worthy compact wide-angle-zoom for those who start into FX-land or want to keep their options open for a future upgrade to an FX-body. It has a similar optical performance as the cheaper 18-35/3.5-4.5 plus offers image stabilization, a shorter 16mm plus constant f4 aperture for its higher price.

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Nikon 35mm f1.8G review

The Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G ED is a pretty versatile lens all-in-all: it is light and pretty small, produces images that are sharp and contrasty (unless you look into the extreme FX-corners) even wide open, is flare-resistant, delivers a maximum magnification of 1:4, and has a large f/1.8 aperture to collect more light under demanding situations and allows you to better isolate your subject from distracting background. Plus it offers coverage of the full-frame image-circle so you can keep this lens should you upgrade from a Nikon DX-body to an FX-body. Thus I can fully recommend this lens.

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Nikon 14-24mm f2.8G review

If you want or need an ultra-wide-angle zoom for your FX-body that delivers the highest performance with a professional build and a constant f2.8 aperture there's only one choice: The Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f2.8G! Good points: Good to excellent quality across the FX image-circle; weather sealing; quiet and fast AF operation; sturdy build quality. Bad points: Prone to flare; no filter-thread; high price; modest zoom range.

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Nikon 18-35mm f3.5-4.5G review

Light, compact, and reasonably priced this lens covers most situations on the wide end that an owner of a full-frame DSLR might encounter. It's a perfect match for a D600 and even has enough resolving power for a 36MP D800 if you stop a little down. Overall it is a worthy compact wide-angle-zoom for those who start into FX-land or want to keep their options open for a future upgrade to an FX-body. Good points: Good image quality in the DX image-circle; weather sealing at the lens-mount; quiet AF operation; small package; reasonably priced. Bad points: Needs stopping down to f8 to produce good FX-corners; barrel-distortions at 18mm hard to correct; slow AF.

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Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art review

The Sigma 35/1.4 DG HSM is a very exciting lens. You can produce shots with image quality you might think were impossible at a wide open aperture of f1.4. Plus the build-quality and the new design support Sigma's claim to have developed and manufactured a lens to professional standards. I was quite shocked to see this lens surpass the optical performance of the venerable Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.4G with respect to sharpness. But in other respects it slightly lags Nikon's flagship: rendering of out-of-focus subjects in the background is a bit more nervous than from the Nikkor which also shows a higher resistance against flare and glare. There's also no weather-sealing which seems a bit out of place for a lens targeted at professionals. But mind you even in these aspects of lens-performance the Sigma plays on a very high level - and it does deliver this impressive performance at a price that is much lower than the 35mm f1.4 models from Nikon, Canon or Sony.

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Nikon 28mm f1.8G review

The Nikon 28/1.8G is a good lens but it's not cheap. Indeed the price is perhaps the biggest disappointment for potential buyers of this lens. The performance is pretty good but you need to stop down to f4.0 or even f5.6 for the sharpest results across the frame, and if your sample is like mine you'll also need to correct for a focus-shift as the aperture is closed to get flawless performance. Overall it is a worthy addition to the current offering of short primes, but its flaws prevent our top award; I can however still award it a Recommended rating.

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