Wide-angle lenses. You either love them or you hate them, you get them or you don’t.
My professional work is fairly evenly split between weddings and portraits and real estate photography. Over the last 16 years with my business and my YouTube channel, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a variety of wide-angle lenses. This list represents my favorites.
Olympus 7-14 mm f/2.8 PRO
If you’ve ever been on my YouTube channel, then you know I started it about eight years ago, primarily focused on micro four-thirds cameras and lenses. I had a love affair with the small size and weight and Olympus’ amazing lineup of lenses. Well, Olympus really outdid themselves with the PRO series line.
At the pinnacle in the wide-angle is the 7-14 mm f/2.8 PRO. It’s built like a small tank, blazing fast and has silent autofocus. Optics so sharp, it’ll make your eyes bleed. Lightweight and portable, the Olympus is easy to carry around all day long. The bright f/2.8 aperture helps in low light situations as well. An all-around gem of a lens that still available today.
Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L
All of the lenses on this list have a wide maximum aperture except for this one. Yet in spite of it, when I was shooting Canon this was easily my favorite wide-angle lens for real estate. The lens lighter weights and carrying it around all day long a breeze. Moreover, in real estate photography we’re usually shooting between f/5.6 and f/11. The f/4 aperture could pose a problem if you are a wedding photographer, but if you’re primarily focused on landscape or architecture, then the f/4 aperture likely won’t be an issue.
Back during the time when I tested this lens, I remember being amazed at how optically excellent this version was. Focusing is blazingly fast and accurate, build quality was typically outstanding as most L series lenses are. Most importantly, this lens is value priced.
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art
Out of all the lenses on this list, this one makes a very credible argument for being the most versatile. I used the sigma in real estate photography and videography, as well as wedding photography. Once again, the optics are outstanding, even wide-open at f/1.8. Build quality is first rate like the rest of the Sigma Art line. Autofocus is very fast with sigma‘s latest hypersonic motor.
But what’s probably the sigma‘s most important party trick is in fact the f/1.8 aperture. This thing is a low light, wide-angle dream of a lens. Especially for wedding photographers. I found this lens incredibly useful in my real estate videography, especially when I was filming toward dusk and into the evening. The bright aperture did wonders for my videos.
Fujifilm XF 8-16mm f/2.8
If you’ve read some of my articles here and if you follow me on YouTube, then you know I’m not a real big fan of the Fuji interface, but I am a big fan of Fuji’s lenses and more importantly the results that I’m getting from those lenses.
In the wide-angle arena, especially for an APS-C camera system, the Fuji XF 8-16mm f/2.8 is simply top notch! Build quality is amazing, autofocus speed and accuracy are incredible, and the f/2.8 aperture makes it all the more versatile.
If you happen to photograph yachts as I do, the 12mm equivalent on the wide end allows me to capture even the smallest of rooms effectively. To my eyes, the best part of the Fuji is distortion is supremely controlled even at 8mm. It’s a joy to use, and if you’re principally a boat photographer, then in my opinion this is probably the best lens you can buy for that specific genre.
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 S (Z mount)
In my review of this lens, I said it was the best overall ultra wide-angle lens I’ve ever used. After a year working with it, I stand by that claim. To my hands, It’s lightweight, yet built to an incredibly high standard. Autofocus is brisk, decisive and accurate.
Most importantly, image quality is outstanding! Edge to edge — especially at f/8 — the lens performs. Most ultra wides have issues on the extreme edges, on the 14-24, they are sharp and well controlled. Unfortunately, such goodness comes at a price. However, if you make your living from photography that requires a wide-angle lens and you shoot Nikon, there simply isn’t a better option in the marketplace today.