The Best Wide Angle Lenses Under $500

Kevin Lee The Phoblographer Samsung NX Mini 1 mm 10.0 sec at f - 13 ISO 160

Wide angle lenses should be tested by every photographer. They force you to get close to your subjects and interact with them if you’re a photojournalist, but if you’re shooting landscapes then they make the capturing process much more straight forward. Sure, they may have distortion issues, but much of that can be fixed with modern software.

You don’t need to be a professional to be able to afford good wide angle lenses either. Many are available at a very affordable price and can last you a very long time in your photography career.

In our travels, we’ve reviewed loads and loads of lenses. Here are some of the best wide angle lenses that we’ve worked with under $500.

Rokinon 14mm f2.8

Rokinon 14mm f2.8

Rokinon’s 14mm f2.8 is very much a godsend to wide angle shooters needing something cheap with bang for your buck image quality. It features very saturated colors, extremely sharp performance wide open, and has a pretty good build quality as well. Most photographers that we know who purchased the lens because of our review are still smitten with it. If you’re a landscape, architecture or real estate photographer, you may want to get your hands on this one before stepping up to something higher end.

In our review, we state:

For the price at around $400, you really can’t beat it. Canon and Zeiss’s options offer either autofocusing or assistance, but this lens offers essentially the same quality at a much more affordable price.”

Read the review.

Buy Now: Amazon

Sigma 19mm f2.8

Sigma 19mm f2.8

When Sigma refreshed their 19mm f2.8 for Sony E mount and Micro Four Thirds, we were a bit surprised. The new lenses come with a sleek body and great image quality–though we still prefer the older version of the 19mm f2.8 due it being more affordable in our eyes, but it won’t focus as fast as this new one does. As far as image quality goes though, the two versions are about on par with one another.

Overall though, you still can’t go wrong with Sigma’s image quality and the steps that they’ve been taking to improving their brand in the recent years. Today, we can arguably call them the greatest lens maker of our time.

Here’s a quote from our review:

“So, should you buy them? Well, let me offer up some advice…

  • If you are new to the MFT format or you are thinking about pickup up a MFT kit and you are on a tight budget, these lenses are a solid option.
  • If you already have a MFT kit, including a few primes, I really don’t think there’s a reason to pick these up unless you are looking for backup lenses.
  • If you already have a MFT kit and mostly shoot zooms but you are looking to get into primes, these are a good option as the performance is very good and they are reasonably priced.”

Read the review.

Buy Now: Amazon

Pro Tip: Some of the best times to shoot landscapes are during the Golden Hour and the Blue Hour. Don't start packing up until you need to crank your ISOs up.

Pro Tip: Some of the best times to shoot landscapes are during the Golden Hour and the Blue Hour. Don’t start packing up until you need to crank your ISOs up.

Tokina 17-35mm f4 Pro

Tokina 17-35mm f4

Though we didn’t review the Tokina 17-35mm f4, we sure have played with it. This lens is a much more affordable alternative to the offerings that Canon and Nikon have–and it comes from a brand that makes some very great glass. In many ways, Tokina is a sleeper hit of a company. They makes lots of great lenses at an affordable price but they don’t market as heavily as Sigma or Zeiss.

If you’re looking for a wide angle zoom lens and aren’t turned off by an f4 aperture (and most people shouldn’t be) then this lens will find a happy home on your camera.

Buy Now: Amazon

Samsung 16mm f2.4

Samsung 16mm f2.4

The Samsung 16mm f2.4 is the lens that truly made us start believing in what the electronics manufacturer can deliver. We already knew how good their 85mm f1.4 was, and this wide angle lens is great for the landscape photographer and street shooter. It renders a 24mm equivalent field of view and because the maximum aperture is f2.4, you’ll never want to stop it down. Plus, it is a pancake lens–which makes it super portable and can let many of their cameras even fit into a jacket pocket.

If you haven’t started to look at Samsung’s offerings seriously, this is one of the lenses to get started with.

Read the review.

Buy Now: Amazon

Pro Tip: Sometimes a very wide angle lens can help with photojournalistic work. Use caution though and don't get too close up to a subject.

Pro Tip: Sometimes a very wide angle lens can help with photojournalistic work. Use caution though and don’t get too close up to a subject.

Panasonic 14mm f2.5

Panasonic 14mm f2.5

Panasonic has replaced their current 14mm f2.5 with a brand new version. And although we haven’t mounted the new one to a camera yet, we still like the older version. In fact, we’re inclined to say that Panasonic created a cult following with it almost like they did with the 20mm f1.7 lens that they started their system with. With a 28mm field of view, you’ll be very happy with the wide angle images that a lens like this can produce. If you’re an Olympus user, expect the autofocus performance to not be as top notch as with Panasonic’s cameras, but it surely isn’t a slouch either.

Read the comparison review.

Buy Now: Amazon

Sony 20mm f2.8

Sony 20mm f2.8

The Sony 20mm f2.8 is the company’s answer to their previous 16mm f2.8–which they weren’t too much a fan of but that we liked for its imperfections. This new 20mm f2.8 focuses faster though and delivers image quality that we really can get on board with. In our review we state:

The 20mm f2.8 lens is a beautiful lens in that it will beg to stay on your camera with its small size and excellent color rendition. But if you’re looking for pure sharpness, you should look elsewhere. We have to say though that the 20mm f2.8 makes shooting fun again and almost like using a point and shoot with lots of power. Though we recommend it, we believe that people that aren’t all about performance numbers are the ones that will enjoy it the most.”

Read the review.

Buy Now: Amazon