Quality wide angle lenses don’t have to have four figures attached to them.
Read any magazine, or watch any YouTube video and no doubt you’ll see that the wide angle lenses attached to the cameras in the videos and articles are all pricey affairs. This can lead one to believe that in order to make quality images you must have the most expensive glass available. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are high quality, super sharp, wide angle lenses on the market today that aren’t only fantastic performers, they’re also incredibly affordable. After the break we’re going to take a look at four wide angle lenses under $600 that are perfect for landscape and cityscape photographers.
It’s really quite amazing what you can get for under $600 these days when it comes to wide angle lenses. Buying cheap glass used to mean poor results, in fact you almost had to spend crazy money to get lenses that performed well, but thanks to cheaper manufacturing costs, and increased market competition prices have fallen drastically. All five of the wide angle lenses listed below perform incredibly well. They’ll churn out images that will please you to no end, and they are all under $600. Lets take a quick look at our picks.
Canon EF 17-40mm F4 L USM
Canon L series lenses are legendary, and the fact that you can pick up some L series glass for under $600 is really quite amazing. The 17-40mm F4 L USM is incredibly versatile, and is the perfect lens for Canon shooters who are interested in shooting landscapes, cityscapes, environmental portraits, and street photography.
In our review we said:
“This will be your go-to lens for anything that needs that wide field of view. This could be anything from typical landscapes to realty photos to star photography.”
L series lenses are built like tanks, and the 17-40mm f4 is no exception to this rule. The premium plastic body feels solid in the hands, and the focus and zoom rings fall nicely into place. This lens is also weather sealed so you can take it out into the rain and snow and will have no issues with it at all. The lens is a little on the large size, but the whole package only weighs 1.05lbs. It’s easy to walk around with this lens for long periods of time without becoming uncomfortable.
Inside the housing you’re going to find 12 elements in nine groups, and seven aperture blades. One thing you really won’t have to worry about with these optics is image quality. Images produced with this lens are wonderful. At F4 images are nice and crisp and you’ll have no complaints, but stop this lens down to f11 (which is where you’ll find yourself for landscapes) and you will be floored by its sharpness. Colors rendered are typical Canon, which means they are very pleasing to the eyes. Not overly saturated, and not too flat, they offer the perfect base for landscape photographers who like to tweak colors in post. There is a slight amount of distortion at 17mm, but this is easily fixed in Capture One 12 or Lightroom. The bokeh that can be produced with this lens is quite nice too.
Autofocus performance is very snappy as well thanks to the quiet USM motor that Canon uses in this lens. We had no trouble acquiring focus in good and bad lighting situations. If you prefer manually focusing your lens for landscape images you’ll find that easy too thanks to the nicely dampened focus ring.
The Canon 17-40mm F4 L USM is a fantastic lens. You can go from wide to normal focal ranges in a split second, it’s weather sealed, and it produces super sharp images. If you have $600 grab this. It’s one of the most versatile wide angle lenses on the Canon platform.
Buy now ($599): Amazon
Canon EF 17-40mm F4L USM Image Samples
Pro Tip: Weather sealed lenses like the Canon 17-40mm F4 L are great, but if your camera body doesn’t have the same luxury it’s not safe to shoot outside in the rain. This can easily be fixed by using affordable weather proof camera covers. Keep some of these in your bag, and when the weather gets tough simply put one over your gear and you can keep on shooting with no worries.
Irix 15mm F2.4 Blackstone
We’re pretty big fans of Irix wide angle lenses due to their amazing build quality, and the outstanding images that they can produce. The Irix 15mm f2.4 Blackstone is another lens that proves you can get top quality glass for relatively little outlay. Weather sealing, an all metal body, and super sharp images for under $600! That’s hard to beat.
In our review we said:
“The greatest thing about the Irix 15mm f2.4 Blackstone is the image quality. Irix has an image quality that they can surely call their own–which I find amazing”
The Irix 15mm f2.4 is a really nice lens to use. In the hands the all metal body feels really nice. The aluminum and magnesium alloys make it feel like a much more expensive premium lens that’s for sure. The lens weighs 1.5lbs which makes it easy to carry around from location to location. The weather sealing is also great too. You can go out and shoot to your hearts content in wind, rain, snow and anything else Mother Nature wants to throw your way; it will keep on working like a champ.
Inside the metal body there are 15 elements in 11 groups, and nine rounded aperture blades. Two of the optics are ED and three of them are HR Elements. The glass also has a neutrino coating too. All of these features help keep distortion, color fringing, ghosting, flares, and chromatic aberration under control.
The Irix 15mm F2.4 is one razor sharp lens. Shoot with the lens wide open and you will be very pleased with the results, but by the time you reach f8 your jaw will be hitting the ground. This lens is tack sharp which makes it perfect for landscape photography where capturing details is important.
The colors produced are really nice too and are unlike anything else out there. The colors come across almost like pastels at times, other times the colors seem to be a little muted. This is fine though as the colors can obviously be tweaked to your liking in post. It’s hard to find distortions of any kind, and any you do see can be fixed in post quickly. Being such a wide angle lens bokeh is a little hard to come by, but if you shoot wide open and up close to your subject you will get some. It’s not going to be the smoothest, or creamiest, but it’s still quite nice to look at.
The Irix 15mm is a manual focus lens, but don’t let this put you off of buying it. Manual focus lenses are incredibly easy to use, especially for landscape work where your subject isn’t moving. There are some nice features on this lens that make it easier to use too like the audible click when you have turned the focus ring to infinity, and the depth of field and distance scale will help you out to no end. The solid image quality you can get from this lens makes all the manual focusing worth while.
When it comes to wide angle lenses the Irix 15mm is really hard to beat thanks to it’s wonderful build, it’s razor sharp images and it’s ease of use. For under $600 you’re going to get a solid lens that won’t let you down.
Buy now Nikon ($515): Amazon
Buy now Pentax ($515): Amazon
Irix 15mm f2.4 Blackstone Image Samples
Pro Tip: When out hiking to get to your destination, or while maneuvering through city streets, your lenses will get dirty very quickly. If you keep a basic lens cleaning kit in your camera bag you’ll be able to remove any dirt, grease, and water spots quickly and easily. Clean your lenses so that your landscapes and cityscapes can really shine. You’ll also save yourself time in post too because you won’t have to remove dirt spots from your images.
Rokinon 20mm F1.8
Rokinon lenses have come a long way over the last few years and they now make great lenses that are high in quality, and are very affordable. The Rokinon 20mm f1.8 is one of the company’s newer wide angle lenses for the Sony platform, and like a lot of Rokinon lenses before it, the 20mm f1.8 is capable of producing stunning images.
In our review we said:
“Lastly, what I’m absolutely floored by is how sharp this lens is even wide open. At f1.8 you’ll get plenty of sharpness but when you stop down to something like f5.6 you’ll be flabbergasted.”
Rokinon have always made lenses with amazing optics, and the 20mm f1.8 continues that tradition. Inside the plastic body you’ll find 13 elements in 12 groups, and seven rounded aperture blades. Images are very sharp when shot wide open at f1.8, and the bokeh that can be rendered is smooth and creamy. You’ll find little to no fringing or distortion thanks to the Ultra Multi-Coated Glass that makes up the elements. The colors produced with this lens are very neutral, which again gives landscapes photographers a great base to start with. Just know that you may be spending time tweaking colors to your liking in post.
The Rokinon 20mm f1.8 is another manual focus lens, but thanks to focus peaking on most Mirrorless cameras you’ll have no issues at all obtaining super sharp images. The focus ring is nice and smooth and feels great thanks to the large grip. The overall build quality is very good. You’re certainly not getting a premium lens here, but the plastic body has a nice texture to it, and it will stand up to daily abuses just fine. One thing to note is the size of this lens. It looks huge up against smaller Mirrorless camera bodies, but it weighs just 1.16 lbs. Despite its overall size it still feels just fine in the hands.
Rokinon have been making optically great, affordable wide angle lenses for a long time, and the 20mm f1.8 is a solid option for those who want one on a budget. It can be used on both Full Frame bodies and APS-C bodies. On APS-C cameras like the Sony a6500 and the Fujifilm X-T3 the equivalent focal length will be 35mm. For the price, the 20mm f1.8 is a solid wide angle option.
Buy now ($439): Amazon
Buy now Canon ($449): Amazon
Buy now Nikon ($319): Amazon
Buy now Fujifilm ($249): Amazon
Buy now Pentax ($456.13): Amazon
Rokinon 20mm f1.8 Image Samples
Pro Tip: Make sure you keep extra SD cards on your person or in your camera bag at all times. SD cards can, and do fail and the last thing you want is to be left without a spare after you have hiked all the way to your shoot location. This Samsung card is affordable and offers fast read and write speeds. Carry a few extras with you.
Rokinon 12mm F2 (Fujfiilm X Mount)
There is a great third party option for Fujifilm shooters when it comes to wide angle lenses in the form of the Rokinon 12mm f2. This super affordable lens will fit in perfectly with the F2 line of lenses that Fujfilm make themselves. With the equivalent focal length of 18mm, this lens is perfect for landscape and cityscape photography.
In our review we said:
“The Rokinon 12mm f2 is a nice lens. It has good sharpness when stopped down and balances that with a characteristic film softness when shot wide open.”
For well under $300 you’re going to be getting a fine lens. The housing is made from plastic but it doesn’t at all feel cheap, in fact it feels quite solid. The lens has a very small footprint and it balances very well on Fujifilm’s smaller camera bodies. The 12mm f2 weighs just 0.57 lbs which makes it even easier to carry and use. This lens does not have weather sealing though so be careful with it in less than desirable weather.
Inside the housing you’ll find 12 elements in 10 groups, and six aperture blades. Image quality it fantastic. We have come to expect this over the years with Rokinon glass. While the build quality may not be the best, the image quality has never been lacking. When shot wide open you’re going to get nice, sharp images in the center, but when you step down just a hair to f5.6 you’ll be treated to edge to edge sharpness.
Color rendition is highly dependent on which film simulations you use on your Fujifilm camera. We found that overall the colors have a real film like quality to them, and all of the simulations led to colors that were really pleasing to the eye. The bokeh you can get from this lens is quite nice too. Keep in mind that this is a wide angle lens, and really isn’t made for bokeh lovers, but shoot wide open, and focus close to your subject and you will get some nice out of focus rendering.
The Rokinon 12mm f2 is a manual focus lens that’s very easy to use. The focus ring is a nice size, and it’s very smooth when turning. Being such a wide angle it’s very easy to obtain focus; of course you can also use focus peaking to assist you too. The lens also has a depth of field scale that you can use to help as well. The aperture ring on the lens is also easy to use, and has a nice solid click to it when switching between apertures. Fujfilm users will feel right at home with this dial.
Rokinon really do make some excellent wide angle lenses, and for the money they’re a steal. The Rokinon 12mm f2 has a retro look and feel that Fujifilm users love, it feels nice in the hands, and it produces nice sharp images. All of this for under $300. What’s not to love?
Buy now ($266.20): Amazon
Rokinon 12mm F2 Image Samples