If you’re looking to upgrade your photography gear and capture the perfect shot with your Nikon camera, investing in a wide-angle zoom lens is a smart move. From stunning landscapes to tight indoor spaces, wide-angle lenses can help you achieve the best possible perspective. However, with so many options on the market, it can be challenging to find the right one for your camera.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the best Nikon wide-angle zoom lenses in 2023, including top options for both DSLR and Z-mount cameras. We’ll break down the different categories of lenses, from DX to FX, and provide essential information to help you make the right choice for your needs. Whether you’re a professional photographer or a hobbyist, our guide will help you find the perfect wide-angle zoom lens to widen your horizons and elevate your photography game.
Nikon DX DSLR Lenses
If you’re a proud owner of a Nikon DX DSLR such as the Nikon D3500, Nikon D5600, D7500 or Nikon D500 and you’re in search of the best wide-angle zoom lenses, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll discuss two top contenders.
Nikon AF-P DX 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR
First up is the Nikon AF-P DX 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR. Weighing in at a mere 230g, this compact and lightweight lens is ideal for travel. Despite its size, it features Vibration Reduction (VR) with a 3.5-stop effectiveness in reducing camera shake, as well as a virtually silent AF-P stepping motor autofocus system, which performs well for stills and video capture. One downside is the plastic mounting plate, which doesn’t feel as robust as its metal counterpart. Additionally, there is no focus distance scale. While sharpness is excellent at the center of the frame, it does drop off towards the corners. Overall, this is a solid choice if portability is a priority.
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM
Next, we have the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM, a long-time favorite among DX format ultrawide zoom lenses. However, it’s worth noting that this lens has been officially discontinued, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find. This lens is larger and heavier than the Nikon option but boasts a constant f/3.5 aperture rating, which is beneficial for low-light situations. Premium glass includes two ELD (Extraordinary Low Dispersion) elements plus an SLD (Special Low Dispersion) element, providing impressive sharpness and minimal color fringing and distortion. Unlike its Sigma counterpart, this lens has a filter attachment thread and removable hood. It also has a fast and whisper-quiet ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system. One downside is the large 82mm filter thread, which could be a hassle to find filters for. Additionally, this lens is not weather-sealed. All in all, if you can still find one, the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM is an excellent high-performance, top-value DX format lens.
Tokina atx-i 11-16mm f/2.8 CF
The Tokina atx-i 11-16mm f/2.8 CF is a great ultra-wide zoom lens for Nikon DX format DSLRs. The original version was a trailblazer in this category and the Mark II edition added an internal autofocus motor to enable autofocus on entry-level bodies. The latest version is from Tokina’s ‘atx-i’ lineup, featuring streamlined design and improved communication between the photographer and lens.
Despite a relatively limited zoom range, the Tokina atx-i 11-16mm f/2.8 CF boasts good image quality and a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture. The lens also features the “One-touch Focus Clutch” mechanism, which allows for easy switching between autofocus and manual focus with a push-pull action of the focus ring. However, not everyone is a fan of this type of focus ring.
The lens has an electric motor for autofocus and does not have image stabilization. Its minimum focus distance is 0.3m and it has a filter thread of 82mm. The lens has a fixed physical length during focus and zoom, which is a plus. Its dimensions are 84x89mm and it weighs 555g. The lens is not full-frame compatible as it is specifically designed for DX format cameras.
The optical path of the Tokina atx-i 11-16mm f/2.8 CF includes exotic, high-tech elements that contribute to delivering excellent image quality. It is a great option for photographers who need a fast, wide-angle lens for shooting in cramped spaces, architecture, and landscapes.
Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD
If you’re in the market for an APS-C (DX) format DSLR lens, you might be out of luck since the rise of mirrorless cameras has prompted some manufacturers to discontinue their offerings. However, the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD is still available at select retailers and is worth considering if you can get your hands on it.
This lens features improved optical performance over its predecessor, with a generous zoom range and an impressive HLD (High/Low Torque-Modulated Drive) autofocus system. Autofocus is faster, quieter, and more accurate than the previous model, and handling has been improved by ensuring that the focus ring no longer rotates during autofocus, allowing for full-time manual override.
In addition, the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD boasts VC (Vibration Compensation), which was lacking in the original version, and electromagnetic aperture control for improved exposure consistency in continuous shooting. Build quality has been improved with a full set of weather seals, and a fluorine coating on the front element repels moisture and grease.
The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD performed admirably in our tests, beating out many rivals in terms of sharpness across the whole image frame and producing less color fringing and distortion. While it is pricier than its predecessor, the added features and improved performance make it a great option for DX Nikons if you can find it.
Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM
The Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM delivers spectacularly wide viewing angles, but it’s quite expensive and front mounting filters can be tricky. However, its high-spec optical path includes four top-quality FLD elements and Sigma’s Super Multi-Layer Coatings to guard against ghosting and flare, and it has excellent sharpness across the whole image frame.
The Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM | A lens for Nikon from Sigma’s Global Vision range offers an incredible viewing angle, making it a must-have for photographers who want to capture a wider perspective. Although it may not be the best optically, its high-quality performance and minimal distortion make it an excellent choice.
This lens features a refined optical path that includes an extra-large diameter aspherical element and five FLD (Fluorite-grade Low Dispersion) elements, resulting in exceptional image quality. The front and rear elements also have fluorine coatings for added protection. The mounting plate is weather-sealed, and the lens is compatible with Sigma’s optional USB Dock for applying firmware updates and fine-tuning.
Weighing at 1,150g, this lens is slightly bigger and heavier than the previous Mk II edition. The ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system has also been improved with extra torque for better performance. The only downside is that it does not have a filter thread.
Despite the extravagant maximum viewing angle, the Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM | A lens delivers excellent image quality with minimal distortion. While not as ‘distortion-free’ as Sigma’s newer 14-24mm Art lens, it still captures an ultra-wide-angle coverage that photographers seek.
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM | A
The Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM | A is the best ultra-wide lens for FX camera bodies, thanks to its excellent image quality and almost non-existent distortion. Though it has a large, heavy build and no filter thread due to its built-in hood, its optical highlights make up for these drawbacks. The lens features an ultra-high-precision molded glass aspherical front element, three FLD, and three SLD elements, resulting in fantastic contrast and sharpness with no color fringing or distortion.
Compared to Sigma’s older 12-24mm Art lens, this lens has a more modest maximum viewing angle, but its faster aperture rating leads to a practically identical size and weight. The lens has a high-precision yet very robust feel throughout, with a full set of weather seals and fluorine coatings on the front and rear elements that keep it clean.
Overall, the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM | A outperforms Nikon’s pricier 14-24mm lens, making it an absolute bargain. If you’re willing to handle its large, heavyweight build and can manage without a filter thread, this lens is sure to satisfy any professional photographer looking for a distortion-free ultra-wide zoom.
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Nikon FX DSLR Lenses
Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 DI VC USD G2
For photographers looking for a top-of-the-line ultra-wide zoom lens with optical stabilization, the Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 DI VC USD G2 is a top choice. The lens boasts a fast and constant f/2.8 aperture rating, and features high-performance autofocus and image stabilization, which has been improved from 2.5 stops to 4.5 stops in this second-generation edition. The lens is also sealed against dust and moisture and has a fluorine coating on the front element to help repel water and other grime. Although it is a third more expensive than the original version, the Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 DI VC USD G2 is a solid value for the money.
Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
The Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED is the widest full-frame rectilinear zoom lens produced by Nikon, offering an extreme viewing angle of 114 degrees. This lens is designed to a fully professional standard and is complete with weather-seals. Its zoom and focus rings are large and have a smooth action, although the focus ring’s relatively short rotational travel may make manual focusing a bit fiddly for certain applications such as astrophotography.
This lens features a ring-type ultrasonic autofocus that is fast and whisper-quiet, and it also comes with an ‘M/A’ mode that prioritizes manual focusing while in autofocus mode. This feature allows you to apply manual override without waiting for autofocus to be achieved. The Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED includes high-grade optics such as two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements, three aspherical elements, plus nano-structure coatings, making it an excellent lens for capturing high-quality images.
While Nikon’s own-brand lenses tend to be more expensive compared to third-party equivalents, the Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED delivers good all-round performance and solid build quality. One downside to this lens is that it does not have a filter attachment thread, which may be inconvenient for some photographers.
Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
The Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR lens is a practical and handy choice that is also relatively compact and lightweight. While it may not be the widest lens out there, it makes up for this with a filter attachment thread and removable hood. With its 2.5-stop effectiveness, the VR (vibration reduction) stabilizer is a nice feature for shooting in locations where tripods aren’t allowed. While its maximum aperture rating of f/4 is not as wide as some competitors, its image quality and two ED (extra-low dispersion) elements help to optimize results. The sharpness is particularly good at the short end of the zoom range. It’s an excellent lens for those looking for a practical, all-round option.
Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM | A
The Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM | A, from Sigma’s Global Vision range, is known for its incredible viewing angle for a non-fisheye lens. This lens boasts great performance and minimal distortion, despite its extravagant maximum viewing angle. With an optical path incorporating an extra-large diameter aspherical element and five top-class FLD (Fluorite-grade Low Dispersion) elements, the image quality is excellent. While the mounting plate gains a weather seal, the lens itself is heavier and bigger than the previous Mk II edition. Nonetheless, the Art lens is compatible with Sigma’s optional USB Dock for applying firmware updates and fine-tuning. This is the lens to get ultra-wide-angle coverage for those looking for a quality option.
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Nikkor Z Wide Angles
Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S
Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S, which provides outstanding image quality and is impressively lightweight. Although the maximum aperture of f/4 may be slightly underwhelming, the lens still delivers pin-sharp images thanks to its internal optics. With 14 elements split into 11 groups, and a control ring that can be customized to suit the user’s preferences, the Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S is a versatile and user-friendly option. The stepping motor autofocus system is fast, accurate, and practically silent, making it an excellent choice for both videos and stills. Although specifically designed for the Z-series cameras, it can be used with Nikon DSLRs if used with the FTZ mount adapter.
Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S
The Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S, on the other hand, is a pro-level ultra-wide zoom lens designed for full-frame Nikon Z cameras. The lens features uncompromising optics and coatings, a fast constant aperture, and is fully weather-sealed. The 16-element optical stack includes three aspherical elements, along with Nano Crystal and ARNEO Coat technology for reducing ghosting and flare. The front element features a smear-resistant flourine coating, and it’s fully weather-sealed. With the included HB-98 lens hood, you can use large 112mm filters, including Neutral Colour and Circular Polarizer options. Although twice the price of the Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S and significantly heavier and longer, this lens offers superb quality and a professional feel.
Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR
The Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR is a remarkably small and lightweight option, making it the best wide-angle zoom for the Z50. It’s a DX (APS-C) format standard zoom and qualifies as a ‘pancake lens’, measuring just 32mm in length when retracted. Weighing in at 135g, it is light and easy to carry. The lens provides great sharpness and contrast even when shooting wide-open, and the 4.5-stop optical VR (Vibration Reduction) compensates for the lack of IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) on the Z50 and Z30 models. The lens features a multi-function control ring, and a silver version is available to match the retro styling of the Nikon Z fc. Although the aperture may be considered “slow” at f/6.3 on the long end of the zoom range, it still delivers great results for its price range.
How We Test Our Lenses
We understand the importance of providing you with accurate and thorough information about the products and services we review. That’s why our team of expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing lenses to ensure that you can make an informed decision when it comes to selecting the best lens for your needs.
To conduct our testing, we use a combination of both real-world sample images and lab tests. Our lab tests are performed scientifically in controlled conditions using the Imatest testing suite, which includes customized charts and analysis software that measures resolution in line widths/picture height. This is a widely used measurement in lens and camera testing that helps us determine the overall quality of the lens.
We believe that using a combination of lab and real-world testing provides the best results. Each method provides unique insights into the lens’s characteristics and qualities. Our real-world testing helps us understand how the lens performs in different environments and lighting conditions, while our lab tests provide a more objective analysis of the lens’s technical specifications.
We are committed to providing you with the most comprehensive and accurate information about the products and services we review. Our testing process ensures that we can deliver on this promise, so you can feel confident in your purchasing decisions.
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What are some good wide-angle lens options for Nikon cameras?
For Nikon cameras, the Nikon 20mm f/1.8G is a great choice for its sharpness, and it’s also much lighter and less expensive than the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G. Other options include the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art and the Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2.
What is the optimal range for a wide-angle lens?
A wide-angle lens typically has a focal length of 35mm or shorter, which allows for a wide field of view. The more of the scene you can capture in the frame, the wider the field of view.
Which is the best wide-angle lens for Nikon D7500?
The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM ART is a great choice for the Nikon D7500, as it produces high-quality images with excellent sharpness and color rendition. Its wide f/1.8 maximum aperture is also perfect for creating images with shallow depth of field.
What is the ideal focal length for a wide-angle lens?
A wide-angle lens typically has a focal length of 35mm or shorter, which provides a wider field of view. The wider the field of view, the more of the scene you’ll be able to capture in the frame.
What are the most popular wide-angle zoom ranges?
The most popular wide-angle zoom ranges fall between 16-35mm. However, most standard zoom lenses only go down to 24mm or 28mm. The widest lenses available on the market are 10mm (rectilinear) and 8mm (fisheye).