Our Top 3 Picks
A few weeks ago, I collected my favourite wide-angle lenses for Nikon cameras. Today I’m bringing you the best Canon wide-angle lens options.
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Until recently, zoom lenses also brought a compromise in image quality. However, modern wide-angle zooms give you sharp and clean images.
Inexpensive Canon “L” lens
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
This Canon wide-angle lens is perfect for you if you’re a full-frame newbie.
Along with the 70-200 f/4L, it’s the cheapest L lens from Canon. The L series consists of Canon’s best quality lenses.
It’s not the absolute best in optical performance. But, it’s enough for most applications on a full-frame camera. You’ll find it ideal for landscapes and travel.
When you hold this wide angle Canon lens, you feel its quality, like with every L lens. The lens is sturdily built, weather-sealed (with a filter), and ergonomic.
The 17-40mm is a bargain for its price, especially second-hand.
Old but gold
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM
The original EF 16-35mm f/2.8L Canon wide-angle lens is an old piece of gear. Yet, I think it’s still relevant today, especially for its price.
Build quality and ergonomics are very similar to the 17-40mm.
Corner sharpness is nowhere near as good as in modern Canon lenses, but usable. In turn, the f/2.8 aperture places it above a lot of options in the price range.
The best 16-35mm
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM
A successor to the previous lens, the 16-35mm f/2.8L III gives you the absolute best optical performance by any 16-35mm lens.
Canon recently added it to their lineup, as part of an update to the L series lenses for Canon.
It’s bigger and heavier than the previous generations, but still comfortable to use. Also, for the first time, you don’t have to attach a filter to complete weather-sealing.
Of course, this comes at a price, which might be hard to justify for some photographers. But, if you’re aiming for the best, this is the Canon wide-angle lens to buy.
- Landscape photographers’ choice
Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
The f/4 version of the 16-35mm is also a reasonably modern lens. It was introduced a few years ago.
Although its quality is very similar to the f/2.8 III, their purposes are different.
This Canon wide-angle lens features a one-stop-darker aperture and image stabilization, in a smaller package.
It’s ideal for handheld photo and video shooting because of the image stabilization. In my experience, it’s sturdy and allows for nighttime photography handheld.
Keep in mind that the image stabilization does not avoid subject blur; it only counters hand movement.
The size, weather-sealing, sharpness, and general versatility make this Canon IS lens suitable for landscape photography, too.
A pinnacle of optical design
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM
Not many thought this lens design to be feasible before Canon built it. Especially not in such quality!
11mm is very close to being the widest possible on a full-frame camera. Looking through the viewfinder, it almost makes you dizzy.
Its image quality is flawless, as is the structure of the lens itself. Ergonomically it’s top-notch, but also very heavy.
On the front, you’ll find a bulbous glass element. That alone is probably more expensive to manufacture than a midrange DSLR. But, it’s necessary, and you better protect it with the hefty lens cap.
You have to test this lens for yourself before buying. If you need the 11mm angle, though, there are not many choices. (But, read on, there’s one more!)
The widest for cropped sensors
Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM FLD
The Sigma 8-16mm is the widest rectilinear lens for cropped-sensor cameras. (The term means that it keeps straight lines straight, unlike fisheyes.)
It is well built, much sturdier than Sigma’s similar wide-angles. Optically, it’s a strong contestant, too, providing sharp corners and even better center sharpness.
I often use this lens on a 7D MkII body and find it fantastic for dramatic street shots.
You can also use it for landscapes, but it’s not weather-sealed, sadly.
Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 Pro DX
Tokina has always built great, inexpensive lenses. Their newest wide-angle for cropped-sensor cameras is an excellent offering.
In almost any aspect, this feels like an L lens.
It provides excellent optical performance. Paired with a bright, constant aperture of f/2.8, it’s an excellent option for low-light and event photography.
It’s also dust and splash resistant so that the weather won’t be a problem.
Build materials are metal and heavy-duty plastic, and it’s excellent ergonomically.
Between 15mm and 20mm, it also projects to full-frame sensors, with decent quality.
An excellent budget option
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM
Let’s start with the most crucial selling point of this Canon wide-angle lens. It is less than half the price of any other zoom lenses for Canon that we recommend here. And despite that, it’s an attractive option.
You can buy this zoom lens with image stabilization either as part of a DSLR kit or separately.
It’s built entirely of plastic, which is not great, but at least lightweight. The aperture is also pretty narrow. At 18mm, it lets in four times less light as an f/2.8 lens. In turn (or because of that), the image quality you get is outstanding.
A powerful image stabilization system partly compensates for the dark aperture. Its autofocus is quick and completely silent.
This zoom lens with image stabilization is ideal for daytime shooting, travel, and video work.
Fantastic performance and quality
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art
The 14-24mm is a zoom range Canon doesn’t offer.
Thus, Nikon’s flagship 14-24mm f/2.8 is one of the few lenses that’s regularly adapted to Canon cameras. Its image quality is, undoubtedly, market-leading.
But, Sigma recently announced their 14-24mm f/2.8 Art lens, which is a fantastic option. And it directly fits Canon cameras.
Art line lenses all feature top-notch optical performance in big, heavy housings. This is the case here, too.
This is a tremendous photojournalistic lens, which combines dramatic angles with durability, sharpness, and brightness. An excellent choice, if you need those.
A well-balanced full-frame lens
Tamron17-35mm f/2.8-4 DI OSD
Tamron’s budget full-frame wide-angle competes with the 17-40mm f/4. Even so, they have significant differences. You can decide between them based on your preferences.
The 17-35mm is built of plastic, but it’s fairly rugged. It’s very light at only 460 grams, and also small in size.
It has weather-sealing. But, it has an extending barrel, which is not ideal for water protection. Be careful in heavy rainfalls.
This Tamron has a one-stop advantage on the wide end. It’s not a deal-winner against the Canon 17-40mm, but noticeable.
For physically demanding purposes, the Canon 17-40mm is ideal. For travel and low-light, get this Tamron lens.
If you’re looking for outstanding optical performance or specific features, primes lenses are for you. I collected my favourite wide-angle primes for Canon EF mount in the following list.
A budget miracle
Rokinon 14mm F2.8
The original Rokinon (or Samyang, outside the US) 14mm f/2.8 lens has earned an almost legendary reputation.
It’s an inexpensive, fully manual lens with manual aperture and focus.
There’s no electronic connection between the camera and this lens. So, you won’t get lens metadata (aperture and focus distance) in your files.
It’s built very solidly, entirely of metal. Yet, it’s tiny in size, not much bigger than an 18-55mm kit lens.
Its optical performance is reliable, but not flawless. You have to stop it down a bit to achieve razor-sharp corners.
Even so, this is a bright, ultra-wide-angle prime for full-frame cameras, and it’s a bargain for that.
Photojournalists’ secret tool
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L USM
The 24mm f/1.4L II represents the best Canon can do.
Following the L standards, this Canon wide-angle lens is built from solid metal. A smooth, rubberised focusing ring helps with manual focus. It’s fully weather-sealed.
24mm is not an ultra-wide angle. There are certainly much wider lenses. However, this is the widest you can get at f/1.4 and standard filter thread.
Its image quality is almost flawless, even at f/1.4. Corners are razor-sharp at f/2. Autofocus is super quick and accurate, and also silent
This is my go-to lens for low-light situations, nighttime street photography, and sometimes video, too. I couldn’t recommend it more.
If you have the budget, this is the ultimate standard-wide-angle prime to buy.
Great for astrophotography
Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM
This Sigma Art lens is the widest full-frame f/1.4 lens that you can get.
It’s slightly larger than the Canon 24mm, with a bulbous front element. You can’t put screw-threaded filters on this one.
The Sigma 20mm provides excellent image quality, slightly behind the Canon 24mm.
It’s reliable and built to withstand some beating. However, it is not weather sealed officially, so don’t expose it to heavy rain.
If you prefer brightness over ultra-wide angles, choose either this or the 24mm f/1.4L II.
Best for real-estate photography
Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L UD
Tilt-shift lenses are special. Not just in a sense that they can do more than standard lenses. Photographers also tend to have a special affection towards them.
With a tilt-shift lens, you can control perspective. You can make converging perspective lines parallel, and vice versa. Real estate photographers use them all the time to control perspective.
Also, you can change the angle of the focal plane relative to the sensor. This way, you can photograph landscapes with everything in focus at bright apertures.
The 17mm is, in my opinion, Canon’s best-built tilt-shift lens. It has the same front element as the 11-24mm, so it’s enormous. Its optical quality is the finest Canon has ever achieved.
But it’s also built sturdily. Besides the front glass, there’s nothing that wouldn’t stand some hitting. Don’t maltreat it, though.
The widest lens
Rokinon SP 10mm f/3.5
This lens is a recent addition to Rokinon’s XP line. It boasts the widest angle currently available on the market without going fisheye.
It does this while remaining at a comprehensible pricepoint, unlike the 11-24mm L lens.
Compared to the 11-24mm, this Rokinon prime is surprisingly small. It’s very dense, though, as it is built from metal.
The manufacturer states that this lens has very minimal distortion, and that is true. From a lens so wide, one would expect some nasty distortion. Yet, it’s not at all distracting.
Sharpest ultra-wide lens
Venus Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D
Venus Optics is a new company on the market. In recent years, they’ve built a reputation for designing unique lenses.
This lens gives you an ultra-wide angle with a fast aperture.
The main selling point here is “Zero Distortion”. Indeed, distortion is virtually non-existent. It’s even less than on the Rokinon 10mm. This feature is impressive for a lens so wide as 12mm.
Sharpness is also pushing boundaries. At f/4, the entire frame is sharp as a tack.
For a price pretty high, it is not an absolute bargain, but outstanding value.
Weird and outstanding
Venus Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide Angle Macro
Venus Optics’ other contestant is this 15mm f/4 Macro lens.
It combines a wide-angle of view with 1:1 macro capability. This feature allows for some unique photos.
The lens is superbly built and designed. Take a glance at it, and you can tell that it’s an extraordinary piece of glass.
Image quality is excellent, it’s what you expect from a modern prime lens.
There is minimal distortion. It only comes out when you shoot extreme close-ups.
Surprisingly, its price is well below the other Laowa product. This 15mm lens is a terrific deal.
Cheapest you can get
Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye
Another unique (and very cheap) offering on this list is Rokinon’s classic 8mm fisheye lens.
On cropped sensors, it fills the frame with only the corners vignetting. On full-frame, the projection is nearly circular.
Similarly to the 14mm f/2.8 (they were released together), it’s also built of high-quality metal. Fully manual controls are another trait they share.
However, if you overcome this – not a problem, really – you get a fantastic, small fisheye lens.
Its price point is also attractive. A fisheye is a niche lens. It’s good to have, but not many applications fit its style. And if you overuse it, it becomes boring. So, you wouldn’t want to invest as much in it as in a more versatile standard wide-angle.
Elegant and sturdy
Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon T ZE
This Zeiss lens is possibly the best you can get in terms of image quality.
It’s sharp everywhere from f/2.8 to f/11, where diffraction starts.
This lens is heavy and built entirely from metal (even the ring). I might even say too heavy, but I prefer durability to weight reduction.
Focus is manual, but it transfers data from the camera. Aperture is controlled electronically.
Sadly, there’s no extensive sealing. That is the one thing missing from this otherwise perfect lens.
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
Sigma’s offering from their ‘Art’ line is the astrophotographers’ dream.
It boasts an ultra-wide angle of view with a fast aperture of f/1.8. That makes it an ideal choice for you if you’re shooting astrophotos or low-light action.
The lens is bulky and heavy. The front element sticks out forward, so filters are hard to install. In terms of construction, it features all the Art design elements and materials.
The photos you get with it are razor-sharp even at the widest aperture. You can rarely get notable background separation with an ultra-wide-angle lens. With this one, it’s possible.
This a very special offer from Sigma. You have to pay the price for it, but it is one of a kind.
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