Wide-angle optics, especially the best 10-24mm lenses, have many uses under the right circumstances. With such a wide perspective of the world, a common use is for architecture and landscapes where you can get up close and personal, while still getting everything into the shot with sharp detail.
Wide-angle zoom lenses can also help out when you’re restricted for space, such as shooting in small rooms. Plus, by their very nature, wide-angle lenses have huge perspectives and depth of field, producing very interesting perspective shots, while still keeping the background in focus and falling away rapidly to a single point.
With such a wide view of the world, these lenses can also produce distortion, most commonly found on the edges of the frame. However, owning a true wide-angle zoom lens provides more scope and flexibility for scene content and post-editing.
So, let’s dig into the ultra-wide-angle lenses available for the most common camera makes and how they cope in the real world. Also, bear in mind that many of the third-party lenses are available for Canon, Nikon, and Sony mounts, depending on the examples given.
1. Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD (Overall Winner)
Available with a bunch of mount options and designed for APS-C sensors, the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD provides value for money with very good optics. This latest version provides upgraded optics, with two low dispersion and two aspherical elements to reduce chromatic aberrations, while a BBAR and fluorine coating stops effects such as reflections, flaring, and ghosting.
A new HLD autofocus system has been applied, along with a four-stop vibration compensation system and a moisture-resistant construction. The lens can also be used with the optional USB dock for things like firmware updates.
The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD is extremely sharp and coupled with the vibration compensation system, allows for extremely low shutter speeds while capturing fine detail. There’s a lot to like about this lens, without breaking the bank.
We accept that the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM is a millimeter out from our chosen criteria, but it’s also worth including for its excellent image quality and wide-angle workings. Although the lens looks like a fisheye, it is strictly a rectilinear lens and comes with its own protective lens hood, which is a prerequisite when shooting.
For the Canon mount, this lenses is as wide as you can get in a zoom package. The constant aperture of f/4 may not seem that wide to some, but on an ultra-wide-angle lens, light gathering and depth of field are almost always guaranteed. This lens has excellent internal optics, with a fast and efficient ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (USM) for autofocusing. The Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM is also built to the usual L-series quality, feeling rocksolid and completely weatherproofed.
Image quality on the whole is excellent, with the only small downside being color fringing exhibited on high contrast areas. Luckily, it’s at such a small amount that it can be easily corrected in post-processing. Basically, if you’re on the Canon platform and you can afford the price tag, this is an excellent choice if you need ultra wide-angle viewpoints.
Nikon’s own mid-priced ultra-wide-angle offering has a variable aperture and although arguably more expensive than third-party versions of the same quality, this lens delivers every time. Most importantly, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED is sharp in the corners and controls vignetting well, even at the widest aperture.
The build quality is traditional Nikon DX fair, with three aspherical and two extra-low dispersion elements to keep lens anomalies in check. Plus, a Super Integrated coating has been applied to the front element to reduce reflections and flaring. A Silent Wave Motor works efficiently with autofocusing, with a smoothly working manual focus override.
Great image quality is produced every time on the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens, but it’s the price point which may be a little too heavy for some. In this regard, some of the third-party makers on this list give you more bang for your buck.
If you’re currently using the Fuji camera platform, than the FUJINON XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS is a great ultra-wide-angle option. Produced specifically for the X-Mount Lens/APS-C format, providing a 15-36mm equivalent zoom, this lens balances cost with optical design and features.
Consisting of three extra-low dispersion, four aspherical elements and a super EBC coating for reducing lens anomalies, with a seven-blade rounded diaphragm for reasonable quality selective focus. An optical image stabilization system has also been included, engaged with a simple switch located on the lens barrel.
Just like the other lenses on this list, the FUJINON XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS has a basic design, with the highlights being the constant f/4 aperture, a close focusing distance of 24cm, and minimal edge distortion. Sharpness is very good across the frame at f/4, with minimal light falloff when the aperture is wide open.
This lens isn’t the cheapest on the market, coming in at a touch under $1000, but considering the high image quality and solid construction, it’s an ideal choice for Fuji camera owners.
5. Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM (Budget Winner)
The Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM provides a good balance between cost and performance. It features two Extra-Low Dispersion (ELD), one Special Low Dispersion (SLD) and four aspherical elements, with a Super Multi-Layer Coating. A Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) handles auto focusing duties, while the seven-blade diaphragm is respectable at this price point.
The constant aperture of f/3.5 is a great addition to this budget lens, as similar priced variations usually come with variable aperture. The 82mm filter thread is larger than expected, but it also gives the lens an air of quality. There is no image stabilization here, which is not always needed for such wide focal lengths, which also keeps the weight down to a respectable 520g.
Lens anomalies such as chromatic aberration are minimal and only present at the 24mm end of the spectrum on high contrast areas. Sharpness is very good for this price point with well-defined images across the board. As a budget lens, which provides great quality, you can’t go wrong with the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM.
Benefits of 10-24mm Lenses
In many ways, a 10-24mm zoom lens is for those who want the widest angles possible without turning to a fisheye lens option. At the widest end of the spectrum every millimeter counts. But, if you wanted to forego a few millimeters at the widest end, then the range of options opens up dramatically. By moving up to just 12 or 14mm at the widest, there are many high quality options available with varied price points.
All the lenses above do a very good job of producing sharp detail and very good image quality, considering the amount of optical correction they need at the widest angles. If you need the widest view of the world with zoom capabilities, then all the lenses listed above will cover your basic needs.