Wide-angle lenses and their ultra-wide counterparts may seem very similar on the surface, but in this department, a few millimeters can make all the difference. As we’re sticking to an affordable budget today, the choices are going to be hovering around the ultrawide to regular wide-angle versions.
Fisheye lenses will generally give the widest possible angles available, in most cases the scope of view hovers around 180 degrees in width. However, the de facto standard distorted lines of a fisheye lens aren’t always to everyone’s taste or budget.
To achieve a regular viewpoint, a few millimeters leeway will be needed. This is especially important if your chosen subjects are landscapes or architecture where straight lines are essential. Without further ado, we present the best Canon ultra wide-angle lenses under $500.
1. Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM (Overall Winner)
The Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM is as potentially wide as you can go without venturing into fisheye lens territory. On crop sensor cameras, the viewpoint comes in at 16-28.8mm, which still provides a good wide-angle range, while also providing top-level optics.
Internally, the optics comprise of one ultra-low dispersion and an aspherical element, plus a Super Spectra coating to increase image clarity and to reduce lens flare and ghosting. Another useful feature is the optical image stabilization system which provides four stops of hand-held compensation. This in itself provides some amazingly low shutter speeds, making the lens equally capable both inside and out.
In this price range the lens provides great image quality, with enough width for the widest of landscape shots. Considering the overall versatility of this lightweight offering, it provides amazing optics for the money.
2. Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM
We would have loved to have crowbarred a few fisheye lens examples into this list, however, all the good lenses from Canon in the fisheye department don’t exactly come cheap. But if you need a wide-angle offering for an EF-M mount and a lens under our specific price point, the Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM is a good choice.
One glass-molded aspherical, two precision-molded aspherical elements, and special coatings all provide increased image clarity, with the optical stabilizer offering 3.5 stops of handheld compensation.
Weighing in at a ridiculously light 130g, this lens will make a great travel companion, while also covering the very wide-angle to regular viewpoints. This lens may not go as wide as the offering above, but it also acts as a great all-rounder with enough width for detailed environmental imagery.
3. Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM
Another very useful ultra wide-angle zoom for the likes of the M50 or any other EF-M mount camera is the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM. This lens has an extremely quiet autofocus motor, with a full-time manual override that works great for videographers.
The lens has a very capable optical image stabilization system with three stops of compensation. Two UD and aspherical lens elements, along with a super Spectra coating provide accurate color renditions and increased contrast, all of which are contained within a very lightweight 220g lens barrel.
The variable aperture may not be the fastest around, but in reasonable light levels, this lens provides plenty of detail and good definition in the corners. Like many lenses in this price bracket, there is a touch of barrel distortion, but these effects can be easily corrected in post processing with a good lens profile loaded in.
In total, this lens provides loads of image quality and color rendition at a very affordable price point.
4. Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM (Budget Winner)
The EF-M mount users have the luck of the draw again with the Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM. This very lightweight zoom lens may not go ultimately as wide as some of the offerings above, but considering its price point and versatility, it’s definitely worth the inclusion.
One glass-molded and two precision-molded aspherical elements ensure great image detail time after time, while an optical stabilizer has been included with 3.5 stops of handheld compensation to achieve very low shutter speeds.
This lens has a very close focusing distance of 25cm and it only takes a quarter return of the focusing ring to zip through the whole focal range. Summing up, this lens provides wonderful images with great all-round versatility at a very reasonable price.
Zooming into the Best Canon Ultra Wide-Angle Lenses Under $500
When it comes to Canon ultra wide-angle lenses under $500, Canon has stuck all their main zooms and primes in the higher price brackets. This is entirely understandable to maintain the best optics and features, but it also means that the selection is reduced if you’re on a limited budget.
As shown above, the Canon EF-S 10-18mm ticks all the boxes as a very capable ultra wide-angle zoom that also benefits from image stabilization. If for some reason the 10-18mm doesn’t take your fancy, then you have the options to stray out of the Canon camp with third-party offerings, which can also open up the world of fisheye lenses.
A fisheye lens is going to provide the widest possible viewpoints, and depending on which camera format you choose, the resulting image can be a regular circular view on full-frame cameras or fill the full frame on the crop sensor versions.
A note to remember is that fisheye lenses can have distorted lines that need to be corrected to a point in post-processing. But in general, for the most consistent straight lines at the edge of the frame, a regular 10mm or above lens will be needed. Plus, a fisheye lens is generally considered a more specialist offering, as it provides such a unique viewpoint.
In other words, you really need to decide which subjects you snap the most. For regular landscape shots, the Canon EF-S 10-18mm is going to provide great results. But if you’re on a really limited budget, the Canon EF-M 18-55mm can still provide wide-angle views, while also capturing all the information in a scene.
In the third-party world, there are plenty of wide-angle lenses available under $500 in both zoom and prime lens formats. But you may also have to make do with fully manual focusing. However, if you’re not so particular about brand allegiance, you can’t beat these types for sheer value for money.