A wide-angle lens may seem like the preserve of the landscape or architectural shooter, but they have so many more uses. When your back is literally up against the wall and space is at a premium, a wide-angle lens comes in very handy. If you’re a Canon user in the bracket of needing cost-effective optics, then Canon wide-angle lenses under $250 will be the focus.
Affordable and budget-conscious lenses have never provided better quality in this price range. This may mean you have to forego some niceties such as a metal lens barrel and full weather-proofing, but as for the glass itself, a lens under $250 with careful selection gives good sharpness levels and are generally much lighter than their higher-priced counterparts.
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 a touch over our pre-requisite budget, but it’s well worth the inclusion. This wide zoom lens is designed for the APS-C-format, giving a 16-28.8mm equivalent focal length with very respectable image quality.
The lens has a variable aperture of f/4.5-5.6 and inside its lightweight dimensions of 240g are 14 elements arranged in 11 groups. These include one ultra-low dispersion and one aspherical element, along with a Super Spectra coating to reduce the usual types of anomalies, such as lens flares and ghosting.
One feature that’s made its way into more budget-friendly lenses these days is image stabilization. In this case, the system offers four stops of compensation, which on a wide-angle lens will provide super low shutter speeds.
This in itself is a great way to capture handheld, low-light photography. The STM autofocus motor is very quick and efficient to lock into focus and also provides full-time manual focusing override.
Considering the flexibility and the built-in stabilization system, there are a lot of features packed into this lens for the money. It may display some vignetting in the corners and it may not have the widest and brightest aperture around.
All things lead back to what it can provide for the asking price, and in this regard, the Canon EF-S 10-18mm provides wide-angle zoom ability, with lovely image definition throughout its range.
2. Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM
A prime lens may not seem on the surface to have the versatility of a zoom lens, however, all the optical goodness has been put into one focal length rather than over a range. In other words, if you’re not tempted with the wide-angle zoom above, the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM has some standout benefits.
The EF-M 22mm f/2 STM has been produced specifically for Canon EOS M cameras and features a wide and bright f/2 aperture. This width of aperture provides far better low light-gathering abilities and shallow depth of field than zoom lenses in this class. The lens is also extremely lightweight, coming in at only 105g, balancing extremely well on M type cameras.
Along with the very good optical quality for the price, the lens can also get very close to a subject with a minimum focusing distance of only 15cm. At this range, the lens produces wonderful background blur or bokeh, with good separation between subject and background.
In total, this is a very good prime lens, with optical qualities that far outweigh its price point.
3. Samyang 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC
The Samyang 14mm f/2.8 is a good example of optics where the makers have put all their efforts into the quality of glass. At this price point, this means you have to make do with manual focusing and a manual aperture, but it also means top image quality.
Like the Canon offering above, the Samyang is just a touch under our budget level and is useful on both full-frame and crop sensor cameras with a 22.4mm equivalent focal length on the latter. The lens has a substantial build quality, weighing in at 550g, and also features a built-in petal-shaped lens hood to protect the front element.
For the best image quality, the Samyang will need stopping down to f/5.6 and it doesn’t have any niceties such as image stabilization. But if you don’t mind its fully manual workings, it’s a very good value lens, which is very capable in areas such as landscapes and even night-time photography.
4. TTArtisan 11mm f/2.8
TTArtisan isn’t usually the first lens maker I would jump at in the wide-angle lens arena, but just like Samyang, these cost-effective lenses have very respectable optics for the money. This example also shows that budget-friendly optics are now available for the Canon RF-mount mirrorless cameras.
The TTArtisan 11mm f/2.8 is technically a fisheye lens with manual focusing and a manual aperture ring. The lens provides the usual fisheye look of the world, with an almost 180-degree viewpoint, plus very good sharpness across the frame when the aperture is stopped down to f/5.6.
Fisheye optics are specialist lenses, with a unique viewpoint, but if you prefer this particular rendition of an image and you’re working to a particular budget, the TTArtisan provides surprising image quality in a manual working package.
5. Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM (Budget Winner)
After using one of these pancake lenses for such a long time, it still surprises me how they can pack such good optics into such a flat design. Although this lens comes in at a very affordable price point, it’s in no way a cheap lens, having very respectable optics in a very lightweight package of only 125g.
The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM itself is built specifically for the APS-C-format, providing a 38.4mm equivalent focal length, which hovers around the recommended standard of 35mm. The f/2.8 aperture still has plenty of low-light capabilities, while the included STM autofocus motor is very efficient in use.
As with most of the feedback about this lens, it’s small, inexpensive and a good walkabout lens that works well for on-the-spot street photography and environmental images.
Widening Your Perspective of Canon Wide-Angle Lenses Under $250
All the Canon wide-angle lenses under $250 above will provide great image quality in exchange for your hard-earned cash. If you need the most flexibility with added features such as image stabilization, you can’t go wrong with the Canon EF-S 10-18mm. However, for sheer quality at one focal length, the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM is a great piece of glass in this budget range.
As with all lens choices, the final decision will be down to your own personal shooting circumstances and subject matter. Although an all-manual lens may seem less able than one with autofocus, for areas such as landscape photography, manual focus is the way to go.