When it comes to wide-angle glass, there is no one size that fits all. All the options are relatively affordable and come within budget, but there are lots of factors involved to balance the best quality with the best high-end features. This means that while we’ve tracked down the best Nikon ultra wide-angle lenses under $1000, the ultimate decision is down to your own personal use and needs.
One main area of consideration for an ultra-wide lens is the decision between a prime or zoom. Both have their pros and cons, but no matter which route you take, with a $1000 to play with, all the options below provide top quality, being good lenses for most wide-angle scenarios.
1. Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 (Overall Winner)
If your dead set on piling all your monetary resources into a prime lens, then the Rokinon 14mm f/2.4 is a lens under our proposed budget range that provides some of the finest quality at the 14mm focal length.
This is a fully manually focusing lens with a good deal of glass contained within, comprising of 18 elements in 14 groups. Within the huge amounts of glass, there are two aspherical, one hybrid aspherical, two extra-low dispersion, and three high refractive index elements. All of these are topped off with an ultra multi-coating to correct for any lens anomalies.
The Rokinon shows very little sign of distortion and is wonderfully sharp, even with the aperture wide open. This lens would make a great solution for landscape or night-time photography, only being let down by the fact that its manual focus only. It costs far less money than its contemporaries at this focal length and can easily stand toe to toe in terms of sharpness levels.
2. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
If you pick up an example of the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED used or refurbished, you can snag one for under $1000. This zoom falls into the category of an “oldy but goody” lens, which still provides great quality, even compared to the latest offerings.
The f/2.8 aperture provides great low-light capabilities, while the three spherical and two extra-low dispersion elements correct for any lens anomalies.
In use, this 14-24mm lens displays excellent levels of sharpness, being the most detailed at the widest part of the zoom range. The lens has very low levels of chromatic aberration at the widest aperture.
This is a heavyweight lens, coming in at 1000g, but if you want a wide-angle zoom that’s been tried and tested over the years, the 14-24mm is a great workhorse for areas like landscape shots.
3. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
If you need a general all-rounder, wide-angle zoom, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR covers most bases. Although it can be used on DX models providing a 24-52.5mm viewpoint, it’s much better served on full-frame cameras.
The constant f/4 aperture gives reasonable low-light capabilities, while the three aspherical and two extra-low dispersion elements correct for any lens anomalies. The lens also benefits from Nikon’s vibration reduction system with 2.5 stops of compensation.
The f/4 aperture may not seem very wide, but on this type of lens it’s more than capable of shooting in low-light conditions, while still maintaining very good detail.
This lens is respectably sharp at the widest focal lengths and when coupled with the image stabilization, it makes for a great wide-angle zoom that also covers the standard of 35mm at a push.
4. Tokina opera 16-28mm f/2.8 FF
The Tokina opera 16-28mm f/2.8 FF may be a touch less sharp than other f/2.8 zooms in the wide-angle category, but it does represent the best value for money. Just like the 16-35mm above, the 16-28mm works best as a general all-rounder wide-angle zoom that’s better served for landscape shots rather than highly-detailed astrophotography.
This Tokina lens benefits from a wide f/2.8 aperture and contains three aspherical and three glass molded low dispersion elements, with an almost fisheye bulbous front element. The DC autofocus motor is quick and reliable, making the Tokina a good wide-angle all-rounder with an f/2.8 aperture.
5. Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 PRO DX (Budget Winner)
If you need the best value ultra wide-angle zoom without sacrificing image quality, then the Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 PRO DX is a fine option. This lens is made specifically for the DX-format, providing a 16.5-30mm equivalent focal length, which is still wide enough for most applications.
To maintain overall image quality, one P-MO hybrid aspherical, two glass-molded aspherical, and three SD ultra-low dispersion elements have been included with a multi-layer lens coating applied to each element to reduce lens flare and ghosting.
The Tokina uses a one-touch focus clutch mechanism to swap between auto and manual focus. This feature takes a little getting used to, but with some practice, it’s more convenient than flicking a switch.
The constant f/2.8 aperture allows the 11-20mm to be used handheld in very low light conditions. With close-up subjects, the aperture provides a reasonable amount of bokeh. This is not always a prerequisite of wide-angle lenses, but it’s there if you need these effects for the likes of wide-angle portraits.
Considering the price point of this Tokina zoom, the lens has good center sharpness at f/2.8 but really comes into its own by f/4. The sharpest results across the frame are at f/5.6. The lens also displays very low levels of chromatic aberration and vignetting, making it a very cost-effective solution.
Widening the View of Nikon Ultra Wide-Angle Lenses Under $1000
Luckily, there are quite a few options for Nikon ultra-wide-angle lenses under $1000, and they can all provide fantastic image quality. The Rokinon SP 14mm is most likely the surprise option, especially being a manual lens. But just like other options like the very expensive Sigma 14mm f/1.8, the Rokinon lens has all its quality in the optics, while also costing far less money than the Sigma.
If you need the most tried and tested solution, you can’t go wrong with the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED for its overall rounded features. While the Tokina AT-X 11-20mm represents the best value for money, while also providing a very wide f/2.8 aperture for the price.