There’s always going to be a time in a photographer’s life where they need to capture the widest possible viewpoints. In our little roundup, we are narrowing the criteria in this area to the best Nikon ultra wide-angle lenses under $250, simply because you may have to work to a very tight budget or will only shoot wide-angle shots on occasion.
As we are sticking to quite a tight budget, this doesn’t mean you can’t buy into good quality optics. On a typical ultra-wide lens in this affordable bracket, you will have to make do with less robust build quality. However, with careful selection, it’s still entirely possible to land good lenses that tick all the basic criteria.
1. Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR (Overall Winner)
At just a touch over our proposed budget, the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR is everything you need to cover the widest angle shots. This lens is designed specifically for the Nikon DX-format, providing a 15-30mm equivalent focal length, which works great for the likes of landscape and interior images.
Optically, the lens consists of three aspherical elements and a Super Integrated coating to increase image clarity and control lens anomalies. A seven-blade rounded diaphragm has been included, controlling the variable aperture range of f/4.5-5.6. There’s also a vibration reduction system for the sharpest of handheld images.
There’s no denying that this lens is extremely sharp where it counts. Although it may have a variable aperture, this doesn’t count so much with a wide-angle lens. This is mainly due to sharpness being needed throughout the depth of field and low shutter speeds are a given, especially with image stabilization.
On the whole, this is a wonderful lens for the price, especially since it’s extremely lightweight at only 230g.
2. TTArtisan 11mm f/2.8
Once we are on the hunt for lenses under $250, more open-minded choices are needed. This is the case with the TTArtisan 11mm f/2.8 which is in no way a cheap lens and shows a nice example for the new Nikon Z-mount mirrorless cameras. The lens is also very capable on DX models providing a 16.5mm equivalent focal length.
The fully manual focusing design is accompanied by a 17cm minimum focusing distance. This being wrapped around a nice wide and bright f/2.8 aperture and a built-in petal-shaped lens hood.
As per usual with fisheye lenses in this price bracket, the sharpest results come from setting the focus to infinity and the aperture to f/8. Unless you’re diving into the lowest of light conditions and ridiculously close-up subjects, these settings cover the majority of circumstances. Working within this narrow boundary, the TTArtisan provides very respectable images with all the fun you can have with a typical fisheye lens.
3. Rokinon 8mm f/3.5
Going even wider than the lens choices above, the Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 produces a nearly 180-degree viewpoint in a fully manual design. The lens features a manual focus and aperture ring, wrapped around a lens arrangement of ten elements in seven groups.
If you use this lens on full-frame cameras, it produces the typical circular fisheye viewpoint. While the lens being used on APS-C sensor cameras produces a more full-frame view.
For the budget price point, the Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 performs a very respectable job. Images are generally sharp in the center of the frame, with a good deal of color and contrast where it counts. Just like the lens above, it will need stopping down to f/8 for the sharpest results, but in this price band you can’t complain too much for a wide-angle prime lens.
4. Meike 8mm f/3.5
The Meike 8mm f/3.5 is another very cost-effective, ultra-wide fisheye lens. The lens works equally well on DX models providing a 12mm viewpoint, wrapped around a fully manual design, and a near 180-degree viewpoint.
The lens is respectably well-made, with a full metal lens barrel and a distance scale etched in for less than infinity shots. As with most fisheye lenses, distorted lines at the edges of the frame are a built-in feature.
This lens produces a good amount of contrast and depth of color where it counts, mainly due to the Multi-layer nano coatings applied to all the lens elements. Considering the price point of the Meike, it provides decent quality, as long as the aperture is set to f/8 and a reasonable working distance.
5. Opteka 6.5mm f/3.5 (Budget Winner)
You’re generally asking a lot of a lens when you dip below the price point of $150. Somehow Opteka has managed to cram the workings of a 6.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens into this budget range, which also provides a 9.75mm equivalent viewpoint on DX-format cameras.
The lens itself has a fully manual design, with an aspherical element included in the optical arrangement of 10 elements in seven groups. It includes other features such as an aluminum alloy lens mount, a close focusing distance of 30cm, and an included petal-shaped lens hood for reducing the majority of lens flare.
Like most of the fisheye lenses on this list, it has a narrow working range between f/8 and f/11, and although it has a minimum focusing distance of 30cm, subjects look the sharpest when the lens is set to infinity. The Opteka may not display all the sumptuous image quality you would find on more expensive lenses, but considering the nominal price point, everything seems a bonus with this lens.
Basically, if this is your first step into the ultra wide-angle views of the world, then the Opteka is a great way to experiment in this arena with very minimal outlay.
Rounding up the Best Nikon Ultra Wide-Angle Lenses Under $250
As shown by the Nikon ultra wide-angle lenses under $250 above, it’s still entirely possible to purchase a very usable lens in this price bracket. The majority of these examples are prime lenses with the 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR being the exception to the rule, mainly because zoom lenses need far more optical corrections and are generally more costly to produce.
This means that if you need an ultra wide-angle zoom lens, you will need to jump up in price bracket. However, if you don’t mind the general workings of a prime lens and are happy with manual focus, then there is no reason why any of the examples above can’t give you plenty of scope for creativity.