Photographers who shoot on a regular basis need optics to cover the most common of focal lengths. This includes glass to cover the long, medium, and wide-angle side of things. We always want the highest quality versions, but if you have to stick to a strict budget, there’s more of a juggling act involved with price against features. Buying Nikon wide-angle lenses under $250 is entirely possible, with some affordable options on the market.
When it comes to choosing a lens for the Nikon platform, the company has most of its offerings in the higher price range, meaning the examples we have on offer today are far slimmer than usual, but still fit in the wide-angle lens department.
1. Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR (Overall Winner)
The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR has hit our top spot a few times. It’s also a touch over our proposed budget, but well worth a few dollars extra outlay for its versatility and quality.
The 10-20mm is designed specifically for the DX-format, providing a 15-30mm equivalent focal length. This range is still wide enough for landscapes, architecture, and interior shots. At the longer end of the range, the lens is just short of the 35mm standard, making it a good walkaround lens if you prefer a slightly wider angle of view from your traditional images.
The lens itself is wrapped around an optical design of 14 elements in 11 groups. This arrangement includes three aspherical elements and a Super Integrated Coating to reduce ghosting and flares while increasing the overall image accuracy.
Not always needed on wide-angle lenses, but it’s here for good measure, is a vibration reduction system. This is a great feature for not only stopping shaky hand-held images, but also to achieve extremely low shutter speeds for the likes of indoor photography.
Although the aperture on this lens is variable and not exactly the widest in the world, it’s not so bothersome on a wide-angle lens where you need precise detail throughout the depth of field.
Sharpness throughout the depth of field is what counts here and this is where the lens works at its best between f/5.6-f/8. Even in this aperture range shutter speeds are extremely low and the VR system gives that extra peace of mind when the light levels drop.
The overall message from this lens is that its extremely good value for money, while still providing great wide-angle results.
An example of a lens that is just under our proposed budget is the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR. This lens is designed for the DX-format and while it has a 27-82.5mm viewpoint on this platform, it’s just about wide enough for environment shots and street photography. It may not go as wide as the example above, but it’s one of those good quality lenses which provides top quality for the budget range, without the usual cheap hallmarks.
Two aspherical elements are included in the optical arrangement with 12 elements in nine groups. The AF-P pulse autofocus motor is respectably quick and quiet for this price range. On the whole, it is quick to snap into focus, only showing signs of hunting in the very lowest of light conditions.
As previously mentioned, this isn’t the widest angle zoom lens on Earth. But where the lens stands out is in providing very respectable image quality for the money, wrapped around a very lightweight package of 195g. This makes the 18-55mm a very nice step up from the average kit lens, with focal lengths that cover the just-about-wide-angle to standard views.
As the options are quite thin in this arena and for sheer variety, we’ve gone with the Tokina AT-X 12-24mm f/4 AF PRO DX II as a cost-effective third-party wide-angle zoom. Depending on where you shop, this lens can be picked up around the $200 mark, which represents a great value lens for the money.
On the DX-format, the focal length comes in at 19-38mm, which is still reasonably wide for most purposes. This updated version of lens benefits from special multi-coatings on all lens elements for reducing lens anomalies. There is a focus clutch mechanism, which provides a very smooth focusing operation for those spur of the moment shots.
The 12-24mm stands out for having a constant f/4 aperture, which provides great light gathering ability, plus respectable bokeh with very close-up subject matter. Once the lens is set to f/5.6 and above, sharpness and detail across the frame is very acceptable, with nice vibrant colors and deep contrast.
Considering the price point of this lens, it’s an absolute steal for the image quality it provides.
4. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G (Budget Winner)
Some of you are maybe already thinking that a 35mm prime lens isn’t the widest in the world. But as we are juggling price point, width, and quality in the same package, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G can still provide a good amount of wide-angles for environmental shots. Plus, as this focal length is a great all-rounder, it will cover most bases until you want to reach into the telephoto zone.
The other benefit of a lens of this type is that it offers an f/1.8 aperture. An aperture that goes this wide works very well for producing lovely shallow depth of field shots that are most needed for portrait work. But as wide-angle lenses are mostly used for areas such as landscape photography, this width of aperture works best for very low light conditions.
Optically, the lens comprises of one aspherical element and a super integrated coating to maintain image quality, while the seven-blade rounded diaphragm is more than capable of producing shallow depth of field shots.
Considering that this lens can be picked up for less than $200, it’s a vast step up from the usual kit lens. The autofocus system is also very efficient, being quick to snap into line when it is most needed. In essence, if you need a more rounded lens solution that can cover wide-angle shots on occasion, then for the money, you can’t beat the 35mm f/1.8G.
Choosing Nikon Wide-Angle Lenses Under $250
The list of Nikon wide-angle lenses under $250 above may be succinct, but it should also cover everything you need in the wide-angle zone. The 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR ticks all these areas, providing zoom ability, image stabilization, and is as wide as you can get without venturing into fisheye lens territory.
Then again, if you’re on a limited budget and need a lens that’s more of an all-rounder, you can’t beat the likes of a 35mm lens. It’s not exactly a traditional wide-angle lens, but it will provide enough width to experiment with until you find your feet and want to spend big on the higher-priced versions.