An ultra wide lens will provide the most wide-angle views possible, usually being the preserve of landscape and architectural photography. In reality, these lenses are only limited by your own creativity.
If you want to dive into this area of photography, you will need some good quality glass to perform the job. But that doesn’t always mean you need to spend thousands on high-end equipment. Our focus today is on the best Sony ultra wide-angle lenses under $1000.
Generally speaking, Sony likes to stick the very good lenses in this department into the higher price brackets. But there are affordable options that drop nicely within our budget while also providing top quality. We’ve also added a few third-party variants in the mix, as they not only give great image quality, but they also add great value for the money.
1. Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS (Overall Winner)
The Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS is a very versatile zoom lens that will cover all your needs at the ultra wide-angle side of things. This lens is equally capable on APS-C-format cameras providing a 15-27mm viewpoint, which is plenty wide enough for most uses.
The constant f/4 aperture has a good balance between light-gathering abilities and shallow depth of field if you need it. A Super ED and three aspherical elements correct for any lens anomalies and other types of lens aberration. The lens comes with an optical image stabilization system, which coupled with Sony’s own in-camera version, makes a good solution for video work.
The main standout point of this lens is its sharpness and definition throughout the focal and aperture range. Pinpoint accuracy is top of the list with a wide-angle lens and the 10-18mm f/4 OSS won’t let you down in this respect.
The edges of the frame may be a touch soft at the widest aperture and the longest focal lengths, but for its intended use, where you need sharpness throughout the depth of field, f/8 is wonderfully sharp, making it a good solution for landscape and architectural work.
The first of our third-party offerings comes in the form of the Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM. This lens provides ridiculously wide views on full-frame cameras, while providing a healthy 12-24mm view on crop sensor cameras.
Four F Low Dispersion, one Special Low Dispersion, and one aspherical element have been included into the optical arrangement of 15 elements and 11 groups. Plus a super multi-layer coating has been applied to all lens elements to reduce with the likes of lens flare and ghosting.
This lens doesn’t have image stabilization, which is luckily not always a pre-requisite on wide-angle lenses. But where the Sigma 8-16mm stands out is in its optical qualities, with extremely sharp images being delivered from f/5.6 and upwards. On the downside, there is slight amounts of light falloff in the corners with the aperture wide open, but this effect can be easily remedied in post-processing.
On the whole, the Sigma is a good balance between optical prowess and value for money.
Another contender from Sigma comes in the form of the 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye, with a very wide aperture for a fisheye lens of f/2.8. The equivalent focal length of 22.5mm on crop sensor cameras may not provide the widest angles on this list, but it still gives that bulbous fisheye look, without overly soft corners.
The Sigma is a diagonal fisheye, which means the image fills the full frame and a multi-layer coating ensures that the usual lens flare associated with a fisheye is kept to a minimum. The 15cm close focus distance means you can get as wild and wacky as you like with subject matter. And the f/2.8 aperture allows for handheld shots in all types of low-light conditions.
This lens is impressively sharp for a fisheye and while the corners have the usual distorted lines, they are impressively sharp as long as the aperture is at f/5.6 or above. As with most fisheye lenses, the sharpest results across the frame come in at f/8, where you won’t be disappointed with the lens’ ability to deliver good degrees of color and contrast.
Rokinon, and especially the 14mm f/2.8 AF, are options that still leave us scratching our heads. It only seems a few years ago where this brand of glass was a budget option. However, the company now offers optics that are viable alternatives to the same-as camera brand options. This means we should never be snobby about the brand name (which is sometimes hard to do), but rather judge each lens on its own merits.
The 14mm f/2.8 AF is a simple and elegant prime lens, providing a 21mm viewpoint on crops sensor camera bodies. The lens is wrapped around an optical arrangement of 14 elements in 10 groups, which includes three aspherical, two extra-low dispersion glass elements, and an ultra-multi coating to increase overall image quality. The lens also benefits from a respectably fast autofocus motor, which in reality only gets tripped up in very low lighting conditions.
The f/2.8 aperture adds to the low-light capabilities, along with providing a very shallow depth of field for typical blurred background images when this is called for.
The lens will need stopping down to f/4 for the sharpest results. But at this aperture range, the Rokinon 14mm provides very respectable image quality for the price point, with a good degree of color and contrast where it counts.
5. Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS (Budget Winner)
For a lens under our proposed price point that can also provide top-quality with the best value, it usually does a bit of everything. That is exactly the case with the Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS.
This lens is designed specifically for APS-C format cameras, providing a 27-202.5mm range, which essentially stretches from the wide to medium telephoto zone. Two extra-low dispersion and one aspherical element have been added to the optical arrangement of 16 elements in 12 groups to improve overall image clarity. While the optical image stabilization system is very precise and works at its best at the longest focal lengths.
Although the lens doesn’t stretch as wide as the other options on this list, it performs respectably well throughout the focal range when the aperture is stopped down. The lens, luckily, provides the sharpest results at the widest focal lengths.
Essentially, the Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS would benefit those who want a more rounded solution, need a wide-angle lens from time to time, but also want a zoom lens that can cover other focal lengths when needed.
Getting the Most Out of Sony Ultra Wide-Angle Lenses Under $1000
The options above should cover all the bases you would ever need in the ultra wide-angle zone, which not only come within our budget range, but also provide the most useful of focal lengths. If your specialism is firmly fixed in the ultra wide-angle arena, then the Sony E 10-18mm makes for a very high-quality, compact wide-angle zoom lens, which benefits from high-quality optics and stabilization.
If you need a lens that covers more ground, with the occasional wide-angle shots, then the Sony E 18-135mm provides plenty of scope for creativity. But don’t forget the other third-party offerings, especially the Rokinon, if you want the most bang for your buck in a prime lens.