You may disagree with me, but next to a telephoto lens, a piece of optic that all photography enthusiasts must have is a wide angle lens. With multiple benefits it offers, the investment you have to cover to bring one home is totally worth it. In this post, we’re going to list a number of wide and ultra-wide angle lenses for Canon cameras, both the cropped sensor and full frame body. You can also learn what to consider when choosing this particular accessory, so you won’t end up buying a wrong one.
Most of you might believe that a wide angle lens is only good for landscape photography, but there’s more to it than just that. Anyone who frequently takes shots of real estate and interior, both large and small building, will have easier time capturing and showcasing every piece of its beauty. Wide angle lens can make tight spaces look bigger. Group shots will be less challenging too because with the smaller focal length that a wide angle lens gives, your camera can see wider and more expansively.
As a leading brand that rolls out great DSLR every year, Canon manufactures its own wide angle lenses. However, there are also some third party companies like Sigma that makes fine selections of optics. What I’m saying is Canon’s glasses are not necessarily better than those coming from brands such as Tokina and Tamron. In fact, for a certain purpose, I find that third-party lens like Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM works better. Now, without further ado, here are 15 best wide angle lenses for Canon cameras.
- Top 15 Wide Angle Lenses for Canon
- Best Wide Angle Lenses for Canon Cropped Sensor / APS-C Cameras
- Best Wide Angle Lenses for Canon Full Frame Cameras
- Best Wide Angle Prime / Fixed Lenses for Canon
- Cropped Sensor Vs. Full Frame
- Other Considerations
Top 15 Wide Angle Lenses for Canon
Best Wide Angle Lenses for Canon Cropped Sensor / APS-C Cameras
All of Canon’s low-end and enthusiast-grade DSLR cameras, from the affordable Canon EOS Rebel T3 to the mildly expensive EOS 7D Mark II, are built with an APS-C sensor. To get a wide angle view, you need to use a lens devised exactly for this particular cropped sensor size. Note that the following lenses can’t be used with a full-frame camera. So, if someday you decide to upgrade your photo gear, you will need to buy a new wide angle lenses too.
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
It’s been ten years since the release of Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM and this lens is still the favorite of many Canon’s camera owners. Even the arrival of the new EF-S 10-18mm STM lens that sports a more attractive pricing (also in this list) doesn’t seem to diminish its popularity. The focal length range of 10-22mm gives you ultra-wide angle view while ring-type ultrasonic autofocus ensures quiet operation as the lens adjusts its focus. The minimum distance for the lens to focus is 9.5 inches. Build quality is excellent and it’s comparatively smaller than its typical competitor, like the Sigma 10-20mm below. The hood is sold separately but you can always opt for the cheaper UV filter. Sharpness is well maintained throughout the zoom range but you might notice some smooth edges when you set the lens at its maximum aperture, which is f/3.4. It has no image stabilization, but then no zoom lens in this price range does.
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM for Canon
The Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM for Canon might not be the lens maker’s widest lens for a cropped sensor camera but it arguably offers the best value for money. With a constant maximum aperture of f/3.5 throughout its focal length, it can be an indispensable tool for shooting indoor where ambient light is dim at its best. With this, you don’t have to risk ruining your low light photos by using a flash. The fixed aperture also makes it easier to control the depth of field. Like Canon’s USM lens, it also features quiet ring-type autofocus. While it’s not the lightest wide angle lens for Canon, it does perform brilliantly. No matter at what zoom you shoot, you’ll notice that the image stays sharp and the contrast is well balanced. Distortion is hardly apparent even at the low end of the focal length. It’s truly a great lens that can give Canon’s own wide angle lens a run for its money.
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM
Nearly at half price of Canon 10-22mm lens above, Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens is a perfect option for those with limited budget. Although focusing is not as speedy, its stepping motor autofocus system is more quiet. Focus transition is very smooth, too. Add to that mix a built-in optical image stabilization up to 4 stops – which is not a thing you can find in every wide angle lens – it’s safe to say that this lens is designed more toward video-making. Still, it hardly disappoints when used for stills capture. In fact, you might find its sharpness is better at certain settings compared to Canon 10-22mm lens above. Focal length of 10-18mm means you only get 1.8x zoom. It’s not great but it’s still wider than your camera’s kit lens. The only thing that might displease you is probably its plastic mount. While it’s necessary to keep the lens lightweight and low-priced, a metal mount would still be more appreciated.
Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX II for Canon
If you’re looking for a wide-angle lens with constant wide aperture along its zoom range, Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX II for Canon is worth a look. With maximum aperture of f/2.8, it’s one of the fastest zoom lens you can find out there, offering one stop higher than Sigma lens above. Although it’s 1.45x zoom range is far from impressive, the fact that you can increase your shutter speed up one stop means that it may perform better at capturing fast moving subject or in a condition where you forget to bring your tripod. Its sharpness level is also excellent, whether in the shortest or longest focal length. Even setting it wide open at f/2.8 doesn’t seem to reduce its sharpness, which is amazing (read more about aperture). The added multi-layer coating helps resist ghosting and flare, too. There’s a bit of visible color fringing, unfortunately, and the distortion level is rather high. Other than that, it is a solid wide angle lens for Canon.
Tamron SP AF 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 DI II for Canon
Tamron SP AF 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 DI II for Canon is one of the few wide angle lens that offer more than 2x zoom range, which is quite impressive and by far its strongest selling point. Aside from that, the lens is pretty average. First, its built-in electric motor autofocus system does help with rapid focusing, but it lacks the fine-tuning found in USM and STM lenses. Also, it feels awkward too, because the focus ring rotates on itself while autofocus is working, so you have to keep your fingers away from the lens. The center of the frame shows acceptable sharpness even as you shift toward the shorter end of the focal length. Sadly, that’s not what happens with the edges and corners of images. They look soft in comparison. What makes it even less appealing is the barrel distortion effect is quite prominent along the zoom range. If zoom capability is very important to you, you might be able to accept that tradeoff. Otherwise, Canon USM lens and Sigma are better deals.
Best Wide Angle Lenses for Canon Full Frame Cameras
Unlike Nikon, Canon designs its full frame cameras to be incompatible with the smaller lenses made for its APS-C models. So, if your camera is the like of Canon EOS 6D Mark II, you will have to buy a wide angle lens created specifically for Canon full frame body. Here are our top 5 picks.
Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
A maximum aperture of f/4 might make some of you dismiss Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM at your first glance, but don’t. Even though it can’t open as wide as the f/2.8 version below, it comes with optical image stabilization that allows for slower shutter speed up to four stops. It may give you less control over depth of field but as long as low light shooting is concerned, this lens is not less able. Besides, it sells at half the price of the f/2.8 version. With compact and weather sealing construction added into the equation, this lens hands-down fares the highest in terms of value for money. Sharpness level on the center of the frame is well maintained throughout its focal length. There’s a slight softness around the edges; so slight you can easily overlook it. Color fringing is very minimal too. All in all, I believe it’s the best wide angle lens for Canon full-frame DSLR cameras.
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 DI VC USD for Canon
Over the last few years, Tamron has been working seriously at expanding its collection of fast zoom lenses. Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 DI VC USD for Canon is not the latest addition, but it’s without a doubt the widest. Its wide view is pale in comparison with Canon 11-24mm below, but then you might not need to go that wide. Besides, the latter lacks a built-in image stabilizer, which this lens has together with excellent internal weather sealing. Its ring-type USM autofocus system is snappy and handling it feels right. Still, no one would say it’s lightweight and compact. At 1100g, this lens is heavier than most competition. As of sharpness, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a lens that performs better than it. Right from the center of the frame to the outermost corners throughout its entire focal length, images look very sharp. There’s a bit of color fringing visible but thankfully, it’s well controlled. For a third party lens, this one is definitely worth every penny.
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM is the widest lens in this list and the most expensive too. So, if you think being able to shoot at a focal length of 11mm is worth more than $2500, I don’t have much to say. Go grab it. It’s a spectacular lens. Before its release, the only Canon’s lens that can go wider than 16mm is a fisheye lens (the EF 8-15mm f/4). That may work for some purposes, but the heavy distortion a fisheye lens causes is often too much for general photography. Now some of you may argue than an extra 5mm worth of focal length may not be that great. Well, I could tell you the otherwise, but you’d better see it for yourself. Try a focal length simulator on the web (here is one by Sigma) and compare a shot taken at 16mm and 11mm. You’ll see a big difference because every millimeter translates to much wider view.
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM
Of all Canon’s L-series lenses, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM is the fastest one. It replaces the previous iteration and while we do not see any increase in max aperture, image quality is much better in this lens. Sharpness is delivered evenly throughout the entire frame with brilliant contrast even when the lens is wide open. A constant aperture of f/2.8 offers a great help when you have to shoot in low light conditions. With more f-stops, you’ll have more control over the depth of field too. As with other L-series lenses, it comes with excellent build quality and is also weather-sealed. Its zoom and focus rings turn and twist very smoothly. The only thing that may put you off is likely its steep pricing. With almost the same specs plus an image stabilizer, Tamron lens above selling for half its price is easily the better bargain.
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM has aged considerably but that doesn’t make it any less capable than other best wide angle lenses for Canon. In fact, if your wallet is not very thick, it can very easily strike you as the best option. For less than $900, you get a robust weather-sealed lens that also offers a good zoom range and wide angle view; not a bad deal at all. Performance-wise, its ultrasonic autofocus system proves to be very quick. In manual focusing mode, the focus ring can be turned effortlessly; so can the zoom ring. Although it lacks image stabilization, the optical quality of this lens is far from disappointing. Impressive sharpness throughout its zoom range with only smallest sign of vignette near the short end of the focal length is what you’ll get when using this lens.
Best Wide Angle Prime / Fixed Lenses for Canon
All wide angle lenses above are about the best option in the current market, but just like all zoom lenses, they’re not ideal for shooting in low light. The widest aperture you can find on those lenses is f/2.8. Although it is wide enough for most indoor environment, it won’t do for real low light situations. This is where prime lenses come in. While they operate at a fixed focal length (no zoom), their aperture can go as wide as f/1.4. If you think you’re going to deal with low light scene more often, you’d better put your investment on this type of lens. Below are some of the most popular wide angle prime lenses for Canon. Note that they’re designed for full frame cameras. Some of them may be compatible with APS-C bodies, but the field of vision will be significantly less wide.
Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM
Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM may not be one of Canon’s Luxury series lenses, but its build quality exceeds our expectation. Its hard plastic construction feels robust and the manual focus ring is silky smooth. The addition of 4-stop optical image stabilizer seems to increase its weight though, which some of you might not be happy about. A fixed focal length of 35mm is wide enough for a full-frame body, but it’ll look as though you shoot at 56mm if you use it with a Canon APS-C camera. Compared to its equal in the L-series which costs twice as much, the corners of the frame show relatively better sharpness, even at the widest aperture setting. However, its center doesn’t seem as sharp. Vignetting is also more apparent, but it’s nowhere near significant and can be quickly corrected in Lightroom. For its price, this lens is just hard to beat.
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
Here’s another heavy hitter in this list. With super wide aperture, Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM is a perfect tool for anyone looking to shoot at wide angle in low light. This lens looks identical to its predecessor, except for the addition of a couple of aspheric lenses that help control image distortion around the edges. Ghosting and flaring are nowhere to be seen, thanks to the new and improved coating. As expected from a ring-type USM motor, its autofocus is crazy fast and you can still refine it with the manual focus ring without having to switch to full manual focus mode. Other fast lenses may offer max aperture of f/1.4, but I doubt any of them could match its sharpness and its superb contrast when wide open. Its optical prowess is just fascinating. As with Canon’s L-series lenses, you can be sure that it comes with top-notch build quality, and without additional zoom, the handling feels very nice.
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon
Sigma may be a third party company but they know how to make a good lens. This 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon, particularly, has earned countless positive reviews from seasoned photographers for its impressive performance and versatility. The 35mm focal length provides a good balance for both landscapes and portraits. It’s wide enough to capture the beautiful expanse of nature and it’s also long enough for portraiture. Its strongest suit, however, lies on its ability to open wide. At f/14, shooting a performance in an indoor stage with very dim light won’t be too much trouble. Its build quality is not less excellent than its Canon counterparts (see below). The metal barrel feels solid and the focus ring feels like gliding on butter when twisted. For those looking for an affordable alternative to Canon’s wide angle prime lens, it can’t be any more perfect.
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon
If you want a wider perspective for your low light photos, you might want to consider this Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon. It’s an identical lens with the 35mm version above, except for its shorter focal length and lower price tag. A difference of 11mm in focal length means you’ll get much wider view, allowing you to fit in more people or more background. Group photos like those in wedding and other gathering can be much easier to capture. Meanwhile, its wide aperture will not only help you in low light situations but can also give you long depth of field for that attractive bokeh effect. Being Sigma’s Art series lens – known as one of the sharpest lens in the market – this sturdy optics lives up to its name. Although its AF system is not the quickest, the lens shows remarkable sharpness. It’s not as sharp as Sigma 35mm above, especially around the corners, but for a wide angle lens, it’s just incredible.
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM is more than just a well-performing lens, it’s a prized collectible that can boost your pride and confidence when hanging out with fellow photographers. Why, if pricey equipment shows how successful you are in photography, you can walk with your head up. Anyway, this handy lens looks slick and feels sturdy. Needless to say, it also offers very nice handling. The 35mm focal length may not be wide enough for some specific landscape photos, but for general work, it should provide ample field of vision. Now the story won’t be the same if you use it with a crop sensor camera. While you can still benefit a lot from its wide aperture, the smaller sensor in your camera body will make it equivalent to 56mm. At such focal length, you’ll have a hard time with group shots, let alone landscape photography. Aside from that – and the hefty price, of course – this could very likely be the best lens you will ever have; no color fringing, super sharp at the widest aperture setting, and snappy focus even in dim light.
Cropped Sensor Vs. Full Frame
Practically, there’s no stopping you from using a wide angle lens designed for full frame cameras on a body with APS-C sensor, but I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Why? Because full frame sensor works not in the same way as cropped sensor. A focal length of 40mm may be wide enough for a full frame camera, but it’s not that wide when used with a cropped sensor camera.
Let’s take the EOS 5D Mark IV as an example, Canon’s most impressive professional grade full frame DSLR yet. Its standard kit lens has a focal length of 24-70mm. So, a lens like Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM can widen its view by a great margin.
Now if you use the same lens on an APS-C camera, say Canon EOS 70D – whose kit lens is in the range of 18-55mm, it won’t give much of wide view. Its cropped sensor will not allow you to capture the whole part of the scene viewed through the lens. If anything, such lens will hardly work better than the camera’s kit lens.
In other words, with an APS-C camera, you need a lens with smaller focal length. The smaller it is, the wider the view. But be wary of distortion, too. Super-wide angle lens is notorious for distorting the image near the edge of the frame.
Aside from the camera’s sensor, there are also a few other things that you will want to consider prior to buying a wide angle lens for Canon. Some of them are explained in the following.
Focal length: A lens’ focal length translates to how wide it can frame the scene. The shorter it is, the wider the view will be, enabling you to fit more people and the surrounding scenery into the frame. Now don’t get too excited yet. With more room in the frame to work with comes the challenge of composing a good shot. You need to take into account more “things” and arrange them in such a way to create a dramatic effect that wide angle lens typically creates.
Distortion: When you’re working with a wide angle lens, it’s almost impossible to avoid image distortion. Super-wide angle lenses with smaller focal length and fish-eye lenses are particularly known to distort the outer edge of the scene. This can give a cool effect in some cases, but mostly you’ll want to be rid of it as it can make your photos look unreal and heavily edited. Luckily, any distortion can be corrected in post-production editing using common software like Lightroom or Photoshop. Still, the more the distortion, the more time it takes to correct them, which is why it’s best to choose a wide angle lens very minimal distortion.
Image stabilization: A number of wide angle lenses for Canon do not offer optical image stabilization, especially those under $1000. Some might argue that it’s not necessary because when you shoot in short focal lengths, camera shake is less visible and you can still capture the scene safely without a tripod. Still, it’s a good thing to have.
Lens hood: There are multiple benefits that come with lens hood. It helps protect the optic from harmful elements and it keeps lens flare away. However, with a hood permanently attached to the lens, you won’t be able to use conventional filters. If this is an issue for you, you may want to opt for the hood-less lens.
Aperture: The majority of wide angle lens for Canon come with moderate aperture. The widest it offers is f/2.8. This can be a problem if you frequently shoot in low light, just like many landscape photographers like doing. Nature shows its flawless beauty when the sun just starts to rise or already begin to set. If you’re one of these people, it might be a good idea to choose a prime lens. This fixed lens might not provide much zoom like most wide angle lenses do, but it offers wide aperture up to f/1.4, which is exactly what you need to get a wonderful photos in low light..