Best ultra wide-angle lens for Nikon DSLRs: 8 tested

Ultra wide lenses to help you see the big picture

Best ultra wide angle lens for nikon dslrs 8 tested

Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC - £280/ $425

At first glance, a prime lens with no autofocus and an aperture ring at its base looks like a dinosaur. Sure enough, you have to set the Samyang's aperture to f/22 for use on Nikon DSLRs, after which apertures are set via the camera. But the lack of autofocus isn't as major a problem as you might think.

With ultra-wide lenses, the focus position isn't critical because the depth of field is so large. Even when depth of field is reduced, when you're shooting close in at the impressively large maximum aperture of f/2.8, you still get focus confirmation by way of the autofocus light in the viewfinder.

Performance

The 14mm focal length is impressive but the effective 21mm on APS-C cameras is less so. In our tests, images were usually overexposed by as much as a full stop (+1EV), requiring hefty amounts of compensation to be dialled in. Disappointingly for a prime lens, barrel distortion is noticeable. Optical quality is pretty good but the Samyang is only worth considering if you're on a tight budget.

Sharpness

Best ultra wide angle lens for nikon dslrs 8 tested

Performance is poor at f/2.8, but the Samyang delivers impressive sharpness by f/4, and only really drops off again at f/22.

Lab test at f/8
Sharpness at 14mm: 2239

Fringing

Best ultra wide angle lens for nikon dslrs 8 tested

Colour fringing is only noticeable when you're shooting at the largest aperture of f/2.8, at the edges of the frame.

Lab test at f/8
Fringing at 14mm: 0.07

Distortion

Best ultra wide angle lens for nikon dslrs 8 tested

For a prime lens, barrel distortion is extreme, and uneven across the frame. We'd have expected better.

Lab test at f/8
Distortion at 14mm: -4.67

Image test verdict

Best ultra wide angle lens for nikon dslrs 8 tested

See full res image

Overall image quality is poor at the largest aperture of f/2.8, but improves between f/4 and f/16, although barrel distortion is disappointing.