The best wide-angle lenses for Canon and Nikon DSLRs in 2017

While it is possible to use DX format super-wide-angle lenses on full frame Nikons, it's for emergencies only because the camera has to work in its crop mode, where it loses more than half of its resolution. So as with full frame Canon DSLRs, you need to invest in full frame super-wide-angle lenses to go with your full frame Nikon.

Nikon AF S 14 24mm f 2 8G ED

1. Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

It's a monster-sized lens but its performance is exceptional

Type: Zoom | Sensor size: full frame | Focal length: 14-24mm | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Image stabilization: No | Minimum focus distance: 0.28m | Filter size: N/A | Dimensions: 98 x 131.5mm | Weight: 1,000g

Constant f/2.8 maximum aperture
Excellent optical performance
Size, weight and cost
No stabilizer or filter ring

This is Nikon's top super-wide-angle zoom for its full frame DSLRs and it's a stunner. It doesn't quite deliver the widest angle of view, but it comes close, and it does this with a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture and superb image quality – and with a level of distortion and aberration control that's quite remarkable. Of course, this comes at a price, and not just in financial terms. It's not just expensive, it's also big and heavy, with a massively bulbous front element that requires a fixed, petal-shaped lens hood and prevents the use of regular filters. Autofocus is incredibly fast – faster than all its rivals.

Tamron 15 30mm f 2 8 DI VC USD

2. Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 DI VC USD for Nikon

Tamron's constant aperture super-wide zoom is a great second choice

Type: Zoom | Sensor size: full frame | Focal length: 15-30mm | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Image stabilization: Yes | Minimum focus distance: 0.28m | Filter size: N/A | Dimensions: 98.4 x 145mm | Weight: 1,100g

Constant f/2.8 maximum aperture
VC (Vibration Control) stabilization
Big and heavy
Not the widest angle of view

This Tamron lens doesn't go quite as wide as Nikon's 14-24mm, but it's still wider than most. Tamron has developed a line of 'fast' zoom lenses that have a constant, wide f/2.8 aperture, complete with optical image stabilization or VC (Vibration Compensation), and this 15-30mm takes the lineup into super-wide-angle territory, continuing the themes of impressive build quality, weather-sealed design, ring-type ultrasonic autofocus and image stabilization. It's a big lens, but it feels well balanced on full frame Nikon bodies. Sharpness is exemplary from the centre to the extreme edges of images, throughout the zoom range. Colour fringing is controlled well and the VC (Vibration Compensation) gave a four-stop benefit in our tests.

Nikon AF S 16 35mm f 4G ED VR

3. Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR

It's less demanding than Nikon's 14-24mm and a little more practical

Type: Zoom | Sensor size: full frame | Focal length: 16-35mm | Maximum aperture: f/4 | Image stabilization: 2.5 stops | Minimum focus distance: 0.29m | Filter size: 77mm | Dimensions: 82.5 x 125mm | Weight: 680g

Optical image stabilizer
Filter ring and lighter weight
Not the widest super-wide-angle
Some barrel distortion

This was Nikon's first ultra-wide optic to feature an optical stabilizer. It's based on Nikon's second-generation VR (Vibration Reduction) system, and gives a four-stop benefit in beating camera-shake. It can't match the focal range and maximum aperture of the Nikon 14-24mm or Tamron 15-30mm, but it has proved a popular, lighter alternative for landscape photographers – especially since you can fit regular filters to the front. Other attractions include ring-type ultrasonic autofocus, a weather-sealed mounting plate and fast, ring-type ultrasonic autofocus which is practically silent and enables full-time manual override. Image quality is good although barrel distortion is very noticeable at the 16mm focal length.

Nikon AF S 18 35mm F 3 5 4 5G ED

4. Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED

Nikon's affordable super-wide-angle for the masses

Type: Zoom | Sensor size: full frame | Focal length: 18-35mm | Maximum aperture: f/3.5-4.5 | Image stabilization: No | Minimum focus distance: 0.28m | Filter size: 77mm | Dimensions: 83 x 95mm | Weight: 385g

Smaller and cheaper than Nikon's top lenses
Decent build and handling
Optical performance only average
No image stabilizer

This variable-aperture zoom is smaller and cheaper than the Nikon 14-24mm and 16-35mm lenses. You lose a little in angle of view and the variable maximum aperture is a cost saving that hints at a more amateur audience. This lens also lacks the VR (Vibration Reduction) facility of the Nikon 16-35mm lens, though the overall build quality feels of an equally good standard. Another downgrade is that the 18-35mm lens has Nikon's Super Integrated Coating rather than Nano Crystal Coating, but its resistance to ghosting and flare is still pretty good. Chromatic aberration is very well controlled for a lens in this price bracket and fine detail is generally retained very well even in the extreme corners of images, although overall sharpness at the short end of the zoom range isn't a match for the Nikon 16-35mm.

Sigma 12 24mm f 4 5 5 6 DG HSM II

5. Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 DG HSM II for Nikon

This amazing lens goes even wider than the Nikon 14-24mm

Type: Zoom | Sensor size: full frame | Focal length: 12-24mm | Maximum aperture: f/4.5-5.6 | Image stabilization: No | Minimum focus distance: 0.28m | Filter size: N/A | Dimensions: 87 x 120.2mm | Weight: 670g

Even wider than the Nikon 14-24mm
Mostly excellent sharpness
Some edge softness
No stabilizer or filter ring

This is like the full frame equivalent of the APS-C format Sigma 8-16mm. With a 122-degree viewing angle at its shortest focal length, the maximum viewing angle is wider than anything else available for full-frame Nikon DSLRs without resorting to a fisheye lens. The Sigma 12-24mm offers ring-type ultrasonic autofocus and delivers excellent center sharpness throughout the zoom range, though this does drop off at the extreme corners of the frame when using wide apertures at very short focal lengths. Barrel distortion is quite well controlled though – this is often a weak point in super-wide-angle lenses. The variable maximum aperture isn't ideal and there's no image stabilizer, but if the maximum possible angle of view is your main requirement, you might want to put this lens up towards the top of your list.

Tokina AT X 16 28mm f 2 8 PRO FX

6. Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 PRO FX for Nikon

At the right price, the Tokina 16-28mm is a worthy contender

Type: Zoom | Sensor size: full frame | Focal length: 16-28mm | Maximum aperture: f/2.8 | Image stabilization: No | Minimum focus distance: 0.28m | Filter size: N/A | Dimensions: 89.9 x 133.4mm | Weight: 950g

Simple auto/manual AF 'clutch' mechanism
Handling and image quality
Big and heavy
No stabilizer or filter ring

This is a big, heavy lens weighing nearly kilogram (2lb), due in part to that fast f/2.8 constant aperture. The Tokina employs a 'silent' DC autofocus motor and GMR (Giant Magnetoresistance) module, and the company claims this gives faster, quieter autofocus. It's certainly true compared with some of Tokina's older lenses. This lens has Tokina's trademark 'one-touch focus clutch' – essentially a push-pull mechanism coupled to the focus ring, for switching between autofocus and manual focus. It's slicker than some because you don't need to switch between AF/M on the camera body or lens. Handling and image quality are very good, with high levels of centre sharpness and restrained colour fringing, though the corners could be sharper. The built-in hood helps to avoid ghosting but precludes the use of filters.