If you’re looking for the best wideangle prime or zoom lens for your Canon DSLR, you have a lot of different lenses to choose from.
The term best is very relative though, especially when it comes to wide lenses. You might need something for exclusively indoor photography, whereas someone else wants to do landscape photography. Perhaps you want to do both.
Combine that with the extreme angles these lenses offer, and you’re back to step one; what to choose?
Best Canon Wideangle Zoom Lenses:
Best Canon Wideangle Prime Lenses:
Best Canon Wideangle Lenses for APS-C Only:
Every single lens on this list will fit on an APS-C Canon DSLR, but the 4 lenses we have in the last category will not fit on a full frame DSLR. Simply put, if you’re using an APS-C camera you have nothing to worry about.
What matters in a wideangle lens?
The difference between a 14mm and a 16mm lens may not seem like a lot on paper, but when dealing with such small numbers, every millimeter makes a difference. This is especially important if you’re shooting in tight spaces and don’t want to do panoramas (real estate photography for example).
Anything up to 35mm is considered wide angle, but the size of your sensor is also important. This statement holds true for Full Frame DSLRs, but if you’ve got an APS-C Canon you need to multiply the focal length x 1.6x to get the actual field of view. All of a sudden, your wide 28mm lens now becomes a 45mm lens!
Thankfully Canon created the EF-S mount and makes lenses with the crop factor in mind, meaning that when you mount them on they’re still wide enough for everything you want despite the 1.6x crop. As you can see from our list above, we have 3 zooms and 1 prime lens specifically created for APS-C cameras with the EF-S mount. You can still buy other lenses of course, it’s just that they won’t be as wide.
- If you’ve got an APS-C DSLR, always remember the x1.6 crop factor and check EF-S lenses first
- Under 20mm is considered extremely wide, 20-35mm is wide, over 35mm is normal
Plan on using wide lenses mostly outdoors and rarely in bad light? If your DSLR is also good at high ISO speeds and you don’t care about blurring the background, there’s no need to buy an f/2.8 wide zoom.
On the other hand, if you shoot indoors and want to stick to low ISO levels to get the cleanest images, having a big aperture helps a lot.
This is especially true if you’re into astrophotography, and prime lenses are often better for this thanks to their 2-3 stops bigger max. apertures.
- Often shoot in low light? A lens with f/2.8 or bigger is recommended
- Mostly shoot outdoors and have good high ISO performance? Aperture f/4 is totally fine and you’re most likely going to stop down anyways
Generally speaking, most photographers use wide lenses for landscape and more static subjects. Quite often, you use manual focus simply because you can; combined with the Live View feature and a tripod, you can make sure your focus is spot on.
However, that doesn’t mean auto focus is not important here. Sometimes you simply don’t have enough time to do all of that, and not everyone shoots nature only. Many use them as walk-around lenses, or for weddings, clubs, group shots etc.
Luckily, all lenses (except for the TS-E 24mm) have auto focus that is quick and accurate, and unless you shoot action as well, you shouldn’t worry that much here.
- Luckily today’s wide lenses have quick and accurate auto focus, but for many landscape shooters it’s not a priority
Distortion & Quality
The more you pay, the less distortion you can expect from your lenses. If your line of work requires straight lines, a tilt-shift lens would be your best option, but quite a few lenses on our list control distortion very well.
Flare is another issue as it’s easy to to capture the sun in your scene. Lenses with a built-in hood are always a plus.
- Distortion is something that you can’t do anything about, so if straight lines are a must, check out tilt-shift lenses
Weight & Size
Extreme wide angles = big front element, heavy glass.
If you travel and hike, or just dislike carrying around a lot of weight, you’ll have to find the compromise between the weight and focal length (zoom or prime) offered. There’s no point in owning an optically superb, but heavy lens, if you never find the reason to take it out because you know it’ll make you tired. If you don’t want to carry a tripod with you but would still love something to add extra stability, check out our list of best monopods for DSLRs.
These dimensions and weights are nothing compared to telephoto lenses, but it’s still something you shouldn’t forget when making a purchase.
The lenses we chose are very well suited for a whole different variety of photography; landscape, architecture, indoors and interiors, nature, astrophotography etc. You could even use them for weddings if you need a lens for group shots or environmental portraits.
Best Canon Wideangle Zoom Lenses 2018
Widest to Longest (Full Frame + APS-C)
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1. Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM (APS-C)
The Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM is your widest Canon zoom if you’re using an APS-C DSLR. This means any camera between the Canon T6 and 7D Mark II.
It’s got great image quality, sharpness and contrast, which is quite impressive considering the lens is super affordable. It replaced the 10-22mm, a more expensive lens with identical image quality. The 10-18mm now uses STM (Stepping Motor) to achieve silent and accurate focus, which makes it great for video recording as well as photographing fast subjects.
The focal length is excellent for landscape, architecture, indoor scenes and group shots, but you could also use it as a walkaround lens.
If you’ve never owned a wideangle zoom before, you should get the 10-18mm, it’s fun and extremely wide (the field of view is equivalent to 16-29mm once mounted on the camera because of the 1.6x crop factor).
2. Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM
If you’re using a Full Frame camera, the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L will be extremely wide.
Being an L lens, the image quality is stunning and you can expect nothing but sharp shots with this piece of glass. You can capture everything in your shot, and sometimes it may even be too much so you’ll have to get used to the wide angle if you’ve never owned something like this before.
For nature, landscapes, cities, sky, tight indoor spaces, it’s perfect. Even at f/4, the 11-24mm delivers really sharp shots at all focal lengths, yet vignetting and distortion can be visible when used at 11mm. However, at such a wideangle, they’re both well controlled which is sort of expected from the price.
The lens is also weather-proof and was made for outdoor photography, so it feels really solid and durable. The cost for all this is heavy weight, at 41.6 oz (1180g) it’s the heaviest wideangle zoom for Canon.
3. Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 Pro DX II (APS-C)
The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 covers a smaller range than the 10-18mm yet costs more.
However, the maximum aperture at both 11mm and 16mm stays at f/2.8, which is over 1.5 stops larger. This results in much more light hitting your sensor so if you need a wideangle lens for night time, indoors, clubs, concerts, the extra stop of light will help a lot!
It’s also really sharp and focuses quickly. It’s not super fast or anything, but quick enough for most things. Plus, if you mostly shoot landscape you don’t need auto focus performance of a wildlife lens. Vignetting and distortion are visible at 11mm but it’s nothing unsuable and is in fact better than many lenses at the same length, but chromatic aberration at f/2.8 and 11mm will have to be corrected. Shooting directly at the sun will also show quite a lot of flare.
Image quality at f/2.8 is good in the center and is usable in many situations, but if you’re also looking for tack sharp corners, you will have to stop down to f/4 – f/8.
Design wise, the Tokina 11-16mm is built well and feels very solid. Tokina lenses are known for having great build quality.
4. Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
Wide zooms from third-party lenses that would challenge more expensive Canon zooms are hard to find, but the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD does just that.
Sitting at less than $1,200, it gives you an extremely wide view with f/2.8 aperture and Vibration Compensation (IS on Canon). None of Canon’s f/2.8 16-35mm lenses offer IS, neither does the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 (which the Tamron is also competing with). How much does the VC help? Around 3 stops (you can see it in TDP’s review here), which means you can shoot with 1/8 where you’d normally have to choose 1/60.
Why would one go with the Tamron? If you absolutely need f/2.8 and VC. Thanks to USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) it focuses quietly and accurately, but the more expensive 16-35mm below tends to be more accurate, at least when shooting in more difficult conditions. So if you absolutely require having the fastest and most accurate AF, the Tamron does not win here.
5. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM
Until the announcement of the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM, we would have only recommended the Tamron above.
However, this 3rd version of Canon’s 16-35mm f/2.8 that was announced in 2016, offers excellent optical performance and very accurate, fast AF. Like with the previous 2 versions, it does not feature Image Stabilization so if that’s important to you, get the Tamron above or the f/4 below.
This 16-35mm costs twice as much as the Tamron, and the biggest benefit is the auto focus accuracy in all sorts of conditions. Image quality alone, while slightly better in corners (they are both sharp), is not worth the extra $1000 unless you print really big. The Canon lens can also accept 82mm filters, whereas the Tamron’s front element is too big for that.
6. Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM is our most recommended lens if you’re looking for the best value for your money and are mainly shooting landscape/cities/static subjects.
First, it features Image Stabilization and an Ultra Sonic Motor, the two things you want in almost every lens. The IS will help you up to 4 stops and indoors or in low light, that is a lot of help.
As far as image quality goes, it’s extremely sharp in center and corners and is once again a great deal for the money. Canon’s recent wideangle zoom lenses have been nothing but amazing. It’s also the lightest of all 16-35mm lenses, including the Tamron.
Simply put, if you require a wide zoom for mainly outdoor work but will happily rely on IS when indoors or shooting with slow shutter speeds, this is your best choice. Even on an APS-C camera, where the field of view is equivalent to 25–56mm, it serves as a great all-around zoom.
7. Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art (APS-C)
When the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM was released, it looked like someone forgot to change the f/1.8 aperture to f/2.8 in the product description. No way did they achieve that…
This is truly a unique lens and there’s no other wide zoom that offers f/1.8! Unfortunately it’s made for APS-C cameras where it “becomes” a 29-56mm lens. Not extremely wide, but it still starts where the 18-55mm kit lens begins. You may think it’s only 2mm longer than all the lenses above, but 2mm at such wide angles makes a big difference.
The lens is razor sharp and offers fast auto focus thanks to the Hyper Sonic Motor, but because of f/1.8 it’s relatively big and heavy. You can see the specifications here; at 28.6 oz (811g) and 3.1″ x 4.8″ (78mm x 121mm) it’s not compact. It does feel very solid though and professional like, but it’s not weather-sealed. It takes 72mm filters and has a minimum focusing distance of 11″/28cm. If you often shoot in the 18-35mm range and would like something appropriate for low light as well, the Sigma wins here.
Best Canon Wideangle Prime Lenses 2018
Widest to Longest (Full Frame + APS-C)
1. Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM
The Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM is expensive, but it’s also the widest prime with quick auto focus (USM).
At over $2,000, you shouldn’t buy it if you’ve never shot with a wideangle lens before and know that you want something even wider.
It’s appropriate for landscape, cities, traveling, astrophotography, nature and even for real estate and architecture. Distortion is better controlled than with any zoom above which says a lot about the quality of the 14mm f/2.8L II. Vignetting is visible at f/1.4 but stopped down slightly it’s greatly reduced. If you are going to use it on an APS-C camera you won’t notice vignetting at all.
However, most photographers use this on a full frame DSLR in order to get those extreme wide shots. The lens is weather-sealed, shows little chromatic aberration (mostly in corners) and flare. Because the front element is so big you can’t use a filter, and the lens cap is also bigger than your average cap in order to protect it.
2. Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II
While tilt-shift lenses don’t offer auto focus, they’re great for situations where you have enough time to set them up properly. The Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5-L II is the sharpest TS lens and is actually one of the highest quality prime lenses available.
Why and where would you use a tilt shift lens? If your photographs need straight lines and all other wide lenses show too much distortion, they are the best tool. This applies to architecture, indoor shots, buildings etc. Because of their ability to focus differently than regular lenses, you could also use them to stack shots and as a result, get one shot with a really small depth of field (product photography is a great example). Check out this video by LensProToGo for focusing and tilt-shift uses.
Tilt-shift lenses also allow you to create cool effects such as the miniature effect, but that alone shouldn’t be the reason for your purchase. The TS-E 24mm is expensive, but worth every dollar if you need it and delivers optically superb images.
3. Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM (APS-C)
Want a lightweight, compact prime? The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM is designed to work on APS-C cameras only.
It’s so short you’ll often think you’re shooting with the body cap on. If you dislike carrying around a lot of lenses, or just want something super small to go with your DSLR, this is the best option.
Image quality as with most prime lenses is great, colors and contrast are also excellent for a lens that costs less than $150. On top of that, the STM technology is great for recording videos as it’s silent.
Mounted on APS-C it’s equivalent to a 38mm lens, and that almost makes it a normal/standard rather than a wideangle lens, but the length and f/2.8 are great for nature, traveling, indoor and low light situations. It displays so little distortion it’s hard to notice, especially when stopped down to f/4.
4. Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
It was a tough battle between the Canon 24mm and Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, but with no difference in image quality we had to go with the Sigma here.
Both lenses are sharp and deliver great quality images. Distortion, flare, these are all 99% the same. However, the Sigma shows a lot less vignetting at f/1.4 and display slightly less chromatic aberration in corners. It is also much more affordable (the Canon 24mm is almost twice the price of it).
The f/1.4 aperture combined with Hyper Sonic Motor makes the 24mm Art great for both moving subjects in outdoor and indoor places, as well as astrophotography or landscape photography when there isn’t a lot of light available.
If you’re specifically looking for a 24mm lens, the Sigma 24mm provides the best quality, features and price.
5. Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
Perhaps one of the sharpest lenses (and we’ve got a lot of good candidates on this list) is the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art.
If you’ve got an APS-C camera it becomes a 56mm lens, so if you’re looking for something wide we only suggest you to get it if you have a FF DSLR. It’s still a brilliant choice on APS-C, but it’s more appropriate for portraits, everyday stuff and low light situations.
The lens features a Hyper Sonic Motor and is really fast at focusing, slightly slower than the new, more expensive Canon 35mm f/1.4L II. For $800 more though, unless you really need top-notch AF (and the Sigma is far from bad or unusable) it’s not that worth it. Image quality is pretty much identical with the Canon showing a little bit less aberration when zoomed in. PetaPixel has a good comparison here, and if there’s one thing where the Canon wins it’s the fact that it’s weather-sealed as most L lenses.
Our Recommended Lenses
Consider this a shorter, more direct version of this entire guide. Simply what we think gives you the absolute most for your money and what we’d go with personally.
Even though all lenses above are awesome, sometimes less options makes it easier to decide.
For Full Frame:
- Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD – Need f/2.8 with Vibration Reduction? This is your only option and the quality is superb, best value for the money
- Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM – Don’t need the big aperture and extra weight? It’s sharp, has IS and focuses quickly.
- Canon 14mm f/2.8L II USM – Less distortion than zooms, better optics, expensive
- Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art – Brilliant for astrophotography as well as everything else
- Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM – Without a single doubt the best APS-C lens for wideangle on a budget
- Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art – Costs a lot more, but still optically amazing and gives you the ability to shoot in low light
- Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM – Looking for an extremely small, compact prime lens with good quality? It costs less than $150.