Are you a landscape or cityscape photographer looking to expand your lens collection? Then you might want to consider an ultra-wide-angle lens for your Sony APS-C camera. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about ultra-wide-angle lenses and how they can enhance your photography.
Find the first 2024 update here.
- What is a Wide-Angle Lens and What is Called an Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens?
- Why Should You Consider an Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens for Your Sony APS-C Camera?
- How to Determine if an Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens is Missing in Your Camera Bag
- 5 Reasons Why to Consider Using an Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens
- Why Choose an Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens Instead of a Wide-Angle Lens?
- How Often Will You Use Your Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens?
- Tips and Tricks for Using Ultra-Wide-Angle Lenses
- Why I Prefer Using Sony APS-C Cameras for Travel Photography
- In-Depth Look at the Ultra-Wide Lenses in My Sony APS-C Camera Kit
What is a Wide-Angle Lens and What is Called an Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens?
When it comes to wide-angle lenses, the human eye is associated with a full-frame focal length of 50mm. For the APS-C sensor size, it is ~32 mm. A wide-angle lens is defined as a lens with a focal length shorter than the length of the sensor or film. For full-frame sensors, a wide-angle lens would be any lens with a focal length of 35 mm (~23 mm for APS-C) or less. Therefore, any lens between 35 mm and 24 mm (23 mm – 16 mm for APS-C) is considered a wide-angle lens. Anything less than 24 mm (16 mm on APS-C) with a rectilinear projection is called an ultra-wide angle lens. Another way to create a wide field of view is to use what is called a fish-eye lens.
A fish-eye lens bends straight lines that do not pass through the centre of the image outward. As a result, a fish-eye lens has an extremely wide field of view and can create a unique, distorted look in your photos. The edges of the image appear curved and distorted, which can be used for creative effects in landscape, cityscape and real estate photography.
Fisheye Lens Without and With Correction
Fisheye Lens Without and With Correction
Why Should You Consider an Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens for Your Sony APS-C Camera?
When it comes to landscape, cityscape and real estate photography, an ultra-wide-angle lens offers a much wider field of view compared to a wide-angle lens. This allows you to capture more of the scene in a single shot, including the foreground, background and middle ground. This is especially useful when you want to capture a panoramic view of a location or when you want to include more of the sky in your shot.
Another advantage of using an ultra-wide angle lens for landscape, cityscape and real estate photography is that it can help you create a sense of depth and perspective in your images. By using a lens with a shorter focal length, you can get closer to your subject while still capturing a wide field of view. This can help to create a more dynamic and interesting composition in your photos.
Another indication that an ultra-wide angle lens might be a good add-on is if you often stitch multiple shots into one and you want to avoid this. It will help you to make the perfect one-shot.
If you are a landscape, cityscape or real estate photographer looking to expand your lens collection, an ultra-wide angle lens for your Sony APS-C camera is definitely worth considering. With its wider field of view and ability to create a sense of depth and perspective, an ultra-wide angle lens can help to take your photography to the next level.
In addition, if you are into Astrophotography, you often try to get as much sky in the frame as possible, which is why you might consider an ultra-wide-angle lens. The shorter focal length will help you capture images with longer exposure times (based on the rule of 500 or 600).
How to Determine if an Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens is Missing in Your Camera Bag
Are you wondering if an ultra-wide-angle lens is a missing piece in your camera bag? Here are some indications that an ultra-wide-angle lens would be a great addition to your photography gear:
- When reviewing your images, do you find yourself wishing for a wider field of view?
- Does the idea of capturing an entire scene in one shot, such as a landscape or cityscape, appeal to you?
- Do you often have to tilt your camera upward to avoid cutting off parts of the shot?
- Do you find yourself often stitching multiple shots together to capture a wider angle?
- Do you enjoy getting close to your subject and using the inverted scale effect?
- Are you an astrophotographer who wants to capture more of the night sky?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, an ultra-wide-angle lens may be a great fit for your photography style. Ultra-wide-angle lenses offer a much wider field of view compared to a standard wide-angle lens, which is particularly useful for landscape, cityscape, and real estate photography.
What Happens by Tilting Your Camera?
When tilting the camera upward, it can cause the vertical lines to appear distorted in the final shot. This can be corrected in post-processing, but it will result in a loss of resolution. To avoid this, an ultra-wide-angle lens can help to capture the entire scene in one, horizontally aligned shot.
Un-Tilted & Tilted UWA View
Temporary Solution to Figure Out if You Really Want to Buy an Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens.
If you’re not sure if an ultra-wide-angle lens is the right choice for you, consider trying out the ultra-wide-angle camera on your mobile phone. Compare the field of view and compression/separation when shooting with both your camera and phone side by side. This will give you a better idea of how often you would use an ultra-wide-angle lens in your photography. I recommend setting your phone camera to the widest angle possible and just trying it out. The next time you shoot with your camera, you can compare the angle of view and the change in compression/separation when shooting with both focal lengths side by side.
Assessing Your Needs: How to Determine if an Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens is Right for Your Photography If You Are New to this Hobby.
If you’re new to photography and are still trying to figure out your style and what type of lens you need, it may be best to hold off on purchasing an ultra-wide-angle lens as your first lens after your kit lens. Instead, consider investing in an affordable fixed focal length lens, such as a prime lens (50mm lens for full-frame or 32-35mm for APS-C) or an upgrade of the standard zoom range (16-55mm or even 16-70mm for APS-C). 50mm prime lenses are relatively cheap, and they can help you experiment with shallow depth of field and different aperture settings. They also give you a chance to explore different focal lengths before committing to a more expensive and specialized lens like the ultra-wide-angle lens.
If you are a landscape, cityscape, or real estate photographer, an ultra-wide-angle lens is a great addition to your lens collection, but it may not be the best choice for your first lens after the kit lens. If you are not sure about the focal length you will use most, it is better to start with a more versatile lens that can cover a range of focal lengths. Once you are more confident in your photography skills and know what focal lengths you prefer, you can then decide whether or not an ultra-wide-angle lens is a good fit for your needs.
5 Reasons Why to Consider Using an Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens:
- Capture more in a single frame: An ultra-wide-angle lens allows you to fit more of a scene into a single photograph, making it ideal for landscape and architectural photography.
- Create unique perspectives: The wide angle of view can create unique and interesting perspectives, making it a great tool for creative photography.
- Large depth of field: The wide angle of view allows for a large depth of field, making it easy to keep both the foreground and background in focus.
- Perfect for indoor photography: The wide angle of view makes it easy to capture large, open spaces, making it ideal for indoor photography, such as real estate, museums or narrow spaces.
- Good for videos: Ultra-wide-angle lenses are also a great choice for video production, allowing you to capture more of the scene and create dynamic, wide shots.
Why Choose an Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens Instead of a Wide-Angle Lens?
Ultra-wide-angle lenses and wide-angle lenses are both designed to capture a wide field of view, but they have some important differences.
Advantages of ultra-wide-angle lenses:
– Wider field of view: Ultra-wide lenses have an even wider field of view than wide-angle lenses, allowing you to fit more of a scene into a single frame. This is especially useful for landscape, architecture, and interior photography.
– Unique perspectives: The wide angle of view of ultra-wide lenses can create unique and interesting perspectives, making them a great tool for creative photography.
Disadvantages of ultra-wide angle lenses:
– Cost: Ultra-wide lenses are generally more expensive than wide-angle lenses.
Advantages of wide-angle lenses:
– Versatility: Wide-angle lenses are more versatile than ultra-wide-angle lenses because they can be used for a wide variety of shots, including landscape, portrait, and street photography.
– Lower distortion: wide-angle lenses generally have less distortion than ultra-wide-angle lenses, which can make them a better choice for certain types of photography.
Disadvantages of wide-angle lenses:
– Less unique perspective: The angle of view of a wide-angle lens is less unique than that of an ultra-wide-angle lens, so it may not offer as interesting a perspective as an ultra-wide-angle lens.
With many modern ultra-wide zoom lenses, you can zoom between the ultra-wide and wide-angle ranges. This allows you to “live” in both worlds, although you may have to sacrifice some light due to the higher overall aperture of a zoom lens
How Often Will You Use Your Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens?
It’s important to consider how often you will use an ultra-wide-angle lens before deciding to purchase one. While ultra-wide-angle lenses can offer unique and interesting perspectives, they may not be the most versatile option for everyday photography. Many photographers find that they only use their ultra-wide-angle lens for a small percentage of their captures.
It’s also important to keep in mind that an ultra-wide-angle lens should be just one part of your equipment and not your primary lens. It’s recommended to have a variety of lenses to suit different shooting situations, even if you love the look of ultra-wide-angle shots. For example, if you’re planning to take street photography with your Sony APS-C camera and the Sony 10-20mm F4, it would be wise to also bring a 35mm or 58mm prime lens to capture subjects on the other side of the street.
In the end, an ultra-wide-angle lens can be a great addition to your camera bag, but it’s essential to consider how often you will use it before making a purchase. As it will not be your primary lens, you should make sure you have a variety of other lenses to suit different shooting situations.
Tips and Tricks for Using Ultra-Wide-Angle Lenses
If you’re considering adding an ultra-wide-angle lens to your camera bag, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind when using this type of lens:
- Keep the camera levelled: To avoid distorted images, make sure that the camera is oriented horizontally and not tilting in any direction. However, you can also use the effect of tilted lines to draw attention to a specific area or composition.
- Use the wide angle of view: Ultra-wide-angle lenses allow you to fit more of a scene into a single image. Take advantage of this by including more of the surroundings in your compositions. This is especially useful for landscapes, cityscapes, and architectural photography.
- Watch out for distortion: Ultra-wide-angle lenses can sometimes cause distortion, especially in the corners of the image. Be aware of this when composing your shots and try to avoid elements that may appear distorted.
- Get close to your subject: One of the unique properties of ultra-wide lenses is that they make objects in the foreground appear larger than those in the background. Use this to your advantage by getting close to your subject and including more of the background in the image.
- Use a tripod: Because of the wide angle of view and the need to keep the camera level, it is often a good idea to use a tripod when shooting with an ultra-wide-angle lens. This will allow you to hold the camera steady and ensure that your shots are sharp.
- Experiment with perspective: Ultra-wide lenses can create unique and interesting perspectives. Experiment with different angles.
Why I Prefer Using Sony APS-C Cameras for Travel Photography and My Hopes for APS-C Development at Sony
As a travel photographer, the weight and bulk of my camera gear are crucial considerations. That’s why I prefer using Sony APS-C cameras for my travels. These cameras offer a great balance of image quality and portability, allowing me to easily carry multiple lenses without weighing me down.
I have been a loyal Sony user for many years, and I hope that in 2023 Sony will finally release a new APS-C camera body with improved resolution and state-of-the-art focus systems. Rumours have been circulating for a few years about the release of a Sony a6700, a6800 or a7000, and I am eagerly waiting for the announcement.
The Sony a6700 was announced in summer 2023, but to be honest the specifications are not as exciting to me to switch from my current Sony a6300. I was hoping for a real game changer and to get an overwhelming travel setup. Do not understand my wrong, I am sure the Sony a6700 is a fantastic gear, but it is not enough for me to switch from a much older Sony a6300 to it.
Instead, I started considering getting a Sony a7R5 (Sony a7RV), because with this 61 MP sensor, I would have the same crop 26MP resolution. And without an anti-aliasing filter a very sharp image. Now I am waiting for August 29th 2023 because this is the date the compact Sony a7cR will be announced. As for specifications, it looks very promising to me to get it as an FF camera, but for my travelling, I could use my APS-C lenses. In that configuration, I will also get the 26 MP as with a Sony a6700, but I could combine it if needed with FF lenses, as well. The Sony a7cR could be the sweet spot for me to pull the trigger. I do not need the best video settings, but a compact 61 MP camera would be lovely. Hope the price will be somewhat reasonable. I will give an update if I have to increase my gear weight with the Sony a7RV or if I get the Sony a7cR.
End of Update from 2023-08-25
In my opinion, the APS-C sensor covers more than 95% of the requirements for my type of photography. I can easily make adjustments to compensate for the smaller sensor size or lower dynamic range and still achieve the desired results.
Overall, using an APS-C camera allows me to have more shooting options while travelling, as I can carry one or two more lenses with me than I can with heavy full-frame cameras and lenses.
When it comes to travelling with my Sony APS-C camera, I always make sure to include an ultra-wide-angle lens in my gear. Over the years, my camera bag has evolved to include a variety of lenses to suit different shooting situations.
Details about my camera bag:
In 2014, I used the Sony NEX6 as my travel companion and carried the Sony E PZ 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 OSS and a Pentax 50mm F1.8 with a manual adapter. While the kit lens worked well in good light, I found its sharpness to be average at best.
By 2018, I switched to the Sony a6300 and focused on using only prime lenses for their ability to give me a good understanding of each focal length. However, constantly changing lenses can be tiring, and sometimes I miss out on shots because of it.
In 2021 and 2022, I switched to zoom lenses for their convenience and weight savings while travelling. My current travel gear for 2023 includes the LAOWA 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D, Sony E 10-20mm F4 G PZ, Tamron 17-70mm F/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD, and Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS. This fully covers my focal length needs from 9mm to 350mm and allows me to capture a wide range of subjects while on a trip. With an FF camera, I would have to limit myself to just a few lenses and often miss out on certain shots.
Overview of the changes in my camera bag:
- Sony NEX-6 (345g)
- Sony E PZ 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 OSS (116g)
- Pentax 50mm F1.8 with manual adapter (Weight Unknown)
- Sony a6300 (404g)
- Walimex pro 12mm F2.0 (identical to Samyang 12mm F2.0 NCS CS) [255g]
- Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN [405g]
- Sony E 35mm F1.8 OSS [SEL35F18] [155g]
- Sigma 56mm F1.4 DG HSM. [280g]
- Sony a6300 (404g)
- LAOWA 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D [215g]
- Sony E 10-20mm F4 G PZ (SEL1020G) [179g]
- Tamron 17-70mm F/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD [525g]
- Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS. [625g]
As you can see, I have always included an ultra-wide angle lens in my bag, but in recent years, I switched from prime lenses to more versatile zoom lenses that are better suited for travelling.
I had missed the release of the Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS in 2019 but included it in my travel gear in 2022.
In-Depth Look at the Ultra-Wide Lenses in My Sony APS-C Camera Kit: A Review
In “My Ultimate Guide to Ultra-Wide Lenses on Sony APS-C in 2023” I will dive into the technical specifications of the ultra-wide-angle lenses that I personally use with my Sony APS-C camera.
Sony E 10-20 mm F4 G PZ
The first lens I will be discussing is the Sony E 10-20 mm F4 G PZ. This lens was released in mid-2022 and is Sony’s latest ultra-wide-angle zoom lens for APS-C cameras. The PZ in the name stands for power zoom, and it offers a coverage range from 10mm to 20mm, equivalent to 109° to 70° of view. The lens is also very lightweight, weighing less than 180 grams. It is also weatherproof, making it a great option for travelling.
I purchased this lens during the pre-sale period in mid-2022 and primarily use it for still photography. One of the key features of this lens is its compact and lightweight design, which is achieved by not including an image stabilizer and having a maximum aperture of F4. While the F4 aperture and wide angle of view make it difficult to achieve a particularly blurry background, the detail is excellent even wide open at F4.
For my style of photography, the Sony E 10-20mm F4 G PZ is a great option as it is very sharp from edge to edge even at F4 and 10mm. I am a pixel picker, and I appreciate the sharpness this lens offers. The zoom range is also very versatile, equivalent to 15mm to 30mm on a full-frame camera. I mainly use this lens for cityscapes and landscapes, where an aperture of F4 to F8 is usually a good choice.
One downside I have noticed with this lens is its reproduction of sun stars when stopping down the aperture. It is not particularly impressive, but contrast remains high and internal lens reflections are well controlled. This is something to keep in mind if you plan to take a lot of photos with the sun in the composition.
In summary, the Sony E 10-20 mm F4 G PZ is a solid, small, well-equipped lens that offers good to very good image quality. It is a great option for those who prioritize a lightweight and compact design. However, it is not cheap and if you are considering the older 10-18 mm F4 lens, I would recommend reconsidering it as the newer 10-20 mm F4 G PZ is a better lens and a better choice for photography.
Sony E 10-18 mm OSS
I ordered this ultra-wide-angle lens a few years ago and my first test shots already showed severe deviations in the quality of my copy. My Sony 10-18 OSS showed a very uneven sharpness. Even in all real-life situations, this lack of sharpness was easily noticeable. Other users also reported this lack of quality on the internet. I returned this lens immediately.
In my opinion, I would not consider or recommend the Sony 10-18 OSS lens for photography. The much cheaper Walimex/Samyang 12mm “prime” delivers much better sharpness results. And since 2022, you have a great alternative on the market with the highly recommended Sony E 10-20 mm F4 G PZ (SEL1020G).
Walimex pro 12mm F2.0 (identical to Samyang 12mm F2.0 NCS CS
The Walimex 12mm / Rokinon 12mm f2.0 NCS Ultra Wide, also known as the Samyang 12mm F2, is a great option for those looking for an ultra-wide angle lens for their Sony APS-C camera.
The lens has an equivalent focal length range of 18mm and a fast aperture of 2.0, making it suitable for astrophotography, although the APS-C sensor is not the ideal choice for this type of photography.
One of the strengths of this lens is its manual focus, which makes it easy to use in low light situations, and the aperture of 2.0 gives you a very good sharpness in the centre of the lens, but the edges will show less sharpness. Stopping down to F5.6 or F8 will give you an overall good to very good sharpness from corner to corner.
However, one weakness of the Samyang 12mm is the poor production of sun stars and the considerable flare against bright light sources. It is also worth noting that the lens is fully manual and does not transmit any data to your camera.
Overall, for entry-level ultra-wide-angle photography, the Samyang 12mm offers great value for the price. It is a great alternative to other lenses in the market, and it is ideal for those who prefer manual focus and don’t mind the lack of data transmission.
Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D
The Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D is a top-of-the-line ultra-wide-angle lens designed specifically for APS-C cameras like the Sony E-mount. With a 113-degree field of view, it offers one of the widest angles available for APS-C cameras and is my king of ultra-wide angle lenses for APS-C cameras. This lens is very small in size, making it easy to carry around, but also a bit awkward to handle and to look at J. The build quality is solid, with a metal construction and a smooth manual focus ring, but it lacks weather sealing.
The image quality of the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D is excellent, producing sharp images with great colours and contrasts, and minimal distortion. The fast aperture of f/2.8 allows for great low-light and out-of-focus performance when the subject is close to the camera. Additionally, the aperture provides opportunities for astrophotography by capturing more light and producing less noise in the image.
For photographers looking for an ultra-wide-angle lens with minimal distortion and a fast maximum aperture, the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D is an excellent choice. It is a bit pricey, but the image quality and zero distortion make it worth the investment.
Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D or Sony E 10-20 mm F4 G PZ?
When it comes to choosing between the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D and the Sony E 10-20 mm F4 G PZ, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and specific photography needs. If you already own the Sony 10-20mm F4, the Laowa 9mm may not be a necessary addition to your lens collection. However, if you’re looking to capture low-light scenes or stars, or want to achieve the most extreme perspectives without using a fisheye lens, the Laowa 9mm could be a great option. It’s important to note that the Sony E 11mm F1.8 is also a good option with a faster aperture and equivalent focal length of 16.5mm on a full-frame camera. Ultimately, whether the Laowa 9mm is a “must-have” or “nice-to-have” lens will depend on your specific photography needs and preferences.
Sigma 10-18mm F2.8 DC DN | Contemporary (Update 2024)
The Sigma 10-18mm F2.8 DC DN has caught my attention as another exciting lens after the Laowa 9mm. Although I have not yet had the opportunity to test this lens personally, I have gathered information from various sources to provide a comprehensive overview. It is claimed to be the world’s smallest and lightest ultra-wide-angle zoom lens for APS-C cameras with a constant aperture of F2.8, covering an effective focal length range of 15-27mm (35mm equivalent). The fast F2.8 aperture improves low-light performance and enables a shallower depth of field compared to the Sony E 10-20 mm F4 G PZ. The Sigma 10-18mm F2.8 weight is 260g (9.2oz).
The special feature of this lens is its unique construction with a special aspherical element that minimises the overall size of the lens. With a minimum focusing distance of 11.6 cm (1:4), the lens allows photographers to explore unusual compositions and expansive backgrounds. Despite its compact size, the optical formula is surprisingly complex, consisting of 13 elements in 10 groups, including several exotic elements.
Reviews of the Sigma 10-18mm F2.8 DC DN | Contemporary highlight its good performance in the centre of the frame and at both ends of the zoom range. However, as I have not yet had hands-on experience with this lens, I recommend trying it out in person to see if it meets your specific needs and expectations.
Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN (not an Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens)
The Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN is a high-performing wide-angle prime lens, offering excellent sharpness and beautiful sun stars. Despite its weight of 405g, it is a great option for those who prefer to travel with a fixed focal length lens. The lens offers a fast aperture of F1.4, which allows for great low-light performance and the ability to create pleasing bokeh in your shots. The build quality is solid, making it a durable option for your photography needs. It is compatible with Sony APS-C camera systems and is great for landscape, cityscape, and street photography.
Additionally, it offers a great field of view equivalent to 24mm on a full-frame camera, which makes it versatile for different types of photography. Overall, the Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN is a solid choice for enthusiasts and professionals looking for a high-performing wide-angle prime lens.
In conclusion, “2023’s Top Ultra-Wide Angle Lenses for Sony APS-C Cameras: A Comprehensive Guide” aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the different ultra-wide-angle lenses available for Sony APS-C cameras. From the latest release of the Sony E 10-20 mm F4 G PZ to the versatile Rokinon 12mm f2.0 NCS, and the compact Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D, there are several options to suit different photography styles and preferences. When making your decision, it’s important to take into account your personal needs, budget, and whether you prefer a zoom or prime lens, as well as whether you require built-in image stabilization. If you’re looking for a compact and lightweight option or a lens with a fast maximum aperture for low light and astrophotography, there are now many great options available for Sony APS-C cameras.
In the end, finding the right ultra-wide-angle lens for your Sony APS-C camera can be a challenge, but this comprehensive guide has given you all the information you need to make an informed decision. By considering the features and capabilities of lenses such as the Sony E 10-20 mm F4 G PZ, Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D, Rokinon 12mm f2.0 NCS, Sony 10-18 OSS, Samyang 12mm F2.0, and Sigma 16mm F1.4, you can choose the best lens for your photography needs. Whether you’re looking for sharpness, low distortion, or a fast aperture, there’s a lens out there that will help you capture stunning images. With this information in mind, you’re now ready to take your photography to the next level.
If you’re interested in upgrading to a full-frame camera for your travel photography, my Sony a7R5 Odyssey article provides valuable insights and I am sharing my jouney through different camera systems.
I hope this guide has been helpful in your quest for the ultimate ultra-wide-angle lens. I am always happy to hear about other people’s experiences and recommendations, so feel free to share your thoughts and feedback with me on Instagram.
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