We summarize our experience with all the native E-mount and a few (manual) legacy lenses in the 10-20mm bracket to give you a compact resource for choosing the right super- to ultra-wide-angle lens for your Sony a7 cameras. In this summary we also included some adaptable AF lenses we think are worth mentioning.
We also have a guide to 21-35mm lenses.
We have no association with any lens manufacturer apart from occasionally loaning a lens for a review. Before any short introduction we tell you how long we have used a lens and if we have borrowed it from a manufacturer. But in most cases we have bought the lenses new from retail stores or on on the used market. If you want to support our independent reviews please consider using one of the affiliate links. It doesn’t cost you anything and helps us a lot.
If we have left any question unanswered please leave a comment and we will do our best to answer it.
- Voigtlander 5.6/10 E
- Laowa 2.8/12
- Voigtlander 5.6/12 M39
- Samyang 2.8/14
- Nikon AF-S 2.8/14-24G
- Voigtlander 4.5/15 E
- Sony FE 4/16-35 ZA OSS
- Tokina 3.5/17 SL
- Canon FD 4/17
- Zeiss Batis 2.8/18
- Nikon AF-S 3.5-5.6/18-35G
- Nikon AF-S 1.8/20G
- Canon (n)FD 2.8/20
- Editor’s Choices
- Closing Remarks
- Other Articles
Voigtlander 5.6/10 E
Status: Sample provided by the manufacturer reviewed by Bastian, who bought one for himself at retail after that. Still often in use.
- At f/5.6 most of the frame is pretty sharp, only the extreme corners are somewhat soft. Contrast is always high.
- You have to use f/11 for best across frame sharpness, the corners never reach excellent values.
- Almost no distortion, quite good flare resistance, beautiful 10-stroke sunstars.
- Small and lightweight, decently priced.
- Widest rectilinear lens there is in a small package. Downsides are huge vignetting throughout the aperture range and maximum aperture of only f/5.6.
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Status: Prototype provided by manufacturer reviewed by Bastian, didn’t hit the shelves yet.
Caution: what is written below might only be true for the prototype and I experienced bad corner performance with some adapters.
- At f/2.8 center as well as midframe region is very sharp, corners suffer a bit from field curvature. Coma performance wide open not bad, a little worse than Samyang 14mm.
- From f/8 onwards across frame sharpness was very good on the A7rII.
- Almost no distortion, ok flare resistance, ok vignetting.
- Mediocre size and weight, decently priced.
- An UWA lens almost without real flaws if the manufacturer manages to keep sample to sample variation on a low level.
Voigtlander 5.6/12 M39
Status: reviewed and bought by Bastian, still regularly in use.
- At f/5.6 the center is sharp but corners and also midframe region suffer from huge field curvature because of the thick filter stack in front of the A7-series’ sensors.
- When focusing at the center of the frame you need f/11 to f/16 for best across frame sharpness and the corners are still merely okay.
- Almost no distortion, fair flare resistance, not so well defined but okay sunstars, very high vignetting even stopped down.
- Very very small and very lightweight, decently priced on the used market.
- If you only shoot this wide from time to time and stopped down anyways it might be a good choice, as this lens will always fit in your bag.
Status: bought by Bastian, still in use for astrophotography. Bought and sold by Jannik
Jannik: Despite of it’s ridiculous distortion, this lens performs very good (especially for astrophotography) when you find a good copy. Something in this lens dissolves over time, therefore the performance has to be checked continously.
- Already at f/2.8 the sharpness across frame near infinity can be very good but mind a little field curvature. The contrast improves when stopping down to f/4.0. Coma correction wide open is also very good which makes this a great lens for astrophotography.
- Tremendous wavy distortion, I have yet to come across a profile which corrects this perfectly (PTLens won’t, all Lightroom profiles I tested – or created myself – won’t either). Huge vignetting wide open, rather bad flare resistance, 6 bladed aperture.
- Ok size and weight, decently priced.
- My biggest concern with this lens is the questionable build quality and the quality assurance problems. Out of 6 lenses I mounted on my camera 4 were badly decentered (of which 3 were new from different dealers). Focus scale is often totally misaligned. Front group is often a bit wobbly.
- Very good lens for landscape and especially astrophotography (the reason I still own one) in case you find a good sample, I will probably go for Laowa 12mm 2.8 or Irix 15mm 2.4 in the (hopefully) not so distant future.
570g (E-mount version) | $300 | sample images
Nikon AF-S 2.8/14-24G
Status: bought by Bastian to replace Samyang 14mm 2.8, sold because not fun to use on A7 cameras because of size and weight.
- Already at f/2.8 the sharpness across frame is very good at the wide end. At 24mm not nearly as good compared to 14mm, needs to be stopped down to f/8.0 for best performance here.
- One of the best performing ultra wide angle lenses for astrophotography, low coma and very low vignetting in comparison to the competition (less than 2 EV at 14mm and 2.8).
- Quite a bit wavy distortion you want to correct for architectural shots, mediocre to bad flare resistance (watch out for the sun outside the frame), 9 bladed aperture.
- Very big and very heavy, decently priced on the used market.
- Handling isn’t the greatest on the A7 cameras: you have to get an adapter to change the aperture and there is a slight slack in the focusing ring when changing the direction of rotation but size and weight are definetly the/my main concerns here.
Voigtlander 4.5/15 E
Status: sample provided by manufacturer reviewed by Bastian.
- Already at f/4.5 the center as well as midframe region is looking very good. Corners are ok, coma correction is pretty decent.
- You have to use f/11 for the corners to look best.
- Almost no distortion, decent flare resistance, very nice 10-stroke sunstars, but very high vignetting even stopped down.
- Very small and lightweight, decently priced.
- In case f/4.5 is fast enough and you can get by with the high vignetting very nicely balanced lens for the A7 cameras.
Sony FE 4/16-35 ZA OSS
Status: Phillip reviewed a loaner from Sony and bought his own copy more than a year ago. He uses it regularly. Bought and sold by Jannik.
Jannik: You can’t go wrong with this lens , especially at the wide end. Performs is best at 20mm, but is also very good at 16mm. Keep the field curvature in mind and focus carefully.
- At f/4 the center is excellent across the zoom range, for best corners I would stop down at least to f/5.6, better f/8 where they are quite good.
- Pronounced distortion at the ends, average vignetting and annoying ghosting for some scenes but fine most of the time.
- This is neither a light nor a small lens but it isn’t huge either. Build quality is good.
- A very versatile lens: It covers a very wide focal range with good optical quality and thanks to the stabilizer even on the a7 one can shoot before sunrise without a tripod. The price is significant but justified.
Tokina 3.5/17 SL
Status: used by Bastian in the past on Nikon DSLRs.
- At f/3.5 the center is quite good, midframe and corners are ok, also quite contrasty.
- You need to stop down to f/11 to f/16 for ok to good corners
- Wavy distortion (you can find a LR profile created by myself for correction here), as typical for Tokina disastrous flare resistance and 6-bladed aperture
- Very small, lightweight and quite cheap.
- This is one of the few legacy UWA that does not cost a fortune and at the same time doesn’t totally suck. Across frame sharpness stopped down is definetly usable and a standard 67mm filter thread is very nice to have on a lens this wide, but watch out for flares.
- The lens is rather rare and comes in different mounts (Nikon-F, Canon FD, a few more), don’t fall for the newer AT-X AF version which is optically worse.
305g + adapter | ~$170 | sample images
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Canon FD 4/17
Status: Used by Jannik for a short time in the past
- At f/4 the center is quite good but…
- … I’d recommend to stop down to f/11 for usable sharpness across the frame albeit it never gets tack sharp
- Very low distortion (the biggest quality of this lens, especially in the film era), bad flare resistance and 6-bladed aperture
- Medium size, not too heavy but a tad more expensive than the Tokina 3.5/17 due to the collector’s value
- UWA lenses developed very fast during the last decades. The age of these 17mm legacy lenses shows clearly when they are compared to modern options. Nevertheless, they are pretty usable if you give the files some love in postprocessing (removal of CA’s and sharpening).
Zeiss Batis 2.8/18
Status: sample provided by manufacturer reviewed by Bastian.
- At f/2.8 good to very good across frame performance even in the extreme corners. Coma correction pretty good as well (a tiny bit worse in comparison to the 21mm Loxia but visibly less vignetting).
- f/4.0: corners are now very good too, so stopping down further will only increase depth of field.
- Wavy distortion you want to correct for architecture shots, ok to good flare resistance, 9 rounded aperture blades.
- Quite big but very lightweight and also very expensive.
- High performance modern wideangle lens which is also very good for astrophotography but comes at a price.
Nikon AF-S 3.5-5.6/18-35G
Status: bought by Bastian and used for some time on Nikon DSLRs until 20mm 1.8G hit the shelves.
- Pretty good resolution already wide open, best at it’s short end.
- Peak performance is around f/8.0 for all focal lenghts, vignetting is quite good from f/5.6 onwards (less than 1 EV).
- Quite a bit non wavy barrel distortion at the wide end, much less barrel distortion at the 35mm end.
- Very lightweight and therefore well balanced on A7 cameras.
- Due to being an AF-S G lens the handling isn’t the greatest on the A7 cameras: you have to get an adapter to change the aperture and there is a slight slack in the focusing ring when changing the direction of rotation.
- The main reason I included this lens here: the flare resistance at the wide end is just stellar. At 18mm it is almost impossible to catch flares or ghosts and it even takes 77mm or 100mm square filters and is also comparably cheap.
- Don’t lay your hands on the older AF-D version, it is not even nearly as good!
Nikon AF-S 1.8/20G
Status: bought (on release day 🙂 ) and reviewed by Bastian, ended up selling it to fund smaller Loxia 21mm 2.8 with even better sunstars.
As this lens incorporates a floating elements design the adapter can have a huge influence on the corner performance.
- At f/1.8 the whole frame can be pretty sharp with the right adapter. A little coma in the corners. Bokeh isn’t too bad either. No visible field curvature. Pretty strong vignetting.
- Peak performance is around f/4.0, vignetting is much less pronounced. You can stop down for more depth of field or nicer sunstars.
- A little wavy distortion, quite good flare resistance, great minimum focus distance.
- With adapter about the same length as Batis 18mm but a little thinner and a bit heavier.
- Due to being an AF-S G lens the handling isn’t the greatest on the A7 cameras: you have to get an adapter to change the aperture and there is a slight slack in the focusing ring when changing the direction of rotation. If you can get by with this great value for the money.
Canon (n)FD 2.8/20
Status: Used a lot by Phillip then sold to fund the FE 4/16-35. Owned and sold by Jannik.
Jannik: A cheap and capable wide angle option. Contrast, flare resistance and wide open performance are not up to modern standards but at typical landscape settings, this lens delivers.
- At f/2.8 the center of the image is sharp but quite strong vignetting, busy bokeh, strong coma and soft corners limit the usefulness of this aperture.
- From f/5.6 it is good across the frame, very good at f/8 and for the very good corner performance you should stop down to f/11
- Some mustache distortion and average to bad flare resistance.
- Medium size and weight. Good price/performance ratio.
- All in all a capable landscape lens with some limitations for a decent price.
All of us have used many lenses and we all have bought and sold some of them for whatever reason. Nevertheless there are a few lenses that simply stick, so we decided to let each of us pick one of the aforementioned lenses and tell you why we like it and/or keep using it.
Bastian’s Choice: Voigtlander 5.6/10
In case you have come this far you might have noticed I have used (and still use) ultra wide angle lenses a lot and the possibility of using wider lenses was one of the reasons switching to E-mount for me. The Voigtlander 10mm 5.6 is the widest rectilinear lens available and was therefore a natural choice for me. I can easily oversee the high vignetting and the not-so-excellent corner sharpness for being able to shoot crazy perspectives like the one shown above.
Phillip’s Choice: Sony FE 4/16-35 ZA OSS
I always say that I am not much of a super-wideangle user and the only lens below 21mm I currently own is the FE 4/16-35 but when I have it attached to the camera it actually happens quite often that I end up using it at it’s wide end.
Jannik’s Choice: Sony FE 4/16-35 ZA OSS
Although I currently don’t own the 4/16-35 anymore, it was my favorite UWA lens for my FE cameras so far. It was surprisingly good at the short end and very versatile. Currently, I just use the 8mm fisheye when I need am extremely wide angle. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to all the new UWA lenses that are coming out this year. This will be an exciting time for all of us and I am happy that we have so many great choices now.
Yes, we didn’t include a bunch of interesting lenses. There are a few reasons for that:
- We have reviewed many lenses but there are far more lenses we haven’t reviewed yet and we prefer to know what we are talking about. So with time the list will grow, but have some patience with us 🙂
- We did not want to mix up rectilinear and fisheye lenses (we might do another article covering only fisheye lenses).
Articles like this require many hours of work. If you found it helpful, you can support us by:
- Using one of our affiliate links if you buy a lens (or anything else).
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Thanks! Jannik, Bastian and Phillip
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