User guide to Ultra Wideangle lenses for the Sony Alpha 7 series

super wide angle ultra uwa swa

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

Status: Sample provided by the manufacturer reviewed by Bastian, who bought one for himself at retail after that. Still often in use.

voigtlander_10mm_5.6

  • 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.

375g | $1300 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

buy from ebay (affiliate link)

voigtlander hyper wide heliar 10mm 5.6 stuttgart sony e a7 distortion stuttgart mercedes benz museum

Laowa 2.8/12

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.

laowa_12mm_2.8

  • 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.

640g + adapter | $949 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

preorder from kickstarter.com

sony a7 a7rii a7rm2 laowa venus optics zero distortion wide angle 12mm 2.8 fast coma bokeh mercedes museum stuttgart

 

Voigtlander 5.6/12 M39

Status: reviewed and bought by Bastian, still regularly in use.

voigtlander_12mm_5.6_m39

  • 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.

175g + adapter | ~$450 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

buy from ebay | Sony E-mount adapters (affiliate links)

castle mannheim a7s 12mm 5.6 voigtländer ultra wide heliar

Samyang 2.8/14

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.

samyang 14mm 2.8

  • 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

buy from ebay | buy from amazon (affiliate links)

samyang 14mm 2.8 walimex rokinon falcon

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.

nikon af-s 14-24mm 2.8G

  • 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.

1000g + adapter | ~$1300 (used) | photozone.de reviewsample images

buy from ebay | buy from amazon | Nikon-G adapters (affiliate links)

nikon af-s 14-24mm 2.8g antelope canyon

Voigtlander 4.5/15 E

Status: sample provided by manufacturer reviewed by Bastian.

voigtlander 15mm 4.5

  • 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.

298g | $800 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

buy from ebay | buy from amazon (affiliate links)

sony a7s milaneo voigtlander 15mm 4.5 e super wide heliar milaneo blue hour

Sony FE 4/16-35 ZA OSSSEL1635z-4

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.

518g | $1348 | full review |  sample images

buy from Amazon.com | Amazon.de | B&H photo  (affiliate links)

DSC07181

Tokina 3.5/17 SL

Status: used by Bastian in the past on Nikon DSLRs.

tokina 17mm rmc sl

  • 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

buy from ebay (affiliate link)

tokina 17mm sl rmc 3.5

Canon FD 4/17

Status: Used by Jannik for a short time in the past

17mm_a

  • 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).

360g + adapter | $200 | buy from ebay | Sony E-mount adapters  (affiliate links)

2016-08-23_08-10-56

Zeiss Batis 2.8/18

Status: sample provided by manufacturer reviewed by Bastian.

zeiss batis 18mm 2.8

  • 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.

330g | $1500 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

buy from ebay | buy from amazon (affiliate links)

carl zeiss batis 18mm 2.8 sony a7s astro astrophotography astroscape coma milkyway milky way star stars

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.

nikon af-s 18-35mm 3.5-4.5

  • 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!

385g | $650 | photozone.de review | lenstip.com review

buy from ebay | buy from amazon | Nikon-G adapters (affiliate links)

stuttgart weinberg rotenberg kapelle nikon af-s 18-35mm 3.5-4.5

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.

nikon 20mm 1.8g metabones

  • 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.

355g | $800 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

buy from ebay | buy from amazon | Nikon-G adapters (affiliate links)

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.
Canon_FD_20mmmf2p8

  • 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.

305g + adapter | $160 | full review | aperture series | sample images

buy from ebay.com | ebay.de | Sony E-mount adapters (affiliate links)

DSC01137

Editor’s Choices

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

voigtlander 10mm 5.6

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.

DSC07080

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.

DSC03669

Closing Remarks

Yes, we didn’t include a bunch of interesting lenses. There are a few reasons for that:

  1. 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 🙂
  2. 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).
  • If you own an interesting and/or exotic lens and you would borrow it to us for a review just leave a note.
  • It also helps a lot if you share this article on social media and with your friends.

Thanks!  Jannik, Bastian and Phillip

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41 thoughts on “User guide to Ultra Wideangle lenses for the Sony Alpha 7 series”

  1. Hallo Phillip,Hallo Jannik,Hallo Bastian.
    I like your site. All this reviews from older lens is great.
    IF You need a Lensbaby Fisheye for your Fisheye review,i would
    give it to you for the time you need for the testings.
    best regards
    Klaus

  2. As one terribly anal and miserly photog, I would love to spend some serious money on a superwide but can’t choose from this dizzying selection of glass. Will stick with my ‘wavy’ Samyang 14mm until the perfect superwide comes along – yeah, right!

    Great and clearly useable information – thanks for the hours you spend bringing such valuable insight to us all.

  3. “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.”

    Could You please explain this more in detail.

  4. Another heads up for the Tokina RMC 17/3.5.
    I’m pleasantly surprised at it’s usability. Far better than I expected. (I’m using it on an Infrared converted A7)

      1. Hi Bastian,
        IR A7 away at Kolari Vision for the existing IR filter (standard 2mm thick 830nm), to be swapped for one of their new “Thin” 850nm, Anti-reflection coated filters.
        Anyway, I only got the Tokina shortly before sending the A7 off, so I have only had a brief time to test it, during which it impressed me.
        It should perform even better with the Kolari “thin filter” mod, for better corner performance, plus their new anti reflection coating, making “hot spots” and other infrared flare issues, far less of a problem.
        Be glad to share, when I have some proper results.

        *[For your interest, my existing IR A7 Album on Flickr is here:
        https://www.flickr.com/photos/27297062@N02/albums/72157670965595765
        Plus some testing of the lenses I’ve tried, in this thread on Fred Miranda Alt. Gear Forum: (From page 2 is with the A7) http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1376190
        I mainly use OM Zuiko lenses from 21mm-100mm (the early SC versions are best for IR), and occasionally the FE 24-70/4, though without the AR coated IR filter, that does have a diffuse hot spot issue.]
        * As this is not really of relevance to this thread, feel free to delete. ;o)

  5. Nice review guys!

    Any news on when Voigtlander will release the e-mount f5.6/12? Would you do a comparison review of it against f5.6/10?

    Thanks.

  6. Thanks guys for this much appreciated article.

    I own the Tokina MF 17mm F3.5 for Canon FD with my Sony Alpha 7ii. Always stop down to min. f8 I am much fascinated about details and sharpness compared to the results in the past with my Canon A1 on film.

    However, I would like to know if and how I can use the LR profile linked in your article above. Are there more LR lens profiles available for Canon FD lenses?

  7. Hi,

    Can you suggest how to use Voigtlander Super Wide-Heliar 15mm f/4.5 Aspherical on Canon body.
    Any availability of a specific adapter to use this lens on canon 70D.

    Regards,
    Virendra

  8. hello guys, I love this article so much. I’m looking for wide angle lens on tight budget.

    Voigtlander 5.6/12 M39
    Samyang 2.8/14
    Tokina 3.5/17 SL
    Canon FD 4/17
    Canon (n)FD 2.8/20

    what lenses would you recommend for me?

    FYI, I’m gonna use it for landscape using Graduated filter

    thank you

    1. You need pretty big filters and a lens specific adapter for the 14mm 2.8 Samyang.
      You also need the filter adapter for the 12mm 5.6 M39 (which is quite rare), so you might want to settle for one of the others. If you intend to shoot directly into the sun when using filters also don’t buy the Tokina 17mm 3.5 because it is very prone to flare.

  9. Hello Phillip and Bastian,

    Thank you for this article, and your site.

    I’m looking for a wide angle lens, less than 20 mm, to photograph landscapes, with the possibility of using slot-in filter system, and less than ~ 600 €.

    So I think my best option is the Tokina 3.5/17 SL, but I’ve also read good things about the Carl Zeiss Contax T* 18mm f4. I like also the Voigtlander 5.6/12 M39.

    I already have the Carl Zeiss Contax 24mm f2.8 and 135mm f2.8 and i am very happy with them.

    Could you tell me which one will work best in my Sony A7R?

    Thank you very much in advance.

    1. I did unfortuntaley not yet get the chance to lay my hands on the Contax T* 18mm 4.0 but I would guess it will be the best of the bunch on the A7r.
      The M39 12mm 5.6 is not a very good idea on the A7r, the Sensor is least suited to rangefinder wide angle lenses.
      The Tokina has some problems with flare the Contax might not encounter due to the T* coating.
      You might also appreciate having the same color rendition in all lenses (I do), which could also stir towards the Contax.
      In case you buy one please share your experiences with it here!

      1. Thank you very much Bastian, you’ve helped me a lot.

        I think I’ll buy the Contax T* 18mm f4. I will share my experience with you.

        Your site is a source of inspiration!

  10. Hi Phillip/Bastian,
    I like your reviews on lenses, and I really want to get Voigtlander 21mm but the problem is I would like to use Lee filters with this lens, the problem is with lens hood, is there any way I can use Lee filters with this lens
    Thank you

    JAROSLAV

    1. To big to be used on E-mount cameras and flare issues like a lens from the 70s (well, actually the Irix is much worse compared to most legacy lenses…).

  11. what an awesome review, thank you so much for taking the time to educate us.
    i cant wait to see your reviews on the latest voigtlander lens
    and i seen some wide angle lens called irix 15 2.8 that claim to be awesome as well what are your thoughts on that.
    or the new batis.

  12. Hi, for the tokina lens that shown in your affiliate link, does that include the e mount or i have to buy it separately?
    And if so, do you have any information where to buy the mount?

  13. Thank you guys so much for this great write up. I have been thinking about getting the 15mm voigtlander. Do you know if there is a big difference between the emount version and the m version? I keep seeing m-mount versions used for a much lower price. Also I see that the current emount is version III. Do you know if this means they have updated the coatings? If I was to get the m mount version I could use it with a close-focus adapter (there are many cheaper third party adapters now). I have seen some images taken with the adapters and the added bokeh ability seems appealing for portraits. Phillip, do you have any opinion on the use of these adapters? Thank you!

    1. The optics are the same between the III-version of the M-mount lens and the E-mount lens. The older I and II version is a different design and won’t work as well on the a7 series.

      There is no reason not to use the M-mount version on a helicoid adapter and if you can live without EXIF information the M-mount version is a good choice.

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