Best ultra wide-angle lens for Nikon DSLRs: 8 tested

Ultra wide lenses to help you see the big picture

Best ultra wide angle lens for nikon dslrs  8 tested

Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM - £550/ $700

This is the widest-angle rectilinear lens available. Like all but the Samyang in this group, it's designed specifically for APS-C cameras, on which it has an effective shortest focal length of 12mm. This gives a huge diagonal angle of view of 115mm, enabling you to shoehorn in more of a scene.

Helping to deliver on the extra-wide-angle potential, the lens's front element is particularly bulbous, and the flower-shaped hood is built in. The lens cap fits via a secondary, circular hood, which also contains a 72mm filter thread around its front edge. The upshot is that you can only attach filters at the longest zoom setting, or you'll get extreme vignetting.

Performance

Sharpness is disappointing at the extreme edges of the frame, and at the centre at the largest available apertures. But it's quite acceptable between f/8 and f/16. Barrel distortion is also quite pronounced at the shortest focal length of 8mm, but is well contained in the 12-16mm sector. This is a good buy if you want to go extra large on your viewing angles.

Sharpness

Best ultra wide angle lens for nikon dslrs  8 tested

There's a lack of sharpness, especially at the 8mm end of the range, where you need to be between f/8 and f/16 for good results.

Lab test at f/8
Sharpness at 8mm: 1643
Sharpness at 12mm: 1763
Sharpness at 16mm: 1935

Fringing

Best ultra wide angle lens for nikon dslrs  8 tested

Performance is reasonable throughout the range. At mid to long focal lengths, fringing diminishes with smaller apertures.

Lab test at f/8
Fringing at 8mm: 0.28
Fringing at 12mm: 0.06
Fringing at 16mm: 0.11

Distortion

Best ultra wide angle lens for nikon dslrs  8 tested

Barrel distortion is clearly visible at 8mm, but drops off at 12mm, switching to slight pin-cushion distortion at 16mm.

Lab test at f/8
Distortion at 8mm: 0.28
Distortion at 12mm: 0.06
Distortion at 16mm: 0.11

Image test verdict

Best ultra wide angle lens for nikon dslrs  8 tested

See full res image

The Sigma 8-16mm really pushes the ultra-wide boundaries for a rectilinear lens. Ultimately, image quality is slightly compromised.