A comparison 6 of the best ultra wide angle lenses for Sony cameras such as the Sony A7iii in 2021. All the lenses shown here are full-frame, with their APS-C equivalent focal length also shown. They’re also all rectilinear lenses, rather than fisheye, which helps with reducing distortion across the image which can often be a problem with super-wide angle lenses.
1. Laowa 4.5/11 (£765)
Standard Filters: 62mm thread but fiddly and can’t use step-up rings Min focal length (full frame): 11mm Max focal length (full frame): 11mm
Min focal length (APS-C): 17mm Max focal length (APS-C): 17mm Autofocus: No Min aperture: f/4.5 Weather sealing: No Size: 63.5 x 58mm Weight: 254g Image Distortion: Poor Corner Sharpness: Best around f/8 but not the sharpest
If the ability to attach standard filters directly onto your ultra wide angle lens is a priority, this is the only lens in our list that offers this facility – albeit you must use a 62mm filter and it can be a little cumbersome. It’s a neat little feature nevertheless, given how rare it is to find an ultra-wide with a lens shape that allows. Some others in this article do allow the use of gel filters, but not standard filters. The main issue we found with this lens, and the Laowa 2.8/12, is their quite terrible level of barrel distortion – you lose around 30% to 40% resolution in post to squeeze out an acceptable looking image. The lack of weather sealing could also be an issue for some, plus its certainly not the one to choose if you’re the kind of shooter who relies on AF. The incredible thing about this lens? Its size and weight. At 254g, it’s almost twice as light as the second lightest lens in this list, while the heaviest is more than three times heavier. This lens is also the smallest in size, as you might expect – for example it’s around a third of the size of the Sony FE 4/12-24 G. That makes it a dream when you want to take multiple lenses without carrying a ton of equipment. Nevertheless, the performance issues mean that, even if you’re looking at spending no more than £1000, we would instead recommend the Laowa 2.8/12 at around just £140 more.
2. Laowa 2.8/12 (£899)
Standard Filters: Won’t attach due to lens shape Min focal length (full frame): 12mm Max focal length (full frame): 12mm Min focal length (APS-C): 18mm Max focal length (APS-C): 18mm Autofocus: No Min aperture: f/2.8 Weather sealing: No Size: 74.8 x 82.8mm Weight: 615g Image Distortion: Fair Corner Sharpness: Not the best
Although you’re sacrificing 1mm focal length (full frame) compared to the Laowa 4.5/11, you are gaining more light with the ability to open up to f/2.8 rather than f/4.5. Barrel distortion remains quite obvious, though somewhat improved compared to its f/4.5 brother. Other performance and specifications issues remain, but for us, if your budget doesn’t stretch beyond £1000, this would be the lens to go for.
3. Sony FE 4/12-24 G (£1,399)
Standard Filters: Won’t attach due to lens shape Min focal length (full frame): 12mm Max focal length (full frame): 24mm Min focal length (APS-C): 18mm Max focal length (APS-C): 36mm Autofocus: Yes (with AF/MF switch) Min aperture: f/4 Weather sealing: Slight Size: 87 x 117.4 mm Weight: 565g Image Distortion: Almost unnoticeable and easily fixed in post Corner Sharpness: Extremely sharp especially around f/8 18mm but less so at 12mm
For us, image quality is one of the biggest considerations and that’s where the two Sony super wides come into play. They’re pricier than the other lenses in this article, but with good reason. With this f/4 G, barrel distortion is very minimal and easily fixable in post. Sharpness is extremely impressive, albeit not so great down at 12mm focal length, but overall very good throughout its range, particularly so around 18mm at f/8. We love this Sony G lens. The main drawback being it suffers from noticeable chromatic aberration (colour fringing) in high contrast areas such as around tree branches against the sky. Switching between auto and manual focus can be done easily with a switch on the side of the lens.
4. Sony FE 2.8/12-24 GM (£2,899)
Standard Filters: Won’t attach due to lens shape Min focal length (full frame): 12mm Max focal length (full frame): 24mm Min focal length (APS-C): 18mm Max focal length (APS-C): 36mm Autofocus: Yes (with AF/MF switch)
Min aperture: f/2.8 Weather sealing: Yes – dust and moisture sealed Size: 97.6mm x 137mm Weight: 847g Image Distortion: Excellent – no visible distortion Corner Sharpness: Plenty sharp even at f/2.8 This G-Master version from Sony offers an extra stop of light (down to f/2.8) compared to its G f/4 equivalent, as well as improved weather sealing. It’s also even more impressive for image quality with no visible barrel distortion (a big plus) and incredible sharpness throughout the image. It’s plenty sharp at f/2.8, and even sharper around f/8. However, at more than double the price of the other Sony, you’re going to want more justification for spending so much. Unfortunately, you don’t really get it. This G-Master is bigger and around 1.5x heavier. Plus, the extra stop of light would mainly be a big benefit if you wanted a shallower depth of field, but rarely is that going to be the case when your subject is clearly big or wide enough for you to be requiring an ultra wide lens. The only time that’s really going to come into play is if you’re planning on using your ultra wide in dark environments, particularly if you’re into astrophotography. So, it comes down to how you plan to use your ultra wide, but also whether you have an extra £1500 to chuck at this. If you feel the extra stop of light and marginally improved image quality compared to the Sony F/4 G are beneficial enough for your purposes to justify the extra money, then go for this.
5. Samyang 2.8/14 AF (£529)
Standard Filters: Won’t attach due to lens shape Min focal length (full frame): 14mm Max focal length (full frame): 14mm Min focal length (APS-C): 21mm Max focal length (APS-C): 21mm Autofocus: Yes Min aperture: f/2.8 Size: 97.5mm length Weight: 500g Image Distortion: Poor – very obvious Corner Sharpness: Not good even at f/8
This Samyang AF is an interesting one. It costs far less than the two Sony’s, while still offering auto focus, a minimum aperture of f/2.8, and its lighter than either of them. However, that’s pretty much where the benefits end. It’s less flexible, being fixed at 14mm focal length (full frame), the AF/MF switch must be done in-camera, and there is no built-in image stabilisation. Ok, fair enough, it is a lot less expensive, so you wouldn’t expect it to compete with the Sony’s particularly well. Surely, however, it’s better than the two manual-focus Laowa lenses? Wrong. The barrel distortion on this Samyang is extremely obvious, which made it unusable for us – maybe it wouldn’t matter if you were deliberately going for a distorted look, but such situations would be very rare. Corner sharpness is also a problem, even at F/8 around where you’d expect it to perform best, it’s still pretty terrible. Again, price is a key factor, and if your budget is under £1000, this might be one to consider if AF is a priority for you – otherwise, go for the Laowa 2.8.
6. Sigma Art 2.8/14-24 DG DN (£1,120)
Standard Filters: Won’t attach due to lens shape Min focal length (full frame): 14mm Max focal length (full frame): 24mm Min focal length (APS-C): 21mm Max focal length (APS-C): 36mm Autofocus: Yes (with AF/MF switch) Min aperture: f/2.8 Weather sealing: A rubber grommet at the mount, plus further weather-sealing Size: 85x131mm Weight: 795g Image Distortion: Noticeable, but correctable in post Corner Sharpness: Very good across all focal lengths even at f/2.8 Hmm. Interesting. You get the extra stop of light as with the Sony G-Master, but lose 2mm focal length as with the Sony G. So, again, which is your priority? For us, it would be the extra focal length that matters most, in which case this Sigma lens becomes irrelevant unless you’re quibbling over less than £300 difference with the better Sony G. It does however become an interesting alternative for astrophotographers (or those who prefer extra light for some other reason), as this Sigma offers a huge saving compared to the Sony f/2.8 G-Master. In fact it would be very difficult to justify spending around £1900 more on the G-Master, given that this Sigma Art is slightly lighter, offers auto focus, has very good corner sharpness right down to f/2.8 at all focal lengths, and has very good weather sealing. The G-Master is much better for concerns about barrel distortion, though, and of course has the extra 2mm focal length out to 12mm.
Our choice is number three, the Sony FE 4/12-24 G. You’d spend around £1,500 more to get its f/2.8 G-Master brother – and that price gap is hard to justify when, realistically, you’re rarely going to need that extra stop of light from when you’re capturing subjects that are large enough to require an ultra-wide angle lens. The main benefit of being able to go down to f/2.8 would be to obtain an even shallower depth of field, but f/4 is perfectly ample in 99% of situations, unless you’re into astrophotography. At around £1400, the Sony FE 4/12-24 G isn’t the cheapest on this list by any means, but its balance of performance, specification and price mean it wins this battle in our eyes. There are other benefits of the f/2.8 G-Master, such as the ability to use gel filters, its better weather sealing, and its slightly improved image quality. So if you have the money, go for it. But for those of us without extra deep pockets, the Sony f/4 is beyond adequate. It’s only marginally less sharp in the corners than the G-Master, while the difference in barrel distortion is negligible. You shouldn’t have any concern over distortion with the Sony f/4 and indeed it’s far less of an issue compared to some of the cheaper lenses shown in this article. We wouldn’t recommend trying to save money with those cheaper lenses – our verdict would be to say that, if you don’t have £1400 to spend on an ultra wide, consider buying the Sony FE 4/12-24 G second hand.
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Prices are approx. based on internet searches at January 2021 and excluding grey market sellers.