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Wide-angle lenses—for Sony shooters and everyone else—represent an essential piece of kit in a well-rounded gear bag. As the name implies, wide-angle lenses provide a sweeping angle of view. They allow you to show more in a single frame without physically stepping back from the scene, which is sometimes impossible. Wide-angle lenses come in handy in a plethora of photographic situations, from real estate and landscapes to group photos at weddings. They can also help you stretch your creativity and get unique shots that wouldn’t be possible without a wide-angle. The best wide-angle lenses for Sony will help you capture anything that calls for that broader viewpoint.
- Best overall: Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM
- Best ultra-wide: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM
- Best prime: Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Lens
- Best ultra-wide prime: Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM
- Best for video: Sony 16-35mm f/4 G
- Best for Sony ASP-C: Sony 10-18mm f/4 OSS
- Best budget: Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE
Things to consider when shopping for the best wide-angle lenses for Sony
Zoom vs. prime
This is your first big decision. Do you want a lens with variable focal lengths in one package? Each type of lens has its own strengths and weaknesses. The right choice for you comes down to your shooting style, personal preference, and the type of situations you will use the lens.
Prime lenses offer a single fixed focal length. Because lens manufacturers don’t have to figure out the technology of keeping images sharp and consistent when zooming in and out, prime lenses typically offer higher overall image quality. They are typically sharper and frequently offer a wider maximum aperture than their zoom counterparts. They can also typically offer advantages in terms of cost and bulk. However, because it’s only one focal length, your feet have to do the work if you want to change the magnification level or perspective. You can’t twist the lens to get closer or further away from your subject. Prime lenses aren’t quite as versatile as a result. But, if sharpness and quality are key for you, a prime lens may be the best option.
On the other hand, zoom lenses offer a range of focal lengths in a single body. The amount of zoom you get varies, with many lenses spanning focal length categories. For example, a 24-70mm lens has wide-angle, normal, and short telephoto focal lengths. You can also find entirely wide-angle zoom lenses, such as 12-24mm. The plus of having a range of focal lengths is that the lens is more versatile. You can take one lens with you on a trip instead of three. But, as mentioned, they tend to lose out on sharpness and have a higher price point than prime lenses. For photographers who travel a lot or don’t want to keep track of loads of pieces of equipment, zoom lenses are ideal.
Wide, ultra-wide, and fisheye
A wide-angle lens is considered anything significantly wider than a normal lens. The category typically starts around 35mm. However, within this category of focal length, there are additional subcategories to consider.
Once you get below 24mm, you get into the realm of ultra-wide-angle lenses. Ultra-wide-angle lenses are generally necessary for real estate photography. They are also ideal for photographing vast expanses of landscapes or night skies.
Wider still, you get into the fisheye category. Fisheye lenses usually range from 8-10mm on a full-frame camera. They aren’t as versatile as other wide-angle lenses due to the extreme barrel distortion. Instead, they are more specialized, creative tools. If you want really dramatic images, a fisheye can help create that.
Getting a wide maximum aperture on a wide-angle lens is important for two reasons. First, a wider maximum aperture will make the lens better for low-light situations. For example, astrophotographers frequently utilize wide-angle lenses with wide apertures to gather as much light as possible. A wider aperture is also ideal for occasions like wedding receptions, which typically have limited light.
Second, wide-angle lenses provide more depth of field when compared to telephoto or even normal lenses at the same aperture and framing. If you have a wide-angle lens with a maximum aperture of only f/4, you may not be able to get as much background blur as you would like. Other factors contribute to depth of field, of course, but the aperture is an important one. So, if you like to shoot images with pronounced background separation and blur, you’ll want to be sure to get a wide aperture.
While telephoto lenses have their own type of distortion, wide-angle lenses tend to have more obvious and less attractive distortion. While it may not matter for some types of photography, avoiding distortion is extremely important for genres like real estate and architectural photography.
Typically wide-angle lenses suffer from barrel distortion, which results in lines appearing to curve inward. Wide-angle zoom lenses may also have pincushion distortion when zoomed in, but that generally isn’t as noticeable or problematic. Also, though not a product of the lens itself but instead the need to get closer to your subject, wide-angle lenses tend to result in perspective distortion. Perspective distortion results in things like stretched limbs and the appearance of wider faces. That’s why ultra-wide-angle lenses typically aren’t good tight portrait lenses unless you purposefully use the distortion for creative reasons. They can work for environmental portraits, however.
Distortion will increase as you get wider, so a 35mm lens will have less distortion than a 12mm lens, all things equal. So if you want a wide-angle lens but want minimal distortion and don’t need it for any specific use, 35mm might be your best bet.
It’s also worth noting that not all lenses are created equal. High-end lenses will handle distortion better, and it may be barely noticeable, even with an ultra-wide focal length. Cheap lenses can have terrible distortion, sometimes resulting in a type called mustache distortion, which involves both pincushion and barrel distortion and can be next to impossible to fix in post. If you need a lens with minimal distortion, it is well worth investing in a higher-end lens instead of trying to go cheap. I’ve seen the results of cheap lenses in real estate photography far too often, and it is not pretty.
Here are our picks for the best wide-angle lenses for Sony in 2022:
Best overall: Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM
Why it made the cut: This pro-grade lens covers a versatile range of the wide angle spectrum to keep you from switching lenses as often and has a fast f/2.8 max aperture.
- Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Dimensions: 3.5 x 4.8 inches, 5.4 inches fully extended
- Minimum focusing distance: 11 inches
- Filter size: 82 mm
- Very sharp even at f/2.8
- Attractive bokeh
- Silent autofocus
- Weather sealed
- Rather large
Sony’s 16-35mm f/2.8 is a superb choice if you want one wide-angle lens to cover your bases. The focal length range makes it ideal for many genres; it can be your workhorse of a lens even if you shoot a bit of everything (at the wide-angle side, of course). It provides plenty of ultra-wide range for large group shots and even real estate photography but also covers the more subdued end of wide-angles at 35mm for environmental portrait and detail work. You won’t have to switch lenses nearly as much with this option. And it has a fast f/2.8 aperture, making it useful for low-light situations, including astrophotography.
That wide aperture also allows for a shallower depth of field. Combined with the rounded 11-blade diaphragm, you’ll be able to get very attractive bokeh, allowing for portraits with good separation from the background. Two Direct Drive Supersonic Motors control the autofocus, which is essentially silent. The quiet autofocus makes it suitable for video, as you won’t be able to hear annoying focusing noises while recording.
In terms of construction, as you would expect from a G Master lens, it has a sturdy build with weather sealing. And it has a fluorine coating on the front element to help keep that clean and free of fingerprints and dust. Sony designed this lens with 16 elements in 13 groups, including two extreme aspherical and three standard aspherical, to reduce undesired things like distortion and aberration. As with any lens this wide, you will get some distortion, but Sony cameras automatically adjust for this, so you won’t even have to think about it. Even if you turn that automatic adjustment off, it is easy to correct in editing.
This lens has two main downsides: Its weight and price. It definitely has a G Master price and costs a pretty penny. And, weighing 1.5 pounds and measuring 3.5 x 4.8-5.4 inches, it’s not a small or light lens. Should you be in a situation where you need to cut back on your kit’s weight, more compact options are available, such as the Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T FE F4 ZA OSS. You lose a stop of light with that particular choice, but it is significantly cheaper and smaller, making it another attractive option.
Best ultra-wide: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM
Why it made the cut: With an ultra-wide perspective, this Sony lens offers truly exceptional sharpness and a faster aperture than most of its competitors in a rugged body.
- Weight: 1.86 pounds
- Dimensions: 3.84 x 5.39 inches
- Minimum focusing distance: 11.02 inches
- Filter size: Rear drop-in filters only
- Exceptional sharpness
- Fast aperture
- Fast and accurate autofocus
- Weather sealed
- Bulbous front element doesn’t accept filters
For those who need an ultra-wide viewpoint, Sony’s 12-24mm f/2.8 GM offers exceptional quality. As with all G Master lenses, it comes at a high price, but we believe it’s worth it. While other ultra-wide-angle options are available, they either start at 14mm or only offer a max aperture of f/4. That means you either lose a stop of aperture or 2mm of focal length. And although 2mm might not sound like a lot, it makes a surprising difference. It’s especially noticeable when used in smaller rooms. 12mm may be more than some genres need, but real estate photographers will benefit from the extra bit of reach this lens provides.
Any lens this wide will have at least some distortion, and that holds true for Sony’s 12-24mm. It is very well controlled, however, and you’ll easily be able to correct it. The same is true for vignetting. There is some darkening in the corners, but adjusting without extreme measures is very simple. Sony used its second-generation Nano AR Coating for the first time on this lens, and it does an incredible job cutting out flares and ghosting. It really is impressive how clear images are when the sun is directly in the frame.
Another exceptional aspect of this lens is its sharpness. There is excellent sharpness even when shooting wide open. You will see some slight softness on the edges at f/2.8, though that should be expected. Stopped down, this lens is incredible across the frame.
Of course, there are some downsides, though they are inherent to just about any lens of this type. The front element is bulbous, so you won’t be able to use front filters. But it is compatible with rear drop-in filters, so landscape photographers can still take advantage of those. It’s also a heavy lens, weighing 1.86 pounds. But, there simply isn’t another lens that offers a focal length this wide with an aperture as fast, and the sharpness outperforms pretty much any other wide-angle zoom. It’s expensive, yes, but it ticks a lot of boxes.
Best prime: Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Lens
Why it made the cut: This classic focal length offers a fast aperture and excellent sharpness with beautiful bokeh, all in a relatively compact and lightweight package.
- Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Dimensions: 3 x 3.8 inches
- Minimum focusing distance: 9.8 inches
- Filter size: 67mm
- Very fast maximum aperture
- Close minimum focusing distance
- Compact size
- Aperture ring can be de-clicked for silent operation
- Focus breathing is noticeable
A 35mm prime is a great piece of equipment to have in your arsenal. It’s a highly versatile focal length, which is why it’s the lens of choice for photojournalists, event photographers, and even family photographers.
While the 16-35mm mentioned above obviously offers 35mm, this prime lens provides a faster aperture and is nearly two inches shorter when the zoom lens is set to 35mm. Sigma also offers a 35mm prime with an even faster aperture (f/1.2), but it is twice as heavy and closer to the dimensions of a zoom lens. Sony’s 35mm is nicely compact and lightweight, making it easy to throw in your kit for a trip. It will also balance nicely on your Sony camera and work well on gimbals.
Though wide-angle lenses aren’t typically used for closeups, this lens can focus as close as 9.8 inches, which results in 1:3.8 life-size reproduction. It’s by no means a replacement for a proper macro lens. Still, it will be useful for getting those essential detail shots at weddings while allowing you to quickly return to taking portraits without switching lenses.
Thanks to the wide f/1.4 aperture and the 11-blade diaphragm, it’s easy to get background blur with beautiful bokeh. You’ll be able to get a nice separation between your subject and the background, perfect for portraits or detail shots. The lens is also extremely sharp, even when wide open or stopped all the way down. You can use essentially any aperture with this one and not worry about losing out on quality.
Autofocus is quick, accurate, and quiet. However, videographers need to be aware that there is noticeable focus breathing. On the other hand, a plus for videographers is that the focus ring can be de-clicked for silent operation. Although the older version of this lens–the Sony Zeiss 35mm F1.4 ZA–is still very capable and much cheaper, you simply get a lot more quality from this newer version.
Best ultra-wide prime: Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM
Why it made the cut: It offers an ultra-wide perspective in a body that weighs just one pound, making it lighter than any comparable lens available.
- Weight: 1 pound
- Dimensions: 3.3 x 3.9 inches
- Minimum focusing distance: 9.8 inches
- Filter size: Rear filters only
- Fast aperture
- Smooth bokeh
- Excellent sharpness across the frame
- Not as versatile as a zoom lens at this range
There aren’t many options for ultra-wide primes for Sony lenses, especially as wide as this. So for some, the addition of this 14mm to the G Master line in 2021 was a welcome announcement. While Sigma had a 14mm f/1.8 on the market for a few years already, this Sony alternative weighs almost half as much as Sigma’s and is also an inch shorter. Although the Sigma 14mm is an excellent performer, that size difference is a big deal. And, despite being an older and larger lenses, the Sigma and Sony are nearly identical in price.
14mm is a rather specialized lens and isn’t something you’ll use for every situation. But, there are certain applications where such a wide–and fast–prime lens is ideal. One such group that will benefit from what this lens has to offer is astrophotographers. In fact, Sony specifically designed some of the lens elements to improve night sky performance. Plus, the f/1.8 aperture and the wide angle of view are perfect for capturing the Milky Way. You’ll be able to keep a faster shutter speed to avoid star trails, resulting in stunning shots of such night sky wonders.
The wide aperture also means that you can get a shallow depth of field despite wide-angles generally being less capable in that regard. The bokeh from this lens is nice and smooth, resulting in very pleasant backgrounds. It can focus as close as 9.8 inches, which you won’t necessarily want to utilize for portraits due to the unflattering results of perspective distortion, but for detail shots of flowers or a wedding tablescape, it may come in handy.
Another perk of this lens is its fast focusing abilities. Sony put the focusing elements at the back of the lens, closer to the camera, and it can focus very quickly. Action shots of pets are a definite possibility. Focusing is also nearly silent. As with the other Sony prime we mentioned, there is some focus breathing in video work, which is a bummer. But, the quality you get in every other aspect makes up for that a bit.
Best for video: Sony 16-35mm f/4 G
Why it made the cut: Sony pumped this lens full of lots of video-focused features, most notably the lack of any focus breathing and the Power Zoom. And at just 12.5 ounces with internal zoom, it would be perfect for use on a gimbal.
- Weight: 12.5 ounces
- Dimensions: 3.2 x 3.5 inches
- Minimum focusing distance: 9.4 inches
- Filter size: 72mm
- No focus breathing at all
- Extremely lightweight and compact
- Lots of video-centric features
- No focal length markings on the lens
Sony definitely had video shooters in mind when they designed this lens. While it is a great tool for stills and produces beautifully sharp images, it really shines with video. For starters, both zoom and focusing operations are internal. Internal zoom is perfect for those who use gimbals because it won’t throw off the balance of the gimbal if you need to zoom in or out. The variable speed zoom lever also makes zooming easier while recording because you don’t have to twist your wrist around and hope you don’t bump something else in the process.
The internal focusing operation is extremely fast and totally silent. Even when it has to search for focus a little, which rarely happens, you can’t hear it. Perhaps this lens’s biggest plus is the lack of focus breathing. Because that isn’t present, videos are much smoother and more consistent no matter how much you change your focus.
Still images are very sharp, with the level of detail on par with much more expensive lenses. And while there is some barrel distortion and vignetting, it’s very easy to fix. The f/4 aperture isn’t exceptionally fast, but it still allows for a pleasantly shallow depth of field with excellent bokeh. It can focus as close as 9.5 inches at 35mm, so you can get some fun detail shots with this wide-angle.
Perhaps my only complaint with this lens is the lack of focal length markings. Instead of being able to quickly glance at the lens to see what focal length you are using, you have to look at the back of the screen or the viewfinder while zooming. It’s a minor annoyance but did cause some frustration. But, the low price of this lens, considering the image quality and features it has, definitely makes it worth dealing with.
Best for Sony ASP-C: Sony 10-18mm f/4 OSS
Why it made the cut: It’s Sony’s only native ultra-wide angle for their crop sensor cameras and comes in a compact body weighing only 7.94 ounces.
- Weight: 7.94 ounces
- Dimensions: 2.76 x 2.5, 2.87 inches fully extended
- Minimum focusing distance: 9.84 inches
- Filter size: 62mm
- Compact and lightweight
- Built-in stabilization
- Wide angle of view on a crop sensor
- Good image quality
- No weather sealing
Those who use Sony APS-C cameras–such as the a6000–have been quite limited in the ultra-wide angle department. Sony released this 10-18mm option in 2013, but beyond this, the only other options are third-party lenses from the likes of Laowa and Rokinon, many of which don’t offer autofocus.
When factoring in Sony’s 1.5x crop factor, APS-C users will have the full frame equivalent of 15-27mm, a versatile range. It will work well for some portraiture when zoomed in and is wide enough for real estate and astrophotography at the wide end. Most ultra wide-angles have a bulbous front element to prevent screw-on filter use, and though this one protrudes a little bit, it’s recessed enough that screw-on filters are still compatible. That’s a plus for landscape photography especially.
Sony provided three stops of optical stabilization (OSS). Since most of its crop sensor line-up doesn’t have in-body image stabilization, it will be a welcome addition. It’s useful for still photography as it will allow you to use slower shutter speeds without needing a tripod, but it is also essential for video work. You can get away with some handheld video with that stabilization, whereas it may be too jittery without it. And if you pair it with the a6600, you’ll get image stabilization from both the lens and camera for even smoother results.
The image quality is quite good, producing sharp results across the image when stopped down. There is some edge softness when wide open, but that isn’t atypical. At just 7.94 ounces, the body is extremely lightweight and compact. Unfortunately, there is no weather sealing on this lens, so you’ll want to watch out for the environments you use it in. Though this lens isn’t terribly expensive, it is a bit pricey for the category, especially given the lack of weather sealing.
Best budget: Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE
Why it made the cut: It comes in an extremely small package at an equally small price yet still has weather sealing and autofocus, making it an excellent buy.
- Weight: 3.02 ounces
- Dimensions: 2.43 x 1.3 inches
- Minimum focusing distance: 1.15 feet
- Filter size: 49mm
- Weather sealed
- Very affordable
- Extremely lightweight and compact
- Good autofocus
- Produces sharp images
- Has some color fringing and vignetting
Samyang lenses are often overlooked as quality lenses. But these budget options offer surprising quality and performance for their low price. This 35mm option from Samyang is a versatile focal length with a fast f/2.8 aperture which is useful in situations with minimal light. That wide aperture also produces some nice bokeh, especially from such a budget lens. It’ll be a great tool to have when photographing weddings or events.
Many Samyang lenses, especially on other camera systems, don’t offer autofocus capabilities, but this lens does. And, its autofocusing is fast and extremely quiet. You can use it for your videos without dealing with obnoxious focus noises. It’s also accurate, even when using Eye AF tracking for humans or animals.
Images from this lens are nice and sharp, especially as you stop down to the more narrow apertures. Unfortunately, there is a decent amount of chromatic aberration and vignetting, which does impact image quality. Vignetting is easy to remove, but removing chromatic aberrations can sometimes be more challenging. Still, it isn’t overpowering and doesn’t severely impact image quality.
The body of the Samyang 35mm is extremely small, being what is called a pancake lens (an adorable name, if you ask me). It sticks out just 1.3 inches from your camera and weighs a paltry 3.02 ounces. It would be a fantastic travel companion when you want something wide-angle but don’t want to keep your kit lightweight. It doesn’t have any weather sealing, which is unfortunate. Sony’s 35mm pancake lens does offer that, but it is quite a bit more expensive. Overall, you can’t go wrong with this lens for the price.
Q: What is the widest lens for Sony a7iii?
Q: What lens should I use for a wide-angle?
What lens you should use for a wide-angle depends on what you will be photographing. Different situations call for different focal lengths, even within the wide-angle category. For example, the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM will likely not be the best choice for photographing portraits at a wedding, but it is a great astrophotography lens. However, if you are looking for a well-rounded wide-angle option, the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM is an ideal combination of wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle.
Q: Are G master lenses worth it for Sony?
G Master lenses are worth it for certain types of users. If you are looking for the absolute best quality, perhaps because you make large prints and need exceptional sharpness, then the G Master lenses are well worth the investment. But, if you are more so a casual user or even someone who predominantly makes content for social media, the quality of G Master lenses may not be noticeable on the platforms you use. You can save yourself some money and go with either third-party lenses or the Sony G lineup and still get truly excellent lenses.
Q: What are 16mm lenses good for?
16mm lenses are good for quite a few situations requiring broad views. For example, real estate photographers will appreciate the ultra-wide angle for documenting interiors as well as exteriors of larger homes and buildings. Also, landscape and astrophotographers will benefit from such a wide angle of view. It allows you to show off vast landscapes, including the night sky, without having to stitch together images.
I’ve been involved in photography in various capacities for the last 15 years or so, and throughout that time, I’ve worked with many different lenses. Wide-angle lenses are some of my favorite tools for creating unique images. My bread and butter in the past was real estate photography, both as a photographer and the manager of a busy photography team at a vacation rental company. Those experiences exposed me to a vast variety of wide-angle lenses, both good and bad.
Image quality was the primary consideration when compiling the lens for this list. Aperture was also a significant factor, as many wide-angle situations also require a fast aperture due to limited light. Finally, I considered lens size, weight, weatherproofing, focusing abilities, features like focus hold buttons and lens markings, and price.
Final thoughts on the best wide-angle lenses for Sony
Thanks to its extremely versatile focal length range and fast aperture, the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM is the most well-rounded wide-angle lens that you can buy for your Sony camera. It will cover just about any situation that requires a wide-angle lens meaning you can keep from switching lenses as frequently. And the image quality is exceptional, allowing you to create detailed, crisp images.