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What ultra-wide angle prime lens makes a compelling case to you? Here are six worth looking at.
Landscape photographers don’t always prefer using prime lenses. This is mostly because of the versatility that zoom lenses offer especially when in shooting scenarios wherein moving closer isn’t a viable option. However, there are prime lenses that make the cut either as alternatives to zoom lenses or as additional options for when their unique attributes come in handy for the shooting scenario. Below are six notable prime lens options that you might want to consider depending on what they uniquely offer and how they fit your preferences.
1. Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 G Master
This recently released ultra-wide angle lens from Sony is definitely compelling even by the name alone. A 14mm wide lens gives quite a unique perspective with its angle of view while distortion is pretty well controlled. An opening of f/1.8 given this lens’ angle of view offers quite a lot of room for shooting the night sky for night-time landscapes, star trails, or even time-lapse. The Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM performs with outstanding optical quality wherein sharpness is fantastic. The only downside is the lack of a filter thread for common-sized circular or square filters, but it does offer the use of rear-mount gel filters instead.
2. Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 G Master
Definitely, a contender to the 14mm f/1.8 G Master is the next widest lens in the GM roster. While this isn’t as wide as the first one, it does offer additional low-light capabilities with an opening of f/1.4. If you’re not particularly after extremely wide focal lengths, 24mm is a pretty versatile choice. At the same time, an aperture of f/1.4 can give you cleaner night sky images as well as significantly good background blur in shooting intimate and uniquely shallow depth of field landscapes. Just like the 14mm, this lens comes in a very handy size and hardly significant weight. This one, however, offers the convenience of being able to mount traditional circular filters or standard-sized square filter holders through the 67mm front filter thread. Either as an alternative to heavier ultra-wide angle zoom lenses or as an additional option out in the field, the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 G Master is one of the top choices.
3. Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G
This lens is virtually a middle ground for the 14mm and 24mm G Master options. This super-wide angle lens released in 2020 is quite a popular wide-angle prime option not just for landscape photographers but for videographers as well. With the release of the compact Sony a7C, a lot of filmmakers, vloggers, and even travel photographers paired it up with the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G due to its handy size, the manual aperture ring, and its friendlier price tag of just $898. Among other options for landscape photographers, this one also offers the convenience of a 67mm filter thread diameter for use with traditional filters, just like the 24mm f/1.4 GM.
4. Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
This other 20mm option is also a compelling alternative to the earlier discussed 20mm f/1.8 G. The $1 price difference is virtually negligible that someone in the market for a 20mm wouldn’t even consider it a differentiating factor. This lens offers a bit of extra low-light performance with the opening of f/1.4 compared to f/1.8 and may come in handy for shooting at night. However, several trade-offs are present with the Sigma option. The Sigma 20mm f/1.4 is significantly heavier, coming in at 950 grams compared to the ultra-light 373 grams that the Sony 20mm comes in. The Sigma 20mm is also roughly two inches longer, which might be significant when bag space is limited. One significant difference when shooting landscapes would be the fact that the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art comes with a built-in non-removable lens hood and consequently no front filter thread.
5. Tamron SP 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD
Perhaps one of the less popular options from Tamron would be this 20mm f/2.8 lens. Introduced at just $299, this compact and lightweight super-wide angle lens is a compelling choice for a first-timer on a budget. This lens weighs just 221 grams and takes up 2.87 x 2.50 inches of space. This 20mm lens doesn’t offer apertures as big as the Sony and Sigma equivalents, but the f/2.8 opening isn’t bad either. It also comes with a 67mm filter thread diameter in front and a convenient 1:2 magnification with a minimum focusing distance of just 10.92 cm.
6. Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D
If you’re a manual lens enthusiast or one who doesn’t mind the lack of auto-focus, this lens is very well known for a couple of handy features. Much like the other ultra-wide angle options that this Hong Kong-based manufacturer offers, this Laowa 15mm f/2 lens is very well known for outstanding optical performance. Add to that it is guaranteed to be free from distortion, it is a popular lens for architecture and real estate photographers along with the brand’s other 15mm lens option, which is the Laowa FF 15mm f/4.5 Shift lens. This all-metal and glass lens comes in at just 500 grams, 2.6 inches wide, and 3.23 inches long. A 72mm front filter thread can also be revealed by removing the reversible all-metal lens hood.
Making choices in lenses should definitely be driven by logical factors such as image quality, angle of view, low-light performance, and ultimately, which of them would fit your lens budget. Each of the above-listed lenses either set the standard in quality or offer a unique feature or capability over others available in the market. There are definitely many more similar options especially from third-party brands such as the Zeiss Batis 2.8/18, a handful more options from the Sigma Art line, as well as some notable prime lenses from Rokinon. If you have any significant experience with any lenses you would like to add, feel free to tell us about them in the comments.