The Best Sony Ultra-wide Angle Lens for the Money

I'm not a big fan of ultra-wide angle lenses. Shooting at 12mm usually requires that you get really close to your subject and create weird, warped-out-looking images, but I was recently hired for a job that required a wide field of view. I ended up buying three lenses to find the right tool for the job. 

A few weeks ago, I was hired to take photos and film a promo video for a new $12 million yacht. Although the rooms in this boat are gigantic compared to other boats, they are quite small compared to your average home, and to capture them fully, I needed an ultra-wide angle lens. But did I need an ultra-fast lens for this job? Usually, when you're shooting small spaces, you want a deep depth of field, so I probably wouldn't be shooting at f/2.8 anyway. 

When I started looking up lens options for my Sony cameras, I was shocked that there were only two lenses at 12mm with autofocus: the Sony 12-24mm f/2.8 for $2,900 and the Sony 12-24mm f/4 for $1,800. Can the f/2.8 version really be worth an extra $1,100? I also discovered a Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 for just $529. Why were the prices of these lenses so different? I decided to get all three and put them to the test. 

Sony 12-24mm f/2.8 Review

At $,2900, the Sony 12-24mm f/2.8 is one of the most expensive lenses I've ever tested. Build quality is impressive and the focus and zoom rings feel satisfyingly smooth. What you're truly paying for with this lens is sharpness at 12mm while shooting at f/2.8 throughout the frame, and this lens delivers. Although it suffers from vignetting at f/2.8, the lens appears to be almost just as sharp at f/2.8 as it is at every other aperture. As with all Sony lenses, autofocus is fast, accurate, and completely silent for both still and video shooting. For astrophotography, a lens like this will create stunning photographs at f/2.8, but for other genres of still photography or video when a deeper depth of field may be important, this lens may be overkill. 

Sony 12-24mm f/4 Review

Sony's f/4 version of their 12-24mm looks like a slightly smaller version of their f/2.8 version, but the build quality and the feel of the focus and zoom rings are almost identical to its bigger brother. At 12mm, this lens can produce great photos, but you will notice significant softening around the edges of the frame. This lens also suffers from vignetting at f/4 and will require you to stop down to f/5.6 to get a totally clean image. That being said, I'm not really sure these shortcomings would ever be noticed in normal photographs. In the real world, both the f/2.8 and f/4 versions of this lens created almost identical-looking photos and videos. If you're shooting something like real estate and you need the wide field of view but you don't necessarily need the extra light, the f/4 version of this lens seems like an easy choice. 

Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 for Sony Review

The Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 has surprisingly good build quality for its low price of $529. The housing is metal and the focus ring spins smoothly. The lens is surprisingly sharp at f/2.8, even in the corners, but it suffers from pretty significant vignetting when it's wide open. The images out of this lens looked surprisingly similar to the Sony competitors, but the lens has one major flaw. The autofocusing mechanism for this lens seems to "hunt" pretty jarringly for a subject. Unlike the Sony lenses that can smoothly rack focus, the Rokinon lens makes an audible clicking sound and jumps into focus. The autofocus seemed accurate enough for still photography, but probably not smooth enough for video. That being said, with ultra-wide angle lenses, the depth of field is usually so deep that autofocus may not be necessary while filming. 


Every once in a while, I review a product that is cheapest and also happens to be the best, but in the case of Sony ultra-wide lenses, I'm afraid you're going to get exactly what you pay for. The Sony 12-24 f/2.8 is definitely the best lens, but at $2,900, it certainly should be. The f/4 version of the lens is probably a better choice for your average architectural photographer, and the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 is a bargain if zoom and autofocus aren't necessities. Check out the video above for my full thoughts and sample images. 

Big thanks to Clickasnap for sponsoring this video. 

Lee Morris's picture

Lee Morris is a professional photographer based in Charleston SC, and is the co-owner of

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It's the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art for me.

You needed to do research on what mm lens is best for internal captures of rooms from those who do it the most. Astro yes 12mm wide is what you want for a pano looking 3:2 image. For inside work the 12mm makes everything on the far wall look to far away, yes a look you may want, and most everyone looking at the image will bring it closer to see something on the far walls!!! So what is the perfect mm - 16mm! Also a 16-35mm is the preferred, this will get a closer looking real world look as seen in person. Looking at your video the sides are wider than the far away look. The 35mm is best for the close quarters like a bathroom.
For super ultra wide get the Voigtlander 10mm f/ 5.6 and yes it also can be used for astro and little or no distortion at the sides, just for info used at Horseshoe Canyon while other stood on the edge doing pano's with wind. First two.
The new thing on the block is the 360 device another just advice!
There is one Sony lens made before the A7's but is really great all around the APS-C E 10-18mm equal to 15-27mm but with a little secret - on a full frame can be used 12mm to 18mm (if you remove the light shield). What it has is threads for a filter, super small, f/4 and OSS. Sharp, I used for several years doing Milky Ways BEFORE a 12mm was even thought of using my A7s. It looks like a old film camera lens. Last two
Also for indoor capture with outdoor looks most use bracketed 3 or 5 @ +/- 2ev (5 at +/- 2ev is great for blue hour, sunrise/set can also be done in video looking on a moving rail.
12mm is for up close subject with a lot of story behind, I call the peripheral lens - you hold your thumbs up out to you side that is what will be captured but you only see clearly at 50-55mm and an image at 12 you will scan with the narrow vision of the eyes anyway.
Another use for a 16-35 is for macro sort of but just focusing closely if need be. If really fancy use a long lens like the 90mm f/2.8 with a pano rig doing two or three layers bracketing each for the super detailed.
A lot is being done with the new A7RV and the Pixel Shift even hand held, but again 12mm is not for getting everything in when the subject is the whole room.
As a hobbyist I could have saved if I had only learned panos vs getting a lot of wide lenses.
If you are looking for fast glass at very low prices (glass never cheaply made) look at Canon FD lenses and the hard to find prism filters using a $25 adapter, for AF does not get it right always but focus peaking hits the spot always. They were made for 35mm cameras and lens corrections not needed.
And again Ah! The focus bracketing of the A7RV, have not got it to work doing macro but a room maybe but still extra work in PS!

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a 12mm lens will not make a room look different from another lens if the camera remains in the same place (and in the case of the boat shoot, I was back as far as I could be). A 12mm lens will simply reveal more of the room than a 16mm lens.

I just added the sigma art 14-24 2.8 to my kit, and it's my new favorite lense

I may need to do another review of 14mm lenses

Why not the LAOWA 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D? Suits perfect for the situation you described. And there is a reason the lens has "Zero-D" in the name.


Well... I have the sigma 14mm, f1.8 and shoot mainly landscapes with it. I never was in the need for autofocus. And I actually do not know any architecture photographer, who relays on AF. But your point: for a videographer AF is crucial.