Wide-Angle Lens for Nikon?

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by oliviagreen, May 16, 2018.

  1. Hello Peeps,
    After studying and reading a lot about DSLR's and lenses, I've finally come to conclusion to buy
    Sigma 10-20mm 1:4-5.6 EX DC HSM for my Nikon D3200. I'm planning a trip to Europe and have a Nikon D3200 with 18-55mm kit lens. I know its great for landscapes but I do not want to be constrained by lens once I reach there since then there would be no option then.
    Just wanted to know if its the right decision. Also, read somewhere that there is no autofocus and it has to be done from the Camera itself. Need help on this too.
  2. Hi Olivia.

    Usual disclaimer: I have no personal experience of these lenses, but the 10-20mm f/3.5 doesn't seem to be that expensive; is the f/4-5.6 version actually still available? If there's any chance of using it indoors (and I can vouch that Cathedrals tend to be a bit dark inside), I'd say that an f/4-5.6 zoom is pretty hard to see through once you're looking through a pentamirror DX finder - I'd take the f/3.5 version just to be able to see what I was pointing at.

    That said... DxO has tested both of these on your camera. Their graphs strongly suggest that the slower f/4-5.6 version is optically much weaker than the f/3.5. That said, Optical Limits (Photozone as was) seems to have reached the reverse conclusion about the wide end - maybe there's sample variation.

    The Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 is also pretty well-regarded, I believe. It's about the same price as the Sigma, a little faster, but a little less wide. DxO thinks they're roughly equivalent, although the field may for the Tokina at the 11mm end and f/4 looks to be a step up from the competition. The 11-20 f/2.8 Tokina also looks good, at least stopped down to f/8.

    I don't believe there's a particular issue with the autofocus on the Sigma - HSM is Sigma's version of Nikon's SWM (AF-S). Your D3200 wouldn't get autofocus out of the latest Nikkor 10-20mm f/4-5.6 AF-P, though - is that the lens you're thinking of? Some reviews seem to like it, but that may not help you unless you're willing to use manual focus (with a dark finder view).

    Best of luck, and enjoy your trip!
    oliviagreen likes this.
  3. If you studied and read a lot, and reached a conclusion - do yourself a favour, and stick to your plan :) A lot of people will blindly recommend other lenses, without knowing how much you actually want to spend.... so, you run a risk of getting confused with all options available..... In short, there is very little wrong with the Sigma 10-20 f/4-5.6, and if the price is right, it will serve you well (as for the tests Andrew mentioned, note that most tests seem to prefer the f/4-5.6 version over the f/3.5 version - so, indeed there is sample variation).

    Anyway, two things are important:
    1. You need "HSM" on a Sigma lens; as Andrew notes, it's the equivalent of the AF-S designation of Nikon, and your camera requires this for autofocus.
    2. Make sure you get the lens well before your trip, so that you can test it and make sure it's 100% OK before you leave. Also, it takes some time to get used to using wide angle lenses, so practise as much as possible before the trip.

    And most important, enjoy the trip.
    oliviagreen and DavidTriplett like this.
  4. Let me add on to what Wouter said just with a general comment that you will WANT to spend some time practicing wide angle photography before your trip.

    Many photographers make the mistake of wanting to use a wide angle to "get it all in." Doing that usually leads to boring pictures. Instead, most of us who are wide angle junkies use the lenses to get "in the face" of the subject. A classic example is standing at the corner of the building-with your 15mm(eq) lens, you can probably a few feet from the corner and still have the building all or mostly in the frame-use that to your advantage to accentuate an interesting feature as the thing closest to the lens will "pop out" with a weirdly distorted perspective.

    In most cases, the key to a compelling wide angle shot is to get close-but that can also be dangerous if you're looking through the viewfinder while you're walking closer to something.

    Wide angles can be fun and exciting(I have several wide angle primes and cheap zooms so that I can be sure I ALWAYS have one with me if space doesn't permit me to bring my 14-24 2.8) but take practice to use right.

    Also, watch your edges! It's incredibly easy to get something unintended in the frame. You will be amazed at how much coverage you have at the 10mm end(15mm eq.).
    oliviagreen and DavidTriplett like this.
  5. My two cents - wide angle lenses can be very difficult to use properly. Just me, but I think your 18mm is wide enough. Why not something in the telephoto range? Something from about your 'normal' lens to maybe 200mm and you'd be all set.
    oliviagreen likes this.
  6. As an architect I frequently need to capture architectural features and interiors, hence the need for an Ultra Wide Angle (UWA) lens. I bought a used Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 II AT-X Pro for my D5100. Cost was about $300 US. It has proven to be very useful, though is certainly not the highest quality lens of this type. I don't have any experience with the Sigma lens you are considering. I echo the advice above about taking the time to learn how to most effectively use a UWA lens, before counting on it for once-in-a-lifetime images. They can be very idiosyncratic. For example, they are very sensitive to maintaining a perfectly level viewing direction, unless one desires extremely distorted perspective lines. Also, they are far better for getting up close to your subjects, rather than trying to "fit it all in". Your 18mm lens will be satisfactory for all but about 2% of likely subjects, but there's no substitute for a UWA when that 18mm is just too long. Take the time to use and experiment with a new UWA lens. Once mastered, they can be very useful and effective. Hence:
    044-assembly hall-sml.jpg
    Crab Pot-7336a-sml.jpg
    Good luck!
    oliviagreen likes this.
  7. I have the older Sigma 10-20mm. It's a swell lens and affordable too. Of course it is a "crop" format, which is why I also have the old Sigma 15-30mm for my "full-frame" bodies.
    oliviagreen and DavidTriplett like this.
  8. It would be great if you can point me to some of the photos you clicked from 10-20mm
  9. This is just a test shot, no art attempted or intended.
    Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM AF
    f4 1/160 Canon 20D at 10mm
  10. Some of his photos look a bit wide-angle-ish to me, including the one used as the main photo on the site.

    Others look to have a more normal perspective.

    One thing I will say is that he makes extensive use of high dynamic range. Also, to get the "cotton ball" water effect, you're going to need a tripod and PROBABLY a pretty strong ND filter. Your tripod is one place that you don't really want to cheap out, especially if you're after exposure times into a couple of seconds long.

    This photo below was taken with a Nikon 14-24mm 2.8 at 14mm. The Sigma you're looking at is roughly equivalent to 15mm on your camera. I was about a foot away from the fence, and in fact my feet were just barely out of the frame at the bottom.

    _DSC1617-1 copy.jpg

    As a reference, here's a(not very good) photo of the same general area of the same building. This was taken with a lens with a field of view similar to the 30mm or so setting on your current lens(75mm on 6x6 for anyone who actually wants to look it up-I'm too lazy to now). Comparing the two, you can see how the same little niche looks much "deeper" when shot with the ultra wide angle vs. a "normal" lens. Also, I hesitate to say this as I cautioned against "getting it all in" but the logistics of this location dictate that at least a moderate wide angle(~28mm or so on 35mm) is necessary to get a clear photo of at least a decent portion of this building. The ultra wides make it a lot more fun.

    frame 10 copy.jpg

    Here's another example from the same site.

    First, 14mm


    And again, "normal" lens

    frame 14 copy.jpg

    Both photos were taken with the camera resting on the rock wall, but as you can see everything has a very different appearance with the ultra wide-note, for example, that the distance between the rock wall and the front door seems enormous in the UW shot, while the normal lens gives a fairer representation that the road is about wide enough to park 3 cars abreast.
  11. Olivia, +1 to Ben's comments. Here are several more examples using the Tokina 11-16, mostly at 11mm on either my D7100 or D5100 (both DX, or crop sensor APS-C):
    Rte 66-6580a-sml.jpg
    In this case my left knee was touching the truck's bumper.
    Rte 66-6563-sml.jpg
    Here I was standing almost underneath the hook.
    In this case I was only about 20 feet (6 meters) from the bottom of the steps. The lens was pointed slightly upwards to get the full facade, and I had to use vertical lens corrections in PP to avoid having the building taper severely from bottom to top. I also used the same tool to remove a pincushion distortion and induce a very slight barrel distortion. On certain, extreme architectural subjects, a slight barrel distortion has the same visual impact as that achieved by the Greeks in their use of entasis.
    oliviagreen likes this.
  12. Yes, as someone else mentioned ANY off-level photos accentuate distortion. Sometimes you do need to tilt the camera up. At least the D800 has an in-finder level(I have mine set to activate with the DOF preview button-DOF preview is a function I sometimes miss but the level is far more useful to me)-I'm not sure if the OPs D3200 has any sort of built-in level or not. Whether built in or not, a bubble level that fits in the hotshoe-whether a separate two-axis type or a "bullseye"-can be a useful and inexpensive accessory. I have a Hasselblad branded Bullseye that clips onto the side of my 500C, and it's unbelievably useful(the little V on it makes it about $60 on the used market-a generic one that fits a hotshoe is probably 1/3 that new).
    oliviagreen likes this.
  13. Wow.!
    Pardon the trivial observation, but it is always interesting to get these comments from the photographer, when... sub 20mm lens are discussed.
    They are such an unusual view of The World. It never ceases to be of interest when a Guy/Gal talks about where they were standing and how Far/Close the things in the frame actually were. :)
  14. "I assume they've been taken from wide angle lens but not sure."

    - No. The pictures on that site look as if they've been taken with a slightly longer than normal lens, rather than wideangle. They certainly haven't been taken with an ultrawide.

    As others have said; super and ultra wides need practise. Anything wider than your 18mm can give very 'empty' looking shots, unless the subject is suitable and the camera is carefully positioned.

    Those Welsh landscapes rely on good light, and a fair amount of post-processing.
  15. Thank you everyone. Seems like I've been wrong, and probably should re consider about my gear upgrade. The thing is, everybody has a different taste in photography. For me, the images on Elliott J. Coleman Photography – Capturing the natural beauty of Wales pixel by pixel look perfect and this is what I'm looking for. It may not have a perceptive, but I find them beautiful. Now that I already have Nikon D3200 and 18-55mm kit lens, which other lens would be best for these kind of images? I'm not looking at architectural or building pictures, but rather mountains and seascapes.
    Also, I'll always keep 18-55 with me if I'm taking long exposure shots of waterfall, or mountains but I need to have a lens that can allow pictures of landscapes and mountains from a wide angle.
  16. From a quick look at the site, my impression is also that a lot of those photos fall into the focal length range that your 18-55 already covers. Some wider, some longer - but the 18-55 covers a lot of the "sweet spots". Probably more essential to get this kind of photos is a solid tripod (and maybe a ND filter for long exposures in daylight), more than a specific lens.

    But in the end, it is not just about doing exactly as some other photographer, but you have to go with your own ideas. If you feel the widest end of your 18-55 is not allowing you a wide enough view, then a wide-angle lens is a sensible addition to the toolbox. Just do not expect that adding a wider lens will give you great, or even just good, results from the start. They need practise and a good sense for composition. Still, if you feel you cannot get wide enough, getting a wide angle lens makes sense and will mean you start doing the practise, and get the needed experience to make wide angle shots work.

    Another thing to consider: the photographer who made those shots probably lives in or near Wales, and has plenty access to those spots. He will also have plenty knowledge on where to be, at which hour in which season to get the best colours, and most important the best light. It is, frankly, not very realistic to expect to get photos like this in a place you visit for the very first time. Don't take this as harsh criticism: none of us can pull that off easily. Being familiar with a place and having experience with the light and seasonal colours counts for an awful lot in landscape photography.

    Not wanting to sound overly negative here, but just to make sure you get the expectations right: getting an additional or different lens will not get you the photos as you see them on that website, and as a tourist, odds are you simply will not catch the right moment either. So, avoid making the decision to get a lens (or not) based on photos of somebody else, but rather go with what your own experience tells you: do you miss extra reach at the 18mm end, or the 55mm end? Go from there. And if you cannot tell for yourself what you find lacking, buy nothing.
    Except maybe a solid tripod - for landscape photos, never a bad investment.
  17. Thank you for this, Wouter. I am sure I'll not be able to get photos like this on this trip, but I did not want to be constrained on a trip by a lens that is not able to cover up the wide area that I want. I'd carried my 18-55 on my last trip where I did some waterfalls and landscape but realized that I was not able to fully cover the waterfall since the only place to stand was to close to it. I'm not sure what exactly a wide angle lens does, but the only thing I know is to take great travel pictures of mountains, rives and seascapes and I assume 18-55 would not be enough for it. Thanks again for your answer, helped alot!
  18. A wide angle lens is definitely just what the 18mm end of your existing zoom does, but a lot more so. A bit wider than 18mm certainly comes in handy - here's the Grand Canyon at (IIRC) 24mm on full frame (the view your camera would get with a 16mm lens). The lens I was using goes down to 14mm, but I didn't find that so useful for landscapes - it does stretch the edges out (unless you're viewing it with your head pressed to the image) but it's quite hard to get something in the foreground to give a sense of scale. For reference, here's an image shot at 14mm on full frame (about 9mm on your camera):


    Architecture is a little easier to justify - this and this were at 14mm. If you're planning to wander around churches and castles, there's definitely something to be said for a wide lens.

    I'll say that, in going up Snowdon, I have found (a long time ago) a 28mm lens on a crop sensor to be a bit too narrow in the past - I ended up composing a lot of things across the diagonals. 18mm might well be enough. Wales is... wet, though. I've been up Snowdon in beautiful weather, but also had a "waterproof" watch die through getting too wet. On the inside of a "waterproof" coat. Sometimes you get a beautiful view, sometimes everything is inside a cloud and you can only see a few feet, and you just have to pick another day. Gloomy can have its merits, though, especially if you're going down to the sea.

    Wales isn't all that known for exotic wildlife (it's not Yellowstone), but a long lens has a good chance of getting a red kite on the hunt, which is nice. There are some ospreys around, too, but you might need a really long lens for them.

    I'm hesitant about the tripod idea unless you're sure. They're a pain to carry, especially one that'll actually be stable in the wind (the inline image here is on a very flimsy tripod - I kept the camera strap around my neck in case it collapsed - but it was calm). I've carted one up Snowdon and never used it. It might work better at the seaside if you want a longer exposure.

    I'm a little unclear - is Wales actually where you're going? (Just Wales?) My sister lives in Llanidloes, and there are some other locals on the forum - we might be able to offer some tips!
  19. I strongly agree with Wouter and others. It's not the equipment, it's very much what you do with it.

    Landscape photography requires quite a bit of dedication, planning, and a modicum of luck! The equipment is secondary.

    I'd list essentials as: A good tripod (preferably also light in weight); polarising filter; 10 stop ND, or variable ND; ability to get up before dawn - that's 4 a.m. this time of year in Wales; patience to wait for the right weather and light; energy & stamina to get off the beaten track with equipment; local knowledge or a pre-planned location; map and compass to know where the light is going to be coming from and at what time of day; suitable outdoor clothing and footwear.

    All the above are pretty much essential, but in no particular order.

    Last on my list would be an ultra-wide lens. However, the ability to 'see' like whatever lens(es) you're packing is another essential.

    FWIW. I find the Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 lens excellent.
    Here's a shot of my old potting shed taken with it at 11mm. I beefed up the contrast and saturation to match what I feel has been done to those Welsh landscapes.
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
    DavidTriplett likes this.

Share This Page