Cheap Ultrawide Lens for Fuji

If you are a family photographer like me, you are on a budget and can’t afford the best-of-the-best for everything. I would like an ultrawide lens (wider than 18mm (27mm FF equiv)) for my Fuji cameras, but can’t justify the $1000 for Fuji’s 10-24mm. I would also like to avoid the whole upgrade game, so what I get needs to be ultra cheap with juuust enough quality and function to get me by. This is especially true since I would only occasionally need the ultrawide to capture:

  • Wide low light action like a crowded event. You can’t shoot stitched panoramas in this situation since people are moving, so a wide lens then cropping later would work better.
  • Wide sunset/sunrise panoramas that require EV-2 to EV-3 to avoid banding AND don’t need to be ultra-high resolution. Plus, this helps avoid needing to correct panorama tilt due to being human and imperfect.
  • Occasional architecture and artsy stuff

The skinny (spoiler alert): Yes, you can find options cheaper than the $1000 ($800 on sale) Fuji 10-24mm and $400 Rokinon 10mm, but you don’t get as wide a focal length. The Rokinon costs half as much as the Fuji, but it is also about 50% heavier (Fuji 0.9lbs vs Rokinon 1.38lbs), and doesn’t have several features included with the Fuji.

The long story:

FYI Here is the difference between 18mm and 10mm.

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Simulation provided by Nikon Lens Simulator.

I also don’t need these to be tack sharp (yet). That would require the Fuji 10-24mm or maybe a Rokinon, so this seemed to open up my options, and this is what I found.

Lowest cost Approx
35mm equiv
Lens New Issue
$200+ ebay 16-27mm Canon EFS 10-18mm STM $300 > No manual focus <
$200+ ebay broken 17-24mm Tokina 11-16mm $480 Not the widest
$290+ ebay 18mm Rokinon 12mm $300 Not the widest
$300+ ebay 18-32mm Tokina 12-28mm $400 Canon Not the widest
$350+ ebay 16-35mm Canon EFS 10-22mm USM $650 Not as sharp as Rokinon?
$400 ebay/new 15mm Rokinon 10mm $400 Heavy (1.38 lbs)
$400+ ebay + $90 14mm* Nikon 14mm ED FF $1800 Requires reduction adapter (bad output)
$700+ ebay + $90 14mm* Canon 14mm FF $2000 Requires reduction adapter (bad output)
$800+ ebay/sale 15-36mm Fuji 10-24mm $1000 Expensive

*With reduction adapter (also called a speed booster)

Reduction adapters can be as low as $90 on eBay and over $200 elsewhere. I have also seen them for $60 online. The other non-Fuji’s need about a $10 adapter.

I’ve read very bad things about reduction adapters. Good idea, but the options have to be spot on for this to work and most of these are up to snuff.

Evaluation

At first glance, the used Canon 10-18mm off eBay is the cheapest with what looks like the most bang for your buck, but it is STM which means it has an electronic fly-by-wire manual focus which is only available if powered — probably a problem for most people using the lens with a non-powered adapter on a Fuji. The aperture is also not adjustable unless you also carry a Canon to do the depth-of-field preview trick.

People really like the Rokinon 12mm, but remember, the wider you get, those mm’s become more significant. Here is the difference between 10 and 12mm.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Simulation provided by Nikon Lens Simulator.

This leads to three 10mm contenders:

  • Rokinon 10mm ($400)
  • Canon 10-22mm USM (around $350-400 used)
  • Fuji 10-24mm ($800)

Rokinon vs Canon

Rokinon:

  • Brighter (f/2.8 vs f/3.5-4.5)
  • Has a steady aperture
  • And has a manual aperture ring

Canon:

  • Is lighter (even with an additional Canon to Fuji adapter)
  • and gives you more range if you need a narrower focal length.

Rokinon vs Fuji

Rokinon:

  • Brighter (f/2.8 vs f/4)
  • At half the cost, the Rokinon 10mm appears to be the widest bang for your buck if weight is not an issue

Fuji:

  • Legendary sharpness and build quality
  • Lighter (Rokinon is 50% heaver than the Canon and Fuji)
  • Autofocus.
  • Image Stabilization (sounds weird to have IS on an ultrawide, but I bet it is more useful than you can realize without using one)
  • and gives you more range if you need a narrower focal length.

 

What will I do?

I am on the fence on this. I prefer not to get a lens only to have to upgrade later, but I don’t know if I can justify double the cost. If used Fuji 10-24 went for significantly under the on sale price ($800) on ebay, I might have to just save my pennies, but I am definitely going to avoid the Rokinon 12mm not because it isn’t a good lens, but because there will always be hovering over me that I could have gone wider.

**update 12/2016** Still saving my pennies…


Also keep in mind:

Distortion can be pretty bad when using non-Fuji lenses. Some like the distortions as “character.” It is up to the individual to decide what they like.

 

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