- Wide-angle lenses offer immersive quality, ideal for capturing interiors, landscapes, and action shots.
- The Nikon D5300’s kit lens is a starting point, but there are superior wide-angle alternatives.
- Nikon AF-P 10-20mm ƒ/4.5-5.6G VR combines a very wide perspective, zoom, very good optics, being budget-friendly, and has vibration reduction for steady images.
- Sigma 10-20mm Wide-Angle Zoom offers super-wide focal length at competitive prices.
- Tokina atx-i 11-16mm ƒ/2.8 CF Ultra-Wide Zoom has a fast aperture and is affordably priced.
- Nikon 10.5mm ƒ/2.8 Fisheye lens creates dramatic, unique perspectives, suitable for interiors and close action.
- The Nikon D5300 uses F-mount lenses and has a DX sensor.
If you’ve spent any time on this site, you might have noticed that I’m a big fan of wide-angle lenses. And I find myself using them probably more than any other lens category.
I like their immersive quality. They can take you inside a place or inside the action, whether that’s the interior of some magnificent cathedral or mosque, a bustling market, or sports action.
I like that they can often be used in lower light than longer focal lengths because they’re less susceptible to camera shake.
And I like that wide-angle lenses encourage you to get in close, giving a much more connected and immersive feel to the image.
I like that they can be more forgiving for focus, with a naturally deeper depth of field.
For all these reasons, wide-angle lenses probably spend more time on my camera than any other type.
The D5300’s kit lens is a good starting point for most people, but if you want to get different kinds of shots from your camera then it might be worth looking into some extra lenses. If you’re looking to expand your lens selection to include a wide-angle lens for your Nikon D5300, below are some practical recommendations for some good options to consider.
Wide-Angle Lens Strengths & Weaknesses
There are some things that wide-angle lenses are particularly good for:
- Adding drama to a scene
- Adding broad context to a subject
- Capturing the grand, whether that’s a man-made interior or a natural scene
- Landscape photography
- Architectural photography
- Travel photography
But there are also things that wide-angle lenses are not well-suited to:
- Closely-cropped portraits. That’s not to say that wide-angle lenses can’t be used for portraits–they’re excellent for environmental portraits, where you want to capture other aspects of the location to help tell the story. Think of a doctor in a hospital setting, or a welder in her workshop, or a painter in his studio, and so on. But they’re not good for a conventional headshots (as always in photography, there are exceptions. A good example is the portraiture of Platon Antoniou).
- Wildlife. It’s often not possible or desirable to get close to wildlife. You probably wouldn’t take only a wide-angle lens on safari, for example. (Again, there are always exceptions: example 1; example 2).
And there are obviously qualifications and exceptions. For example, an ultra-wide fisheye lens, would be a pretty unconventional choice for traditional architectural photography, mainly because of the heavy distortion they have that will bend most of the straight lines and create dramatic angles. For that, a more traditional choice would be a perspective-control lens (which can still be wide-angle).
About These Recommendations
Before we get down to the specific recommendations, first I want to clarify what these recommendations are and what they aren’t.
I’m not trying to provide a comprehensive list of every wide-angle lens that’s compatible with the Nikon D5300. There are plenty of other lenses that will also work well, especially when you start broadening your criteria to include older model lenses and manual-focus lenses. And there are some newer manual-focus lenses that are especially good as cinematic lenses for video shooting. But here I’m emphasizing auto-focus lenses here that are readily available in stores and that are well-suited to shooting photos.
Nor am I going to recommend super-expensive lenses that, while they’ll work well, aren’t a logical pairing with the Nikon D5300. Sure, you can put a $2000 FX lens on a D5300, but that’s going to be a less common combination for most photographers.
So what is a wide-angle lens? The threshold for what makes a lens wide-angle is somewhat subjective.
You could argue, for instance, that the 18-55mm kit lens that often comes with the D5300 is a wide-angle. When it’s zoomed out to 18mm (which is 27mm on a full-frame sensor) it is respectably wide. But I’m focusing on here not so much on replacing that 18-55mm, but rather on lenses that offer something different from the 18-55mm so that you can get different kinds of shots. Nikon’s 16-85mm, for instance, would give you slightly more reach on both ends of the zoom as well as better image quality (it has better optics), but it’s not going to be a huge difference–particularly on the wide end–from the 18-55mm. So it would make for an excellent upgrade from the 18-55mm in terms of quality, but it’s not going to give you a dramatically wider view.
I tend to think of the threshold between wide and “normal” around 30-35mm (in 35mm equivalent). Lenses in the 40mm to 60mm range–and especially the renowned nifty-fifty (50mm) focal length—are often considered “normal” perspective. Once you start getting into 85mm and 100mm focal lengths, you’re well on the way into telephoto range.
Sigma 10-20mm Wide-Angle Zoom
Sigma’s 10-20mm lenses have been very popular for a long time now. And for good reason. They were among the first lenses to bring in a super-wide focal length at very competitive pricing. They’re also small, compact, and well-built.
- Ultra wide-angle of view with large maximum aperture of F3.5
- Sharp images with high contrast and superior peripheral brightness
On a Nikon D5300, the 10-20mm is the equivalent of a 15-30 on a full-frame camera. Which is a very wide lens.
And it has aspherical elements. What that means is that you don’t get the heavy lens distortion that you get with a similar focal length in a fisheye lens (see below). So lines stay straight, including horizons. You do, however, get quite a lot of stretching around the edges, but that’s something you can factor into your framing and even exaggerate it, if you wish.
Find them at:
Alternative: Sigma has made two 10-20mm lenses for Nikon DX cameras. The newer, slightly improved one is has a constant maximum aperture of ƒ/3.5 through the zoom range (Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM). There’s also an older and slightly slower ƒ/4-5.6 version (Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX D DC HSM) which has long been discontinued but still turns up used, and is also a good option.
Here are some photos I’ve taken with the Sigma 10-20mm on various Nikon DX bodies to give a sense of the kinds of perspective you can expect.
Nikon AF-P 10-20mm ƒ/4.5-5.6G VR
This super-wide zoom lens from Nikon is unusually affordable. Like the Sigma 10-20mm, it has aspherical elements but essentially the same super-wide view.
- Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Zoom Lens - LC-72 72mm Snap-On Front Lens Cap - LF-4 Rear Lens...
- Ultra-wide-angle view that surpasses any kit lens and lets you get creative with composition
Two features separate this version from the Sigma–one is a plus, and one is a negative.
On the negative side, this lens is slower. The Sigma has a constant ƒ/3.5 maximum aperture through the zoom range. That means that the maximum aperture is ƒ/3.5 whether you’re fully zoomed in or fully zoomed out.
The Nikon version has a maximum aperture of ƒ/4.5-5.6, What that means is that when you’re fully zoomed out, the aperture if ƒ/4.5, while when you’re fully zoomed in, the maximum aperture is ƒ/5.6. By itself, that would make this lens less suited to low-light shooting than the Sigma.
But then there’s the other feature: the Nikon lens has vibration reduction, which means that you can get an extra 2-3 stops without shaking ruining the photo. Vibration reduction, or VR, is pretty unusual on lenses this wide, and especially on ones at a low price point like this one. But it’s an especially useful feature to have, especially for something like travel photography.
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Alternative: Another good option is Nikon’s 10-24mm ƒ/3.5-4.5. It has slightly more on the zoomed-in end, has the same maximum aperture, doesn’t have vibration reduction, and yet is more expensive. But what you’re paying for here is an optically better lens, which translates to sharper images across more of the frame and less lens flare.
Third-party manufacturer Tamron also has their own version of this lens, which is significantly cheaper than the Nikon version.
Tokina atx-i 11-16mm ƒ/2.8 CF Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens
Tokina isn’t a brand that has the marketing budget of some of the better-known brands, but this lens has long stood out in their range.
It has an ultra-wide 11-16mm perspective, and it’s fast, with a maximum aperture of ƒ/2.8 (and a minimum of ƒ/22). Aspherical elements help minimize lens distortions. And with an MSRP of $349, it’s very affordably priced.
If you’re after a shade more flexibility, there’s also the Tokina atx-i 11-20mm ƒ/2.8 CF (not to be confused with the Cinema version, which is a very different lens at a much higher price point). It’s more expensive and also bigger and heavier.
Check current price and availability at:
- New design & lens coating for better perfromances
- Item Package Quantity: 1
Nikon 10.5mm Fisheye
A fisheye is a special kind of wide-angle lens. It combines a super-wide perspective with heavy lens distortion.
It’s a niche look, and these are considered specialty lenses. It’s a very dramatic look, and it’s also easy to overdo. But it can also be a lot of fun and create some really unique and unusual perspectives. We’ve become more conditioned in recent years to the fisheye look thanks to the widespread use of it on GoPro and action camera videos.
- Lens not zoomable
- DX-Nikkor reduces the diameter of the lens' image circle, allowing a range of lenses with practical size...
Nikon’s 10.5mm fisheye is small and compact. There’s no zoom–most (but not all) fisheye lenses don’t have zoom.
But there’s also an important caveat to note when using this lens on this camera. And that is because the lens doesn’t have its own built-in autofocus motor–nor does the D5300 body–the autofocus will not work with this combination. You can still use the lens on this camera, but it will be manual focus and manual control. At the same time, the lack of autofocus is not as much of a dealbreaker on a fisheye lens because of the extraordinarily deep depth of field that ultra-wide fisheye focal lengths have naturally. This fisheye lens isn’t a fixed-focus lens, but it’s surprisingly easy to keep the subjects in focus.
Fisheye lenses are especially good for:
- grand interiors
- close quarters
- dramatic distortion
- close action
- immersive perspective
For a specialty lens that’s relatively fast (maximum aperture of f/2.8), the Nikon 10.5mm is reasonably priced. It’s small and light and doesn’t take up much space in the camera bag.
You can find them at:
But it’s also one of those lenses that’s worth trying, but it’s not going to be one that every photographer reaches for regularly. A good way to try it out to see if it’s your cup of tea is by renting it. You can find them at LensProtoGo.
Terms Used with Wide-Angle Lenses
35mm equivalent. The focal length refers to the distance that light rays converge in focus after passing through a lens. There’s complicated math involved, but our purposes here are much simpler. The focal length of a lens denotes whether it’s a wide-angle, normal, or telephoto. And if there’s a range (eg. 24-70mm), it’s a zoom lens.
But the complication with cameras like the D5300 is that these cameras use a smaller sensor than a traditional full-frame sensor (which, in turn, is based on the old 35mm film standard–that’s where the “35mm equivalent” bit comes from). And that alters the math and the perspective.
The Nikon D5300 has what’s known as an APS-C sensor, which Nikon calls a DX sensor. It’s smaller than a full-frame sensor, and so you need to multiply the focal length by 1.5x. For example, if a lens says it has a focal length of 10mm, when you put it on a D5300, you’ll get a view that’s equivalent to 15mm on a full-frame camera.
On the telephoto end, that usually works to our advantage, because you get more reach. A 200mm telephoto lens, for example, gives you the practical equivalent of 300mm on a full-frame camera. But on the wider end, it works against.
Aspherical elements used in the design of the lens work to keep lines straight and minimize distortion. Contrast that with a regular fisheye lens, where nearly every line ends up bent.
Chromatic Aberration / Purple Fringing. The corners and edges of the frame are hard for wide-angle lenses to get right. And because of the physics of the glass, you can often end up with different wavelengths getting out of alignment or becoming unfocused (aka soft). Cheaper, very wide lenses tend to suffer from this more.
Most image editing apps these days include corrections for chromatic aberration (also known as purple fringing) that you can apply in editing, and they often do a decent job.
DSLR vs Z lenses. The Nikon D5300 is a DSLR camera (i.e., digital single-lens reflex). Nikon SLRs and DSLRs have for decades used what’s known as an F-mount system to connect the lenses to the camera body. One of the great advantages of this consistency is that you can use even very old lenses on new Nikon cameras.
In the past few years, Nikon has launched a mirrorless camera system that they’re calling the Z series. Lenses for those cameras are known as Z-mount lenses.
For the D5300, you want F-mount lenses. While it’s possible to get an adapter to put F-mount lenses on a Z-mount mirrorless camera body, the reverse isn’t true (i.e., you can’t use a Z-mount lens on an F-mount body).
DX vs FX. Nikon calls its full-frame cameras FX cameras, and its APS-C cropped sensor cameras DX. The Nikon D5300 is in the DX range.
It’s often simpler (and cheaper) to stick with lenses that are specifically designed for DX cameras, but it’s not a requirement. For Nikon lenses, “DX” will be in the lens name. Other manufacturers might use a different code; Sigma, for example, uses “DC”.
FX lenses are also often (but not always) bigger and heavier. Nikon’s 14-24mm ƒ/2.8G lens, for example, is a wonderful lens (you can see some of the photos I’ve taken with it here), but it’s big, heavy, and expensive. It will work on a Nikon D5300 (multiply the focal length by 1.5x to get the effective focal length on the DX sensor), but it makes the most sense on a full-frame body.
Something else I wanted to mention is that although I’m focusing here on using wide-angle lenses on the Nikon D5300 specifically, one of the great things about the DSLR system is that it doesn’t mean you can use these lenses only on the D5300.
In other words, if you decide to update to a newer camera model in the future, or upgrade to a higher model such as the D7500 or D500, these same lenses will remain good options that work on those cameras as well. So long as you stick to a DX-series Nikon DSLR body, you’re good to go.
- Nikon’s new AF-P lenses use a special Stepping Motor that is quieter and smoother with its autofocus. The “P” stands for pulse, referring to the method of driving the autofocus motor. This technology is less important to stills photography and is mainly relevant to shooting video, where smooth and quiet autofocus is especially important. You can find the latest AF-P lens compatibility chart here.
- Most DX lenses can also be used on Nikon FX DSLRs, but there will be limitations on the amount of frame covered–you will likely have to put the camera into DX mode and settle for reduced resolution.
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