I mostly do macro photos of plants, and for that purpose I have the excellent Micro NIKKOR 105mm.

However, occasionally I go to dance parties and try to photograph people dancing. There are three things you need to understand about this:

  • It's always quite dark. You can't really use a flash; it'll just annoy people.
  • Everybody is moving around quite fast. You need a fast shutter speed.
  • There are walls. You can never stand back far enough.

This leads to me wanting a wide-angle, wide-aperture lens... which, sadly, don't appear to exist.

I have the 18-55mm kit lens. Unlike most of the other questions on this site, I'm not looking to go wider (I can mostly compose things OK at 18mm), I'm looking for brighter (1/40 sec just doesn't cut it).

Something like, say, 20mm would probably be fine. Looking at the Canon price list, I see

  • 24mm f/2.8, £127
  • 22mm f/2.0, £179
  • 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6, £185

Both of the first two offer an improvement over what I have. The third one sounds fun to play with, although the aperture is worse. But for this price, I could almost buy it just for giggles.

Looking at the Nikon price list, I see I can get a 24mm f/1.4 for one thousand eight hundred pounds, are you freaking kidding me?!

So the 35mm prime is the cheapest Nikon lens that money can buy, the 50mm prime is next in line; both are less than £200. But a 24mm prime? The only one I can see listed is £1,800.

To be fair, there's a 10-24mm, which is veeeery wide, but it's still only f/3.5-4.5. That isn't really much improvement over the kit lens I already have (f/3.5 at 18mm). I'm also loathed to pay £800 for a lens I only occasionally need. (But maybe somebody will let me rent it?) There is also a Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8, which would fit quite well, but again that's £1,600. I just don't have that kind of money — certainly not for an occasional lens!

Why is it that Cannon can sell you a 24mm prime for pocket money, yet Nikon want arms and legs? (OK, the Nikon 24mm is f/1.4 rather than f/2.8, but even f/2.8 would be an improvement over the f/3.5 lens I already have.) It's not even like I can use a lens converter; apparently you can't convert in that direction.

Any suggestions on how I can move forward? I guess I could just turn the ISO sensitivity way, way up... but that's almost as annoying as the excessive motion blur I have now.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related, will help you calibrate your price expectations: Why are wide-angle lenses so much more expensive? \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Sep 10, 2016 at 12:38
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Is there any reason you are considering only first party lenses? Sigma in particular make a wide range of lenses which would seem to meet your criteria. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Sep 10, 2016 at 15:18
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ This question is all over the place (perhaps unintentionally). Realize that the Canon 22mm is a EOS M (mirrorless body) lens. The 10-18mm is a zoom with with too narrow maximum aperture for your needs. The Canon 24 f/2.8 STM pancake is a EF-S (crop) lens, whereas the Nikon 24 f/1.4 is Nikon's top-of-the-line full frame lens. You're comparing baseball to football to... badminton? What is your fundamental question? Options for a fast wide angle prime? How to do better with what you have? Nikon's marketing and segmentation strategy? \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Sep 10, 2016 at 17:30
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Expensive f/1.4 lenses aren't the only fast wide lenses Nikon offers. There's also the AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G which costs around £600. For such a wide full-frame lens the price is quite ok. \$\endgroup\$
    – D. Jurcau
    Sep 11, 2016 at 10:56
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @D.Jurcau Now I thought Nikon had a 20mm... I wonder why I can't see it... OK, looks like the Jessops website being rubbish again. Even though the 20mm is clearly an AF-S lens, if I filter for AF-S, it vanishes from the search results. They have it for £650 (and a 24mm f/1.8 for about the same). That's much more sensible in price! \$\endgroup\$ Sep 11, 2016 at 12:03

3 Answers 3


Because "wide", "fast" and "low-priced" don't ever go together. The Canon lenses are low-priced because they're pancake lenses and not particularly wide on the format it was designed for, nor particularly fast (for primes). Similar to the (very old) Nikkor 45/2.8 P.

I would suggest looking at 3rd-party f/2.8 17-50ish lenses. Or the Sigma 28/1.8. Or, if you're willing to pay for zoom, then the Sigma 18-35/1.8.

But the thing is. dSLR lenses are expensive and every lineup has holes. Best to make your peace with that and deal. Arguing that another system has something you need in your lineup is more likely to get people to tell you to just switch systems, instead of having the lens you want to magically pop up in your system. It's not like Canon ever made a cheap f/1.8 normal prime for crop (e.g., like the Nikkor 35/1.8G).

  • \$\begingroup\$ The Jessops website is pretty rubbish. If I select Sigma and Nikon AFS, I see nothing of interest. However, if I choose Nikon AF, I see a far larger selection of lenses, including a 17-55mm f/2.8 for £279. That's wider and brighter than the kit lens. It's not dirt cheap, but it's a pretty typical lens price. Thanks for the tip! \$\endgroup\$ Sep 11, 2016 at 8:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ (I was able to ask how "safe" it is to buy a non-Nikon lens, but that sounds like a separate question...) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 11, 2016 at 8:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @MathematicalOrchid Try photo.stackexchange.com/questions/4303 \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Sep 11, 2016 at 19:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sigma 28/1.8 is still $350 to $1000 (after tax). Wayy too expensive, not cheap by any means \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2017 at 0:06

Indeed there is a hole in the Nikon lineup right in the area you are looking it. Actually, looking at Pentax and most mirrorless systems, there are very few such lenses from the first-party manufacturer.

This is exactly where third-party manufacturers come in and, as far as Nikon F-mount goes, there is actually pretty good coverage since most third-party at least produce their lenses for Canon and Nikon mounts, sometimes only for those two.

Since are looking for something wide and brighter than your F/3.5-5.6 lens, you can consider an F/2.8 lens which gives you a little more light. Although that is not a huge step, so I would look at something F/2 or faster. Two contenders come to mind, the Sigma A 18-35mm F/1.8 which is the fastest zoom currently available or the Tokina 14-20mm F/2 FX which is both wider and faster than your lens. It is very weil-priced too, not cheap but competitively-priced.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Sigma A 18-35mm F/1.8 = $800 WAYY too much. Tokina $1,000 \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2017 at 0:08

The camera lens projects a circular image that is quite large. Only the center portion, called the circle of good definition, is suitable for photographic purposes. Outside this circle of good definition, the image is plagued with degrading aberrations, distortions, and it vignettes (shades off in brilliance).

Each camera format size has a focal length that is labeled as “normal”. This will be a focal length about equal to the diagonal measure of the format’s rectangle. For the FX that’s about 45mm thru 50mm. For the DX that’s about 25mm thru 30mm. These values are chosen because the angle of view delivered is said to be similar to what we see with our eyes, and because such a lash-up retains the entire frame inside the circle of good definition.

What I am trying to say is: a wide-angle lens has a focal length that is far shorter than the diagonal measure. Thus a wide-angle lens must be specifically designed to have a larger circle of good definition. Now the lens operates by causing the incoming light rays to bend inwards (converge). The image forming rays that initiate from the outer portion of the lens require the most bending (refraction). That means that the figure (curve) at the margins of the lens must be highly accurate. This adds to the expense of making the lens. Often the cost will place the lens out of mass market. For this reason, a decision is made to make a lens with a lower speed. In other words, an f/5.6 lens is easier to make and sell as opposed to an f/2.8 lens.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.