I have tried a large number of very wide-angle lenses and the occasional fisheye. AF and MF. Many types also. Here are some categories and the reason they did not do it for me.
Prime AF and MF wide lenses (ex. Venus Laowa 15mm f/4 1:1):
All variants suffered the same limitation. Lack of versatility. Does not lend itself to be left on the camera for a prolonged period of time.
Full Frame AF Zoom (ex. Sony G FE 12-24mm f/4):
Simple one. Large and expensive. Make no mistake. They are worth the price. Just too costly for as much as I intend to use them partially owing to the size and weight.
Full Frame MF Zoom (ex. Vivitar 17-28mm):
Not much wrong here at all. Excellent image quality. Distant subjects were not an issue (See tower above.) but focusing on closer objects, often rendered quite small in such a wide field of view, was not an easy task at times. Great value though.
Crop AF Zoom (ex. Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-f/5.6):
Another tough one. Really liked all examples that fell into this category. The Tamron 10-24mm was also another strong performer. Here I believe it had more to do with the associated system than the lens. As a whole it did not meet all of my needs. DSLRs were larger than I would like and I find mirrorless variants are usually rather large and/or expensive.
Fisheye (ex. Samsung 10mm f/3.5):
Never warmed up to the manual focus lenses I tried, but I really liked the Samsung. But there were two issues.
One specific to fisheye lenses.
- Loved them on axis like the hallway shot above. I liked the wide part but I never warmed up to the fisheye part of the experience off-axis.
One specific to the mount in question:
So you know from the title what I did choose.
Before I get to my in-hand experiences there was a new release that had my attention. The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD. On paper, it had a couple of points up on the Sony 10-18mm.
- f/2.8 would be considerably brighter compared to crop f/4.
- I love the Tamron 28-75mm so this would be an excellent follow-up also paired w/ the Sony A7III.
But here is why I decided to try my luck with the Sony 10-18mm.
- Size and weight. Much smaller lens and overall package (Similarly size 28-75mm used as a stand-in since the 17-28mm is not in their photo database yet.).
- Wider zoom range. Have seen some ding the 10-18mm for not having much reach (15-27mm full-frame equivalent), but the Tamron loses out on the wide at with 17mm. Experience has shown me that 2mm is a considerable difference with wide angle lenses.
- Can use the 10-18mm/a6000 side by side w/ the 28-75mm/A7III and be able to cover 15mm to 75mm without having to change lenses.
- Price. While new prices are similar the Sony can be found online for hundreds less. You could buy a second 10-18mm and a6000 for around $100 more than a new Tamron 17-28mm alone.
So all of that theory is meaningless if the lens does not deliver in the wild. After a few days I am happy to report that the 10-18mm does just fine. Combines my favorite attributes of a very wide zoom lens with small size, lightweight, great performance, and usability. Easily checks all lens boxes. OSS works as billed. Very sharp. The colors are great. Produces RAW files that look great right away and only get better with the Lightroom lens profile and a few tweaks.
Close focus. Decent at 10mm:
Even better at 18mm:
A few samples below and gallery here.
I think I am done here. Time will tell.