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The Top Lenses You Need for Landscape Photography

best landscape lenses

If reading our recent interviews with Jeremy Scott Foster and Dave Kennedy made you take to the road in search of breath-taking landscapes to shoot, you’re going to need kit that can keep up.

There’s such a variety of ways of shooting landscapes that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what type of lens should be used – in reality, just about any lens can produce beautiful results – when used correctly. It’s also worth noting at this point that it’s fairly rare to find two people who share a lens preference for landscape work – as such, if you agree, disagree or have any other suggestions for the list – we’re always delighted to see and hear about what works for you…

In the meantime, we’ll explore what we believe to be 7 of the best landscape lenses on the market at the moment – covering a range of budgets. Special thanks to Alif Ngoylung for the cover photo.

Wide Angle

Let’s start with the first type of lens people’s minds often jump to when they think of landscape photography – the wide angle. The more you can capture, the better – right?

Ultra-wide lenses allow you to be a little more freeform with your shooting. As you’ll capture so much of your view you have the luxury of being able to crop all you like after the fact. As a bonus, they also make a great lens for astral photography.

Recommended: Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

At a surprisingly reasonable price, this Canon lens ticks a lot of boxes. It has fantastic image stabilization, flare-defying lens coating, and a very smooth focusing system. As well as being light, it’s the only lens listed here that hits the FF 21mm equivalent, often considered the sweet spot for landscape photography.

Recommended: Samyang/Rokinon f/2 12mm– For Sony, Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Olympus

Available for all major mounts, this fast lens features both manual focus and manual aperture rings, but given the fact you’re photographing stationary landscapes, all-manual shouldn’t be too much of a turnoff if you’re more accustomed to auto.

This lens is capable of razor sharp photos, even when it’s pretty much wide-open. Contrast is fantastic, thanks in part to the Nano Coating System. Barrel distortion is both rare and easily combatted and the colour is rich and enticing. Whilst there’s some occasionally chromatic aberration, like distortion this is easily corrected in post. Its minimum focal distance of 20cm can make for some fantastic close quarters photography

If you want superb reproductions at a great price regardless of camera body this is a great place to start.

Standard Zoom/Short Telephoto Lenses

Standard lenses don’t quite hit ultra-wide angle levels nor do they hit true telephoto, but they do cover a host of focal lengths that are somewhat similar to what the human eye sees – and therefore are capable of creating a realistic sense of depth whilst retaining foreground detail.

As a starting point, many kit-lens falls into this category – this can be great news for beginners as it means you’re already good to go, but as time passes, many photographers find themselves moving to more premium-quality offerings and specific focal lengths, depending on their favorite subject matter. Still, it’s worth remembering that if you’ve come from a mobile phone camera or a more traditional small sensor digital camera, that a kit lens on an APS-C sensor produces relatively beautiful results.

Recommended: Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

With a fantastic general purpose focal-length, great auto-focus, superb image stabilization and superb image reproduction, the 15-85mm makes a superb all-rounder for landscape photography, whatever your style. Its lens coating preserves color and contrast and helps reduce ghosting and flare.

Recommended: Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S

Nikon users looking for unrivaled image sharpness and flexibility need look no further than the 24-70mm. Whilst not as wide or long as the Canon, it is faster across the board with f/2.8, and it combats chromatic aberration whilst retaining sharpness and contrast.

Recommended: Sony E PZ 18-105 f/4 G OSS

Whilst not as fast as either the Canon or Nikon (or as costly) the Sony 18105 never-the-less represents a fantastic option for Sony users, reaching well down into wide-angle territory and up into telephoto. It features stabilization and rich color, contrast and sharpness across much of the frame at all focal lengths. Whilst some might find its mid to upper focal lengths less useful its peak focal length can be very handy for points of interest in the distance. Alternatively, check out the more expensive (but well received) Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 16-70mm F4, often popular amongst Sony-using landscape photographers. As well as the Carl Zeiss glass it has advanced lens coatings that help keep glare at bay.

Telephoto Lenses

Although it might not seem instinctual to some, long focal lengths can make for the best in landscape photography. They allow you to reach far into the distance and grab interesting terrain features, animals or people at work or capture weather effects that only hit hard when seen from a distance in a larger context.

Recommended: Sony 70-200mm f/4 G OSS

Super-quick autofocus and outstanding photo quality in a compact and lightweight body and a constant f/4 throughout its stabilized focal length makes this Sony telephoto a fantastic option for long distance shots

Recommended: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens

We’re into stupendous zoom territory here (and at a suitable price), but again, for longer distance landscape photography it really becomes hard to find anything better than this. With outstanding image stabilization that removes the need for a tripod (!) and a pretty impressive speed of f/5.6 on the long end, this will allow you to frame incredible landscape images quite literally from miles away.

SEE ALSO – How You Can Master Landscape Photography


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