Choosing the best lens for landscape photography doesn’t have to be difficult.
As a landscape photographer, you should be aware of the importance of a great lens for this photography genre. You can easily find the best lens for landscape photography if you know what you’re looking for. Great sharpness and the right focal length are two of the main characteristics of a good landscape lens. Remember, you don’t have to break the bank to get a good glass for your camera.
And you can match it with an affordable camera for landscape photography.
In this article, I’m going through the main characteristics of landscape photography lenses and you’ll be able to choose from a list of best lenses for landscape photography.
Best Lens For Landscape Photography: Our Top Three
Best Lens For Landscape: Comparison Table
What to Look for When Buying The Best Lens For Landscape
As I said before, it’s not hard to find a great lens for landscape photography these days, you have to know what to look for.
A great quality lens can highly impact the quality of your landscape photos. But do you really need to spend thousands of dollars to buy the right glass for your camera? It’s undeniable that high-end quality lenses cost more money, but do you have to hit the jackpot and buy one of those lenses? In my opinion no.
Knowing what are the right characteristics of a lens that will determine its overall quality will help you save some money. Especially if you’re not a professional and want to have fun shooting some beautiful landscapes.
Main Features of the Best Landscape Lenses
I think you might know the difference between a wide-angle and a telephoto lens, but it’s worth quickly refreshing the topic because it’s so important. Lenses are the eye of your camera. They determine how much your camera is able to see. The focal length is the distance between the middle of the lens to the focal plane. The focal plane is basically your sensor.
In landscape photography, you normally tend to capture vast areas and in general, the aim is to fit a large scene into your frame.
- Ultra-wide (8mm – 24mm full-frame) to wide-angle (16mm – 35mm FF) lenses are ideal for landscape photography.
- Standard lenses (35mm – 85mm FF) find some use.
- Telephoto lens (85mm+) can you use it for landscape photography? You sure can! Photography is art remember? You can definitely get creative and capture details of a scene or play with a bokeh effect. But a telephoto lens wouldn’t be my advice if this is the first lens you buy. The reason is simple, 90% of landscape photos you will take are going to be using wide-angle lenses since they allow you to fit more elements in the scene.
Wide Angle Lenses
With a wide angle lens you are able to include more in your composition and it’s probably the first lens a landscape photographer needs to buy. These lenses make objects on the foreground look bigger and objects on the background look smaller and far away.
The perspective gets stretched resulting in a dramatic scene and making the land look limitless. Very attractive for the viewer’s eye. For their “inclusive” nature, wide-angle lenses help to play with aspects of composition such as leading lines, foreground, and reflections.
A popular and very useful focal range lens to start with is a 16-35mm. It falls in the spectrum of the ultra-wide lenses, very good also for astrophotography, cityscapes, seascapes, and almost any other landscape shooting really.
The most common focal length in the telephoto spectrum is 70-200mm. With this focal you can do also sport, action photography and portrait. It’s not your first lens of choice if you are starting right now in landscape photography, so you don’t need to buy it right now and I won’t include it in the list below.
If at some point in your journey as a photographer you want to shoot landscapes in a creative and unique way, you can get this focal length.
You might want to isolate a tree from the wider scene or compress the perspective making distant objects look closer to the foreground this is what you need.
The field-of-view of a telephoto lens is around 30 degrees. So with this narrow field-of-view, you won’t be able to capture as much of the background as with a wide-angle lens. They are considered lenses of “exclusion” and can also help to isolate your main subject by taking advantage of a shallow depth of field to create a blurry background.
Making the picture look more 3-dimensional.
Even for telephoto lenses, you have a choice of different apertures. Obviously the brighter and faster the lens the more expensive it will be, but also usually the heaviest and more difficult to maneuver.
The weight increase is directly proportional to the focal length and max aperture. A 70-200mm f/2.8 will generally be heavier than an f/4. And more expensive.
Don’t forget that to spend less money you can decide on a variable aperture instead of a fixed one. For example, an f/3.5 to f/5.6 aperture refers to the maximum aperture the lens can achieve for each end of the zoom range. These types of lenses are much lighter and less expensive but obviously, the quality won’t be the same as the ones with a fixed aperture.
The aperture of your lens is a key aspect when buying new glass for your camera.
On the market, you can definitely find lenses with a constant aperture of f/4, f/2.8, or brighter. Depending on the brand and quality of the lens, a larger aperture (small f-number) is almost always more expensive. It’s a brighter, sharper, and faster lens.
For example with a wide f/2.8, you can also do astrophotography more easily. This could be achieved with an f/4 too, but in this case, you’ll need to increase your ISO and lose some quality. Most photographers prefer to go as low as f/1.4 for astrophotography, the larger the aperture the better.
But aperture it’s not necessarily the most important aspect in landscape photography, since you’ll probably find yourself shooting at apertures of above f/5.6 or f/8. Please don’t get me wrong. Having a lens able to shoot at the constant aperture of f/1.4 or f/2.8 is amazing since you can use it in many different scenarios. But they will cost you more.
Zoom or Prime Lens for Landscape Photography
I tend to use zoom lenses. They can cost significantly less and give you more flexibility in terms of composition.
Camera brands and Lens Mount
Lens mounts are not universal. For example, you can’t use a Nikon lens on a Canon camera or vice-versa, while there are Sigma or Tamron lenses produced for various camera brands. Always check that the lens mount is compatible with your camera body.
The Sensor Size of your camera body also dictates in most cases, the lens you buy. If you own a Full frame camera you won’t buy a crop sensor APS-C, vice-versa, in some cases, you can buy a full-frame lens (at a higher price) for an APS-C camera. Always check the compatibility, and know that a full-frame lens on a smaller sensor will be affected by the crop factor.
Sharpness and Lens Quality
Other key factors to consider are the sharpness and the lens flare.
A great landscape photo should be sharp from center to corner. And this is what you would expect a good lens should deliver. If you do some investigations, many lens reviews talk a lot about it and about other aspects, like vignetting, which is the darkening of image corners when compared to the center.
Depending on the quality of the lens you will see that they produce very different results. So some of them may produce softer result off-center, some may produce more or less vignetting and then there’s chromatic aberration and so forth.
You can obsess yourself and read online charts, tests, reviews, and still not be sure that what you’re buying is the best possible product on the market. In fact, what I suggest is that you need to have first of all clear in mind what is your budget.
You need to know that, yes by spending more money usually you will get better sharpness and overall quality, but seriously, think of the use you would do of it.
Do you need to spend thousands of dollars if you’re starting now in landscape photography? Also remember, if you are new to landscape photography, most probably you’ll shoot at apertures from f/8 – f/16 90% of the time.
So you won’t probably need the sharpest possible lens.
Best Lenses For Landscape Photography
Disclaimer: prices may vary.
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G, $148.00
- Nikon DX Format (FX compatible 1.5x crop factor)
- F-Mount Nikon Lens
- 35mm focal length (1.5x crop factor)
- Variable aperture f/1.8 – f/22
- Auto Focus mode
Sony 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS APS-C, $648.00
- Sony E-Mount
- APS-C Lens
- Focal length 18-135mm (27-202.5mm Full-Frame equivalent)
- Optical Image Stabilization
- Auto Focus
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G, $154.00
- Lightweight FX format
- Prime lens
- Focal length 50mm
- Aperture f/1.8
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, 549.00
- Aperture f/4
- Focal length 17-40mm
- Canon EF Mount
- Two lens kit available
- Silent autofocus
- Weather sealed
Sigma 30mm F1.4 Art DC HSM for Nikon, $367.76
- Sigma standard lens for Nikon
- DX Mount
- Good for artistic shooting
- Aperture F/1.4
- 30mm focal length (45mm full-frame equivalent)
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS, $199.99
- Ultra-wide Canon Lens
- Variable Aperture f/4.5-5.6
- Image Stabilization
- Canon EF-S Mount
- 0.72 feet. (22 centimeter) Closest Focusing Distance
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS, $419.99
- Canon EF-S Mount
- Wide-angle landscape lenst
- Aperture: constant f/2.8
- Image Stabilization
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED, $485.00
- Nikon DX Mount Telephoto Lens
- Variable Aperture F/3.5-6.3
- Focal Length 18-300mm
- Very versatile lens
Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G, $243.99
- Nikon F Mount
- Ultra-wide angle lens min focal length 10mm
- Variable aperture F/4.5-5.6
- Silent autofocus
- Image stabilization
Sony – FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS, $1,198.00
- Sony E Mount Full frame lens
- Focal length 24-105mm (zoom)
- Constant F/4 aperture
- Super Silent autofocus
Any questions regarding the best lens for landscape photography? Let us know in the comments below.
- Best Camera for Landscape Photography
- Type of Camera Lenses
- Best Affordable Cameras for Landscape Photography
- Best Cameras Under $300
Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Great article and many great lenses mentioned! I shoot Fujifilm, but at times I wish I had the money to buy other systems too.
I think you mentioned you use zooms? That is what I use for landscapes. My first choice is the 55-200 mm as it gives so many options. Wide-angles are not very attractive for me. Due to their very nature, they just get to much in the frame and in the end I can’t really see anything (if you know what I mean). One day I hope to be able to buy a 100-400 mm lens and shoot Mount Fuji from the rooftop of my apartment in Tokyo. I think at sunrise or sunset it could capture some great pictures.
Hi Rohan, thanks for taking the time to reply, and thank you, I’m glad you liked the article.
Yes, I mainly use zooms since I like their versatility. Let me tell you that I was in Tokyo last year and I totally fell in love with the City and Japan in general.
So many opportunities for amazing photos and a 100-400mm would be perfect for capturing Mt Fuji! 😉
Hi Stefano! I live in Suginami ward which is on the west side of the city and I have an unimpeded view to the mountain. I’ve taken pictures of it with my 55-200 and they were okay (usually I have to crop pictures quite severely). A pity the 100-400 is so expensive.
Were you in Tokyo long? And work or business? I wish I had the money to take pictures here 24/7. That would be the life!
Wow, that’s quite a dream view!
I couldn’t agree more with you Rohan. I was in Japan for two weeks on holiday. I took hundreds of pictures (probably thousands), and I wish I can visit again soon to shoot even more.
The Canon 100-400mm is undoubtedly an amazing lens. How about trying the Sigma 100-400mm though?
Different aperture but at a fraction of the cost. I’ve never tested it but I read amazing reviews.