Updated: Nov 13
There's so many choices out there. It gets really confusing, really quickly, right? Let me help you out here, narrowing down some of the best lenses for landscape photography. These are lenses that I have used consistently, for many years now, and they have never let me down. These are also the kind of lenses I have seen some great landscape photographers use. Which inspired me to follow suite. Stay until the end for some more detailed recommendations.
The Wide Angle
This is the old classic right. I think most, if not all landscape photographers will have a trusty wide angle in their kit bag; tucked away somewhere. If not tucked away, then probably on their camera in action. To be honest, this is usually the lens most used on my camera when I am shooting landscapes. Once you get one, you will see straight away why this is a great choice. The ability to fit a large amount of a landscape into your shots, is so helpful in capturing the full beauty of an area.
This shot was made into what it is because of a wide angle lens. I had tried using other lenses in this area and nothing did it quite as much justice. You wouldn't get everything into the frame which would be a shame. I mean who would want to cut off that epic mountain backdrop, or incredible rocky foreground. I sure didn't!
A wide angle lens gives you so many options in what you can achieve with your photos. Now, I am aware that wide angle lens is a pretty broad term, so let me narrow it down for you a bit. I'm talking wide like 16-35mm on a full frame camera. Personally I use a wide angle zoom because it provides more options- sometimes 16mm is great, sometimes 35mm or anything in-between is what is needed.
Wide angle prime lenses are also fantastic, and you will see an increase in quality if you do get a 14mm prime for example. Although, they are more restrictive, and carrying a lot of gear when you are shooting landscapes isn't easy. I mean, you are usually hiking, sometimes for long distances right? So the question is how much are you willing to spend/ carry if not which out of the two will you choose. Personally I opt for the zoom lens. I know a lot of people like their prime lenses too.
I have a list of wide angle lenses that I would recommend at the bottom of this blog- for Sony, Canon and Nikon cameras.
The Telescopic Lens
You may be thinking this is an odd choice for landscape photography. Telescopic lenses have been more synonymous with wildlife photographers, and portrait photographers historically. That is true, however in more recent times people have found they are great for landscapes too. I mean, not to mention if you see some cool wildlife while you're out you will be well equipped. This is a big sacrifice for you, I get it. They're heavy and they aren't cheap. But trust me, they are well worth it.
As you can see above, a tele lens makes everything really nice and tight. You can't fit as much in as a wide angle lens for sure. You can however, really hone in on something and get a great tight shot of it using a telescopic lens. Don't believe me? You can always rent one next time you go out and see how it goes- you probably won't want to return it!
Using a tele lens you can frame the subject you are photographing more easily. I have found shooting through something like a tree, with a tele lens can bring some amazing results. You will not manage to achieve this with a wide angle lens. They're just too wide for these kind of shots (see below).
Again, you probably want a more specific answer in terms of mm. I have found something like a 70-200mm works great. 200mm should cover your needs and 70mm will take the lens wider to give you some more variety. Anything around this ballpark will serve you well.
I have a list of tele lenses at the end of this blog for Sony, Canon and Nikon cameras.
So all in all, those are the two main kinds of lenses that will really help you out with landscape photography. If you had to pick between the two I'd probably go for the wide angle, although I would miss my tele lens a lot. Its well worth getting both to give you some real range, and diversity in your photos.
If these lenses are out of your price range (they are the best for landscape photography so they won't be cheap). I've posted a blog about more affordable alternatives here and don't hesitate to contact me via my facebook group here for any more advice.