If you want to achieve those striking vistas that allow you to get plenty in the frame, what lenses will help you fulfil those ambitions? We explain.
The majority of standard zoom lenses bundled with a DSLR or a compact system camera are versatile pieces of glass, especially when you consider the minimal additional outlay needed when purchased as a kit. However, what they don’t offer is the wide field of view that’s needed to deliver those awe-inspiring views and striking compositions.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the options available when looking for good lenses for landscape photography, so you can start shooting stunning scenic imagery.
16-35mm f/4 –the wideangle zoom
While there are subtle variations on this zoom length from manufacturer to manufacturer, this short but incredibly useful zoom range is very popular among landscape photographers. It gives an impressive field of view at the wide end of the range, allowing you to get that foreground interest in with ease and still include those broad views. The other end of the zoom range is also suited to general shooting as well as landscapes, making it a versatile optic that will invariably stay on the front of your camera for the majority of the time.
If your camera has an APS-C-sized sensor, you’ll be looking at a lens with a focal length of around 10-22mm to 10-24mm. Although these lenses often feature a variable maximum aperture of f/3.5-4.5, they tend to be more affordable than their full-frame siblings.
Optically, these lenses are pretty good, but some can suffer from distortion and vignetting. Shoot in raw, though, and use the many lens profiles in Lightroom, and you’ll eradicate these issues with a couple of clicks.
16-35mm lens options
Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM – Price: £795
Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS – Price: £750
Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4 ED AL (IF) – Price: £720
Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR – Price: £830
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM – Price: £390
Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS – Price: £630
The quality and design of current zoom lenses is the best it’s ever been, with the latest versions offering excellent optical design, yet for ultimate quality there’s little to equal a high-quality prime. Most manufacturers offer some type of wideangle prime, with some offering a selection of optics so you can choose different focal lengths to suit your shooting style. Speaking of which, deciding on which focal length you should opt for is down to personal taste. Some may prefer the more moderate 24mm and 28mm options, while others may want to get more in the frame and go for something wider – like a 20mm.
If you’ve already got a wideangle zoom and are thinking of making the switch to primes, take a look at your Exif data of previous images and get a rough idea of what focal length you most frequently use.
Wideangle prime lens options
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM – Price: £1,225
Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8 R – Price: £650
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2 – Price: £556
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED – Price: £680
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM | A – Price: £800
Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 – Price: £1,450
14-24mm – the ultra-wideangle zoom
If the 16-35mm doesn’t go quite as wide as you want, there are some slightly more specialist (pricier) options out there with a wider reach, some of which offer a faster maximum aperture. To cram in all this glass they can be quite bulky pieces of kit, often with bulbous front optics protruding outwards. This does mean that using standard filters is almost impossible, so if you do want to use neutral density gradient filters and suchlike, you will need to invest in a dedicated filter holder kit (like Lee Filters’ SW-150 filter kit for the Nikon 14-24mm) and possibly some additional larger filters to go with it.
14-24mm lens options
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM – Price: £2,800
Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 Lumix G Vario Micro Four Thirds – Price: £849
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED (FX) – Price: £1,315
Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 II DG HSM – Price: £575
Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD – Price: £950