Last Updated on 11/27/2018 by Mark Beckenbach
A quick look at some great lenses that can help capture amazing details in your landscape photography.
Landscape photography is one of the most popular and relaxing genres of photography. Thousands upon thousands of photographers head out daily to capture the stunning scenery around them so that they can share the beauty with the world. Fortunately, there are some truly incredible wide angle lenses to help capture all of that detail around us.
Wide angle lenses are perfect for landscape photography. Their fields of view enable us to capture stunning vistas, breathtaking mountain ranges, and allow us to show the vastness of the the great plains, oceans, and fields around us.
Lenses designed for landscape work are also usually solidly built, weather sealed, and more often than not feature fast apertures so that we can work in less than stellar lighting conditions, or use the lenses for astrophotography. Here’s a look at four of our favorite wide angle lenses for landscape photography.
Canon 16-35mm F2.8 L III USM
The Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L USM III is one of the finest lenses Canon makes. Sure, it’s on the expensive side of things, but for those who make their living with landscape photography and who shoot Canon, this is the lens that should always be a part of your kit.
In our review we said:
“The Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L III USM is quite honestly a fantastic lens. Any photographer who uses it is bound to be able to create seriously fantastic images; but it will best find a place among landscape photographers.”
The Canon 16-35mm f2.8 is a big, beefy lens that weighs in at 1.74lbs. Your’re certainly going to know you’re carrying this lens around, but you’ll also know that this lens is built to withstand the elements. The weather sealing on this lens is immense so it will be able to put up with much of what mother nature throws at it. The overall build quality is fantastic, and the lens feels amazing in the hands. The 16-35mm f2.8 III USM has a filter thread size of 82mm which is important to know if you want to use polarizers or ND filters.
Inside the lens you will find 16 elements in 11 groups, and nine rounded aperture blades. The images produced with this lens are nothing short of spectacular. Images are razor sharp from edge to edge, and the colors rendered are natural and not over saturated. In our tests there was little to no distortion present, and there was no color fringing or chromatic aberration.
The USM motor does a fantastic job of driving the large amounts of glass inside the lens. Not only is it lightning fast, it’s also whisper quiet. The lens was able to nail focus without hesitation every time in good and low light situations.
The 16-35mm focal range lends itself well to not only landscape photography but also to environmental portraiture, architectural photography, and documentary photography. So if you are a Canon shooter, know that this lens can cover you for many different styles of photography, but landscape photography is where this lens really sings.
Buy now ($1,899): Amazon
Pro Tip: Using ND and Graduated filters can dramatically change your landscape images for the better. This set of graduated and ND filters will help you get your images right in camera which will save you time in post.
Sony Zeiss 16-35mm F4 OSS
Sony shooters have a few gorgeous lenses to choose from when it comes to landscape photography, but the Sony Zeiss 16-35mm f4 OSS is placed firmly in the sweet spot thanks to it’s price, and its overall performance.
In our review we said:
“Sony and Zeiss have worked together for many years to create lenses together, and this latest offering has to be one of the best fruits of their partnership. The lens performs admirably and with it being an f4 constant aperture offering, we barely ever found a big reason to want to stop it down.”
The Zeiss 16-35mm f4 OSS weighs in at a respectable 1.14lbs which means it’s easy to use for longer periods of time, and certainly won’t become a chore being carried around if you need to hit the trails and hike to your chosen location. The lens is also weather resistant so it will be fine to use in light showers here and there. The body of the lens is made out of metal, and the large zoom and focus rings are easy to use. The filter thread size is 72mm.
Inside the metal body you will find 12 elements in 10 groups, and seven rounded aperture blades. Three of the elements are extra low dispersion elements that help with chromatic aberration, and the glass is coated with Zeiss’s T-Star coating to help reduce flares.
Image quality is outstanding. Corner to corner sharpness can be expected with even the tiniest details rendered perfectly. Colors produced with this lens are nice and incredibly lifelike: there really is nothing to complain about here.
Autofocus performance is solid. We never had a problem acquiring focus in all of the situations we used the lens in. The 16-35mm f4 OSS is also image-stabilized so when using it in low light conditions you can expect an extra five stops. The focus motors are also incredibly quiet.
The overall performance of this lens, its build quality, and its price point really make this lens a no-brainer. Sure, you could opt for the much more expensive G Master f2.8, but if you’re using it for landscape photography, the f4 is just fine as you’ll likely be stopping it down anyway. This lens is definitely one to consider for landscape photography.
Buy now ($1,248): Amazon
Pro Tip: While your lens may be weather sealed, your camera might not be. Be prepared for inclement weather by keeping some affordable weather proof camera and lens covers in your camera bag at all times. You never know when you may need them.
Fujifilm 10-24mm F4 R OIS
The Fujifilm 10-24mm f4 R OIS is a fantastic option for landscape photography if you shoot with a Fujifilm camera. When placed on any of Fujifilm’s crop sensor cameras, this lens will have the equivalent focal range of 15-36mm (an equal focal length to the lenses listed above). This lens is small, affordable, and is razor sharp.
In our review we said:
“Like all of Fujifilm’s lenses, the 10-24mm f4 is built like a tank and it’s in line with Fuji’s retro aesthetic. The barrel is all metal, save for the zoom ring, and this metal construction is part of the reason for its heft. It feels good in the hand, and the long barrel could lead some to think you’re shooting at a much longer focal length.”
Fufjifilm is known for making solidly built lenses, and the 10-24mm f4 is no exception to that rule. The all metal body feels wonderful in the hand, and it weighs in at just 0.90lbs. This is one of the lightest lenses in this category and it makes using it incredibly easy. This lens is not weather sealed though, so keep this in mind. The thread size is 72mm.
The Fujifilm 10-24mm features 14 elements in 10 groups along with seven aperture blades. Four of the elements are aspherical, and four are extra low dispersion. The lens is also optically stabilized and good for five stops, which can really help in low light situations. Focusing speeds are great in well lit environments, but we found the focus speed did decrease a little in lower light.
Image quality, as you would expect from a Fujifilm lens, is incredibly good. You’ll get razor sharp images when shooting wide open, and colors that are nice and vibrant. We found no signs of color fringing or distortion during our tests either.
Overall, this is a fantastic lens for landscape photography. The Fujifilm 10-24mm f4 R OIS really shines when it comes to capturing the beauty of nature. If you’re a Fujifilm shooter and want a constant aperture lens that can produce gorgeous images, you should definitely take a closer look at this option.
Buy now ($849): Amazon
Pro Tip: To get the sharpest landscape images possible you’ll need to invest in a sturdy tripod. This affordable Manfrotto tripod is perfect to take with you on your hikes, and along the trails. It’s lightweight, can hold up to 8.8lbs of gear, and folds down into a small size which makes it easy to carry.
Panasonic 7-14mm G Vario F4
Micro Four Thirds cameras are great for landscape photography, and there is one lens that really lends itself well to the genre; the Panasonic 7-14mm G Vario f4. This small lens packs a mighty punch and will delight landscape photographers who use this platform.
In our review we said:
“We’re smitten with this lens. It’s sharp, contrasty, has wonderful color rendition, focuses quickly, feels well built, and is highly portable.”
The Panasonic 7-14mm will have an equivalent focal range of 14-28mm when placed on any Micro Four Thirds camera; perfect for landscape photography. The 7-14mm G Vario is made from plastic, but it doesn’t feel cheap. In fact, it feels great in the hand thanks to the textured finish. The lens is incredibly light and weighs just 0.6lbs.
The lens hood is permanently attached to the lens, which means you cannot attach any filters, so keep this in mind. Unfortunately, this lens is not weather sealed, so carry some weather proof covers with you.
Inside the body you’ll find 16 elements in 12 groups, and seven aperture blades. Images produced with these optics are sharp from corner to corner. You will find a little distortion, but that is to be expected with this wide of a lens. Any distortion is easily fixed in Capture One 11 or Lightroom though. Colors rendered are punchy and vibrant and will really make your landscape images pop.
We were blown away with just how fast this lens can find focus. No matter what situation we were in the lens was lightning fast, and we were able to rattle off shots quickly, even in low light. The autofocus motor is also nice and quiet as well. Overall, the performance of this lens is stellar.
If you shoot with a Micro Four Thirds camera, and are looking for a lens for landscape photography or for travel, this lens will serve you well. It’s nicely built, has exceptional image quality, and is very affordable.
Buy now ($679.95): Amazon