The great thing about landscape photography is that it’s a genre that can be participated in year round. You can head back to the same locations four times a year and you can capture different shots each time thanks to the changing seasons. You can also adventure and find new places to shoot all the time as well. The possibilities are endless. Another great thing about landscape photography is that you don’t need to break the bank on lenses that will allow you to get amazing shots. These four manual focusing, wide angle lenses that we will be sharing with you are all ridiculously sharp, and because they’re manual focus, they’re half the price of some similar autofocusing lenses. Join us after the break to see which four we recommend.
There seems to be a stigma surrounding manual focusing lenses. Yes autofocusing is nice, and there are certainly some genres of photography that benefit greatly from it, but landscape photography isn’t one of them. When your scene doesn’t move around erratically you can slow yourself down, spend longer amounts of time working on your compositions, and you can take the time to manually focus your lens.
On newer Mirrorless cameras focus peaking takes a lot of the guess work out of focusing, but even on older DSLR’s it’s not exactly difficult. If you want a razor sharp lens capable of producing images with rich colors, and you don’t want to spend a fortune, these manual focus, wide angle lenses may be just what you’re looking for.
IRIX 15mm F2.4 FireFly
This 15mm f2.4 lens from Irix is a stunner. This solidly built lens features weather sealing, it’s fairly lightweight (1.28lbs), and its optics are capable of producing gorgeous images and colors.
There are locking mechanisms that can be used to lock down focus, it will click when you have it focused to infinity, and it has a built in chip that will work with Canon, Pentax, and Nikon cameras for metering. You’ll also appreciate the easy to read depth of field and zone focusing scales For under $400 this lens is really hard to beat. When it comes to wide angle lenses, the 15mm f2.4 FireFly from Irix is a winner.
In our review we said:
“The IRIX 15mm f2.4 FireFly offers color rendition that is very nice and standard. It isn’t as saturated as Rokinon, Zeiss or Tamron for sure. Instead, it’s more akin to Tokina. I like the look.”
Buy now Canon ($375): Amazon
Buy now Nikon ($375): Amazon
Buy now Pentax ($375): Amazon
Pro Tip: Landscape and cityscape photography is all about details. To make sure you get the absolute sharpest image possible, we recommend using a sturdy tripod. Not only will you be able to get better compositions, your images will be tack sharp as well. The Manfrotto BeFree Compact is affordable, and it will be able to hold your camera with any of these lenses with ease.
Rokinon 20mm F1.8
Rokinon make some of the best manual focus wide angle lenses around. The Rokinon 20mm f2.8 lens is on the larger end of things, but it’s still incredibly easy to manage and use. The lens feels nice in the hand, and the large rubber focusing ring offers a sure place to grip it. Despite its size it weighs just 1.16lbs.
The image quality is superb with edge to edge sharpness. The colors the lens produces are natural and pleasing, and the focusing ring is incredibly smooth. There’s very little in the way of distortions too. There is no weather sealing so keep that in mind. Overall this lens does not disappoint. Landscape and cityscape photographers who want a great performing, wide angle lens should definitely check this one out.
In our review we said:
“Lastly, what I’m absolutely floored by is how sharp this lens is even wide open. At f1.8 you’ll get plenty of sharpness but when you stop down to something like f5.6 you’ll be flabbergasted.”
Buy now Sony ($449): Amazon
Buy now Canon ($449): Amazon
Buy now Fuji X ($499):Amazon
Buy now Nikon ($445.07): Amazon
Buy now Pentax ($456.13): Amazon
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that not all lenses offer weather sealing. Make sure you keep some inexpensive weatherproof camera and lens covers in your camera bag. If the weather takes a turn for the worse while you’re out shooting you can just use one and can just keep on shooting.
Rokinon 12mm F2
Finding true wide angle lenses for APS-C and Micro Four Thirds cameras can be difficult, but the 12mm F2 from Rokinon is a fine option for those looking to capture stunning vistas and landscapes. This small, lightweight (0.57lbs) lens is easy to use and it produces really nice images. Stop it down to f5.6 and you’ll be delighted with how sharp your pictures will be.
The colors this lens produces are great, and chromatic aberration is almost non existent. Overall build quality is just fine. There’s no weather sealing, but for under $300 that cannot be expected. For Fujfilm, Canon M, and Micro Four Thirds shooters, this has to be considered as one of the must have wide angle lenses on either of the platforms.
In our review we said:
“The Rokinon 12mm f2 is a nice lens. It has good sharpness when stopped down and balances that with a characteristic film softness when shot wide open.”
Buy now Fujifilm ($299): Amazon
Buy now Canon M Mount ($299): Amazon
Buy now Micro Four Thirds ($298): Amazon
Pro Tip: By using ND filters, and graduated filters you can enhance your images in camera and can save time when it comes to editing. ND filters will allow you to use slower shutter speeds in the bright sun, while graduated filters will allow you to expose for both bright and dark areas of your photos. This Neewer ND and graduated filter kit is one we highly recommend. It has everything you need from stepping rings, to holders, and the filters themselves. It’s also incredibly affordable.
Irix 15mm F2.4 Blackstone
The Irix 15mm f2.4 Blackstone is the beefier brother to the Irix Firefly listed above. While it has the same focal length, and the same fast aperture, the optics in this lens are superior, and the weather sealing is more robust on the Blackstone version of the lens. It weighs just a hair more than the FireFly version at 1.51lbs.
The images you can produce with this lens are nothing short of phenomenal. Wide open it is sharp, but drop it down to f8 and beyond (which is where most landscape and cityscape photographers will be) and sharpness is taken to a whole new level. The color rendition is unique to Irix with colors almost looking pastel at times. Distortion is kept low across the board too. With weather sealing, incredible optics, and its price, it should be on your shopping list.
In our review we said:
“The greatest thing about the Irix 15mm f2.4 Blackstone is the image quality. Irix has an image quality that they can surely call their own–which I find amazing. They’re not like Tamron, Sigma, Zeiss, Rokinon, Nikon or Canon. They’ve got just a bit of extra saturation, not a whole lot of micro contrast or contrast at all, and some superbly sharp optics.”
Buy now Nikon ($515): Amazon
Buy now Canon ($675): Amazon