recommended lenses for landscape photography
Which lens is good for landscape photography? A question I come across so many times! Choosing a suitable lens for landscape photography is definitely an important consideration so that you can get the best possible photo. The answers you will get to this question are varied and sometimes even confusing, so let's put the matter in order. All the answers in this article!
A wide angle lens and a Telephoto lens - which is better for landscape photography?
Which lenses are good for landscape photography?
The most important thing for you to know - there is no one right answer! Landscapes can be photographed with all types of lenses, from super wide lenses, through intermediate zoom lenses to Telephoto and Super Telephoto lenses. Each of these types of lenses has advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right lens ultimately depends on what you want to photograph and how the final result will look.
wide angle lenses
Wide angle lenses are probably the most popular lenses in landscape photography. They have 3 main features that make them very comfortable and suitable for landscape photography. The first feature is that wide lenses give a very large viewing angle that allows the viewer to see a very large part of the landscape that we will photograph. The second feature is that with wide lenses create a very large depth of field (sharpness in all parts of the image) almost regardless of the aperture size. The third feature is the sense of deep perspective that wide lenses create - they emphasize closer areas and make the background look smaller and more distant, thus creating a sense of a scene with huge space. There is no specific definition for a wide lens, but usually it means 24 mm or wider lenses for full frame cameras, for crop cameras it is 18 mm or wider lenses. The super wide lenses that are really classic in the field are lenses with a focal length of 14/15/16/17 mm for full frame cameras, or 10/11/12 mm for crop cameras.
Telephoto lenses - are often not perceived as very useful in landscape photography, but they are also certainly suitable and common. Tele lenses actually allow us to focus/zoom on a specific area in a certain landscape such as mountain peaks, a beautiful valley and even interesting textures of broken mud cracks, sand or salt. In terms of the sense of perspective, tele lenses result in a sense of a "flatter" perspective, making near and far areas appear closer to each other than they actually are.
A wide lens shot of the DeadVlei area in Namibia. The wide lens allows a large angle of view of the area and creates a sense of deep perspective that emphasizes the nearby trees and makes the dunes in the background appear smaller and more distant than what you see in the field.
Telephoto shot of the DeadVlei area in Namibia. The lens allows to "zoom in", reduce the angle of view only on a more specific area of trees and also makes the relatively distant dunes in the background appear adjacent to the photographed trees.
A wide lens shot of Mount Zin and the bulbous rocks field in Israel. The wide lens allows a large angle of view of the area, greatly intensifies the nearby rocks which are about half a meter long and makes the mountain in the background appear smaller and more distant than it appears in reality.
Tele lens photo from the viewpoint of Mount Marmolada in the Dolomites in Italy. The area closest to the camera is not in the image, the image is zoomed so the closest part in the frame are the bottom rocks which are about 400 meters away from the camera to the background area that is a few kilometers from the camera.
How to choose a suitable lens for landscape photography?
To simplify things a little, I'll ask a similar question from another area. What if asked "Which car should I buy?". After all, it is clear that there is no one right answer and that it depends on my use of the vehicle and other considerations - do I need a normal family car? a small and economical car? a jeep for off-road trips? a strong and fast car? etc...
If we want to photograph and convey to the viewer a large angle of view of the place we are photographing, from the near to the far parts - we will probably choose a wide lens. If we want to focus on a certain specific area that is relatively far away from us - we will probably choose to use a Tele lens.
recommended wide angle lenses
In general, the recommended and classic wide angle lenses for landscape photography are lenses whose focal length is between 14 to 17 mm. There are prime lenses (fixed focal length) and zoom lenses. Another important consideration when choosing a lens is its aperture size. When photographing landscapes during the day, including low light sunsets and sunrises, we will usually use a relatively narrow aperture to increase the depth of field (assuming we use a tripod and a slow shutter speed to let in enough light) and therefore there is no need for lenses with fast aperture. On the other hand, if you want the lens to also be used for night photography, it is better to choose a lens that has a relatively wide aperture such as F/2.8 or faster. Another consideration is the possibility of mounting filters on the lens. Some lenses accept round and square filters with a normal thread. There are also wide lenses in which the front optical element is concaved outwards and do not allow screwing filters, using filters with these kind of lenses can only be done with the addition of a special system with extra large filters.
Recommended wide angle lenses for Canon full frame sensor
Recommended wide angle lenses for Canon Crop sensor
Recommended wide angle lenses for Nikon full frame sensor
Recommended wide angle lenses for Nikon Crop sensor
Recommended wide angle lenses for Sony full frame sensor
Recommended wide angle lenses for Sony Crop sensor
recommended telephoto lenses
The range of non-wide lenses that can be useful for landscape photography is relatively wide, from 35mm to even 800mm. If we were to try to narrow it down to the most efficient range, I would say that lenses in the 70mm to 400mm range would probably be the most comfortable and useful. These are lenses with a very useful zoom range, relatively light weight and in reasonable size (compared to 500mm, 600mm and above). In most Tele lenses in these ranges, a fast aperture does not have a very important advantage (assuming we use a slightly narrow aperture and tripod) and most of them accept normal filters if necessary.
Most companies (Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc.) have quite similar Tele lenses in these ranges, so I will generally list the recommended and most common types of lenses.
Recommended Telephoto lenses
Choosing a suitable lens for landscape photography consists of various considerations that we will have to understand and think about in advance to decide which lens we should use, what advantages we will get from it and what the final result will look like.