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How to Choose the Best Lens for Landscape Photography

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The biggest secret to success with landscape photography is to have the right kit—more importantly, having the best lens for landscapes. It will save you time negotiating the landscape. And more time means more fun and freedom with your photographing.

When thinking about what lenses are best for landscape photography, the answer is purely preferences in style. You can capture environments on a wide focal length lens. Or you can capture a slice of it using a telephoto.

I want to get as much of my favourite landscape as I can in the frame 9 times out of 10. So we will focus mainly on wide-angle lenses and not so many prime lenses. We’ll explore some of the best landscape lenses for all stages in the photographic market, from the entry-level options to the top of the range.

We are now able to be outdoors more after 2020s various lockdowns. So let’s take a look at the best lens for landscape photography in 2021.

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1. Tamron 10-24mm Di II VC HLD

Tamron 10-24mm Di II VC HLD Tamron 10-24mm Di II VC HLD lens for landscape photography

For photographers who use smaller-framed, APS-C cameras, there aren’t a whole load of options that can provide ultra-wide-angle capabilities like the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5. It is an update of their 2008 model Tamron SP AF 10-24mm, and an upgrade is an understatement.

The first thing you notice in this iteration is that it feels more robust. It’s ready to be on your back, marching through various terrains. The vibration compensation works well, too, as a new addition to this lens. It makes off-the-cuff shots easier to take. This lens is perfect for the hiker not wanting to keep their troop waiting for long.

Half-framed camera users could find this product slightly expensive. But I would say that the performance quality of the Tamron is worth the extra money.

Its developments in optical performance make it amongst the top option for crop sensor cameras. The best part is that Tamron makes lenses that are compatible with both Nikon and Canon. So make sure you get the right camera mount.

Canon and Nikon Alternatives

For Canon users, the Canon EF-s 10-18mm lens is an option that caters to the wider end of the Tamron’s focal length—coming out at a lot cheaper as well. And for Nikon users, the Nikon AF-P 10-20mm fills the same gap for landscape photography.

2. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM

Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens for landscape photography

Sometimes a fraction of the landscape can speak volumes. When used properly, you can play around with a telephoto lens to control the scale of the landscape. You can capture the feel of those daunting mountains over that lonely tree in the distance. For this, I recommend the Canon 70-200mm telephoto lens.

This focal length definitely isn’t the most considered one in lenses for landscape photography. But you can use it for many different styles, including wildlife photography.

It’s the third model in the Canons 70-200mm line with updated features from its older brother, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 II lens. And it’s a highly successful series where the newest version boasts improved mechanics and additional lens coating.

Aside from these features, the previous lens is very similar. For those looking to cut their costs in half, this could be the best option for you.

Nikon Alternative

For Nikon users, I would suggest the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8.

3. Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR

Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens for landscape photography

Fujifilm users are in for a treat with this 16-55mm lens. It isn’t primarily used for landscape photography but definitely excels in this field. It’s an optically brilliant lens that has great weather sealing capabilities. You can use it at -10°C.

The lens is bigger and bulkier than many Fuji lenses. Fuji users tend to pick their cameras as the company offers light equipment. Their cameras are very light, accessible, and versatile. Putting this lens on your camera doesn’t hinder these features. If anything, the bulk reassures you that this lens is packed with great optics.

Fujifilm’s multilayer HT-EBC and its Nano GI Coating is the real winner for landscape photography. It heavily reduces the effects you can get from ghosting and lens flares. Awe-inspiring sunsets are even clearer.

4. Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 USM

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 IS USM lens for landscape photography

Canons RF 28-70mm is definitely in the top tiers for an all-around lens. As it is a standard zoom lens, it isn’t a specialist landscape lens. And because it’s from Canons’ new RF range, this will only fit Canons EOS R Cameras unless you have particular adaptors.

But if you are looking for an all-around zoom lens that can handle the landscape, I would really recommend this one. It won awards last year thanks to its achievements in lens innovation.

It is preferred amongst landscape and travel photographers. But its focal length caters to and can be a strong option for photojournalism and even portrait photography. Yet, the large price tag is an issue for this lens.

Lower-Cost Alternative

Canon has a great EF version of this lens. It is still expensive but half the price of the RF version. The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is a zoom lens covering a similar focal length to the RF lens. It has provided great landscape photography images for many years. Everyone talks about the lens’ sharpness. And it has earned its place in many photographers’ camera bags.

5. Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 IS USM lens for landscape photography

Time to look at what Sony offers with the Sony FE 12-24mm ultra-wide-angle lens. It’s part of the G Master collection, Sony’s top range of lenses. It boasts extremely high resolution through its handling of lens bokeh.

The innovative optics make it truly one of the better lenses for landscape photography. This includes the largest ever made XA (extreme aspherical) glass for a lens. There is sharp resolution throughout, which is important on an ultra-wide angle.

You are also given an impressive f/2.8 aperture. It spans the whole focal range, putting this lens a league above the rest. Not surprisingly, this won awards for the best wide-angle zoom lens this year! It’s up there as a competitor for the best landscape lens.

For the filter lovers out there, this lens provides a rear filter holder already built-in. Sony even provides a cutting template for your own sheet filters.

The sharpness that Sony has managed to capture in the Sony FE 12-24mm ultra-wide-angle lens is seriously impressive. I can see this lens having a long shelf life and many loving homes.

Lower-Cost Alternative

Sony users who can’t afford the price tag can look at the entry-level Sony E 10-18mm f4. It is known for being ultra-light, which is helpful when hiking. As we all know, the less weight you carry has a direct impact on how much you enjoy your day. It does its job great, but it doesn’t compare to the Sony FE.

6. Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 IS USM lens for landscape photography

Nikon Z range of lenses has had a great reception from the market. The 14-24mm ultra-wide-angle lens is their newest release, which allows a constant f/2.8 aperture. This f/2.8 aperture won’t help much with traditional landscape photography, but it will help astrophotography or other nightscapes.

If you’re faced with a relatively flat landscape while out on location, it can be challenging to use an ultra-wide-angle lens to the fullest. But in areas that tower around you, this lens will offer a humbling sense of place for your viewers.

The range in its focal length makes it amongst the top lenses for landscape photography. The Nikkor 14-24mm is more for specialists who know they need the lower end of this focal range.

Wider-Angle Alternative

The same range offers a Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4, which comes at half the price and almost the same size and weight. This landscape lens is almost equally as beautiful as its new, specialist brother. However, it lacks attention to the ultra-wide details that make the 14-24mm unique.

For being on location, this lens could suit you more. Stretching to 30mm could mean the difference between being comfortable and hanging off the cliff for the perfect shot. If you want an ultra-wide and don’t plan to shoot too much in the evening or nighttime, I suggest the 14-30mm.

7. Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR AF-S

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 IS USM lens for landscape photography

The Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G will be no stranger to people familiar with Nikon’s lens line. For Nikon DSLR users, this is the best lens for landscape photography without having to splash out on an adapter. And why would you when you have a lens like this in your range!

It was the world’s first ultra-wide-angle lens to have vibration reduction (VR). The 16-35mm focal range is ideal for landscape photography. Its excellent image quality is what you will hear from any of its users. It doesn’t seem easy to find a landscape photographer who wouldn’t regard this as one of the best Nikon lenses. 

As it was released a while ago and hasn’t had a revamp, you can find this lens for a bit cheaper than its original price. In a way, the fact that it hasn’t had an upgrade speaks volumes about the sharp image quality provided by this lens. If you have a Nikon full-frame camera and want to take professional landscape images, I don’t think you have to look much further than this.

8. Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 IS USM

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 IS USM lens for landscape photography

Canon lenses have stepped up their game, releasing the Canon 15-35mm for its mirrorless camera series. It displays a whopping f/2.8 throughout its focal range. Most importantly, it has image stabilisation to back it up!

You used to have to decide which feature you would want more, but now this lens provides both. Of course, this isn’t super relevant for landscapes as the camera sits on the tripod. But this can help when light is just slipping away and the golden hour produces that last split second of magic. 

With it being Canon’s most progressive landscape lens, you’d expect nothing less than excellent image quality. And you won’t be disappointed. Canon flaunts its new optical lens elements, advanced coatings, and nine-blade aperture. It would be more impressive if the images didn’t come out sharp.

If you are a mirrorless photographer or are contemplating the change, this could be the lens that convinces you to make the leap. It’s one of the best lenses for landscape photography.

9. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 III USM

Leica SL 24-90mm f/2.8-4 ASPH lens for landscape photography

It’s going to be hard for me to try and be unbiased about this lens. I have the previous model of this lens, the Canon 16-35mm II. I use it for close to 90% of all the images I take on my DSLR. New improvements with image quality and durability make me question how much further technology can push these boundaries.

The only issue I have with the Canon 16-35mm II is that there does seem to be a slight loss in sharpness at its widest. It was hardly noticeable, but it seems Canon has identified this and made it a thing of the past. 

This is one of Canon’s heavyweights. You’re going to see a pretty heavy price tag. It would be worth thinking about if you’ll use this lens for low light or more active scenes. If the answer is yes, and you have the money, the Canon 16-35mm III will be an excellent investment. It is arguably taking the title for the best landscape lens.

Lower-Cost Alternative

If you aren’t going to be needing the extra stop in aperture, the Canon 16-35mm f/4 gives the same excellent image quality for a significant price cut.

10. Leica SL 24-90mm f/2.8-4 ASPH

Leica SL 24-90mm f/2.8-4 ASPH lens for landscape photography

With many calling this the best all-around Leica lens (and its only zoom lens), it would be hard to leave this one off the list. The Leica 24-90mm is for Leica users interested in capturing landscapes in the best way possible. It features Leica’s widest range of focal length.

I know landscape photography wouldn’t be in most people’s heads when thinking about this lens. Not even when thinking about Leica cameras. But if you were a fan of this system’s compact nature, this lens proves that size doesn’t matter. Ideally, it’s for the landscape photographer who wants a serious shot but doesn’t want the flexibility and special attention that comes with other lenses on this list.

For those who don’t know, Leica’s glass is amongst the best in the world. And having this fabled expertise in lens making comes with a price. This small but powerful lens tops the chart with its price tag.

Unsurprisingly, the prestige does mean there are few mount converters on the market. If you have a thirst for the finer things in life and are happy with the more analogue, manual focus style of shooting, this could be the lens for you.

11. Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN

Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN lens for landscape photography

Boasting the “definitive lens for astrophotography,” the Sigma 14-24mm is a lens I can’t miss off this list of lenses for landscape photography. It includes Sigma’s unique nanoporous coating, which has tiny holes on the outer layer. This reduces lens flares and ghosting, which can be the landscape photographer’s biggest enemy in certain situations.

It is a well-designed lens, strong in its construction and its weather sealing capabilities. It will be a lifesaver while out in places with hazardous weather. To have these features backed up by pretty impressive image quality makes this a lens you won’t regret having in your kit bag. 

This lens is part of Sigma’s mirrorless range. If you know Sigma, you know they produce their lenses for a range of top camera manufacturers. For this mirrorless option, you only have the option to get it in Sony’s E range as well.

DSLR Alternative

Some people may like the look of this but don’t have a mirrorless camera. Sigma also produces the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM for DSLRs. Minus the new nano-coating and rear filter slots, this lens still packs a punch when equipped on full-frame cameras. Its attention is still on its weathering capabilities. Sigma provides an excellent alternative for landscape photography to the other lenses shown.

12. Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM lens for landscape photography

Sometimes restrictions can work out in your favour. Prime lenses aren’t usually a landscape photographer’s best friend. For the person who’s willing to hop into a bush or wade in waters for the perfect shot. They would be over the moon with the performance of Sony’s wide aperture lens.

It’s no surprise this prime lens won awards this year for the best wide-angle lens. It’s compact and lightweight for a lens with these specifications. The 14mm prime lens won’t have your shoulder sore at the end of the day.

Sony presents their most up-to-date quality and design. I can say that this large-aperture wide-angle lens is groundbreaking for our time. Optically it is hard to find a falter. And with all the tests experts have put in place, it is quite the lens.

Astrophotographers will be rejoicing over the extra stop and then some, proving fast, sharp star images. This additional stop allows the photographer to take the ISO down. Therefore, it reduces noise and other elements that astrophotographers deal with often.

Tuscany sunset landscape image of a winding road and green hills
Photo by Luca Micheli

Conclusion

After studying a range of lenses for landscape photography, we can see a full spectrum to choose from. With so many specialist options, it is hard to say which is the best lens for landscape photography in 2021. Luckily, this list has narrowed down the selection and curated the top selections.

Hopefully, it has made it easier to find the perfect landscape lens. As always, each lens ultimately comes down to preference. So we hope this list has covered options relevant to you and your budget.

Do you want to learn more about landscape photography? Check out our Simply Stunning Landscapes course and discover how to take stunning images in the most average locations.

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