Lenses for The Discerning Landscape Photographer

Photography is about capturing light though lenses, but choosing the right lens for the job isn’t always cut and dry.  Lenses for landscape photographers can be particularly difficult to choose because the vast array of options available.

First and foremost, there is no one-size fits all, do everything lens.  New photographers often look for the one lens that will do everything and then some, this doesn’t exist.  There are options to fit your specific needs though, and that’s what we’re going to explore.  The real answer is 12mm-500mm, it really depends on what you’re shooting and where you are in relation to it. If you can find one lens like that, the quality of images it produces will be the next issue. Remember, the longer lens' range is, the worse its optical quality.

Fast lenses, or those with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or faster aren’t always needed either, because the sweet spot of most lenses, or where they are sharpest and perform the best, is often between f/8 and f/11

The wide angle lens is traditionally the go-to lens for landscape photographers.  On full frame digital SLR’s this would be anything from about 14mm through 35mm, depending on the manufacture.  For cropped sensor digital SLRs, specific wide angle lenses, like the Sigma 12-24mm zoom give the equivalent of an 18-36mm lens, still allowing a very wide shot.  The wide angle id desirable because it allows for a larger then life perspective on your landscape, capturing what’s immediately in front of you, at your feet all the way through the edge of one’s peripheral vision.  It’s the go-to lens for many landscape photographers
Sigma 12-24mm, one of the equivalent lens for landscape photography

Medium length lenses, say about anything from 40-150mm are great for capturing landscapes as your naked eye sees them, plus or minus taking a few steps towards or from the subject.  These lenses generally perform best when the subject matter is more specific.

Longer lenses, also known as tele-photo lenses we’ll group into anything 150mm or longer.  Traditionally landscape photographers do not use these, they were utilized by landscape photographers who also shot wildlife, however some are now carrying them for doing detailed shots from a distance.