How Wide A Lens For Landscape Photography

By | 30/08/2022

It’due south very important that I provide viewers with a articulate path within my photos, specially when I’m using an ultra-broad focal length. I want to avert the trouble of disruptive the viewer every bit to what the primary focal points are by establishing a clear sense of management.

It’due south fair to say that landscape photography can hateful different things to different people. What unifies the states all is that we strive to share a piece of this amazing planet with each exposed frame, and when you render that down to a technical level, the lens you cull plays a critical role in that endeavour. Whether you employ a super-wide focal length to capture an expansive vista or go tighter to showcase a blossoming fern, your lenses will help you figure out the visual story yous’re aiming to tell.

There are several means to categorize lenses when thinking most which ones to utilise when photographing nature scenes. Perhaps one of the most obvious is whether the lens is a prime number or a zoom. There is no shortage of discussions covering the benefits of one versus the other, and while they may each hold some merit, it will ultimately boil down to your preference (and upkeep).

A prime number lens has a fixed focal length that requires you to “zoom with your feet,” but i of the clear benefits is that it’s typically smaller, lighter (especially the manual focus variety) and has a larger maximum aperture than zoom lenses. There are also a number of fantastic prime lenses that command lower prices than zoom lenses. The key limiting gene, though, is that you’re fixed to a specific focal length. Your other option is to go with a zoom lens. The obvious benefit here is that your lens offers variable focal lengths, making it easier to include more or tighten upward on the scene in forepart of y’all without moving. This benefit typically comes at the expense of being larger, heavier and with a smaller maximum aperture compared to prime lenses. For the purposes of this commodity, I’m going to focus on three primary categories of lenses: 1. Wide-angle lenses, two. Standard lenses, and 3. Telephoto lenses.

Lenses for Landscape Photography
1 of my favorite things to exercise with landscape photography is to use an ultra-wide focal length—in this case, 12mm—and fill the frame with a dominant element. The distortion created gives the sense of something being much larger than it may be.

Wide-Angle Lenses

If I had to wager a guess, I’d say that most mural photographers veer toward the wider finish of the focal length spectrum, and that makes sense. In a lot of cases, our aim is to convey the grandeur of the scene in front of us. Tall, sprawling copse and meandering mountain ranges often require wider focal lengths to “fit information technology all in.” So, allow’s start in that location. Nowadays, there are a vast array of lens options that afford photographers with dizzyingly broad focal lengths. Whether your camera uses a cropped or full-frame sensor, odds are that y’all can find a lens that offers you a focal length as wide as 16mm or wider. That’due south
a lot
of space to cover.

Fortunately, there are a number of fantastic prime lenses that offering uncommonly wide focal lengths along with big, maximum apertures. While epitome quality will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, information technology is fairly easy to find solidly built ultra-wide prime number lenses betwixt 14mm and 18mm and with max apertures of f/two.eight or faster. If lens weight is a chief concern, you lot’ll certainly want to expect at transmission focus options, as those tend to weigh less.

I had mentioned that one of the most common lenses used inside the wide-angle zoom lens category is the sixteen-35mm variety. Virtually every camera manufacturer has this type of lens. However, I’ve recently found myself going even wider with a 12-24mm lens, and the results have been impressive. The important point to recollect is that the wider your focal length, the more of import it is to direct your viewers through the frame. If you present a photo with no clear direction or anchor, your viewer will get lost, quickly lose involvement and move on. Therefore, orchestration of what you choose to include, especially at wider focal lengths, is critical.

You may take noticed that I haven’t touched on aperture much hither, and that’s with practiced reason. When I recently audited my landscape library, the clear majority of photos were taken using apertures ranging between f/11 and f/16, and that doesn’t surprise me. In most of my wide-angle photos, my aim was to convey vast scenery, and while I often included a clear focal signal, I didn’t want drib focus by using a fast aperture. And then, I’d argue that at wider focal lengths, having a fast aperture won’t benefit you as frequently as you may think. Of class, there is ane notable exception: night/astral photography. In that state of affairs, having an ultra-wide and ultra-fast lens can be a massive boon, especially if your goal is to get pin-precipitous stars.

Standard Lenses

Let’s start by defining what the general focal range of a standard lens is. I loosely define this as a lens with a focal length between 24mm and 70mm. You’re not quite ultra-wide, nor are you getting to that tight telephoto zoom area, but yous are covering the full general bending-of-view that we use to meet with our own eyes, and that’s an important point to bring up. If you’re composing a mural photo at a focal length that most closely covers our optics’ angle-of-view, information technology’southward that much more than of import to pique your viewers’ attention.

In other words, if your goal is to share a landscape photo at a mid-focal range, do you think that composing it the fashion that nosotros humans would perceive it ourselves if nosotros were standing there makes the most sense? That is to say, don’t just hold your camera (or position your tripod) so that it’s at eye level…the style nosotros typically perceive the world in front of united states. Creatively composing your photos at these mid-focal ranges will do wonders with getting your viewers’ attention.

Lenses for Landscape Photography
One of my favorite things to exercise with my standard zoom lens is to have reward of how shut you can focus to your subject. While it isn’t exactly macro photography, it does give me the opportunity to create some very compelling photos of subjects that would probably become totally overlooked.

Similar to the wide-bending lens category, the standard zoom lens category has a clear favorite range by photographers and manufacturers. That range is 24-70mm, and I’d wager that this particular lens is probably the near normally endemic lens out in that location. Virtually every manufacturer who makes zoom lenses has a 24-70mm offering. However, there is another alternative that gets y’all just as broad but allows you lot to zoom in much tighter. That lens is the 24-105mm standard zoom, and it has been a longtime favorite of mine. Aside from the extra 35mm of zoom afforded to users, the 24-105mm lens typically offers near-macro-mode focal distance, assuasive you to get really shut to your subject.

Telephoto Lenses

Now we find ourselves at the longer end of the focal length range and, in my stance, the almost fun class of lenses to use for landscape photography. In near cases, landscape photographers who work in the telephoto range use zoom lenses that comprehend the 70-200mm span but can also go well beyond. While the 70-200mm lens is certainly ane of the most popular telephoto zoom lenses, I’ve come up to love my 100-400mm lens. The extra focal length alone makes it worth having a slower, variable aperture over its 70-200mm sibling. Of course, these lenses tend to be larger and heavier and, at the expense of my own frustration, are painted white past the manufacturer.

The longer end of this focal range offers its own set of unique challenges and benefits. These longer focal lengths require y’all to exist even more discerning with what yous choose to compose in your frame. Whereas at 12mm, all you demand to practice is point your photographic camera and virtually everything in front of you will exist in frame, at 70mm and longer, identifying the key focal points in your frame becomes that much more important.

Lenses for Landscape Photography
I’m most in an entirely different mindset when using my telephoto zoom lens. Instead of taking in the vastness of what’s in front of me, I pay more attention to finer details, like the way the snowfall and clouds get blown clear across these mountain peaks.

The benefits come up with the added lens compression introduced at these longer focal lengths. At 16mm, it can be quite challenging to convey a sense of depth and altitude when photographing a mountain range. Y’all’ll certainly exist able to capture all of information technology, as well every bit what’s in front of it, but the altitude from the foreground to the background won’t be as apparent. By using the longer focal length of telephoto zoom lenses, you may need to tighten up on what yous include in the frame, but the human relationship of altitude between the foreground, middle-ground and background elements volition be much clearer. An added benefit with lens compression at these longer focal lengths is that distortion tends to be eliminated almost completely when compared to wider focal lengths.

Lenses for Landscape Photography
If I attempted a similar self-portrait with a wide-angle lens, the distortion and lack of depth would ruin the result. Considering I used a telephoto zoom lens, I was able to take advantage of lens compression, creating a distinct relationship of distance between me and the mountain range in the groundwork.

Lens Options

Wide-Angle Lenses

Acknowledge information technology. In that location are many landscape scenes that are too grand to not exist captured in a single frame. There are enough of instances when you want to fit that giant mountain forth with the sweeping tree line and that perfectly still lake into a single frame. This is where your broad-bending lens shines. When considering alternative lenses to the common 16-35mm lens, there are several worthy options to look at. One thing to consider with these culling lenses is that you’ll demand to utilize proprietary filter systems custom-congenital for these particularly bulbous front elements.

Prime number Lens Options:

Rokinon 14mm F2.viii IF ED UMC. This affordable transmission-focus lens provides good image quality and sharpness, and is available in a variety of camera mounts.


Zeiss Touit 2.eight/12. The quality of Zeiss glass is world famous, and this -broad-angle APS-C lens for Sony or Fujifilm shooters lens is no exception. [Ed. Note: Matiash is a Zeiss Ambassador, merely we completely agree with the quality of their lenses.] The lens has splendid border-to-edge sharpness and the T* blanket reduces flaring and ghosting.


Zoom Lens Options:

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 M. Sony makes 2 broad-angle zooms, this 12-24mm and a Grand-Chief xvi-35mm. Although the G Master lens is better on newspaper, nosotros like the 12-24mm for the uniquely wide (merely not fisheye) field of view, and the lack of baloney and flare, something that’s pretty mutual at this super-broad focal length.


Nikon AF-S NIKKOR fourteen-24mm F2.8G ED. The distinctive shape of this lens makes it easy to spot out in the field, and the optical quality makes it hard to beat. This is a legendary wide-bending lens.


Standard Lenses

As far as standard prime number lenses go, my choice will always be 35mm. It is an absolutely archetype focal length, and one that I discover immensely enjoyable to employ when practicing street photography. If I had to choose 1 zoom lens to have to a location that I’d never been to, it would be a 24-105mm lens. Both sides of this focal range offer something for photographers to create unique and memorable photos. The 24mm is a corking wide-bending focal length that allows you to capture your scene while minimizing barrel distortion, and the 90-105mm range is great if you’re photographing a person in a forest, especially because it introduces some pleasing compression.

Prime Lens Options:

Olympus M.Zuiko ED 17mm f1.2 PRO. It’s been nearly impossible to get a super-sharp broad-angle, wide-aperture lens in the Micro 4 Thirds platform, considering it’s difficult to maintain edge-to-edge prototype quality in a lens that has such a wide aperture but the engineers at Olympus have made it possible with this 17mm f1.two PRO lens, and the other lenses in the trio of PRO drinking glass.


Canon EF 50mm f/i.four USM. For the upkeep-minded Canon shooter stll looking for great operation, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM fits nicely between the lower-end 50mm f/i.viii STM and the high-end EF 50mm f/1.2L USM (which is a dandy lens if y’all can afford it.) The iamge quality is excellent, withal it won’t suspension the bank.


Full-Range Zoom Lens Options:

Tamron eighteen-200mm F/iii.five-6.3 Di Iii VC. With a full-frame equivalent of 28-310mm, this all-around travel lens is also a neat choice at the broad stop for mural and bully for capturing wild fauna at the long finish of the zoom. With vibration reduction and a number of elements designed to reduce aberrations, the compact lens is a great choice for mirrorless shooters, and it comes in both black and silver.


Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG (OS)* HSM | Fine art. Another great all-around lens, the 24-105mm F4 DG HSM is part of the company’s “Fine art” lens lineup, known for its splendid prototype quality at a price that’s lower than you’d look. The lens has paradigm-stabilization and a 9-bract aperture for smoothen background blur. The Hypersonic Motor (HSM) is fast and quiet, which makes this lens great for video use too.


Telephoto Lenses

Over the past year or so, I’ve found myself using telephoto lenses more and more than because I detect the resulting compositional opportunities quite rewarding. When you teeter at these longer focal lengths, yous become more discerning well-nigh what y’all include in your frame and how everything is arranged. It becomes more about what you should exclude rather than how much you can include. Additionally, the sense of distance and scale of elements throughout the frame is very visually pleasing.

Prime Lens Options:

Fujifilm XF90mmF2 R LM WR. Yous’d exist difficult pressed to find a nicer prime lens than this Fujifilm 90mm, and it is lightweight too. With 11 elements in eight groups and three ED elements, the pocket-size lens packs quite an imaging punch.


Zoom Lens Options:

Sony Atomic number 26 100-400mm F4.v-5.half dozen GM OSS. This Thousand Master lens from Sony has a wide reach in the long telephoto range. I’ve used it to shoot everything from moon rises to afar mountains. It’s too an incredible sports lens, giving it extra value for the versatile shooter.


Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS Two USM. Canon’s EF 100-400mm f/four.5-5.6L IS 2 USM is a legendary lens, institute on the sidelines of near pro sporting events. Information technology’due south also a bully lens for capturing landscapes and wild animals, with super-speed AF and tack-precipitous images.


Tamron SP 150-650mm F/v-half dozen.3 Di VC USD G2. There’southward just nearly no more versatile super-telephoto than this Tamron, with a achieve to 600mm and a locking-zoom mechanism that allows you lot to go on the lens set up at a sure focal length. When you need to reach out and touch the landscape—or just most any other discipline—this lens is for you.


Brian Matiash is a professional mural and travel photographer, published author and podcaster. He specializes in fusing photography with experiential storytelling and practical instruction to assist others abound their creativity. He also co-hosts the “No Name Photo Show,” one of the most popular photography podcasts in iTunes.


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Originally posted 2022-02-12 14:40:01.