What is the Best Lens for Landscape Photography?
- Landscape Photography Lens Features
- Best Lens for Landscape Photography - MFT
- Best Lens for Landscape Photography - APS-C
- Best Lens for Landscape Photography - Full Frame
- Best Lens for Landscape Photography - Medium Format
- Best Landscape Photography Gear
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Photo by DEBOVE SOPHIE via iStock
One of the fun things about being a professional photographer and an instructor is the questions I get asked by various people. Sometimes the questions are about cameras, formats, film vs digital, and then the ever-present how to make money from photography, especially landscape photography, my favorite genre.
If you’ve ever spoken to me in person, you know that my first answer is almost a clarifying question. I ask about what they already know or use and just what they’re trying to do. The thing is, there isn’t a preset answer to virtually any question about photography or landscape photography gear.
That has never stopped me from talking about landscape photography, though. I love it, and I want to share the joy. So, today I’ll answer one of the more interesting questions, what is the best lens for landscape photography?
Since there are so many format options in digital cameras, there won't be one answer that fits everyone. So, I’ll highlight the best lens for landscape photography in several popular digital formats. I'll also list some really useful landscape photography gear.
Table of Contents:
Landscape Photography Lens Features
Photo by franckreporter via iStock
What features work for me in a landscape photography lens? While I like and use all sorts of focal lengths, from wide to telephoto and macro lenses, I find myself gravitating towards a lens significantly wider than a normal range lens.
I also really like smaller and lighter lenses than the ultra fast lenses I use for other applications. Since size and weight are significant factors, I also prefer using a zoom lens instead of carrying several single focal length prime lenses.
High quality is paramount, but that’s actually pretty easy to cover, so many great lenses from several manufacturers qualify. Some kind of weatherproofing or the ruggedness of a professional-level lens is another desired quality or feature.
Add all of that up, and what do I get? A high-quality zoom lens in the ultra-wide to wide-angle range with a moderate aperture and rugged construction. Hard to narrow it down from there! But I’ll get us close.
Best Lens for Landscape Photography - MFT
MFT stands for Micro Four Thirds or Micro 4/3rds format. Most current cameras for the 4/3rds format are now in the mirrorless category, which is what the difference is between 4/3rds (without Micro in front of it) and MFT. All MFT cameras are mirrorless.
Many MFT cameras are intermediate or pro-level, but very few entry-level MFTs. So most of the lenses will also be professional level with good ruggedness and often with weatherproofing. A good example of a camera is the Olympus OM-1 professional-level digital camera.
Leica 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 Vario-Elmarit is my best lens for landscape photography choice in the MFT format and lens mount. Weather-sealed, super sharp, and professionally rugged, this lens uses every trick in the book for great quality. With over 150 years of optical excellence experience, the makers of Leica photography gear have a big book.
Best Lens for Landscape Photography - APS-C
APS-C format cameras come in mirrorless and DSLR flavors from multiple camera makers. I’ve settled on the Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 OIS WR lens as my APS-C format option for the best lens for landscape photography.
It balances perfectly on Fujifilm APS-C mirrorless cameras in both styles they make: the classic rangefinder-style cameras and the cameras that handle like DSLRs but are smaller and lighter. I like it best on the Fujifilm X-H2 camera with its ultra-high resolution 40 MP sensor, pro-level ruggedness, and excellent handgrip.
Best Lens for Landscape Photography - Full Frame
In Full Frame format, Sony currently has the high-resolution champ in the mirrorless Sony A 7R V camera with a 61 MP sensor. High resolution is very desirable for landscape photography gear. Mount the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4.0 G lens, and you give that high-resolution camera one of the widest non-fisheye views available in all of photography.
Rectilinear is the important word for this lens. It means that the ultra-wide view is not distorted into the curvy lines of a fisheye lens. You can capture some truly spectacular views with this awesome setup!
Best Lens for Landscape Photography - Medium Format
I’m double-dipping Fujifilm cameras here, but their mirrorless cameras are wonderful tools for landscape photography. Just imagine what you could do in medium format with a 100 MP resolution, larger than Full Frame format sensor like what’s in the Fujifilm GFX100S camera.
Zoom lenses are sparse in the realm of medium format cameras, but Fujifilm has an amazing ultra wide-angle prime focal length that fits my desired features list, the Fujinon GF23mm f/4.0 LM WR lens. This combination isn’t much larger or heavier than a 90s vintage professional SLR film camera rig but offers the ultimate portable resolving power for landscape photography gear.
Best Landscape Photography Gear
Every choice of the best lens for landscape photography and the cameras I mounted them on for this short list has an advanced level of weatherproofing. Still, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in landscape photography is that you can never be over-prepared for changing weather conditions.
That’s why I’m glad I found the GoShelter wearable canopy. Lightweight and durable, the GoShelter gives hands-free weather protection. It’s usable for protection from water spray, such as at the beach or near a waterfall, and protects you and your landscape photography gear from wind, rain, dust, and sand.
It folds up to a compact size for storage or carrying a small backpack. Available in several colors, from safety orange to a couple of different camouflage patterns. I like the Stealth pattern but I also got a bright safety orange for hunting season.
Best of all, GoShelter is made of a highly durable silicone double-coated polyester ripstop. You can use it without wondering if it will hold up to repeated usage in challenging environments. Just deploy it, take your shots, and do so knowing you’re protected!
If you order today, you can even get a GoShelter for yourself and save $15! Just use the coupon code PT1Umbrella.
Rounding out my landscape photography gear, I always carry a high-power multi-functional rechargeable light like the Streamlight 68795 Dualie and the perfect multitool for everything and everywhere, Leatherman Skeletool CX with knife, pliers, and a bit driver.
Finally, as a bonus, look at the many YouTube landscape photography tutorials from Nigel Danson, such as the one below on mastering focus, because having all of the best landscape photography gear won’t help if we don’t develop the skills needed for great photography. Have a look:
Go ahead and ask me more questions! Just like with the question of the best lens for landscape photography, I’ll have some answers for you. Or at least we’ll have a fun discussion about it!