With Spring around the corner, more of us will be heading outside with our camera and lens collection to capture the changing landscape around us but if you’re unsure what lens to take with you or maybe you’re in the market for an upgrade, do check out our list of top scoring lenses which are perfect for landscape photography.
As well as a wide-angle lens, you’ll be needing a macro lens to get close to the flowers that’ll be springing up soon so it’s well worth taking a look at our top ten best macro lenses article if you so happen to be needing a new one.
1. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM
The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM is a wide-angle lens that offers superb and consistent performance. Sharpness is excellent throughout as too is CA correction and no flare was present in any of the shots we captured with the lens when we put it to the test. Manufacturing can not be faulted and the weather-sealing also ticks another ‘plus’ box. There’s no IS, but that may be more acceptable in wide angle lenses and another negative is the price as it’s not something everyone will be able to stretch to. Having said that, if your budget can justify the large margin between it and the alternatives, it’s well-worth considering.
2. Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM Lens
The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM is a wide-angle lens for full-frame cameras that sports a zoom range of just over 2x and a constant maximum aperture of f/4. Sharpness is excellent, autofocus speeds are very fast and even with its excellent build quality, thanks in part to the constant f/4 maximum aperture, this lens only weighs 615g. The 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM lens has a four-stop image stabiliser and sharp images can be produced around half the time with shutters speeds as low as 1/2sec at 35mm, which is roughly four stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would allow for handheld shooting.
3. Samyang Premium MF 14mm f/2.4
The Samyang Premium MF 14mm f/2.4 is a high-class performer and actually, rather exciting to use. As this is a manual lens, a tripod is recommended when out capturing photos (which you’ll probably be using anyway) and you won’t be disappointed with the results as sharpness can be stunning. The alternative technique of setting a reasonably small aperture, say f/8, and using depth of field to ensure sharpness throughout, can be very liberating and also yields excellent results but really, whatever technique you choose, the lens will deliver high-class results.
4. Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM | A Lens
This Sigma 24-35mm f/2 lens for full frame cameras sports a fast f/2 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range and with it covering the popular 24mm, 28mm and 35mm focal lengths, it has the potential of replacing three wide angle primes in one go. Construction is superb and a silent HSM focusing motor powers the focusing mechanism, which is very quick and accurate. It’s capable of delivering excellent sharpness, with low CA and distortion and offers pretty good value for money too. The Sigma 24-35mm f/2 is available in Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts.
5. Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Lens
This standard zoom lens for APS-C format cameras sports a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range and silent internal focusing with full-time manual override. Build quality is very solid with high-quality plastics used for much of the lens barrel and the lens is finished with a metallic glossy finish in parts and both zoom and focusing rings are very smooth to operate. A silent HSM focusing motor powers the focusing mechanism and the lens offers excellent sharpness levels. The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 is available to fit Canon, Nikon and Sigma cameras.
6. Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Lens
The premium fast wide-angle Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM full frame lens is still taking some beating in the score ranks. It features a fast and virtually silent ultrasonic motor which offers accurate focusing under a wide range of conditions. The lens rarely has to hunt for focus, even in low light and images produced by this lens have good contrast and are packed with detail. The Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM offers excellent optical performance, build quality and handling.
7. Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED NIKKOR Lens
Nikon’s 14-24mm f/2.8 extreme-wide zoom lens is a professional optic truly deserving the extreme title. 14mm is very, very wide on a full-frame camera lending itself perfectly to landscape photography. Most of the body of the 14-24mm is constructed of metal and the zoom ring moves with quite a light touch, which is quite an achievement considering the sheer amount of glass being moved around by the zoom mechanism. In terms of resolution, handling and even its resistance to flare and ghosting, this lens is excellent.
8. Irix 15mm f/2.4 Lens
The Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens is a powerful photographic tool. The lens is free from flare, very sharp and all-in-all, it’s a beautifully engineered lens that produces beautiful images. Centrally, the CA figures are as close to zero as we could possibly expect, which is outstanding and distortion is well held at -2.07% barrelling, which is very reasonable for such a wide lens.
9. Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 Distagon T* Lens
The Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 Distagon T* lens is small, light and easier to focus and handle than many other wide lenses available. Ideal for travel and landscape photographers, this lens offers excellent sharpness, virtually no CA and flare isn’t a problem. It’s also weather resistant so if you get stuck out in a shower, your kit will be ok even if you’re soaked to the bone. On top of this, the lens produces lovely bokeh and is just gorgeous to use. Yes, it’s a little on the pricey side but overall, it’s a great lens.
10. Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens
14mm is an exciting and powerful focal length for both a wide range of creative photography and for architectural record shots. Given the high quality of the results from this lens and the relatively modest price, it makes the Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC a very attractive proposition. The lens offers excellent sharpness, low CA, is resistant to flare and is well-built. There is obvious barrel distortion but this can be corrected and the AF is worth mentioning as it’s fast silent and accurate.
11. HD PENTAX-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR Lens
The Pentax D FA 15-30mm f/2.8 ED SDM WR is quite simply a beautiful, sweet lens to use. It is heavy and bulky and not inexpensive, but it delivers a very high standard of performance and maintains that standard equally well at all apertures and focal lengths. From sweeping vistas to expansive interiors, this lens has multiple uses and produces beautiful results no matter what genre you’re shooting.
12. Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 Lens
The Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 lens is a very fine example of quality lens manufacturing. Its main drawback may be the lack of AF, but if that can be accepted then its optical quality is impeccable and it would be difficult to find a more pleasing lens to use. Yes, the price is high, but you do expect this from Zeiss optics and a lens like this is more about long-term investment rather than quick use. As you’d expect from a premium lens, image quality is impeccable and overall, it’s a really great lens to use.
13. Fujifilm Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR
This wide angle lens Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR for the Fujifilm X-series interchangeable lens cameras provides a field of view equivalent to a 24mm lens on a 35mm camera, sports a fast f/1.4 maximum aperture and weather resistant construction. Autofocus is quick and accurate, locking onto subjects with little hesitation and this lens is certainly capable of delivering excellent quality images. Fuji X-series camera owners after a high quality, fast, wide-angle lens will find this lens should easily satisfy their requirements.
14. Fujifilm Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R Lens
This Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R ultra wide-angle prime lens for the Fujifilm X series interchangeable lens cameras provides a field of view equivalent to a 21mm lens on a 35mm camera and has a maximum aperture of f/2.8. This lens is more than capable of delivering superb results with extremely low distortion with barely any sign of chromatic aberrations and sharpness is outstanding. Ultra-wide angle lenses don’t generally get much better than this optic.
15. Fujifilm Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS Lens
This Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS ultra-wide angle zoom lens for Fujifilm X-series interchangeable lens cameras provides a field of view equivalent to 15-36mm lens on a 35mm camera, sports a constant maximum aperture of f/4 and isn’t badly priced. The sharpness delivered by this lens is outstanding, focusing is quick and precise and the robust build helps to assert that this is a quality piece of equipment. It’s an excellent quality lens that should exceed the expectations of even the most discerning photographer.
16. Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM A
This full-frame lens from Sigma features a hypersonic focusing motor, brass lens mount and build quality you’d expect from a top of the range lens. Autofocus is powered by a silent HSM motor, which provides quick focus speeds in a wide range of conditions and overall image sharpness is high, with low distortion and CA. The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 is available in Nikon, Canon and Sigma lens mounts.
17. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G
The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G for full-frame cameras features a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture, silent internal focusing and nanocrystal coatings to help control ghosting and flare. Autofocus is powered by a silent wave motor, and autofocus speeds are relatively fast. Its performance is up with the best of them and its price point makes it an excellent value choice.
18. Samyang 16mm f/2.0 ED AS UMC CS Lens
This manual focus wide angle lens for APS-C format cameras offers a fast f/2 maximum aperture and when used with an APS-C sensor camera, this lens provides an angle of view equivalent to a 24mm lens used on a 35mm camera. Even though this lens is keenly priced for its specification, the build quality is very good and sharpness is excellent. Some photographers may find manual focusing off-putting, spending a little time practising and getting used to how the lens behaves will pay dividends in the long run. This is especially true when considering how little this lens costs for what you get. The Samyang 16mm f/2.0 lens is available in Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, Samsung NX, Micro Four Thirds and Four Thirds lens mounts.
19. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Micro Four Thirds Lens
This premium optic from Olympus for Micro Four Thirds system compatible cameras offers a wide field of view equivalent to a 24mm lens on a 35mm camera, internal focusing and a fast f/2 maximum aperture. Autofocus is quick and virtually silent and the lens sports Olympus’ Snapshot focus mechanism, which allows the photographer to change between auto and manual focus by sliding the focus ring back and forth. The system works well providing quick access to manual focus control and the mechanism has a premium quality feel to it, gliding into place. The wide aperture is very useful for taking images in low light conditions and sharpness is outstanding.
20. Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH.
Regardless of the technical results, the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH. produces images that look fantastic. When we do examine the detail, the overall standard of sharpness is very good indeed and it becomes outstanding at the centre over most of the aperture range. This high standard shows up the effects of diffraction with the fairly soft results at f/16 and it is probably a wise decision not to include the option of f/22.
Even though it’s not perfect, what we do have here is a very exciting prospect for MFT format users with a lens that provides a unique bright f/1.4 aperture and excels at producing superb images.
21. Zeiss Milvus 15mm f/2.8 Distagon T* Lens
The Zeiss Milvus 15mm f/2.8 Distagon T* lens will be an optic welcomed by Zeiss enthusiasts but those who aren’t such hardcore fans may find the asking price a little steep. For your money, you do get a moisture and dust resistant lens that offers excellent sharpness, no flare, virtually no CA and lovely bokeh. As you’d expect from Zeiss, the lens is constructed beautifully but as it’s manual focus, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
22. Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4 E ED Tilt Shift Lens
The Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4 E ED Tilt Shift is a working tool, indispensable for those working in architecture, for heritage photographers, and for those who can afford to use it for creative imagery. Some professionals will simply buy this and will get many years of good service out of it however, it’s not a lens everyone will be able to afford but they will probably admire it none-the-less. Image quality is superb and it has vast potential for those who require such a specialist lens.
23. Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD Lens
The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD lens is an excellent lens. It is designed with the centre of the field very much in mind, so depending on use, it should be possible to enjoy the outstanding sharpness when the main subject is fairly centrally placed. However, it is still possible to have excellent edge sharpness if the aperture used is chosen with that in mind.
It is an attractive optic, not only for its sharpness and other optical qualities but also for its smart design ethos, matching nicely with other Tamron lenses. Add the moisture resistance and a price competitive with its peers and we have a very useful general purpose wide angle zoom capable of very satisfactory results.
24. Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
This ultra-wide angle lens from Tamron sports a fast constant aperture of f/2.8 and is compatible with full-frame cameras. As this lens incorporates Tamron’s USD silent focusing motor, focusing is very quick and virtually silent. Manual focusing is a pleasure as the narrow focus ring is well damped. The lens sports robust build quality and weather sealing plus, it offers excellent optical performance for a reasonable price with low CA and high levels of sharpness. The Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 is available in Nikon, Canon and Sony lens mounts.
25. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO
This ultra-wide angle zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system cameras provides an angle of view equivalent to a 14-28mm lens used on a 35mm format camera and sports a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range. The lens is also dust and splash proof, plus it delivers images with outstanding sharpness, whilst handling well.
26. Samyang 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS MFT Lens
This 12mm wide-angle lens is available to fit a wide range of mirrorless system cameras and on an MFT camera, it offers an angle of view equivalent to a 24mm lens on a 35mm camera. This wide angle, coupled with the fast f/2 maximum aperture and build quality of this lens is excellent. Overall, this is an excellent optic that produces images with excellent sharpness, low distortion and low CA. The Samyang 12mm f/2.0 lens is available in Canon M, Fujifilm X, Samsung NX, Micro Four Thirds, and Sony E lens mounts.
27. Irix 11mm f/4 Firefly Lens
What an exciting lens the Irix 11mm f/4 Firefly is. It opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities in a well-made, well-designed package that delivers the image quality photographers want. It will not be for everybody, perhaps because of the ultra-wide style of the images, or maybe because of difficulties using the manual focus system, but if the lens appeals to the individual photographer’s creativity then it will be a rewarding experience.
28. Samyang 20mm f/1.8 ED AS UMC Lens
Without a doubt, the Samyang 20mm f/1.8 ED AS UMS adds up to being a very good deal. It has a reasonable price tag, is well made and has a high standard of performance. 20mm lenses are very attractive for the wide angle photographer, wide enough to be interesting, but not so wide as to be very difficult to handle, and his 20mm offering will not disappoint so long as you don’t mind manual focus and the fact that the lens isn’t weather resistant.