Best lens for landscape photography – wide-angle zooms
August 3, 2022
Are you looking for the best lens for landscape photography? Or perhaps the the perfect lens for landscapes? Well, there are excellent cases to be made for all sorts. But while longer lenses and fixed focal lengths can be great for scenics, the fact is that the wide-angle zoom is pretty much king in the great outdoors.
Not only do wide-angle zooms let you frame broad vistas with ease, they’re versatile enough to give somewhat tighter views if they’re appropriate to the scene.
Go it alone or pair one with your standard zoom and you’ll have pretty much all you need for a day in the hills. That’s why you’ll almost always find a wide-angle zoom in a landscape photographer’s bag.
Of course, wide-angle zooms come in all shapes, sizes and prices, but what’s also often important to landscapers is a combination of light weight, usability, and high quality. So here’s AP’s pick of more portable wide-angle options that won’t drag you back down the hill you’re trying to get up.
They might not always be the fastest, but there are still large aperture versions for low-light work, and with modern cameras you can afford to push the ISO a little more anyway, often making up the difference between an f/2.8 and an f/4 model. Plus, unlike much faster models, most of these lenses will also take regular screw-in filters and mount regular holders, so you won’t need to add adapters and big glass to your bag.
So without further ado, here are our recommendations for the best lenses for landscape photography:
Best lens for landscape photography for Canon:
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
Street Price: £579 / $704 | www.canon.co.uk
This wide-angle zoom is designed for Canon cameras with an APS-C sensor, like the Canon EOS 90D or 250D. It gives a view similar to a 16-35mm lens on a full-frame body, so there’s plenty of options for big scenes. And being made to be compact and lightweight at only 83.5×89.8mm and 385g, it’s a great choice for landscape photographers who’re doing extensive hiking. This doesn’t come at the expense of image quality though, with the lens using a Super Spectra coatings that combats ghosting and flare to keep images clear and contrasty. As a bonus, its minimum focusing distance of 24cm means you can achieve sumptuous foreground textures.
Street price: £1389 / $1690 | www.canon.co.uk
One of the most versatile and dependable landscape lenses ever made, the EF 16-35mm f/4 combines L-series quality with supreme portability. Made for Canon’s full-frame DSLRs, it delivers edge-to-edge sharpness via three aspherical elements, two ultra-low dispersion elements and a Super Spectra Coating.
The f/4 maximum aperture might not scream low-light landscapes, but it’s only a stop slower than the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM so can easily be made up in ISO, it’s constant, and will save you about £1000. If you’re caught without a tripod, the lens’s Optical Image Stabilizer is rated at four-stops, so that could get you out of a (dark) hole, too. Weighing a reasonable 615g, it’s by no means huge either, at 83x113mm and boasts some decent weather sealing.
Read our Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM Review
Canon RF 14-35mm f/4 L IS USM
Street price £1749 / $2128 | www.canon.co.uk
If you’ve moved to Canon’s stunning new RF mounts cameras and want a lightweight full frame wide-angle zoom, look no further than the RF 14-35mm f4 L IS USM; a lens that really shows the benefits of the new system. The 14mm end adds incredible drama to landscapes, but step into the zoom and there’s plenty of scope for tighter framing.
With a constant f/4 aperture, it still has low-light potential, while the optical construction is exemplary with three aspherical and three ultra-low dispersion elements giving superb sharpness and distortion control.
If you need to work handheld, there’s a highly effective 5.5-stop Image Stabilizer that will increase to a heady 7 stops when fitted to a EOS-R camera with IBIS. Weighing 540g and measuring 84.1×99.8mm it’s highly portable and weather sealed, too.
Best lens for landscape photography for Nikon:
Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
Street price £1149 / $1398 | www.nikon.co.uk
Launched over a decade ago, this full-frame (FX) lens still offers superb landscape options. It was the world’s first ultra wide-angle zoom to offer optical stabilisation and is rated at four stops, so very useful in a handheld squeeze, while the f/4 aperture is constant throughout the zoom.
The lens provides excellent sharpness and distortion free images thanks to its three aspherical and two extra-low dispersion elements, while Nikon’s legendary Nano Crystal Coating ensures superb clarity.
It also has a nine bladed diaphragm which is rounded to give softer and more natural rendering to landscape details and highlights, and at 680g and 82.5x125mm it can save size and weight in a backpack compared to the faster but larger, heavier and more expensive 14-24mm f/2.8. And still offers great build and weather sealing.
Street price £309 / $376 | www.nikon.co.uk
If you’re using a Nikon DSLR with an APS-C format sensor (Nikon’s DX range) the Nikon 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 G AF-P DX VR can open up a world of landscape opportunities beyond the grasp of a standard zoom.
Giving an equivalent 15-30mm view, at 230g and 77x73mm lens is seriously tiny, making it suitable for the most arduous hikes. But just because it’s small, it doesn’t skimp on the image quality. This lens uses three aspherical lens elements within its construction to give rich, natural colour and excellent sharpness.
There’s no weather sealing but it does have Vіbrаtіоn Rеduсtіоn rated at 3.5 stops, so if you’re travelling without a tripod, sharp shots are still achievable at slower speed. There’s also a handy 22cm closest focusing for close up details. Check your Nikon DX camera is compatible as it won’t work fully on all of them.
Here’s what we thought of the Nikon 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 G AF-P DX VR
Street price £1349 / $1641 | www.nikon.co.uk
Perfectly illustrating the appeal of Nikon’s excellent mirrorless Z Series, the Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S brings superb image quality in a package that’s far smaller and lighter than its FX forebears. It weighs only 485g, measures 89x85mm thanks to a retracting design and is the widest Nikon full frame lens to allow screw-on filters, taking 82mm models.
As one of the Z Series’ S line it also has top-notch optics, with no less than four extra-low dispersion and four aspherical elements, plus Nikon’s anti-reflective Nano Crystal Coat.
There’s no optical image stabilisation, but all the full-frame Z cameras have that in the body, keeping the lens’s footprint even smaller. And if you’re shooting landscapes in harsh conditions or poor weather, it’s weather sealed against drips and dust.
Best lens for landscape photography for Sony:
Street price £1399 / $1702 | www.sony.co.uk
Offering the widest view of any Sony full-frame wide-angle zooms, you might expect the FЕ 12-24mm F4 G to be big and heavy, but not a bit of it. Like Sony’s exemplary Alpha cameras this is a lens built with a low profile, but still offers peak quality via its four aspherical, one super extra-low dispersion and three extra-low dispersion elements, plus a Nano AR coating to suppress reflections.
It won’t take front filters, so an adapter holder is required, and though there’s no optical image stabilisation, that comes as standard in the Alpha bodies. The f/4 aperture brings some starry-sky possibilities, and at 565g and 87х117.4mm it’s a great option when space is tight, while its all-weather construction means you can keep shooting in some pretty foul conditions.
Sigma 16-28mm f/2.8 DG DN C
Street price £749 / $911 | www.sigma-imaging-uk.com
Designed for full-frame Sony E-mount and L-mount cameras, the 16-28mm f/2.8 DG DN C is an exceptionally small, light, fast and versatile wide-angle zoom.
It promises very low distortion and edge-to-edge sharpness, via five FLD and four aspherical lens elements, and uses an internal zoom mechanism, there’s no extension of the front element, perfect for use with polarising filters or holders.
It takes an affordable 72mm fit there. The lens is backpack ready at just 100.6mm long and weighs only 450g, while offering dust and splash resistance.
Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS (APS-C)
Street price £629 / $765 | www.sony.co.uk
If you shoot landscapes on a Sony mirrorless camera with an APS-C format sensor like the A6400 or A5100, you’ll want an equally small, lightweight but dependable wide-angle zoom. The 10-18mm F4 OSS is just that, offering a streamlined design that’s still weather sealed. At 225g and 70х63.5mm it’s genuinely pocket sized, so can be brought along as the accompaniment to a standard zoom, and it takes 62mm filters and adapter rings, which keeps space – and cost – down, too.
Its constant aperture means shutter speed and ISO can be kept consistent across the 15-27mm equivalent range, perfect for manual working, and it has a four-stop optical stabiliser for hasty handheld landscapes if required.
Best lens for landscape photography for Fujifilm:
Street price £949 / $1154 | www.fujifilm-x.com
Recently updated to include weather sealing, an upgraded aperture ring and more effective stabilisation, the XF10-24mm F4 R OIS WR is our pick of wide-angle zooms for X Series landscapers.
With an equivalent view of 15-36mm it’s a highly versatile package and gives a constant f/4 aperture across the range. The updated aperture ring has a lock to prevent accidental shifts in the diaphragm, while it Optical Image Stabilizer gets an additional stop over the previous 10-24mm model, and will go higher with IBIS-equipped X Series bodies like the X-T4 and X-H2S.
At 77.6х87mm and 385g it’s highly portable, but that doesn’t mean any compromise in optical quality with four aѕрhеrісаl and four extra-low dispersion elements.
You can read more about the Fujifilm XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS WR and see where this sits on the XF lens roadmap.
Best lens for landscape photography for M43 / MFT:
Street price £899 / $1093 | www.panasonic.com
Covering 16-36mm in old money, the Panasonic 8-18mm f/2.8-4 gives some superb low-light landscape options for Micro Four Thirds shooters, while sticking to all the things that make the format so attractive for adventure photography.
At 315g and 73x88mm it’s bag or pocket friendly, but also weather sealed. The lens has an optical construction of 15 elements іn 10 groups with one aspherical extra-low dispersion, three regular аѕрhеrісаl, two extra-low dispersion and one ultra-high refractive indех elements in the light path, all of which adds up to some beautifully sharp and distortion free results.
The minimum focus of 23cm also brings foreground details like flowers and sandy patterns up close for landscapes.
Read more on the Panasonic 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH Vario. lens
Street price £1059 / $1288 | www.olympus .co.uk
A smart, lightweight evolution of Olympus’s original Four Thirds wide-angle zoom, the ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO is a slip of a thing in comparison. At 534g and 78.9×105.8, it’s larger than some options, but still highly portable, with the benefit of a fast f/2.8 aperture setting throughout, which makes a great choice for nightscapes.
The lens delivers splendid sharpness from its 14 element, 11 group construction, and its seven bladed aperture gives beautiful sunstars.
Weatherproofed, though with a protruding front element that needs a bit of caution in use, and an adapter to mount filters, one of this lens’s trump cards is its incredible minimum fосuѕing dіѕtаnсе of just 20сm from giving some superbly exaggerated foregrounds.
Best lens for landscape photography for Pentax:
Pentax DA* HD 11-18mm f/2.8 ED DC AW
Street price £1214 / $1477 | www.ricoh-imaging.eu
Pentax produces some great lightweight DSLRs for landscaping and models like the K-3 Mark III have superb weather sealing. To match, check out the DA* HD 11-18mm f/2.8 ED DC AW, with its dustproof, weather-resistant construction letting you keep on shooting in atmospheric rain or mist, or close to water without worry.
Its ultra-wide view gives an equivalent 17-27.5mm and despite having a fast f/2.8 aperture it comes in at a reasonable 704g and 90x100mm, keeping load reasonable. It also has a very handy Focus Clamp mechanism which lets users lock the point of focus for multiple exposures, bracketing or starlit scenes.
Best lens for landscape photography for APS-C:
Tokina Atx-I 11-20mm F2.8 CF
Street price £529 / $643 | www.tokinalens.com
This ultra-wide zoom for APS-C bodies is available in Canon EF-S and Nikon F mounts, and with a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8 it’s a great tool for low-light landscape work, including Milky Way shots and aurora shots, or for general scenes, too.
The focal lengths make it versatile, while it uses three aspherical and three super-low dispersion elements to provide edge-to-edge sharpness and excellent contrast.
The 28cm minimum focus isn’t as close as some, but it takes front filters, with an 82mm size, and has an internal focusing design, so the front element won’t rotate, which is helpful while using a polariser or holder.
Tamron 11-20mm f/2.8 Di III-A RXD
Street price £819 / $996 | www.tamron.eu
A premium lightweight wide-angle zoom designed for Sony E-Mount APS-C mirrorless cameras, the Tamron 11-20mm f/2.8 Di III-A RXD offers a great mix of image quality image, portability and performance.
The constant f/2.8 keeps settings consistent throughout the zoom and is great for low-light work, while the lens uses two glass moulded aspherical elements, as well as one extra-low dispersion and two low dispersion elements for edge-to-edge sharpness.
Despite all this – and being weather sealed – it’s only 335g in weight while measuring 72х86.2mm. And for those who want closeups, there’s an impressive minimum focus of just 15cm at 11mm giving a magnification of 0.25x.
Article: Kingsley Singleton
Once you’ve found the best lens for landscape photography for your landscape photography, have a look at more guides in the latest buying advice.