Skip to main content

The best lenses for landscapes: get ready for the great outdoors

Included in this guide:

Best lenses for landscapes
(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

The best lenses for landscapes are wide-angle zooms. A standard zoom lens can also work really well for landscape photography. However, you’ll often find that you want to squeeze more of a scene into the frame than a standard lens can accommodate. So looking forward to the time when we can all get back into the great outdoors, here are the best landscape lenses for the job – and there's more to it than picking just any old wide-angle lens.

There are some superb ultra-wide-angle zooms on the market but they tend to have integral hoods that form an extension to the barrel, thus protecting the protruding front optical element. That makes it impossible to fit landscape-friendly filters without buying an expensive filter system that has a specialist adapter, like the Lee Filters SW150 Mark II. 

• Read more: Camera filters explained and why you still need them

You'll want a lens that has a relatively long minimum focal distance, a separate hood and a built-in filter thread. A wide, maximum angle of view will ensure you can still fit a vast area of a landscape into the image frame without too much distortion. It's very common to exaggerate perspective in landscape photography, making the distance between the foreground and background greater than what it really is. 

Before we get into the best lenses for landscape photography, you might want to learn the lens basics, what types of lenses are available and what style of photography. Our guide on the best camera lenses to buy will help you discover just how many different lenses are available. 

It's always a good idea to invest in a lens with a generous zoom. Not only does it mean you don't have to carry multiple lenses on you and swap them regularly, but it also gives you a lot of versatility. Most top-end wide-angle zooms will have a fast aperture of f/2.8 but these are pricey to buy and chances are if you're doing landscape photography you won't want to shoot wide open. 

If you're not bothered about having quite such a fast lens, not only will you save yourself money, but you'll save on the size and weight of it too. Lenses with an aperture of f/4 will still deliver sharp images with accurate color reproduction at a fraction of the cost. They are a much better option if you plan to walk long distances as your kit will weigh less. 

With all that in mind, here is our pick of the best lenses for landscapes, to suit a wide range of popular cameras.

Best lenses for landscapes in 2021

Canon

(Image credit: Tamron)

Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD

It's the best landscape lens for Canon APS-C DSLRs

Specifications
Mount: Canon EF-S
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: 4-stop
Minimum focusing distance: 0.24m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.19x
Filter size:: 77mm
Dimensions:: 84x85mm
Weight: 440g
Reasons to buy
+High-end features and image quality+Solid, weather-sealed construction
Reasons to avoid
-Fairly pricey-Heavier than Canon’s 10-18mm zoom

Canon offers two wide-angle zooms for its APS-C format SLRs. There’s the diminutive, budget-friendly and relatively recent EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM, and its older, chunkier and more-upmarket sibling, the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM. This Tamron lens outperforms them both, while matching the latter for price. Unlike both Canon lenses, it features weather-seals for the worst of the outdoor weather and a fluorine coating on the front element to repel spray and raindrops. You won’t need to buy the lens hood separately as an ‘optional extra’, either. 

With a string of letters after its name, it boasts a fast and virtually silent HLD (High/Low toque-modulated Drive) autofocus system and a VC (Vibration Compensation) unit that delivers 4-stop stabilization. Handling, performance and image quality are excellent in all respects, and sharpness is superb across the entire frame, right into the corners.

(Image credit: Canon)

Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM

The best landscape lens for Canon full frame DSLRs

Specifications
Mount: Canon EF
Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring)
Optical stabilizer: 4-stop
Minimum focusing distance: 0.28m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.23x
Filter size: 77mm
Dimensions: 83x113mm
Weight: 615g
Reasons to buy
+Typically refined L-series construction+Great handling and performance
Reasons to avoid
-Sharpness drops off a bit in the corners-Barrel distortion noticeable at 16mm

Launched about six years ago, this 16-35mm has pro-grade handling and build quality typical of Canon’s L-series lenses. Its f/4 aperture rating remains constant throughout the aperture range, there’s a fast and whisper-quiet ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system, it’s weather-sealed, has fluorine coatings on the front and rear elements, and comes complete with a hood. Optical finery includes UD (Ultra-Low Dispersion) elements and Super Spectra coatings, while the 4-stop stabilizer enhances sharpness in handheld shooting. Sharpness itself is outstanding in the central region of the frame although it drops off a bit towards the edges and corners.

(Image credit: Canon)

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM

The best landscape lens for Canon EOS R/EOS RP, but pricey

Specifications
Mount: Canon RF
Autofocus: Ultrasonic (nano)
Optical stabilizer: 5-stop
Minimum focusing distance: 0.28m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.21x
Filter size: 82mm
Dimensions: 89x127mm
Weight: 840g
Reasons to buy
+Super-fast, silent autofocus+5-stop optical stabilizer
Reasons to avoid
-Quite weighty-Expensive

A weighty proposition for Canon’s EOS R-series mirrorless cameras at 840g, this ‘fast’ f/2.8 lens is nevertheless only about the same size and a little heavier than most f/4 wide-angle zooms for full-frame SLRs. Speaking of which, it has similarly high-end L-series build quality as Canon’s EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens for SLRs, with weather-seals and fluorine coatings on the front and rear elements. It also shares the same ‘IS USM’ credentials but the image stabilizer is even more effective, rated at 5-stops instead of 4-stops, and the autofocus is ‘Nano Ultrasonic’ which is even faster more silent, while adding the bonus of smooth autofocus transitions during movie capture. Unusually for such a wide-angle f/2.8 zoom, it has a filter attachment thread and separate hood. The only real downside is the steep selling price.

Nikon

(Image credit: Tamron)

Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD

The best landscape lens for DX format Nikon DSLRs

Specifications
Mount: Nikon F DX
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: 4-stop
Minimum focusing distance: 0.24m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.19x
Filter size: 77mm
Dimensions: 84x85mm
Weight: 440g
Reasons to buy
+Impressive handling and image quality+Tough, weather-sealed build
Reasons to avoid
-Incompatible with older Nikon SLRs-Twice the price of Nikon’s 10-20mm lens

Nikon currently markets a low-budget AF-P DX 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR wide-angle zoom for its APS-C format SLRs, as well as more up-market (and much older) 10-24mm and 12-24mm DX lenses. The Tamron occupies the middle ground in terms of selling price but beats all the Nikon lenses for image quality, especially in terms of corner-to-corner sharpness. It has a solid build, incorporating weather-seals and a fluorine coating on the front element. Key features include a highly efficient 4-stop optical stabilizer, a fast and virtually silent HLD (High/Low toque-modulated Drive) autofocus system and an electromagnetically controlled aperture. However this makes aperture adjustment unavailable when using older Nikon SLRs including the D3000 and D5000.

(Image credit: Nikon)

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR

The best landscape lens for full frame Nikon DSLRs

Specifications
Mount: Nikon F FX
Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring)
Optical stabilizer: 2.5-stop
Minimum focusing distance: 0.28m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.25x
Filter size: 77mm
Dimensions: 83x125mm
Weight: 680g
Reasons to buy
+Superb all-round performance+Great handling and build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Fairly weighty for an f/4 zoom-Relatively modest stabilization

Although fairly weighty for an f/4 wide-angle zoom, this Nikon 16-35mm is nevertheless only about two-thirds the weight of most f/2.8 editions. It certainly feels very solid and comes complete with a weather-seal on the mounting plate. The up-market optical design includes two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements to enhance sharpness and contrast while minimizing colour fringing, plus Nano Crystal Coat to reduce ghosting and flare. There’s a typically fast and whisper-quiet ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system, with the usual full-time manual override. The VR (Vibration Reduction) system is a bonus, although it only gives a relatively meagre 2.5-stop advantage in beating camera-shake.

(Image credit: Nikon)

Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S

The best landscape lens for Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 cameras right now

Specifications
Mount: Nikon Z FX
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: None
Minimum focusing distance: 0.28m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.16x
Filter size: 82mm
Dimensions: 89x85mm
Weight: 485g
Reasons to buy
+Spectacular image quality+Fast, virtually silent autofocus
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey for an f/4 wide-angle zoom-No focus distance scale

This Nikon is refreshingly compact and lightweight for a full-frame compatible wide-angle zoom. Designed for full-frame mirrorless Z-mount cameras, it’s only about the same size and weight as the Tamron 10-24mm zoom for DX format SLRs. It nevertheless packs a lot into its diminutive and weather-sealed build, including four aspherical elements, four ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements, Nano Crystal Coat and a fluorine coating on the front element. There’s a fast and virtually silent stepping motor-based autofocus system but, as usual with Nikon Z lenses, this comes without a physical focus distance scale. There’s no optical image stabilizer either but that’s no problem because Z 6 and Z 7 cameras have built-in, sensor-shift stabilization. Typical of Nikon’s Z-mount full-frame compatible lenses, image quality is exceptional with incredible corner-to-corner sharpness.

Fujifilm

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS

It's still the best landscape lens for Fujifilm X-mount cameras

Specifications
Mount: Fujifilm X
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: 3-stop
Minimum focusing distance: 0.24m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.16x
Filter size: 72mm
Dimensions: 78x87mm
Weight: 410g
Reasons to buy
+High-end design and build quality+Outstanding short-zoom sharpness
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive for an APS-C format lens-Stabilizer has a modest 3-stop rating

Fairly hefty for an APS-C format wide-angle zoom, the XF-10-24mm combines a generous zoom range with a constant f/4 aperture rating. It’s impeccably turned out and the high-end construction looks and feels fabulous. As signified by the ‘R OIS’ lettering in its title, the lens has a physical aperture ring to enhance handling and an Optical Image Stabilizer, albeit with a slightly mediocre 3-stop effectiveness. There’s nothing mediocre about the optical path, which includes four aspherical elements and four ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements and delivers exceptional sharpness in the short half of the zoom range, even when shooting wide-open. At longer zoom settings, it pays to narrow the aperture by an f/stop for real bite.

Olympus/Panasonic MFT

(Image credit: Panasonic)

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 Asph.

Narrowly the best landscape lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras

Specifications
Mount: Micro Four Thirds
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: None
Minimum focusing distance: 0.23m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.12x
Filter size: 67mm
Dimensions: 73x88mm
Weight: 315g
Reasons to buy
+Premium build and optical quality+Fast and virtually silent autofocus
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive for a variable-aperture lens-Not as ‘wide’ as the Olympus 7-14mm

Ultra-wide-angle lenses represent a real challenge for the Micro Four Thirds system, due to its 2x crop factor doubling the ‘effective’ focal length. Even so, there are high-performance zooms to choose from, including the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7–14mm f/2.8 PRO. Unlike that lens, the Panasonic has a separate hood and comes complete with a filter attachment thread, while nearly matching the Olympus for maximum angle of view. Further landscape photography credentials include a tough, weather-sealed and freeze-proof construction. The lens lives up to its Leica billing with excellent image quality, thanks to an exotic optical path that includes three aspherical elements, two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements, one aspherical ED element and a UHR (Ultra High Refractive index) element.

Sony

(Image credit: Tamron)

Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD

The best landscape lens for full frame Sony E-mount, and affordable!

Specifications
Mount: Sony FE
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: None
Minimum focusing distance: 0.19m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.19x
Filter size: 67mm
Dimensions: 73x99mm
Weight: 420g
Reasons to buy
+Sumptuous image quality+Fast f/2.8 aperture rating
Reasons to avoid
-No optical stabilization-Fairly expensive but still great value

if you thought all wide-angle, fast-aperture lenses had to be super heavy, think again. Tamron's range of f/2.8 lenses for Sony mirrorless cameras are not only surprisingly lightweight but they're also really good quality with a tough, weather-sealed design. The lens is made up of an LD (Low Dispersion) and (eXtra Low Dispersion) element which help reduce aberrations while the autofocus is almost silent thanks to Tamron's RXD (Rapid eXtra silent stepping Drive) stepping motor. This lens is compatible with Sony's sensor-shift stabilization which is just as well since it doesn't have any optical image stabilization. The images produced re sharp from corner-to-corner and color fringing and distortions are minimal even without digital corrections in post-production. At less than half the price and a quarter of the weight of the Sony 16-35mm f/2.6 G Master - it's a bit of a no-brainer as to which one to choose. 

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS

The best landscape lens for APS-C Sony mirrorless, and small too

Specifications
Mount: Sony E
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: 3-stop
Minimum focusing distance: 0.25m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.1x
Filter size: 62mm
Dimensions: 70x64mm
Weight: 225g
Reasons to buy
+Very compact and lightweight+Optical SteadyShot included
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks sharpness at f/4-Stabilizer only gives a 3-stop benefit

Remarkably compact and weighing in at just 225g, the Sony 10-18mm is a perfect match for slim-line A6000-series bodies. The 10-18mm zoom range isn’t overly generous at the long end but gives a useful spread of focal lengths, equating to 15-27mm in full-frame terms. Stepping motor-based autofocus is quick and virtually silent in operation. As usual with this type of system, there’s no physical focus distance scale and the manual focus ring is electronically rather than mechanically coupled. The latter enables very precise adjustments. Despite featuring Super ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass, sharpness is a little lacklustre when shooting wide-open but improves significantly when stopping down to f/5.6. The 3-stop optical stabilizer is worth having but isn’t an overachiever by current standards.

Read more:

• Which are the best camera lenses to buy?
The best wide-angle lenses in 2021
• The best Canon wide-angle zooms
• The best Nikon wide-angle zooms

Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 


His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 


In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.