Top 5 Common Landscape Photography Questions Answered!
Landscape photography is a broad genre that covers a lot of topics. So, it is understandable that there are a lot of questions that beginner, or even seasoned, photographers search online. Some are basic questions, while others require extensive research.
With that being said, we have gathered the 5 most common landscape photography questions we have encountered in hopes of giving an in-depth answer.
What is the best lens for landscape photography?
Choosing the best lens for landscape photography does not mean that your images will be great immediately. It will still depend on your skill and what you do to take that shot. However, having the best lens for your camera will give you an advantage while shooting.
Now, the best lens for shooting landscapes has a very simple answer - the one you have with you. We know it sounds cliché but hear me out. You may go outside with your nifty kit lens and you may take great photos.
Landscape photos you take with your kit lens might be a little soft at the edges or it is not wide enough. But nonetheless, if these images satisfy your creativity then you are good to go.
Moving on to a more serious answer, We think the right question is - what is the ideal lens for landscape photography?
Ideal might be the better word for it as photography is about creativity. You may take great landscape photos with a telephoto lens yet, it is not the ideal tool for the job. Some may say that you can take great sports photos with an ultrawide, but it is not ideal as well.
With that being said, here are some of the best lenses for landscape photography today. These are just recommendations though and you may still look for other options.
Canon EF 16-35mm F/4L IS USM
There is a newer version III of this lens available. The latest Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III IS USM has a wider aperture and a faster autofocus. However, the older Canon EF 16-35mm F/4L IS USM is a great deal right now.
For Canon full frame DSLRs, the F/4L version is a better buy if you are looking for an excellent glass without breaking the bank. It is currently available for around $1,200 brand new. But used deals can go for as low as $700. Now that is bang-for-the-buck.
Besides, the f/4 and f/2.8 differences are not that noticeable in landscape photography especially if you are shooting at f/8 or higher - which is the usual aperture value to get more of the frame in focus.
However, the Canon 16-35mm f/4 is not ideal for astrophotography or night photography. The f/2.8 version does a better job at capturing more light at night.
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
For Nikon DSLR users, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED is a no brainer. Yes, it is pricey at around $1,900. However, it provides a wide aperture for low light moments and it has a wide zoom range.
This lens features Nikon’s nano crystal coating and it has the Silent Wave Motor. This means that the autofocus is silent without sacrificing AF speed.
Another advantage of this lens is its compatibility with either crop sensor or full frame Nikon cameras.
There is a disadvantage to this lens though - weight. The Nikon 14-24mm weighs 1kg and if you are using an already heavy DSLR, it will be tiresome to use after long hours.
Another thing, if you love using lens filters, the front element protrudes a little bit so the usual circular filters are not compatible. There is a special filter holder available but that is another cost. Having a protruding front element also makes it prone to scratches when in use.
Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 FE GM
The Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 FE is perfect if you are using a Sony E-mount camera. It produces sharp images all throughout the frame and it has a wide aperture for low light scenarios. Autofocus is quick and the build quality is excellent. Basically, it is one of the best lenses that Sony has made.
Sony mirrorless cameras are lighter compared to DSLRs. This lens is no exception too. It only weighs around 680grams which is perfect when paired with a Sony A7 series camera.
Now, there is a huge hurdle you need to overcome before getting this lens which is the price.
The Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM is priced at around $2,200. Used units are not far from its brand new price too ranging from $1,800 or higher.
It is priced the same as the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L lens. The difference is, with Canon, you have a budget option in the form of the f/4 version. But with Sony, the next wide angle lens available is the Sony 10-18mm f/4 but it is only available for APS-C cameras.
Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM
This is Canon’s best for its full frame mirrorless camera lineup. The Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM is the best lens for landscape photography if you are using a Canon RF mount camera such as the Canon R5, Canon R6, or the Canon R3.
The sharpness is great as expected from Canon. It has blazing fast autofocus and the image quality is stunning. The focal length is a little bit wider compared to the lenses mentioned above. It might be negligible to some though.
This lens is currently priced at $2,400. It’s a little more expensive than its DSLR counterpart but it is worth it if you get one.
Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS
Fujifilm might be as huge as the big three - Canon, Nikon, and Sony, but they sure know how to make excellent glass.
The Fujifilm XF 10-24mm is a great affordable lens for landscape photography. It has an f/4 aperture, not as wide open as the other lenses mentioned, yet the images are sharp and are more than enough for landscape photos.
For only $1000, this lens features optical image stabilization, weather sealing, silent shooting, and fast autofocus.
These five are the ideal landscape photography lenses from the major brands available. Note that these are not the only options you have and as mentioned earlier, the best lens is the one you have with you.
What camera is best for landscape photography?
Another common question being asked regularly is “what camera is best for landscape photography?”. It is a vague question considering that there are a lot of factors before deciding on which camera to get.
Just like the answer to the first question, the best camera is the one available with you. It is for the same reason as well. You do not need to bleed your wallet dry in order to get a camera for shooting landscapes. An entry-level DSLR or mirrorless camera will do.
However, having the ideal camera for landscape photography has a lot of advantages. No, it does not give you excellent images on the get-go - this depends on your skills. But the weather sealing, dynamic resolution, low-light performance and other features will help you take a keeper.
If you are on the hunt for a new landscape photography camera, you may check our previous blog here for camera suggestions.
To summarize, here are some of the features you need to check before buying a camera for landscape photography.
- Resolution or megapixel count
- Wide dynamic range
- Excellent battery life
- Features such as focus stacking
- Weather sealing
- ISO performance
- High frame rate
- Fast camera buffer
- Quick autofocus
If you already own a camera, you may make use of what you have and practice as much as you can.
What is the best focal length for landscape photography?
This question is tricky because it all depends on the kind of output you want to achieve. But in general, landscape photographers want to include as much detail into a photograph.
Wide angle lenses are preferred because scenic panoramas look better with this kind of lens.
When choosing a focal length, there is no right or wrong. It all involves the artistic vision of the photographer.
However, some photographers prefer a focal length of 28mm full frame equivalent and this is for a good reason.
Using a 28mm lens (full frame) or an 18mm APS-C lens allows you to capture the scenery without introducing distortions. The focal length produces balanced images that are not too wide nor too close.
Besides landscape photography, a 28mm lens is also used in architectural photography or even street photography.
The 28mm is such a sweet spot that if you would go back to the list of lenses mentioned above, the focal length is covered.
There is no limit to how wide you want to go when choosing a lens. But keep in mind that as you go wider, the image gets an exaggerated perspective. The lower you go, the more fisheye effect appears too.
How to use variable ND filters for landscape photography?
Before we discuss how to use a variable ND filter for landscape photography, let us first determine what it is.
An ND filter attaches to the lens to cut off the amount of light entering the camera. There are several types of ND filters. ND2, ND4, and ND8 are the most common ones. The higher the number, the darker the filter is.
Using an ND filter gives you the opportunity to take creative images in different situation.
One common example of using an ND filter is by shooting silky smooth looking rivers or falls like the image shown below.
In order to take these kinds of photos, you need a slow shutter speed. Now, if your shutter speed is already slow and the images are turning out to be too bright, you may then use an ND filter to balance the image.
So what does a variable ND filter do? Is it different from a regular ND filter?
As the name implies, a variable ND filter can be adjusted to achieve the effects of an ND2, ND4, or an ND8 filter. This means you do not need to change your filter to achieve different effects or to allow different amounts of light to come in.
To use a variable ND filter, all you have to do is to attach it to your lens and adjust it accordingly. Depending on the manufacturer, you either twist left or right to brighten or darken the vari-ND filter.
There is a downside with vari-ND filters though and this is evident on cheap knockoffs you can find online.
If you are using a cheap variable ND filter, you may get a dark X spot on your image if you turn the filter too much to the left or to the right.
These cheap filters may also cast a purple or a green tint to the image you are shooting. It can be corrected by adjusting the white balance but it is an added step to an otherwise smooth shooting experience.
In order to prevent this from happening, make sure that you are getting a variable ND from a reputable filter manufacturer.
Lee Filters, Hoya, Cokin, B+W, Tiffen, Formatt are just a few of the top brands when it comes to camera filters.
Just to add, adding an extra glass element in front of your lens might reduce image quality especially if it is a cheap one. So to prevent that, make sure that you check reviews of the filter before proceeding with the purchase.
How to make money with landscape photography?
Now this is a question that every beginner landscape photographer is curious about. Taking photographs is fun, but making money while taking photographs - that is a dream come true for others.
There are multiple ways to earn money with landscape photography. But the most common one is by selling your images as stock photos.
You may register and sell your landscape photos at Getty, Alamy, and Shutterstock. There are other stock photo websites out there too so don’t limit yourself to these three options.
Besides stock photo websites, you may also sell your photos directly to magazines, newspapers, and websites. This way, you are paid directly instead of going through middlemen.
Another way to make money is by selling prints. If you check websites of popular landscape photographers, most of the time there is a section where they sell printed copies of their images.
It is up to you on how you would like to sell your prints. Some print it on a 16x20 canvas while others frame it up in a larger 22x32 format.
Moreover, clients may contact you for a commissioned shoot. Once your website and portfolio is running and you are already gaining some following, there is a chance that a client will reach out to you.
Clients then hire you to take photos for them and besides the professional fee, some clients would shoulder all the expenses needed for the trip.
Lastly, if you are confident of your skills and you are capable of speaking in front of an audience, you may consider conducting paid workshops. This way you are sharing what you have learned in your photography journey while earning some money.