Every time I think about landscapes, I think about breathtaking mountain vistas, rolling meadows, golden sunrises and sunsets and beds of colorful flowers across the hills. Large panoramic views of nature’s handiwork.
There is something about photographing nature through a wide angle lens, which helps to mimic the way we see things in real life.
In this article we shall be looking at a collection of the best wide angle lenses for shooting landscape photography.
There are a few considerations to buying a wide angle lens to pursue landscape photography.
Obviously, you need something that gives you a large field of view, but you will also need anti chromatic aberration coating as well as anti-lens flare coating. Let’s look at some of the options.
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
This is one of my favorite lenses and one that promises a lot of joy for anyone shooting with it. It’s a zoom lens with a variable focal length ranging from an ultra-wide angle 14mm to 24mm. The resulting angle of view is 114 ˚ to 84 ˚.
A total of 14 elements arranged in 11 groups make up the construction of the lens. The lens open up to f/2.8 as its maximum aperture.
Two Extra low dispersion glass, three aspherical elements, nano crystal coating and super integrated coating ensures that chromatic aberrations, flares and ghosting are suppressed. Wide angle lenses tend to suffer from ghosting and chromatic aberrations. Thanks to these elements these are very well suppressed on the Nikkor AF-S 14-24mm.
Additionally, the lens also has dust and water resistance, two features that are critical for any lens to be considered appropriate for outdoor shooting. The front glass element of the lens is protected by a petal-styled lens hood. The lens aperture diaphragm is composed of 9 rounded blades. Not that you would be shooting at f/2.8 with this lens to capture background bokeh, but it is a creative option you won’t mind having either.
This lens autofocuses on all Nikon cameras, including those which do not have a built-in auto-focusing motor. Thus, when you mount the lens on a smaller DX camera the focal length becomes a 35mm format equivalent of 21-36mm. Auto-focusing is powered by Nikon’s silent wave motor technology. You also have the quintessential manual focusing override, which ensures that you can manually correct focusing whenever you want to without requiring to flip the A / M switch. This saves a considerable amount of time.
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM
Canon’s L series lenses stand for Luxury. These lenses are better designed, with better weather sealing than other Canon lenses. The EF 11-24mm f/4L USM is no different.
This lens is designed for full frame Canon camera such as the 6D, the 5D Mark II and so on. Having said that it would also work on APS-C sensor based cameras such as the Rebel series and the EOS 80D.
The lens consists of 16 elements arranged in 11 groups. It has one Super Ultra-Low dispersion element and one ultra-low dispersion element which suppresses chromatic aberrations. Wide angle lenses tend to suffer from chromatic aberrations, especially when shot using wide apertures. ULD and UD elements suppress this issue allowing all the wavelengths of colors to converge at the same image plane.
Apart from these the lens also has four aspherical elements. These elements take care of barrel distortions that are common with wide angle lenses. Canon uses SWC and ASC coatings to ensure flares and ghosting are suppressed as well.
This is a true-blue landscape photography lens. But its diversity goes beyond just landscapes. With a focal length range of 11-24mm and a field of view of 126 ˚.5’ – 84 ˚ the lens is ideally suitable for the purpose of photographing architecture, interiors and a bit of group photos too.
The lens auto-focuses using Canon’s Ultra-sonic Motor driven technology. Just like Nikon’s SWM this motor is smooth and quiet during auto-focusing. There’s also full-time manual focusing override. Full-time manual focusing allows you to grab the focusing ring at any time, even when auto-focusing is engaged to manually correct the focus.
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Tilt-shift lens
You would probably be wondering what a tilt-shift lens is doing on this list. There is a good reason for it.
Tilt-shift lenses can do something that no other lenses can, and that is they can change the focal plane and bring it in line with the sensor
There are many ways of getting an image perfectly sharp across the frame – the easiest approach is to use a small aperture. But small aperture after a while can become difficult to work with. This is due to a phenomenon known as lens diffraction. The more you stop down the lens, the worse the problem becomes.
To avoid this most photographers use either the hyper-focal distance calculator that gives the right focusing distance for the lens focal length and sensor size combination. Some photographers also employ the focus tacking method, which is a bit more cumbersome and requires very precise approach and post-processing.
There is a better approach and one that uses tilt-shift lenses. These lenses can literally tilt and shift, bring a vast area of the lens under focus.
The Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II lens, version two of this well-made lens, is designed for the 35mm full-format digital sensor. It however is compatible also on the smaller APS-C camera systems giving a 35mm format equivalent focal length of 38.4mm. The angle of view of the lens is 84 ˚. However, the real important feature of the lens is the +- 8.5 ˚ in tilting and +-12mm of shifting capabilities of the lens. The lens construction is 16 elements arranged in 11 groups. The lens diaphragm consists of 8 blades.
The lens construction has one aspherical element and three ultra-low dispersion elements. These take care of chromatic aberrations which tend to affect wide angle lenses. In addition to these, sub-wavelength coating (SWC) and super-spectra coating (SSC) ensure ghosting and flares are suppressed. There are, however, a few blemishes to this design. Weather sealing is not as effective as we would have loved. This is quite expected though, because it is never an easy thing to provide great weather sealing for a tilt-shift lens.
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24mm f/1.8G ED
This is a prime lens designed for full-frame Nikon camera systems.
It has a fixed focal length of 24mm. The lens opens up to f/1.8, which is pretty wide. You would probably never shoot at f/1.8 ever. This is a G-type lens and that means there is a built-in auto-focusing motor inside the lens. In turn that means you can use even the cheaper entry level DSLRs from Nikon and the lens will auto-focus without issues.
Auto-focusing is powered by Nikon’s silent wave motor technology. For landscape shots this is not too much of a requirement, but when shooting interior photos, something the Nikkor AF-S 24mm is ideal for shooting with, a quieter AF performance is a must have.
The field of view of the lens is 84 ˚, which is reasonable for your purposes. The lens construction includes two aspherical elements and two extra low dispersion elements which cuts down on chromatic aberrations. There is also the presence of Nano Crystals and Super Integrated Coatings. Both these elements ensure that flares and ghosting are cut down. You are likely going to be affected by both these issues when shooting wide open with a wide angle lens. Not so much with the Nikkor AF-S 24mm.