Landscape photography is one of those genres where lens choice is a hotly debated topic. Everybody has their favourites, and people always seem to argue about what’s “best” or “essential”. Mads Peter Iversen tackles this topic in the above video and believes you can shoot just about everything you need with just three lenses.
The three lenses Mads mentions aren’t specific makes or models of lens, but types of lens. And all three of them are zooms. They’re a wide-angle zoom, a normal zoom and a telephoto zoom. It’s the set of lenses many people refer to as “The Holy Trinity”, or “The Big Three” as Sigma calls them.
Typically this set is a 14-24mm f/2.8, a 24-70mm f/2.8 and a 70-200mm f/2.8. And if you’re shooting in the daytime, I tend to agree. When shooting landscapes in the day, your aperture is going to be around f/8 or f/11, so super-fast f/1.4 glass isn’t really required and is often overkill for the sake of spending money.
Sure, sometimes you might want to use some speciality glass, like a tilt-shift, but if you think you need that kind of stuff, then this video isn’t really aimed at you anyway. You know what you need and why you need it. This is for those who are just trying to figure out how to get started shooting landscapes.
Of course, there are price considerations to take into account, too. The f/2.8 zoom trio aren’t exactly inexpensive. But taking two or three zoom lenses is less hassle and weight than a dozen primes while offering a lot more versatility for landscape shooters.
For a lot of beginner landscape photographers, you might only need a couple of lenses, like the inexpensive 18-55mm and 55-300mm kit lenses that tend to come with cameras these days, and perhaps a 10-20mm or 11-16mm for your ultrawide. You might even be able to get away with just a single 24-105mm lens if you don’t want to go super wide or long with your focal length. Again, if you’re shooting landscapes at f/8 for enough depth of field to capture everything, your inexpensive kit lenses are often going to be good enough.
I quite enjoyed taking Sigma’s trio out to the Arizona desert last year, and other than a macro for some shots, I didn’t feel that I really needed anything else for the photos I wanted to shoot while I was there. Typically, though, I do take primes when heading out to shoot landscapes. Usually just a 24mm and a 50mm.
What are your go-to landscape lenses?