What is the Best Lens for Landscape Photography?

Today Thomas Heaton posted a YouTube video addressing a simple, but common, question – what is the best lens for landscape photography? He mentioned one thing that is undeniable: high end professional lenses are expensive. Very expensive.

For me, aiming to produce the highest quality photographs means looking into the Canon high end “L” lenses. I’m always looking for better images, frequently find myself out in the rain and inclement weather (so regular, non sealed lenses can lead to ruined cameras), and really despise missing shots because I don’t have the right tools to accomplish the vision I have in the moment.

Based on all of these desires, I ended up with the following arsenal of Canon lenses on my Canon R: EF 16-35mm f/4L IS, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II, EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II, and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II. Based on where I am hiking or traveling, I will likely only have one of the telephoto lenses and leave the other at home. But there’s something to be said for having professional quality, weather sealed, excellently sharp lenses ranging from 16mm to 400mm.

Below, check out Thomas’s video where he discusses the topic if you’d be interested to hear from a leading professional:

What I find to be the best piece of advice is his recommendation (check at 1:45) based on where you live and/or shoot most often. Near the beach and like seascapes? 16-35mm. Love to hike in the woods? 24-70mm. Into hiking in the mountains with long, sweeping views? 70-200mm.

The last one is especially good advice. When I first started having any interest in photography, I spent some time in Colorado in the fall (stunning). My point and shoot camera had an angle of view of approximately 24mm, which I thought was perfect for capturing the whole scene that I saw in front of me. However, what I ended up with at home was everything captured, yet nothing emphasized. They just looked….bland. If I’d had a longer lens at the time and was able to focus in on scenes that stood out to me, I would not have missed the opportunity to capture scenes that I still remember to this day.

The base kit!

Now, I don’t take the chance at missing scenes that are important to me. Yes, lenses are expensive. But, I want to capture scenes that I can remember forever, and my setup today allows me to do that. I like to shoot seascapes, woodland, and grand mountain vistas. So I don’t think I could just choose one.

The answer? Whichever one you have with you! Any lens is better than no lens. If I absolutely had to though, it would be my 70-200mm f/4L IS II. It’s just so sharp, versatile, and lightweight.

My lineup has taken me years to build. I never had the resources to just go online and order a $7,000 camera setup. But I’ve certainly spent just as much, maybe even less (looking at you, marathons & Ironman), on other hobbies that were fleeting events. Investing in tools that will hold their value over decades and constantly support what I enjoy seems like a great move to me, and I likely won’t part with any of them to downsize to just one at any point. That said, this was an interesting thought experiment while watching Thomas’s video.

What do you think, photographers? Do you have one lens or many? If you could only have one, which would you choose?

Happy trails & shooting,

Brian

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