Choosing the Best 35mm Landscape Lens

18-200 F/3.5-6.3 DC - f/5.6 - 1/125 - 32mm - Dry Lagoon

Sigma 18-200 F/3.5-6.3 DC - f/5.6 - 1/125 - 32mm about 5:00 on a winter afternoon

As a photographer I regard morning as the nicest time of the day to shoot landscape photography. When the sun is near to the horizon, it creates a very pleasing soft shadow effect. At the same time, color tone are less saturated compared to other times of the day such as the midday or noon. Interesting subjects for the morning include long shadow elements. If at all possible, try to avoid shooting in the mid-day. There is lots of harsh light and unflattering shadows around that time of day.

Landscape photography often requires a lot of walking to find and access your subject so there is a requirement for the camera gear to be reasonably small and light. Much of landscape photography is done early morning or late evening when the light is at its best for the photography, however not at its brightest. This means that bright lenses do offer an advantage unless you plan to have the camera on a tripod for everything that you shoot. And that will mean carrying the tripod long distances as well, so I prefer to shoot hand-held the vast majority of the time.

Grupe Lake, Stockton California

This photo was shot with the Sigma 10-20mm at 20mm focal length at 6:00 pm on a summer evening

Suggested Equipment

You do not need an expensive, fast lens for landscape photography.

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Lens

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Lens

The Sigma 18-200 lens is the lens I always grab for landscape and street photography. Why? The big zoom range that gives me lots of shooting range choices with a 76.5 - 8.1 angle of view. for $439.00. The other lens I often shoot landscapes with is the Sigma 10-20mm EX HSM lens that give me an angle of view of 102.4 - 63.8. For example a 50mm lens provides a 46 angle of view. The new Nikon 10-24mm lens and the Tokina AT-X 16.5-135mm lens would also be good landscape lens choices.

Budget Kit! Sometimes I just take the Nikon 18-55 kit lens and the Nikon 55-200 lens in my pocket which I paid $109.00 for and weighs 9 oz. a tripod, a circular polarizer, a remote shutter release and a ND Graduated filter. This setup lets me shoot a wide range landscape photos that compare to any landscape shots.  We all spend too much time fretting about equipment when we should be out practicing out techniques.

Use a tripod, you'll get better pictures, Yes, even on a bright, sunny day. Many times you'll want to use a very small aperture (big f number) to achieve great depth of field. Even on a relatively bright day, your shutter speed may not be fast enough at small apertures to be able to hand hold your shot.

Use a remote shutter release. The timer function on the camera is no substitute for a cable release, BTW. The cable allows you the release the shutter when you want to release the shutter, not 2 sec or 10 sec or 15 sec from when you want to release. The release makes it so you don't have to touch the camera at all which will definitely minimize camera shake...especially important for those longer exposure shots  

Use Polarizer, neutral density filters, and graduated neutral density filters. The key to landscape photography is control of light. A polarizer will help take glare off the water and other reflective surfaces like leaves. It also gives some contrast to an otherwise flat, hazy day. A side effect (if you consider it a side effect) is the affect on the sky...will make it a darker shade of blue or even black at higher elevations. Neutral density filters will evenly stop a specified amount of light from hitting your sensor. Let's say you want to get that nice silky effect on a water fall but the day is sunny. If you just shot the image without a ND filter, you might not be able to slow down your shutter speed enough without blowing out the highlights. No problem, ND to the rescue! Grad ND filter is invaluable to the sunrise or sunset shooter. During these "golden hours", the sky is well light but the foreground (e.g., land or water) is not. The grad ND filter is dark on top and clear on bottom and there is a "gradual" transition from the dark to the clear area. Again, these filters come in different strengths.  

Use a camera or lens with zoom capability (if using a SLR or a DSLR a wide angle lens is preferable)

if lighting is good, a super zoom (18-200mm lens also makes a good landscape lens.

10-22mm - 11-16mm -12-24mm lenses make good landscape lenses

Flash (with tilt head if possible)

Extra Batteries

Plenty of Film/Memory Cards

If you are serious about landscapes, architecture photography, long telephoto shots or low light and night photography, a quality tripod and an even better tripod head may represent your best digital camera accessory. The importance of a good tripod can not be underestimated when you demand the ultimate image quality.

Camera Bag with Shoulder Straps (I have two camera bags. The one that stays at home with most everything I need and the one that holds the camera and at most two lenses and my Cokin filters and maybe one or two other items such as the remote release. This bag usually stays in the car.) So I walk with my camera, attached lens and maybe another lens and filter in my pocket.) You can't get good pictures when you're worrying about the junk in your camera bag. Travel as light as you can. I've gotten some of my best photos with my Canon A1000 10MP IS which is always in my pocket. (Maybe that's why I got them).


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