ARTICLE

The best Canon lenses for landscape photography

A mountain reflected in a loch at dawn, with an arc of rocks in the foreground.
Schiehallion mountain reflected in Loch Rannoch at dawn in Perthshire, Scotland. To take this photograph, David Noton used his Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens – which he recommends as the best all-round Canon lens for landscape photography. Taken on a Canon EOS 5DS R with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 0.8 sec, f/16 and ISO100. © David Noton Photography

Which are the best lenses for landscape photography? What are the essential features to look for when choosing a Canon landscape lens? And which lenses are going to be robust enough to cope with the adverse conditions you can experience out in the field when taking landscape pictures?

Here, Canon Ambassador and veteran landscape photographer David Noton shares his favourite Canon lenses for landscapes, while Mike Burnhill, Canon's Professional Imaging Product Specialist and an expert on lens technology, explains why these lenses are particularly suited to the landscape genre.

"Most of the time with my landscape work I'm shooting with the 50-megapixel Canon EOS 5DS R," David says, "and when you're shooting high-resolution images you need the best quality glass." All of David's choices are from Canon's L-series lens range. They're fast and made of the high-end quality materials required for this genre, including coatings that reduce flare and ghosting, and features such as weather sealing and state-of-the-art Image Stabilizer.

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"Build quality is an important factor in my choice," David confirms. "People are tempted to buy independent lenses because they're cheaper, but if you're shooting in somewhere like Iceland, for example, you need to know that your lenses are rugged enough to withstand whatever the elements can throw at them."

There are no prime lenses among David's selections. "I regularly use prime lenses for my travel portraiture, but for my landscape work I prefer the flexibility of zooms," he says. "The quality of zoom lenses has improved enormously, and the latest generation of L-series lenses are as good as primes. If I'm going to the far side of the world, I want as much flexibility as possible. I find the ability to really fine-tune your cropping using a zoom is so useful. Plus, if you only shot with primes, you'd spend too much of your time hunched over your camera bag changing lenses and filter rings when you should be concentrating on the light, which can be so fleeting."

Here are the best Canon lenses for landscape photography, covering all the options from wide-angle lenses for capturing a broad field of view to telephoto lenses for isolating small details from a distance.

Hills and fluffy low clouds reflected in the mirror-like waters of a Scottish loch.
Evening light and perfect reflections on Loch Maree and Slioch in Wester Ross, Scotland. David says the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens used is his go-to Canon lens for landscapes. Taken on a Canon EOS 5DS R with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 0.4 sec, f/11 and ISO100. © David Noton Photography
A black Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM zoom lens with a red ring around the front element.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

A professional-quality standard zoom that offers outstanding image quality and a fast f/2.8 aperture throughout its zoom range.

1. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM


Best all-round Canon landscape lens

"I would hardly ever venture out on a shoot without taking this lens with me," says David Noton. "It's probably my most-used lens for landscape photography because it's so versatile. The range of focal lengths makes it suitable for everything from wider scenes to homing in on a single subject. The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is a relatively compact and portable lens for carrying around, and it has excellent optical quality right through the zoom range. If I was going out and could only take one lens, this would be it."

Mike Burnhill adds: "This is a fantastic all-round lens with a very high reputation for its performance – it's regarded as one of the best of its kind from any manufacturer. The fast f/2.8 aperture makes it good for shooting in low light, and using the wide aperture also allows you to separate a subject from the background using differential focus. As it's an L-series lens, the weather-proofing is excellent – you can be confident that if you're working outdoors and the weather changes for the worse, it will work equally well."

A stream winds through a leafy autumnal landscape.
Autumn colours at the Pertes de l'Ain in Jura, France. David used a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens to take this shot, because he says: "I love those tight graphic compositions you can get with a longer lens." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 1.6 sec, f/16 and ISO100. © David Noton Photography
A light grey Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM telephoto lens with a red ring.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM

A workhorse telephoto zoom lens designed for professional use, it has a rugged durable design, a 4-stop Image Stabilizer and specialised lens elements.

2. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM


Best Canon lens for landscapes with scale

"I'm increasingly working with longer lens perspectives for my landscape photography," says David. "I love the impression of scale that shooting with long lenses allows. If you want to make mountains look big, you use a long lens perspective – trees dwarfed by a mountain, for instance. I love those tight graphic compositions you can get with a longer lens. The 70-200mm lens is also good for picking out details in the landscape at a distance. My Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM has an f/2.8 maximum aperture, and there have been plenty of times when I've used that minimal depth of field. I also use it to create composite images made from several shots stitched together."

Mike agrees that Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is an excellent landscape lens, but notes that the newer version, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM "is almost identical in every respect, but adds improved mechanics and lens coatings." He adds: "Most landscape photographers will shoot using a tripod, but if you need to hand-hold in the field, this lens has a 3.5-stop Image Stabilizer that helps keep pictures sharp. As in other L-series lenses, the autofocus is powered by a ring-type USM motor that sits around the lens and drives the focusing very fast. If you want to, you can manually override the autofocus instantly by touching the focusing ring. The lens has a fluorite coating that keeps the lens clean; if it rains, the water just runs off it without allowing it to dry and form hard droplets that affect the image quality."

A dawn landscape with multiple layers of trees and hills shrouded in mist.
Dawn over the village of Compton Pauncefoot from Cadbury Castle in Somerset, England. David says of the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens he used here: "I've found that the extra reach, going up to 400mm, is so useful." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at 1.0 sec, f/11 and ISO100. © David Noton Photography
A grey and black Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM telephoto lens with a red ring.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

A compact, high-performance zoom lens. A 4-stop Image Stabilizer and high-quality optics deliver superb sharpness.

3. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM


Best long Canon landscape lens

"I use the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens a lot for my landscapes and utilise the full range of focal lengths it offers. I've found that the extra reach, going up to 400mm, is so useful," David says. "My lens has really paid for itself many times over. It's a great lens, brilliantly sharp, and for its maximum focal length it's wonderfully portable. As with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, the Image Stabilizer (up to four stops) is so good as well. It's even useful when the camera is on a tripod in exposed situations on hilltops, where strong winds are a problem. It's really good for tight, close-up details as well."

"Many people would think of this as a lens for sports action and wildlife, but it's also great for landscapes," agrees Mike. "It's about looking at landscapes in a different way, isolating areas or details such as groups of trees. One nice feature is the Zoom Touch Adjustment ring, which enables you to adjust tensioning for the zoom, according to the subject you're shooting. It also stops the focal length changing by accident if you tip the lens up or down."

A rocky coastline curving into the distance, ending in three separate rock stacks.
Dusk falls over Les Tas de Pois rocks off Pointe de Pen-Hir in Brittany, France. David says he enjoys using the wide-angle Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens to maximise foreground interest. Taken on a Canon EOS 5DS R with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens at 25 sec, f/11 and ISO100. © David Noton Photography
Stars fill the sky in a long-exposure shot looking over the coastline towards a rock arch.
The Milky Way over Durdle Door in Dorset, England. David says the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens is "great for a wide night-sky shoot when you really want to incorporate the Milky Way arcing above you." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens at 120 sec, f/2.8 and ISO12800. © David Noton Photography
A black Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens with a red ring around its front element.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

A premium-quality ultra-wide-angle zoom lens, with a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture, for the highest image quality possible even in low light conditions.

4. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM


Best wide-angle Canon landscape lens

"The focal length of the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM is very useful for landscape work, particularly when you really want to maximise foreground interest," David says. "I've also used this lens for night sky photography, and the f/2.8 aperture is useful for keeping exposures shorter without needing a high ISO. It's great for a wide night-sky shoot when you really want to incorporate the Milky Way arcing above you. In those situations, you need to have confidence in your lens, to be able to shoot at the maximum aperture and still have corner-to-corner sharpness."

Mike notes that: "The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens is even better than its predecessor on corner-to-corner sharpness. It's very sharp at all focal lengths, and is especially impressive at the 16mm setting when shooting with the lens wide open. Also, the ability to shoot at 16mm gives you the kind of width you don't normally get in a photograph. It's good for scenes with a lot of detail, such as cityscapes, and the broad field of view is similar to what we see with our eyes."

The grass-covered ramparts of an Iron Age hill fort curve around an undulating hill.
The ramparts of the Iron Age hill fort of Hambledon Hill in Dorset, England. "The 'tilt' function [in the Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L lens] allows you to alter the plane of focus," says David. "You can either use it for keeping everything from foreground elements to the far distance completely sharp, or for creating a minimal depth of field where only one element is sharp and the rest is blurred." Taken on a Canon EOS 5DS R with a Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L lens at 1/6 sec, f/11 and ISO100. © David Noton Photography
A eucalyptus tree spreads its branches wide over an exposed area of bright red earth.
A eucalyptus tree in the last light of day at Hamersley Gorge in Karijini National Park, Western Australia. David finds the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II lens's 'shift' function especially useful for correcting converging lines in landscapes, such as a leaning tree. Taken on a Canon EOS 5DS R with a Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II lens at 0.4 sec, f/11 and ISO100. © David Noton Photography
A black Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L tilt-shift lens with a red ring around its front element.

Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L

Low distortion and excellent edge-to-edge sharpness, plus independent rotation of the tilt and shift mechanisms.

5. Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L and TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II tilt-shift lenses


Best Canon lenses for landscapes with lines

"Tilt-shift lenses are specialist optics often associated with architectural work, but I find them so useful for landscape photography," says David. "The 'shift' function is particularly useful for correcting converging vertical lines. For instance, if I'm using a wide-angle lens to shoot a landscape that has a strong vertical in the frame, such as a tree at the edge, the tree will look horrible leaning into the frame. The shift function enables you to keep everything square.

Meanwhile, the 'tilt' function allows you to alter the plane of focus. You can either use it for keeping everything from foreground elements to the far distance completely sharp, or for creating a minimal depth of field where only one element is sharp and the rest is blurred.

A black Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II tilt-shift lens with a red ring around the front.

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II

Refined to deliver superb image quality right to the edges of the frame, with independent rotation of the tilt and shift mechanisms.

"I also use my Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II lens to create panoramic images where you can rack the lens left, centre and right to make a wide panorama in post-production in which the images align very well."

Mike says: "Both the Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L and Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II tilt-shift lenses are designed to provide really amazing image quality and have low distortion and excellent edge-to-edge sharpness. They have UD (ultra-low dispersion) elements made of a special high-performance glass, through which light passes more easily and bends less. They also have Sub-Wavelength structure Coating (SWC), which is designed like a moth's eye and effectively covers the lens with microscopic cones. This cushions the light and minimises lens flare and ghosting."

Написано от David Clark


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