My Landscape Lens Setup

August 21, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! I hope today finds you healthy and safe. This week's blog is about my landscaping lens setup and what I think a good setup is. I am primarily a landscape/travel photographer. I like getting out in the woods, setting up my tripod, and waiting for the shot; or at a sunset or waterfall and setting up my composure; and going to town and trying all kinds of different things to get that perfect shot. The lens setup that I have might not be right for you. My landscaping lens setup is an ongoing evolution and will change in the future as I try to get that perfect lens setup. Now some landscape photographers shoot wide, wide, wide and that's all they shoot. So a 16-35 mm lens might be all they carry. Some might carry a wide-angle and a telephoto to get both ends of the focal ranges. I'm not that way. I like taking wide as well as telephoto for tight detail shots and in-between shots too. I shoot a Sony crop sensor camera, so my specific lens choice might not be right for you. But the focal range should be able to be matched up with what you may have. Another choice I have made is to keep my minimum aperture at f4. I do this for a couple of reasons. First of all, as a landscape photographer, I don't need the wide-open apertures like a portrait photographer would. The f2.8 lenses are great for portraits, but most of my photography is shot at f8 or smaller like f11. I usually want the biggest depth of field (what's in focus) that I can get. The f4 lenses are also lighter than the larger aperture lenses. The second reason is that I shoot a crop sensor camera and I try to use crop sensor lenses which make them smaller in size.  And the really big reason is that there were not any large aperture lenses made especially for crop sensors until recently for the Sony that I shoot. I also shoot zoom lenses for the flexibility that they provide. Primes are great, but you don't always have the chance to use your feet to zoom in the woods. So let's get to the lenses.

My first lens is the wide-angle lens. A Sony 10-18mm f4, a 15 to 27mm full-frame equivalent.  This is a small and sharp lens. I use this lens a lot! I use it for waterfalls and wide-open shots when I want to show the vastness of a scene. This type of lens is the staple of any landscape photographer's bag of tricks. What I like about this lens is that I can get really close up to subjects like a flower and get that distorted look that only a wide-angle lens can give you. This lens is also great in tight spaces. Some trails can be small and tight, and this lens will give you the room to shoot. So it's great for hiking.

My next lens is my middle-range lens.  It's the Sony/Zeiss 16-70 f4, a 24-105mm full-frame equivalent. This is a super walking-around lens. This is an older lens, but mine is very sharp and still works well.  I use it for waterfalls, for small detail shots, and just general shots. When you're hiking and come to a clearing with maybe an overlook, this is the lens to use. You can get the wide shots at the 16mm range and a small telephoto with the 70mm range. This is also a great lens for walking around your favorite trail town. The size is small to medium and is easy to handle all day walking around. I do have my eye out for a larger aperture lens that Sony just came out with that will give me a 2.8 aperture. But for now, this lens gets the job done and that's the important part.

My last lens is my long lens. It's a Sony 70-350mm f4.5-6.5, which is a 100-525mm full-frame equivalent. This is my newest lens and I plan to have a blog to review it later on. The long lens I used to have was a Canon 70-200 f4L lens, but I wanted some more reach for those times when wildlife happens. So far I have fallen in love with this lens. It is sharp and quick to focus. I use it for isolation shots at long range. It is a larger lens, especially for my crop sensor, but it isn't really long. It's shorter than the 70-200 lens that I had before and much lighter. It's not the brightest lens with its smaller aperture range. But with the newer cameras capable of shooting at higher ISO's, this is not as much of a problem.

I do have one other accessory lens only used for a specific purpose. When I do astrophotography I use a Rokinon 12mm f2.0 manual focus lens. This is a fantastic lens and almost became my all-around wide angle but was edged out by the Sony. This lens is great for astrophotography.  It's sharp, small, and bright. At f2.0 it lets in lots of light which is needed when shooting in the dark. It is a manual focusing lens that works well for astrophotography. It is an inexpensive lens also coming in at just a couple hundred bucks. If you don't have a wide-angle lens and are on a budget, this is the lens for you. It comes in all kinds of mounts for any camera. Of course, I have it in the Sony E Mount.

Lenses are the eyes of our cameras and to me the most important. If you have to invest in your kit, this is the place to do it.  A good lens can last for decades. So get out and shoot some landscapes and have some fun in nature. Until next week get out and shoot!


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