There’s nothing worse than being overwhelmed with lens choices. This overwhelming feeling can lead to you purchasing a lens that doesn’t fit you and your style. You’re now stuck with a lens you never use and you then attempt to sell it to purchase the lens you should have originally. Believe me, I’ve been there, more than once.
You ultimately come to the question, what's the best Sony lens for landscape and how is the lens going to benefit me.
That’s how this article is going to help you. We are going to discuss 4 important aspects of a landscape lens. We will then discuss each lens and how it could benefit you and your style. We will finish it off with the “winner” of this list and what I recommend over them all.
By the end of this article you should have a much better understanding of what makes a great landscape lens and which specific lens would be the right one for you!
Be sure to checkout our article on Variable ND filters to go along with your landscape lens!
Let’s dive in!
Important aspects of a landscape lens
I’m going to go out on a limb here. If you’re here because you can’t decide what landscape lens would be best for you, you should throw your idea of a landscape lens out the window.
We will be discussing 4 aspects of a landscape lens that actually matter. These aspects include:
- Focal Length
So why didn’t I include aspects like vignetting, chromatic aberration, sun flare, etc? Well, that’s pretty simple - they can be corrected easily in post production. The first 3 aspects are physical and can’t be “corrected” unless you bought a lens with different physical features (like a different focal length, better sharpness, or faster aperture).
Distortion is a byproduct of the physical aspects of the lens. It’s something that can’t be corrected in post production (at least not very easily).
That’s the reason these are the 4 most important aspects of a landscape lens. Let’s dive just a little in depth into each aspect.
This is the number represented in “mm” on a camera lens. It’s the most common use or “name” of a lens. Example would be 50mm, or 100mm. Focal lengths range from 9mm to 600mm (and beyond). Each focal length in between gives you a different look and “zooms” in on your subject the higher the mm. Example, a 100mm is a tighter focal length than a 50mm, and that much tighter than a 24mm. The vast focal lengths across the Sony platform is what can make this overwhelming.
This is pretty obvious. Regardless, it’s how sharp your shots are as a result of your lens. The quality of the lens directly affects the sharpness.
Depending on which type of landscape photography you’re into, aperture may be very important to you. If you’re shooting during dawn, mid-day, or sunset - aperture doesn’t really affect you (assuming you want everything in focus around f8 to f11, which every lens has). But, if you’re into astrophotography, it directly affects you. You’d want a fast lens (low aperture number) to allow as much light in as possible. Low aperture values are good to have if you plan on using that lens for anything other than landscape.
This is a pet-peeve of mine. There is nothing about lens distortion that appeals to me. It’s the curving of the edges of your frame. This is caused by the shape of the lens and the way it’s manufactured. A great example of this is using an inexpensive lens (like the tokina 11-16mm) or a Gopro. You’ll notice the distoriation or “warping” of the edges. It’s very apparent when viewing architecture/buildings. Don’t worry, there are lenses on this list that deal with this very well.
Each of these aspects are going to be included in each recommendation. One thing you’ll learn about lenses is that manufacturers do a give-and-take dance with their lenses. You’ll have a few features on a lens, but they had to give up something else to achieve that. The perfect lens doesn’t exist - it’s balancing the pros and cons of each to find the one that works best for you.
Wide Angle Sony Landscape Lenses
I thought I would break down my recommendations by the width of the focal range. In my personal opinion, anything at or below 24mm is considered wide angle. These angles allow you to capture more of your landscape from your current perspective. You can capture the same landscape image with nearly any lens, but capturing what you want from where you’re standing is what makes wide angles so great.
Let’s get to the lenses already!
Aside from one other lens on this list - this is the widest lens of them all. The 12mm of range allows you to move between extremes of the wide angle range. On one side you’ll have ultra-wide (12mm) and on the other you have wide (24mm). It’s a great combination and lens, but don’t gasp when you see the price-tag.
Let’s discuss the aspects of this lens.
As you can tell, this is an incredibly solid lens. I’ll be honest, I do not own this l;ens, personally. I have only rented it for a week. But within that week, I was incredibly impressed by it.
If your style is capturing that ultra-wide landscape shot with the waterfall along with the mountains and the stream/river…. You could then punch in a little and take detailed shots with its 24mm side. This might just be the lens for you. If you can look past the slight distortion, vignetting, and price - I highly recommend looking into the 12-24mm F4 G by Sony.
This lens is commonly used by Sony landscape photographers. Why? Because it’s one of the sharpest, and is a great focal range. Let’s get right into the aspects of the lens.
Needless to say, this is a lens I recommend to those who aren’t really interested in the ultra-wide angle of something like a 12mm. This lens sits in a perfect place between ultra-wide and mid range zooms. This lens is used by hundreds (if not thousands) of landscape photographers for a reason… It doesn't disappoint.
Sony 24mm F2.8 GM
The 24mm F2.8 GM sits at the edge of our ultra-wide and mid range categories. Much like the 12-24mm F4, this produces an image at the 24mm focal length. But what makes it different is that it’s a prime. 24mm is a static focal length. But there are advantages to this.
This GM lens is one of the best primes in the Sony lineup. Especially for landscapes. If you find yourself wanting incredibly sharp landscape shots and being ok with shooting at a tighter focal length than the ultra-wides… do yourself a favor and seriously consider the 24mm f1.4 GM.
Sony 16-35 F2.8 GM
I know we’ve already touched on this lens. But this is the GM version. I couldn’t leave this phenomenal lens off this list! The differences will be discussed below, but in general, sharpness and aperture are the main differences between the two.
Let’s begin the aspects and see what’s different between the two.
The GM version of the 16-35mm is the top of the line. There’s no getting around it. You’re going to get the sharpest image within this zoom range. You’ll also get the fastest Sony 16-35 as well. What’ll you’ll have to fork up first, are the funds to obtain it. Believe me, it’s a costly lens. But if you can swing the price-tag, there is no reason you should have this version over the F4.
Mid Range Focal Length
This section is quite short as it only contains a single lens that we recommend. Mid range focal lengths are great landscape lenses if you use them correctly. Many (including myself) use them to isolate a single are of a large landscape by zooming into that area. A good place or subject for something like this would be a mountain range. This is only one example, and of course is all subjective. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do any of this.
We will continue to update this section (and all others) as lenses mature and become worth the price (in this focal range).
This is the only mid-range Sony branded mid range zoom lens we recommend. Telephoto to ultra-telephoto lenses are difficult to recommend to landscape photographers. There are price to performance issues (in the sony line-up). This is one reason we don’t recommend the GM version.
I can’t recommend this lens more for those looking to get a different “type” of landscape photo. If your style is one where you like to isolate a landscape to something that's very interesting. And you would like the ability to compress the background… you shouldn’t look past the 70-200mm Sony F4. You won’t regret it.
Ultra-telephoto landscape lenses
Much like the mid-range, we are only recommending a single ultra-telephoto lens. And much like the mid range, there isn’t much better than the lens that's recommended here. At least for performance vs cost perspective.
You may be asking yourself why I would recommend such a telephoto lens for a landscape recommendation. You may be saying, there’s no need for it. I don’t need to zoom in landscape photos, I want to capture as much information as I can. If this is you, there isn’t a problem with that, a lot of people think the same way. What I can tell you is, if you think outside of the box, this telephoto lens could change your mind about that statement, completely.
Let’s dive into the aspects!
What I recommend is watching the video below to see the power of an ultra-zoom in landscape photography. It should solidify the idea if you’re convinced, or lean you more towards the possibility of using one for your landscape work.
Third party lenses worth every penny for landscape photography
This is a lens that surprised everyone when it was released back in 2017. It’s made by a company by the name of Venus Optics or Laowa. This has been my go-to landscape lens for quite some time on my A7III. There are some incredible advantages to this lens as well as a couple disadvantages that may prevent you from purchasing.
There are a couple things worth mentioning that aren’t great about this lens in particular. For one, it’s completely manual. Your focus and aperture are done on the lens. There is no auto-focus what-so-ever. Your camera also wont recognise the lens meaning you’ll have to turn on “activate shutter without lens” within your camera settings. Your camera won’t record any meta-data along with your photo either (like ISO, shutter, aperture, focal length, etc.) The lens is also expensive.
This lens was a real game-changer for me. They pack all of this in a single lens. I have my issues with distortion (I hate it) and this lens does the trick. The sharpness is on a whole nother level as well. If you find yourself needing an incredibly sharp lens with no distortion along with an ultra-wide focal length… look no further. You’ll need to fork the cash and be ok with manual everything on the lens though, don’t forget that.
Tamron 28-75mm F2.8
If you find yourself taking a lot of landscapes but also need a mid range focal length from time to time, the Tamron 28-75mm might do the trick. This is the lens that stays on my camera whenever it’s in my bag. It’s something that I can pull out quickly and take shots with, on the fly. It’s wide enough to capture great landscapes and zooms in enough to catch detail whenever I need it.
Like i stated previously, this lens stays on my camera when it’s in my camera bag. It’s quick and easy to remove and I’m able to snap off quick shots within a great focal range to get most of the shots I want - whenever I want them. If you find yourself needing a lens like that, for your style, then I wouldn’t hesitate buying one.
And the winner iiiisssss...
Laowa 12mm F 2.8 Zero-D
I really can’t recommend this lens more than I already do on a weekly basis to people I run into. Did you expect me to recommend this? Let me know in the comments.
They pack so much into this lens, it’s incredible. From the 12mm focal length to the zero distortion, I can’t believe they were able to achieve what they have with it. This isn’t even considering the fact that they’re a relatively unknown company located in china.
The lens is also incredibly solid and made of metal (both the body and the hood). All of Laowa lenses are made this way (I also own the 100mm 2x macro).
The downside is the fact that it’s manual. It didn’t take me long to get used to manually setting the aperture and pulling focus (the wheels on the lens are incredibly smooth). It’s something you’ll have to get used to if you want to use this lens on the regular.
Let’s not forget… sharpness. Oh my goodness. This may be the lens that shows you how important good glass is when it comes to image quality. I pit the sharpness on this lens against any of the bigger manufacturers.
You have to remember a lens of the same price that has autofocus, image stabilization, and electronic features (pin contact from lens to camera) - has to be giving up something to be able to achieve that and sell you it at the same price. Where are they sacrificing the quality? In the glass itself. Laowa has chosen to do the opposite.
That wraps it up, for now!
I really hope you have a better understanding of what makes the best Sony lens for landscape. You should also have a better understanding of the aspects of a lens that will greatly improve the result of your work.
We will continue to update this article throughout the years as better lenses come down the pipe!
As always, thank you so much for reading. It really means a lot to us when we can help others. We put a lot of time into each of these articles in hopes you read, understand, and take better steps into making the right purchase decision for you.
If you would like to see our work, feel free to head on over to JnRPhotoVideo, where we showcase our photoshoots and some of our other work! We also offer services to those living in the San Diego area!
Until next time folks, keep shooting and creating!