Best Sony Lens For Landscape: 8 Lenses For Any Style and Budget

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

 best Sony lens for landscape

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
  • Sharpness
  • Aperture
  • Distortion

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.

Focal length

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.

 best Sony lens for landscape

A great example of the different "looks" each focal length can give.

Sharpness

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.

 best Sony lens for landscape

Aperture

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.

 best Sony lens for landscape

Distortion

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.

 best Sony lens for landscape

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!

Sony - FE 12-24mm F4 G Wide-angle Zoom Lens (SEL1224G)

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.

  • Focal Length is 12-24mm.  Like stated previously, you get the best of both worlds (ultra-wide and wide).  This focal range will allow you to vast landscapes and punch in to 24mm whenever you need to focus on a specific area.
  • Sharpness - This lens is surprisingly sharp across the entire image.  You’ll see vignetting and slight stretching of the image in the corners, but the image remains very sharp. Maximum sharpness is achieved between f 8.0 and f 11.0.  
  • Aperture - While the aperture of F/4 can be discouraging to some, the extra stop of light vs an f 2.8, is minimal.  This lens has no issues taking photos throughout dawn, mid, and dusk.  It also takes great astrophotography (Sony has great ISO noise reduction).  Something you have to keep in mind as well, is cost.  This lens is quite expensive as it is, the lens would be much bigger, heavier, and much more expensive if it achieved f 2.8.
  • Distortion - I’ll be honest, this is something that Sony had to give to achieve what they have on this lens.  Don’t get me wrong, there are lenses on the market that are much worse.  But at this price-point, this is about as good as you’ll get.  You’ll notice slight stretching and bending in the corners of the image, but nothing too crazy (again, like the Tokina 11-16).
 best Sony lens for landscape

Image captured @ 14mm

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.

Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T FE F4 ZA OSS E-Mount Lens

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.

  • Focal Range is 16-35mm.  The focal distance range is what makes this lens ideal and interesting for landscape photographers.  If you haven’t noticed, zoomed all the way out, the lens sits within the ultra-wide focal range.  On the flip side, at 35mm, it sits within the mid range focal length.  This lens allows you to get very wide shots and then punch in a little and get more detailed shots.  All with the same lens. 
  • Sharpness on this lens is pretty amazing.  I’m a firm supporter of Zeiss lenses for their sharpness and build quality.  This lens doesn’t disappoint at all focal ranges.  You’ll get the sharpest image at f 8.0
  • Aperture is limited to 4.0 as the minimum.  In my opinion, there isn’t much of a need for me to shoot below 4 in a landscape photo.  You’re normally shooting between f 8.0 and f 11.0, so the loss of a stop of light isn’t that big of a deal.  But if you decide to use it in a darker environment (like indoors), you may run into having to use more ISO values than you would with a lens of 2.8 or lower.
  • Distortion - like we talked about earlier, every lens has some distortion.  But, in my opinion, 16mm is one of those focal lengths that’s right there between ultra-ultra wide where you can get terrible distortion, and the area where distortion gets much better.  That 16mm is the sweet spot when it comes to distortion, in my opinion.   You won’t get much noticeable distortion from the 24-35mm range.
 best Sony lens for landscape

Image captured @ 24mm on the 16-35mm F4

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

Sony E-mount FE 24mm F1.4 GM Full Frame Wide-angle Prime Lens (SEL24F14GM), Black

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 image was captured using the Sony 24mm 1.4 GM @ f2.8

  • Focal length, again, is 24mm. Depending on your style, you may not need an ultra-wide focal length below 24mm.  I’ve shot some of my best landscapes between 24 and 28mm.  The focal length is fixed (prime) which gives you great advantages over a zoom.  One of the greatest benefits is sharpness (read below for more sharpness information).
  • Sharpness is fantastic on this lens in particular.  This is because it’s a prime - and a GM lens.  GM lenses are the top of the line in the Sony lens line-up.  The sharpness on this lens doesn’t disappoint at all.
  • Aperture is a very respectable f 1.4 minimum.  Considering the  fact that this is a GM lens, you’ll be able to stop down to 1.4 and get some great shallow depth photographs.  Again, this is great for those shooting astro and other subjects other than a landscape.  This aperture is also an advantage for purchasing a 24mm.  Other versions only stop down to 1.8.
  • Distortion at this focal length isn’t noticeable, at all.  The edges of your image will be straight and true.  The only distortion you’ll see, of course, is if a subject is too close to the lens.  This is common on faces (makes them look narrow and skinny).

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

Sony - FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Wide-angle Zoom Lens (SEL1635GM)

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.

Sharpness comparison

Sharpness comparison

  • Focal length is 16-35mm.  The length and benefits of this is no different than the F4 version mentioned above.
  • Sharpness is where you’ll notice a bump of improvement in.  This being a GM lens allows it to stop down lower and have a sharper image between f 8 and f 11.
  • Aperture is a stop better than the F4 version.  This means it’s a “faster” lens (or allows light in faster) at f 2.8.  Unlike other lenses in this focal range, this lens is tack sharp in the center throughout the focal range even with the aperture wide open at f2.8
  • Distortion is equally as good with this version as with the F4 version.

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

Sony SEL24F14GM FE 24mm F1.4 GM Wide Angle Prime Lens

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).

Sony SEL70200G 70-200mm f/4.0 G OSS E Mount Lens

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.

This image was captured using the 70-200mm F4

  • Focal Length is 70-200mm.  This is a fantastic focal length for those attempting to isolate a specific area of a landscape.  I find myself using this lens when I want to “declutter” an image and make just a specific piece of it stand out.  Another benefit of this focal length is the ability to compress the background.  You’re able to “push and pull” the foreground and background into the mid-ground.  A good example of this would be focusing on a tree in your midground and frame it while zoomed to 200mm.  Compared to a lower focal length, it’s background would be pulled into the midground and appear larger.  You can watch the video below to get a better idea of how this works!
  • Sharpness on this lens is great for its capabilities.  You’ll get sharp images throughout the entire zoom and f stops.  Considering there isn’t an aperture below F4 - you’ll start with a pretty sharp image, even wide open (because sharpness increases the higher your f stop value is).  
  • Aperture is decent on this lens considering the price.  F 8 is the aperture for the sharpest image.
  • Distortion isn’t seen in this lens at all.  The focal length starts at a length that isn’t associated with distortion, and ends with a length that is even less distortable. 

70-200mm @ 200mm

70-200mm @ 200mm

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.  

Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS

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!

  • Focal length is a variable/zoomable range of 100-400mm.  This focal distance are for those who want to really isolate a part of your landscape shot.  You could always crop on a lens that’s shorter, right?  Yes, but you won’t get the detail and sharpness from getting it through a lens versus digitally.
  • Sharpness is great out of such a large and versatile focal range. You’ll notice some loss in detail in the corners when it’s wide open, but clears up nearly completely once you hit f8-f9.
  • Aperture is where the lens can fall short, to some.  But honestly, it isn’t that bod of an aperture loss throughout 300mm of focal distance.  On a kit lens, for instance, you generally get three stop of light lost by the time you’ve zoomed through the entire focal range.  And you’ve got half the range and throw of a lens of this caliber.  The aperture on this lens is far better than most and is very acceptable.
  • Distortion on this lens isn’t an issue, at all.  You’ll notice straight lines throughout the range and there’s hardly any editing needed to get distortion corrected.

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

laowa 12 mm f/2.8 Zero-d Sony FE Lens (Wide, MILC/SLR, 16/10, 22 - 2.8, Manual, Sony E)

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.  

Captured using the Laowa 12mm

Captured using the Laowa 12mm

  • Focal length is a static 12mm.  This is a prime lens.  It’s considered by most to be an ultra-wide focal length.  You’ll be able to capture nearly all of a scene with a focal length like this.
  • Sharpness on this lens is incredible. It might be the sharpest lens on this list.  From edge to edge, even wide open, is tack sharp.  You will notice a bit of a bump in sharpness at 5.6 and above (compared to f f2.8)
  • Aperture is one of the selling points of this lens (combined with everything else).  It has an aperture of f 2.8.  This is almost unheard of on a focal length as such.  This allows you to take incredible astrophotography without pumping up ISO values.  You can also get shallow depth of field with an aperture this low (which is great depending on your style).
  • Distortion is the biggest selling point of this lens.  Laowa claims this is a zero distortion lens.  Meaning, there is zero distortion throughout the entire frame.  Which, frankly, isn’t true.  BUT, there is very little.  It’s incredible the difference between a traditional or “basic” wide angle lens is compared to this.  There is no warping or “barreling” of the image at the sides of the frame.  There isn’t a lans on the market that compares to this.

Captured this indoor event with the Laowa 12mm

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

Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III RXD Full Frame E-Mount Lens for Sony Mirrorles (A036) with Sandisk Extreme PRO SDXC 128GB UHS-1 Memory Card

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.

Captured using the Tamron 28-75 @ 28mm

Captured using the Tamron 28-75mm @ 35mm

  • Focal length is a great selling point for this lens.  The range of 28 to 75 means you have a pretty decent wide angle (at the edge of wide and mid range).  You also have to reach there when you need it.
  • Sharpness on this lens is great.  Even at 2.8.  This is one of the most common (if not the most common) third party lens purchased for the Sony platform.
  • Aperture has a respectable minimum of f2.8.  Much like very lens on this list, it’s great for astrophotography and other types of photography.
  • Distortion on this lens isn’t apparent to most.  If you look closely at the edges when zoomed out to 28mm, you’ll notice it when you bring it into lightroom or photoshop to edit it.  But at first glance, it really isn’t there.

Captured using the Tamron 28-75mm @ 28mm

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!

Jeff

I have been taking photos and film since I was a child. Now that I'm in my mid 30's, I want to share with the world what I have learned over the years. I attempt to live every day to the fullest and share that with you through my blog. I am an electrician by trade and photo and video lie within the "hobby" aspect of my life at the moment. It's what I'm truly passionate about.
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