There are many lens manufacturers out there and to a large extent the lens you choose will be dependent on what fits onto your camera. Each camera manufacturer, and sometimes model, will have a different lens fitting, so make sure whatever lens you buy will fit your camera. (Although you can buy adaptors).
Most landscape photographers will use wide or super wide angle lenses most of the time as this will give you the angle to capture a sweeping panorama. Though on occasion you may want to focus right in on a small section of the landscape and in those instances you may want a longer telephoto. So, I will tell you what lenses I take out with me to cover the focal ranges.
My first lens is a 16-35mm super wide angle. This allows me to capture the widest possible scene in front of me.
My next lens is the more versatile 24-105mm, which is a standard focal length. This lens I don’t use so much for landscapes but it gives me an inbetween option.
My final lens, to complete my set of three is the 70-200mm telephoto which allows me to zoom in on intimate parts of a landscape.
So you can see, I have focal lengths covered from 16mm right up to 200mm. For the most part I will stay at the wider end but it’s good to have the flexibility.
One final lens that I have recently acquired and looking forward to trying out is a 15mm fish-eye lens. This is a prime lens, in that the focal length is set and cannot be moved and a fish-eye so it can give me that interesting, warped fish-eye perspective. I can’t wait to get it out into the field.
When choosing lenses for yourself something to consider is the maximum aperture of the lens. I talk more about apertures later on in this guide. The more expensive (bigger and heavier) lenses have a maximum aperture of f2.8 and this is great if you are a wildlife photographer or sports photographer trying to capture fast images in lower light levels, but as a landscape photographer you will most likeley be shooting at smaller apertures, around somewhere between f8—f16, so you can decide for yourself whether these faster lenses are for you. Again, much of your choice will depend on budget.
Other equipment you want to use for landscape photography will vary depending on what you want to capture. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t go out with just a working camera and lens and capture some amazing images. The image below was taken handheld, in the middle of a snowy winters day, with just camera and wide lens.
But, if you really want to delve into landscape photography and experiment with the likes of astrophotography, long exposures or low light photography then there are a few bits of equipment that might help.
First of all, a tripod. A good sturdy, light-weight travel tripod to help keep the camera still is especially useful when photographing early in the morning or later in the day when the light is fading. In order to get correct exposures you will need to slow down the shutter speed so handheld won’t always be an option.
It will also allow you to purposely slow the shutter speed down in order to capture that milky water look when photographing waterfalls, rivers or seascapes.
The image above was taken at one of my favourite spots, Daymer Bay in Cornwall, at around 9pm so the light was fading and I wanted to capture the smooth water and cloud effect. This wouldn’t have been possible without a tripod.
One other quick tip for using tripods on sand, take 3 old compact discs and put them under the feet to stop them sinking into the sand.
Being able to capture the smooth, milky water and cloud effect becomes trickier earlier in the day when there is a lot of light and so to get this effect my next suggested piece of equipment is filters.
I use Lee filters and have a big stopper (10 stops) and little stopper (6 stops) which basically cut out that many stops of light to allow you to slow the shutter speed down sufficiently. The shot below was taken at about 10am so there was a lot of light round
but with the use of a 6 stop filter I was able to slow the shutter to give me the milky effect in the water.
Other filters that may come in handy are the polarising filter which can help reduce reflections in water and make your colours pop a bit more and graduated filters which are darker on one end so you can use them to darken a bright sky and balance the exposure of the whole image.
The graduated filters usually come in a soft, medium or hard graduation, meaning the change from light to dark is more or less graduated. You also have the option of square filters that fit into a holder that attaches to the front of your lens, or screw on filters that attach to the lens directly.
You will need to experiment with these yourself to decide what you like. The last piece of equipment I will talk about here is a shutter release cable or remote control.
When you are set up on a tripod for a long exposure shot it is better then not to touch the camera to release the shutter as that can introduce a bit of camera shake. So by attaching a cable release or using a remote control you can release the shutter with no hands on.
It goes without saying that bags, lens wipes, spare batteries, spare SD cards, torches, cloths, etc. will also be useful.
I also use an L Bracket, similar to the one shown below, which allows me to mount my camera on my tripod in either landscape or portrait orientation.