In the world of landscape photography, some people might say that the more lenses and gear you have, the better your photographs will turn out to be. While this may be the case for some photographers, this isn’t necessarily the case. Having a variety of gear, we believe, can only take you so far, and the quality of your photos will always boil down to your personal skill and patience.
With that being said, we’d argue that any landscape photographer only needs two essential lenses in their kit. These are the 16–35mm f/2.8 and 70–200mm f/4.
These two lenses will cover most of your needs. From shooting traditional landscapes to astrophotography, you’ll have everything you need to keep snapping away. Additionally, carrying just two kinds of lenses means you can bring your camera bag with you easily, affording you great maneuverability to take that perfect shot.
Let’s take a look at what makes these two lenses so special in the sections below.
The 16–35mm f/2.8
This lens allows you to take ultra-wide-angle photos that are perfect for many types of landscape photography. It’s amazingly fast, allowing you to take sharp photos even in nighttime settings with its wide aperture. The narrow depth of field allows you to achieve that blur effect that is crucial in many landscape photos, particularly when a foreground element needs to be highlighted.
You could get by with the cheaper f/4 version. However, since you’ll be sacrificing versatility and photo quality in favor of no added benefits (such as a smaller size or lighter weight) other than price, it might be a good idea to spend that extra bit of money on the f/2.8 anyway.
The 70–200mm f/4
For your second lens, you need something that can take the photos that the previous one cannot. This is where the 70–200mm comes in. It’s a medium telephoto lens that allows provides you with great zooming capabilities. This is ideal for shooting distant subjects located in vast landscapes, as it allows you to retain clarity and provide visual depth in the form of blurred backgrounds.
As opposed to other options in this category, this lens provides unmatched value and convenience. More powerful zooming found in other more expensive lenses is unnecessary, as these tend to produce inferior quality photos while taking up more space in your bag.
Inspiration and Practice
Going back to our original statement, you’ll still need to develop your own eye to be able to shoot gorgeous photos. While these lenses will provide you with the tools you’ll need, it’s up to you to train yourself to become a better photographer.
What we recommend you do is to find sources of inspiration in other people’s work. Find some landscape photographers who are breaking ground in this regard, and learn from what they’re able to capture. Remember to practice consistently, so get out there and never stop taking photos.
That’s all there is to it! Invest in a good camera, as well as the lenses we’ve highlighted above. Most of all, keep at it and don’t be discouraged. We guarantee that you’ll get better at it over time.
I’m a landscape photographer in Baton Rouge, CA. Get in touch with me if you’d like to learn more.