With all the options available on the market, buying a lens for landscape photography can easily get confusing.
Yet, choosing the right lens is not something you can ignore.
Without the right lens, you are likely to miss your shot; whether it’s because you don’t have the right focal length, your image is soft, or you don’t can’t reach the right aperture setting.
To help save you from the pitfalls, I’ve made a list of the best Nikon lenses available for landscape photography.
Let’s dive in!
What to Look for When Buying a Lens?
Focal Length and Lens Type
Your focal length will determine how close or far your subject appears in your image.
Lenses with longer focal lengths, called telephoto and ultra-telephoto lens, will make it seem like you are closer to your subject and give your image a narrower field of view.
These lenses are great for taking photos of your subjects that are far away.
Telephoto lenses are typically those with a focal length between 70 and 300 mm.
Anything larger than 300mm is generally considered a super-telephoto lens.
Smaller focal lengths make it seem like you are farther away from your subject and give your image a wider field of view great for capturing vast scenes and landscapes.
Lenses with smaller focal lengths are considered wide-angle lenses.
Wide-angle lenses are typically between 35 and 24 mm. Anything below 24 mm is considered an ultra-wide-angle lens.
The final type of lens are normal or standard lenses.
Standard lenses fall in between wide and telephoto lense. They typically have a focal length between 50 mm and 70mm.
This focal length is excellent for accomodating a large variety of scenes while allowing you to use your feet still to zoom in or out.
There is also what is considered an all-around lens. An all-around lens is a lens that covers a wide focal range and allows you to easily adjust to a variety of scenes.
For example, a common all-around lens would have a focal length of 28-200 or 24-70mm.
These lenses give sometimes give you the focal length range of a wide-angle, standard, and telephoto lens.
When shooting landscape photography I recommend that you always bring a wide-angle, telephoto, and all-around lens. With these three lenses, you will be ready to capture any photo that you can imagine.
Maximum Aperture and Aperture Type
The maximum aperture of a lens will determine how wide your aperture gets. Y
ou can typically find the maximum aperture of a lens somewhere on the body of a lens. Most commonly, it is on the front or side of a lens.
When shooting landscape photography, a lens with a maximum aperture of f/2 or larger is ideal.
Lenses with an aperture of at least f/2 are great for night photography and also allow you to use fast shutter speeds when setting your exposure settings.
Lenses can have two types of maximum aperture: variable or fixed.
A lens with a variable aperture has a maximum aperture that gets smaller as you use longer focal lengths.
For example, a 70 to 200 mm lens with a variable maximum aperture of f/2 will have a maximum aperture of f/2 at 70mm, but at 200mm, it will have a smaller maximum aperture, such as f/4.
On the other hand, a lens with a fixed maximum aperture has a constant maximum aperture throughout the entire focal length.
In the example above, at 70mm and 200mm, the maximum aperture of f/2.
I recommend a lens with a fixed maximum aperture, this will give you the same low light performance and speed across the entire focal length.
Keep in mind, that lenses with fixed maximum apertures are more expensive.
One great way to save money is to get a lens with a variable aperture before you do so make sure the aperture range will allow you to take the photos you want.
Best Wide-Angle Lenses for Nikon
1. Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
For Landscape photography, the 14-24mm lens is one of the best lenses you can have. It is by far the lens I use most often when I am shooting landscapes.
If you are looking to shoot wide-angle, you can’t go wrong with the 14-24mm f/2.8.
It is one of Nikon’s sharpest wide-angle lenses and considered by many, one of Nikon’s sharpest lenses period.
From corner to corner, this lens produces high-quality images across the entire focal range.
This lens also offers a great range, giving you the range of both an ultra-wide and wide-angle lens.
You will have no problem capturing entire landscapes and expressing them in your photos.
The fixed maximum aperture of f/2.8 makes this lens great for low light photography.
If possible, I always get a lens with a fixed max aperture but keep in mind this does typically make the lens more expensive.
This lens also uses a silent wave motor for ultra-fast and efficient auto-focus.
This autofocus system is excellent for landscape photography; I can focus on my subjects in a matter of seconds without wasting any valuable time.
This lens is also great for landscape and travel photography because it is weather-sealed and how robust it is.
For a 14-24 mm lens, it is quite large and heavy, although the solid and robust build makes it durable enough to handle the harsh conditions of the outdoors.
One of the downsides of this lens is that it is complicated to use a filter.
The attached lens hood doesn’t allow you to use a threaded filter.
The circular exterior lens optic also makes it difficult to use third-party filter systems.
2. Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
The Nikon 16-35mm lens is a cheaper alternative that offers a similar range and high-quality images that the 14-24mm offers.
If you have a tighter budget, then you can save around $600 by going with the 16-35mm lens.
This is also a great option if you need to use a filter while you are shooting with your wide-angle lens. Unlike the 14-24mm lens, the 16-35mm lens has a 77mm threaded lens, which allows for filters. If
The lens also includes a USM autofocus motor and vibration reduction similar to the 14-24mm lens.
The autofocus is extremely fast and efficient.
In addition, the 4-stops of vibration reduction allow you to use much slower shutter speeds when shooting handheld without experiencing any camera shake.
Compared to the 14-24mm lens, the 16-35mm lens is also smaller and lighter. This is great if you are trying to keep your camera bag on the lighter side.
One of the significant downsides if the 16-35mm lens is that it is a stop slower than the 14-24.
It has a fixed maximum variable of f/4 compared to f/2.8.
If you are not shooting a night very often or don’t need to use fast shutter speeds, then this should not be an issue.
Best Prime Lenses For Nikon
1. Nikon AF-S FX 50mm f/1.4
The 50mm prime lens is one of my favorite lenses to use in any scenario. This 50mm lens, offers the range of a standard lens, and for my its the perfect range for a variety of different situations .
The 50mm range is perfect because you can zoom in with your feet to easily adjust for the perspective you want. This lens is also extremely lightweight and small so it is perfect for travel and landscape photographers who have to travel long distances before reaching their shooting site. You can easily fit this lens in a small bag or pocket and will help keep your camera bag as light as possible.
This lens also comes with Nikon’s latest autofocus motor, the USM which both quiet and fast. I have not had any issue with the autofocus system on this lens and I have used it in a variety of situations.
One of the best things about this ultra-lightweight and powerful lens is that it is affordable considering what you get.
The f/1.4 will only cost you around $450 if you are looking for a more budget-friendly option the f/1.8 only costs $200.
The 50mm f/1.8 offers all the benefits as the 50mm f/1.4 except that it is 1/3 stop slower. In most cases, f/1.8 is sufficiently fast for shooting handheld or night photography.
2. Nikon AF-S FX 35mm f/1.8
If you are looking for a lens that is a bit wider than the 50mm lens, the 35mmm is an excellent option. The 35mm lens comes in two different max aperture options: f/1.4 and f/1.8.
If price is not an issue and you are looking to get the fastest lens possible then the f/1.4 is the best option. It will cost you significantly more than the f/1.8.
It will cost you around $1,000 more, the f/1.8 cost around $500 while the f/1.4 costs around $1,500.
I can never justify an additional 1/3 of a stop for an additional $1,000, especially when these lenses are nearly identical in every other aspect.
Similar to the 50mm the Nikon 35mm is ultralightweight and compact. It weighs less than half a pound of about 6.6 ounces. It also only about 2.2 inches long so it doesn’t take up much space in a camera bag.
These small prime lenses are perfect for keeping your camera bag lightweight, especially on those long trips to reach your destination.
Performance-wise, this lens is optically sound, producing sharp images from end to end with very little fall-off at the edges.
The 35mm comes with Nikon’s latest USM autofocus motor which is both extremely fast and accurate.
It also comes with manual override, so at any time you can use the focus ring to manually focus without interrupting your shooting process.
The bokeh on this lens is great, I would say it’s smoothest at around f/2-2.8 but still smooth anything below. Perfect for adding a creamy blur to your backgrounds.
Best Telephoto Lenses For Nikon
1. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR
Landscape photography isn’t always about capturing wide and vast scenes, sometimes a telephoto lens is necessary.
I like to use a telephoto to shot my subject closer than I usually would or to capture distant scenes from a closer view.
The Nikon 70-200 is probably one of Nikon’s most popular and widely use telephoto lenses and for good reason, there is not a lot to complain about this lens.
First, it is often regarded as the sharpest telephoto lens ever released by Nikon.
One of my favorite features is the fixed maximum aperture of f/2.8. It is often difficult to find a quality telephoto lens that has a fixed and fast maximum aperture.
The fixed maximum aperture makes this lens perfect for night photography as well as shooting action scenes using faster shutter speeds.
It is also equipped with a vibration reduction of 4 stops so you can easily shoot without a tripod. The VR is especially effective when you are trying to use longer focal lengths handheld.
This is perfect for capturing quick shots while your on the move and don’t have time to set-up your tripod. This lens also includes a tripod foot for added support.
This is perfect when you are using a tripod and need additional balance and support.
This lens is perfect for landscape and outdoor photography since it is so durable and robust. The entire frame is made out of metal except for some minor plastic portions on the lens.
I don’t have to worry about this lens breaking if I accidentally drop while out on an adventure.
In addition to the all-metal build, the lens is also weather-sealed, which means the lens can withstand the harsh conditions you may experience while shooting landscapes.
If you are looking to save some money, you can purchase the 70-200mm f/4 lens. If you do opt for the f/4 just keep in mind that it is much slower than the f/2.8 and is less robust.
There are more plastic parts and it is not weather sealed.
2. Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2
The Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 is a great alternative to the Nikon 70-200.
It performs nearly identical and offers all the same features as Nikons traditional lens except at a fraction of the price.
In a shot for shot comparison with the Nikon 70-200, the photos are nearly identical.
The main difference between the Nikon and Tamron 70-200mm lens is the longevity.
With the Nikon 70-200, you can be assured that it will be compatible with Nikon cameras for the next 20 years or even longer.
On the other hand, Tamron can’t guarantee that. Regardless, if you are looking for a great telephoto lens to use on your camera today, this lens is a great option.
The Tamron autofocus system is fast and accurate in my experience.
I have hears some people have issues with the accuracy of the autofocus, while this may be true, overall the speed and accuracy are totally worth the price of this lens.
Compared to Nikon’s USM autofocus motor, the Tamron motor is a bit louder but not loud enough to bother me or disrupt my shooting flow.
It also comes with vibration reduction, in three different modes.
The different modes can be activated using a switch on the side of the lens. At the highest mode, the lens has around 5 stops of image stabilization.
Overall, I would say the image stabilization on the Nikon and Tamron work equivalent to one another.
I have no issue with camera shake when shooting at 200mm and the image stabilization is set to the highest mode.
The Tamron is well built, with little play and smooth twist in both the aperture and focus ring. It has a metal barrel and metal lens threads but the rest of the lens is made out of plastic.
It is built to last moderate conditions but definitely not as robust as the Nikon 70-200mm. One added bonus is that it is weather sealed which means you will have added protection against the elements.
Best All-Around Lenses for Nikon
1. Nikon AF-S FX 24-70mm f/2.8E ED Vibration Reduction
The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 is a professional grade zoom lens that offers the range of a wide and standard lens. The Nikon 24-70 is known as Nikon’s sharpest midrange zoom lens ever.
For landscape and travel photographers, the low light performance of this medium-range lens is outstanding. The fixed aperture of f/2.8 is ideal for those shooting at night or in low light situations.
Not only is it the mid-range zoom lenses ever created, but it also has superb AF. The autofocus on this lens is extremely fast and accurate, making it useful in many situations.
The autofocus can be effective when shooting still landscapes, wildlife, sports, or portraits, among many others.
This lens is also equipped with Nikon’s vibration reduction technology.
It is capable of reducing camera shake up to 4 stops. This is perfect when shooting landscape or travel photography, and you need to capture photos handheld.
The vibration reduction has allowed me to shoot handheld even when using slower shutter speeds with ease.
One unfortunate thing about this lens is that it is made primarily of plastic.
For a professional lens, a more robust build is ideal, but there is one advantage to the mostly plastic build. This lens is very light, given how large it is.
2. Nikon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
The Nikon 28-300 is the Ultimate all-around lens.
If you are looking for a lens that covers a great focal length range this is the perfect option.
When you are traveling or outdoors this lens will give you the range to capture a variety of images. You will have the range of a standard to a telephoto lens at your fingertips.
The Nikon 28-300mm lens performs is sharpest between the range of 28-100mm.
The edges of the images do begin to get softer at longer focal lengths but given the massive focal range, you get it can be a bit expected.
Overall, the loss in sharpness is the best I’ve seen for an all-around lens.
The variable focal length is not ideal but the f/3.5 to f/5.6 range is pretty good given the focal range you get. If you plan on shooting at night I would avoid using this lens.
Also, if you need to use a faster shutter speed I recommend increasing your ISO as well.
This lens comes with Nikon 3 stop image stabilization, which works exceptionally well when using longer focal lengths. I have had no issues shooting handheld while using vibration reduction.
One of my favorite things about this lens how lightweight and compact it is.
You’ll find that this lens is much lighter and smaller than any lens of equivalent focal length.
This is perfect for landscape and travel photography.
It will keep your bag light and give you less strain while giving you a massive focal length range.
Your choice of lens has a huge impact on the quality of your photos.
I created this list to make your next lens purchase as easy and smooth as possible.
Do you agree with this list? Did I miss anything?
Comment below. I’d love to know what you think.