When to Use Telephoto vs Wide Angle Lens for Landscape Photography
Understand Which Lens to use When!
Essential skill You Should Have as a Beginner Landscape Photographer
There are so many different kinds of lenses, and even many marketed as the best lens for landscape photography.
But here’s a skill that the pro landscape photographers use but beginners usually don’t! Learn to master when to use these lenses and you will be well on your way to taking incredible landscape photos.
In this video tutorial, Canadian landscape phenomenon Sarah Lyndsay talks about landscape photography lenses you should have to take better landscape photography!
Sarah is using a Canon 5D Mark IV camera for the amazing shots below.
When to use Wide Angle vs Telephoto Lens for Landscape Photography
For landscape photography, the best kit of lenses to have at minimum are a wide angle zoom lens and a telephoto zoom lens.
What is a telephoto lens?
A telephoto zoom lens uses a range of long focal lengths to allow you to zoom in close to the scene but also shows the scene in a unique way. Elements in your images will appear closer than they are, and more condensed.
Sarah uses a Canon 70-200 F2.8 for the telephoto in her shots, but you can also try out these similar lenses:
The below photo is from Sarah’s sunrise shoot and she tests each of these lenses in the same scene. You can see how the telephoto lens makes the scenery look close and large:
What is a Wide angle lens?
A wide angle lens uses various shorter focal lengths and gives you a wide & vast perspective in your photos. It’s unique because the field of view is wider than the human eye.
So these lenses allow a lot of the scene to be captured, and makes far away elements seem small.
Sarah uses a Canon 16-35 F4 for the wide angle zoom in her shots, but you can also try out these similar lenses:
Check out this example from Sarah using the wide angle lens on the same exact scene as above and you can see the difference this lens makes to the composition:
Which Lens for Landscape Photography to use & When?
Each of these lenses, the telephoto and wide angle zoom, is useful in it’s own right and better to use in certain situations.
Wide angle lenses are best for sceneries that are large with a lot of elements to fit in. For example, large mountains or lakes or even the sky. The wide field of view can capture so much scenery within the one photo.
These lenses are also great for distorting and exaggerating foreground elements. Vertical shots (taller than wide) with these lenses are super epic! Your landscapes will look more wide, broad and far away.
Telephoto lenses are better in scenes where the landscape is very large and vast but you want to make the scene look a bit smaller, compressed and focused on details. Telephotos also create interesting layers and capture beautiful light.
Here’s another example of the telephoto and wide angle lenses side by side shooting the same scene:
This understanding will come from your own practice with each lens for landscape photography.
Trying out both of these lenses for landscape photography will give you firsthand experience of the differences between them. You will get more familiar with what each lens type can do and form your own preference for which to use when!
But hopefully these tips will get you on the right track for trying these two types of lenses.
Improve your photography overall by reading this comprehensive guide!
Which of these tips about lens for landscape photography will you use in you next shoot?