Telephotos For Landscapes

Think Differently…
This Article Features Photo Zoom

Most people think of wide-angles when they think of landscape photography, and much landscape work is, indeed, done with them. But, perhaps for that very reason, you might want to try some telephoto landscapes, as well: By virtue of their relative rarity, tele-landscapes are different.


Tamron SP 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 Di VC USD

Long lenses isolate small, distant portions of a scene, and in the process, flatten perspective. These two aspects are so different from the wide-angle grand vistas that they tend to stand out from the crowd (assuming they're good photos, of course—light, composition and detail are important no matter what lens you use, or what your subject matter is). Using a long lens for landscapes requires different thinking—and that can be refreshing in the field, as well as for the viewers of the images.

So, what is a telephoto lens? Well, in common use, it's any lens much longer than a camera's normal lens. Actually, telephoto refers to a specific optical design, in which the physical length of the lens is shorter than the focal length. But, most folks think of any long lens as a "telephoto," and we'll go along with that here.

For our purposes, telephotos start at twice the "normal" focal length for the camera. For a "full-frame" digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) or 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR), 50mm is the "normal" lens, so telephoto starts at 100mm. For Advanced Photo System, type C (APS-C), a "normal" lens is about 33mm, so telephoto begins at 67mm. For Four Thirds System sensors (and Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras, which use the same-size sensors), normal is around 25mm, so telephoto starts at 50mm.

We also put a long limit here for landscapes—you can shoot landscapes with any lens, of course, but lenses much longer than 300mm for a full-frame camera (200mm for an APS-C model and 150mm for Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds) generally produce landscape images so different that they start to fall into the "abstract" realm rather than the "pictorial" realm. So, use whatever lens you want for your landscapes, but here we'll consider full-frame lenses in the 100-300mm range, APS-C lenses in the 67-200mm range and Four Thirds lenses in the 50-150mm range.


Sigma 150-500mm ƒ/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO; Sony 70-400mm ƒ/4-5.6 G Alpha A-Mount Telephoto Zoom

Telephotos For Wildlife

The main thing outdoor photographers use long lenses for is wildlife, of course, because they "bring the subject to you." A long lens lets you fill the frame with wild subjects that won't let you approach closely. Pro and big-budget amateur bird/wildlife shooters use 500mm ƒ/4, 600mm ƒ/4 and even 800mm ƒ/5.6 lenses, which start above $5,000 and go well past $10,000.

More affordable options include telephoto zooms (Canon 100-400mm, Nikon 80-400mm, Sigma 150-500mm, Sony 70-400mm, Tamron 200-500mm, for example, all of which sell for less than $2,000) and slower moderate telephotos (Canon, Nikon and Pentax 300mm ƒ/4, Canon 400mm ƒ/5.6—also for less than $2,000—for example).


This Article Features Photo Zoom

While super telephoto lenses have relatively long minimum focusing distance, many of the lenses in our range can focus fairly close, providing the user with two ways to make "different" landscape images—to explore the whole other worlds of macro and telephoto. You can use the telephoto lens to isolate and compress distant portions of the scene or, to zero in on close portions for more image possibilities. Many such lenses are great for flower shots and even large insects. Some of the lenses in our chart are, in fact, true "1:1" macro lenses.

Different Nature
Wildlife photographers use long lenses—the longer and the faster, the better. Longer lenses provide bigger images of hard-to-approach subjects, while fast lenses permit using faster shutter speeds to minimize blur and lower ISOs to maximize image quality. But such lenses are big, heavy brutes and not easy to carry far afield.

Landscape shooters generally stop down to increase depth of field, so a fast maximum aperture isn't necessary; they can make do with slower, smaller and lighter lenses that are easier to carry deep into tough terrain: a 70-200mm ƒ/4 rather than a 70-200mm ƒ/2.8, for example.

Slower lenses also generally take smaller filters, which cost less than larger filters and take up less space in the camera bag. Wildlife photographers also demand quick, accurate autofocus (AF) performance—never a bad thing, but not as important to landscape shooters, who often focus manually.

Sensor Size And Focal Length

Cameras with smaller-than-full-frame sensors include in their specs a focal-length or "crop" factor: 1.5X for APS-C (1.6X for Canon APS-C); 2X for Four Thirds. That means that a given lens on one of these camera's frames is like a longer lens on a full-frame camera, because the smaller sensor sees less of the image produced by the lens. For example, a 100mm lens on an APS-C camera frames like a 150-160mm lens on a full-frame camera. A 100mm lens on a Four Thirds (or Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera) frames like a 200mm lens on a full-frame camera.

A given lens produces an image of a given size at the image plane when focused at a given distance. This size doesn't change because you put a larger or smaller sensor at the image plane. What changes is how much of the image the sensor "sees" and thus, how large in the frame a given subject appears. A smaller sensor doesn't increase focal length (100mm is still 100mm) or magnification; it only changes the "crop."

From a practical standpoint, however, you can think of the crop factor as magnification: Putting a 300mm lens on an APS-C camera will produce an image that's framed like one produced by a 450-480mm lens on a full-frame camera, and the subject's image will appear larger in the frame because of the tighter cropping.


This Article Features Photo Zoom

Used at a given distance and aperture, long lenses produce less depth of field than shorter ones. Really long lenses provide minimal depth of field, even when stopped down. And stopping down too far will reduce image quality due to diffraction. So, while bird-in-flight photographers often shoot wide-open, or stopped down a stop or so, from there to get the fastest possible shutter speeds, long-lens landscape photographers usually use intermediate apertures as a good compromise between depth of field and diffraction blurring. Intermediate apertures with a long lens let you focus attention of a sharply-focused plane in the scene, while keeping nearby planes identifiable sharp. Ultimately, the aperture you use is up to your vision—if you need more depth of field, maybe it's worth the loss of definition to diffraction effects when stopping way down, maybe it's not.

Telephoto Tech
While wide-angle lenses are prone to a wide range of aberrations, distortions, vignetting and more, long lenses suffer mainly from chromatic aberrations. So, wide-angle lenses generally need more elements, including some aspherical ones, to correct distortions and non-color aberrations, along with low-dispersion and extra-low dispersion ones to correct chromatic aberrations.

Telephoto lenses generally don't suffer from most of the wide-angle problems and thus, contain fewer elements and no aspherical ones, (except telezooms, which include shorter focal lengths).

All in all, newer telephoto lenses generally produce better results with today's high-megapixel digital cameras than older lenses (which were designed for use with film), and telephotos with low- and extra-low dispersion elements—with such acronyms as extra-low dispersion (ED), extraordinary-low dispersion (ELD), FL, SLD, UD and DO—provide better results than those without.

Image Stabilization: Is It For You?


Nikon 70-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Zoom

Short answer: Yes, if you shoot handheld. No, if you always use a tripod. Image stabilization in camera bodies and lenses helps you get sharper handheld images, and if you prefer to shoot landscapes handheld, you should opt for it.

Some manufacturers use sensor-shift stabilization in their DSLR bodies (Pentax, Olympus and Sony, for example), while others provide optical stabilization in certain lenses (Canon, Nikon, Sigma, and soon, Tokina).


Canon EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L IS II USM

In-body stabilization has the advantage of working with any lens you use on the camera; in-lens stabilization has the advantage of stabilizing the viewfinder image, as well as the recorded one. If you use Live View mode, the live image will be stabilized with either type of stabilization.

It's best to shoot landscapes from a tripod, though, because a tripod can hold the camera steadier than we can (even with stabilization) and will lock your composition in place, so you can carefully examine it and it won't accidentally change as you squeeze off the shot.


Long Landscape Lenses Format** Elements/
Groups
Special Elements*** Min. Focus Max. Magnif. Filter
Size
Size (in.) Weight Est. Street Price Lens Mounts†
Fixed Focal Length
Canon EF 100mm ƒ/2 USM FF 8/6 N/S 3.9ft 0.14X 58mm 3.0x2.9 1.0 lbs. $499 C
Canon EF 100mm ƒ/2.8L Macro USM FF 12/8 N/S 1.0ft 1.00X 58mm 3.1x4.7 1.3 lbs. $1,049 C
Canon EF 135mm ƒ/2L USM FF 10/8 2UD 3.0ft 0.19X 72mm 3.2x4.4 1.7 lbs. $1,089 C
Canon EF 135mm ƒ/2.8 Softfocus FF 7/6 1ASPH 4.3ft 0.12X 52mm 2.7x3.9 13.8 lbs. $549 C
Canon EF 180mm ƒ/3.5L Macro USM FF 14/12 3UD 1.6ft 1.00X 72mm 3.3x7.4 2.4 lbs. $1,579 C
Canon EF 200mm ƒ/2.8L II USM FF 9/7 2UD 4.9ft 0.16X 72mm 3.3x5.4 1.7 lbs. $819 C
Canon EF 300mm ƒ/4L IS USM FF 15/22 2UD 4.9ft 0.24X 77mm 3.5x8.7 2.6 lbs. $1,499 C
Nikon AF-S DC 105mm ƒ/2D FF 6/6 None 3.0ft 0.13X 72mm 3.1x4.4 22.6 lbs. $1,199 N
Nikon AF-S VR Micro 105mm ƒ/2.8G FF 12/12 1ED 1.0ft 1.00X 62mm 3.3x4.6 27.9 lbs. $985 N
Nikon AF DC 135mm ƒ/2D FF 7/6 None 4.0ft 0.48X 72mm 3.1x4.7 28.7 lbs. $1,394 N
Nikon AF 180mm ƒ/2.8D FF 8/6 1ED 5.0ft 0.15X 72mm 3.1x5.7 26.8 lbs. $1,004 N
Nikon AF Micro 200mm ƒ/4D FF 13/8 2ED 1.5ft 1.00X 62mm 3.0x7.6 41.8 lbs. $1,794 N
Nikon AF-S 200mm ƒ/2G VR II FF 13/9 1SUD3ED 6.2ft 0.12X 52mm 4.9x8.0 103.4 lbs. $5,999 N
Nikon AF-S 300mm ƒ/4D IF-ED FF 10/6 2ED 4.8ft 0.27X 77mm 3.5x8.8 2.9 lbs. $1,494 N
Pentax FA 77mm ƒ/1.8 Limited FF 7/6 N/S 2.3ft 0.14X 49mm 2.5x1.9 9.5 oz. $758 P
Pentax DA 100mm ƒ/2.8 Macro WR FF 9/8 N/S 12 in. 1.00X 49mm 2.6x3.2 12.9 oz. $847 P
Pentax DA* 200mm ƒ/2.8 ED [IF] SDM APS-C 9/8 3ED 46.8 in. 0.20X 77mm 3.3x5.3 29.1 oz. $1,199 P
Sigma 150mm ƒ/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro FF 19/13 3SLD 15 in. 1.00X 72mm 3.1x5.9 40.6 oz. $1,099 CNPSiSo
Sony Zeiss 135mm ƒ/1.8 FF FF 11/8 N/S 29 in. 0.25X 77mm 3.5x4.6 34.9 oz. $1,799 So
Sony 135mm ƒ/2.8 Smooth Transition Focus FF 8/6 None 33.9 in. 0.25X 72mm 3.1x3.9 25.7 oz. $1,299 So
Tamron SP 90mm ƒ/2.8 Di VC USD FF 14/11 2SLD1LD 11.8 in. 1.00X 58mm 3.0x4.5 19.4.oz. $749 CNSo
Tamron 180mm ƒ/3.5 Di LD IF Macro FF 14/11 2LD 1.5 ft 1.00X 72mm 3.3x6.5 32.4 oz. $739  
Tele-Zoom
Canon EF-S 15-85mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS USM APS-C 17/12 1UD3ASPH 13.7 in. 0.21X 72mm 3.2x3.4 20.3 oz. $799 C
Canon EF-S 17-85mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS USM APS-C 17/12 1ASPH 1.2ft 0.20X 67mm 3.1x3.6 1.0 lbs. $599 C
Canon EF-S 18-135mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS APS-C 16/12 1UD1ASPH 1.5ft 0.21X 67mm 3.0x4.0 16.0 oz. $499 C
Canon EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L IS USM FF 18/13 1SUD3ASPH 1.5ft 0.23X 77mm 3.3x4.2 1.5 lbs. $1,149 C
Canon EF 28-135mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS USM FF 16/12 1ASPH 1.6ft 0.19X 72mm 3.1x3.8 1.2 lbs. $479 C
Canon EF 70-200mm ƒ/4L USM FF 16/13 1FL2UD 3.9ft 0.21X 67mm 3.0x6.8 1.6 lbs. $709 C
Canon EF 70-200mm ƒ/4L IS USM FF 20/15 1FL2UD 3.9ft 0.21 67mm 3.0x6.8 1.7 lbs. $1,349 C
Canon EF 75-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 III FF 13/9 None 4.9ft 0.25X 58mm 2.8x4.8 16.9 lbs. $199 C
Canon EF 75-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 III USM FF 13/9 None 4.9ft 0.25X 58mm 2.8x4.8 16.9 0z. $234 C
Canon EF 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 IS USM FF 15/10 1UD 4.9ft 0.26X 58mm 3.0x5.6 22.2 oz. $649 C
Canon EF 70-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM FF 18/12 1DO1ASPH 4.6ft 0.19X 58mm 3.2x3.9 25.4 oz. $1,999 C
Canon EF 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6L IS USM FF 19/14 2UD3ASPH 3.9ft 0.21X 67mm 3.5x5.6 2.3 lbs. $1,599 C
Canon EF 100-300mm f4.5-5.6 USM FF 13/10 None 4.9ft 0.20X 58mm 2.9x4.8 19.0 oz. $470 C
Nikon AF-S DX 16-85mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR APS-C 17/11 2ED3ASPH 1.5ft 0.22X 67mm 2.8x3.4 17.1 oz. $699 N
Nikon AF-S DX 18-105mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR APS-C 15/11 1ED1ASPH 1.5ft 0.20X 67mm 3.0x3.5 14.8 oz. $399 N
Nikon AF-S 24-120mm ƒ/4G ED VR II FF 17/13 2ED3ASPH 1.5 ft. 0.23X 77mm 3.3x4.1 23.6 oz. $1,299 N
Nikon AF-S DX VR 55-200mm ƒ/4-5.6G APS-C 15/11 1ED 3.6 ft. 0.29X 52mm 2.9x3.9 11.8 oz. $249 N
Nikon AF-S 70-200mm ƒ/4G ED VR FF 14/10 3ED1HRI 3.3 ft. 0.27X 67mm 3.1x7.0 30.0 oz. $1,399 N
Nikon AF-S VR 70-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.6G FF 17/12 2ED 4.9 ft 0.25X 67mm 3.1x5.6 26.3 oz. $589 N
Pentax DA 18-135mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR APS-C 13/11 1ASPH 1.3 ft. 0.24X 62mm 2.9x3.0 14.3oz. $527 P
Pentax DA* 50-135mm ƒ/2.8 ED [IF] SDM APS-C 18/14 N/S 39.6 in. 0.17X 67mm 3.0x5.4 24.2.oz. $1,599 P
Pentax DA 50-200mm ƒ/4-5.6 ED WR APS-C 11/10 1ED2ASPH 43.2 in. 0.24X 49mm 2.7x3.1 10.1 oz. $247 P
Sigma 50-150mm ƒ/2.8 EX DC OS HSM APO APS-C 21/15 6SLD 31.5 in. 0.16X 77mm 3.4x7.8 3.0 lbs. $1,099 CNSi
Sigma 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 DG Macro FF 14/10 1SLD 3.2 ft. 0.54X 58mm 3.0x4.7 18.7 oz. $169 CNPSiSo
Sigma 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 APO DG Macro FF 14/10 3SLD 4.9 ft. 0.25X 58mm 3.0x4.7 18.7 oz. $239 CNPSiSo
Sigma 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 OS FF 16/11 1SLD 4.9 ft. 0.26X 62mm 3.9x5.0 21.5 oz. $247 CNPSiSo
Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM FF 23/18 2FLD1SLD 59.1 in. 0.12X 105mm 4.8x11.5 N/S. TBA CNSi
Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 EX DG OS HSM FF 23/18 2FLD1SLD 4.9 ft. 0.12X 105mm 4.5x11.4 6.5 lbs. $3,199 CNSi
Sony Zeiss DT 16-80mm ƒ/3.5-4. APS-C 14/10 1ED2ASPH 1.2 ft. 0.24X 62mm 2.8x3.3 15.7 oz. $999 So
Sony DT 16-105mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 APS-C 11/15 1ED2ASPH 16 in. 0.23X 62mm 2.8x3.3 16.6 oz. $649 So
Sony DT 18-135mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 APS-C 14/11 1ED2ASPH 17 in. 0.25X 49mm 3.0x3.5 14.0 oz. $499 So
Sony DT 55-200mm ƒ/4-5.6 APS-C 13/9 ED 3.2 ft. 0.29X 55mm 2.8x3.3 10.8 oz. $199 So
Sony 70-300mm ƒ/ƒ/4.5-5.6 G FF 16/11 2ED 3.9 ft. 0.25X 62mm 3.3x5.4 30.3 oz. $999 So
Tamron 70-300mm ƒ/4.0-5.6 Di FF 13/9 1LD 3.2 ft. 0.50X 62mm 3.0x4.6 15.3 oz. $199 CNPSo
Tamron SP 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 Di VC USD FF 17/12 1XLD1LD 4.9 ft. 0.25X 62mm 3.2x5.1 27.0 oz. $499 CNSo
Tokina AF 70-200mm ƒ/4 PRO AT-X FX VCM-S FF 19/14 N/S 39 in. 0.28X 67mm 3.2x6.6 35.9 oz. $247 TBA
Four Thirds System
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm ƒ/2.8-4.0 SWD 4/3 14/10 1SED2ED3A
SPH
9.8 in. 0.28X 72mm 3.1x391 20.3 oz. $999 4/3
Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-54mm ƒ/2.8-3.5 II 4/3 15/11 3ASPH 8.6 in. 0.26X 49mm 2.9x3.5 15.5 oz. $599 4/3
Olympus Zuiko Digital 35-100mm ƒ/2.0 4/3 21/18 1SED4ED 43.2 in. 0.09X 77mm 3.8x8.4 58.1 oz. $2,499 4/3
Olympus Zuiko Digital 40-150mm ƒ/4.0-5.6 4/3 12/9 1ED 35.1 in. 0.14X 58mm 2.6x2.8 7.7 oz. $279 4/3
Olympus Zuiko Digital 150mm ƒ/2.0 4/3 11/9 1SED1ED 54.6 in. 0.13X 82mm 2.7x3.1 56.7 oz. $2,499 4/3
* A selection of short telephoto lenses suitable for a "different" take on landscapes; not a complete listing.
** FF = full-frame; APS-C = APS-C; 4/3 = Four Thirds System. Full-frame lenses also can be used on APS-C cameras with compatible mount. Canon EF-S (APS-C) lenses can't be mounted on full-frame or APS-H EOS cameras. Nikon DX (APS-C) lenses can be mounted on full-frame (FX) Nikon DSLRs, but camera will crop to DX format automatically.
*** UD = Ultra-Low Dispersion; ASPH = Aspherical; ED = Extra-Low Dispersion; SUD = Super Ultra-Low Dispersion; SLD = Special Low Dispersion; XLD = Extra-Low Dispersion; LD = Low Dispersion; FL = Fluorite; DO = Diffractive Optics; HRI = High Refractive Index; FLD = F Low-Dispersion; SED = Super Extra-Low Dispersion.
† Mounts in which lens is available: C = Canon EF; N = Nikon F; P = Pentax K; Si = Sigma SD; So = Sony A; 4/3 = Four Thirds System
N/S = Not stated by manufacturer.


This Article Features Photo Zoom
Do-It-All Zooms


Tamron 28-300 XR Di VC LD

As you can see in the accompanying chart, there are a number of wide-range "superzoom" lenses that include our focal lengths. These offer the advantages of providing focal lengths from wide-angle to telephoto in a single package, minimal bulk and at relatively low cost. Their main drawback is that they aren't quite as sharp as shorter-range zooms or prime lenses—trying to correct all aberrations, distortions and vignetting at a wide range of focal lengths is quite an engineering challenge. But, if you want to travel really light or have a very limited lens budget, a superzoom can be just what you need.

Long Landscape Lenses Format** Elements/
Groups
Special Elements*** Min. Focus Max. Magnif. Filter
Size
Size (in.) Weight Est. Street Price Lens Mounts†
Do-It-All Zoom
CEF-S 18-200mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS APS-C 16/12 2UD2ASPH 1.5ft 0.24X 72mm 3.1x6.4 21.0 oz. $699 C
Canon EF 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6L IS USM FF 22/16 3UD2ASPH 2.3ft 0.30X 77mm 3.6x7.2 3.7 lbs. $2,689 C
Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm ƒ/4-5.6G ED VR II APS-C 16/12 2ED3ASPH 1.6ft 0.22X 72mm 3.0x3.8 19.8 oz. $849 N
Nikon AF-S 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR FF 19/14 2ED3ASPH 19.3ft 0.32X 77mm 3.3x4.5 28.2 oz. $949 N
Sigma 18-200mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM APS-C 18/14 1FLD2SLD3ASPH 17.7ft 0.26X 62mm 3.0x3.5 17.3 oz. $499 CNPSiSo
Tamron 18-200mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 XR Di II APS-C 15/13 1XR2LD3ASPH 17.7ft 0.27X 62mm 2.9x3.3 14.0 oz. $199 PSo
Tamron 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 XR Di FF 12/9 1XR2LD3ASPH 19.3ft 0.34X 67mm 2.9x3.3 14.8 oz. $419 CNPSo
Tamron 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD FF 18/13 1XR2LD3ASPH 19.3ft 0.33X 67mm 3.1x3.9 19.4 oz. $629 CN
* A selection of short telephoto lenses suitable for a "different" take on landscapes; not a complete listing.
** FF = full-frame; APS-C = APS-C; 4/3 = Four Thirds System. Full-frame lenses also can be used on APS-C cameras with compatible mount. Canon EF-S (APS-C) lenses can't be mounted on full-frame or APS-H EOS cameras. Nikon DX (APS-C) lenses can be mounted on full-frame (FX) Nikon DSLRs, but camera will crop to DX format automatically.
*** UD = Ultra-Low Dispersion; ASPH = Aspherical; ED = Extra-Low Dispersion; SUD = Super Ultra-Low Dispersion; SLD = Special Low Dispersion; XLD = Extra-Low Dispersion; LD = Low Dispersion; FL = Fluorite; DO = Diffractive Optics; HRI = High Refractive Index; FLD = F Low-Dispersion; SED = Super Extra-Low Dispersion
† Mounts in which lens is available: C = Canon EF; N = Nikon F; P = Pentax K; Si = Sigma SD; So = Sony A; 4/3 = Four Thirds System
N/S = Not stated by manufacturer.

Mirror Lenses


Pro-Optic 500 ƒ/6.3 mirror lens

The Pro-Optic mirror lenses provide an economical way to experiment with "compressed" long, focal-length landscapes. Really long lenses "zero in" on a small, very distant portion of a scene, producing images in which objects are squeezed together—a definitely different landscape look. While conventional refracting long lenses are costly, the Pro-Optic mirror lenses (500mm ƒ/6.3, 800mm ƒ/8 and a 1000mm ƒ/11 kit consisting of a 500mm lens and 2x converter) sell for just $99.95 to $224.95 (available from Adorama). Besides being less costly than conventional telephotos, mirror lenses are also much more compact and easier to cart into the field. Mirror lenses are also less sharp than refracting telephotos and turn out-of-focus highlights into rings rather than disks—some like the effect, some don't.

But, the price certainly is right, and long lenses let you produce landscapes with a different look.

Macro Lenses For Landscape?

As their name implies, macro lenses were designed for close-up work, optically optimized for close-focusing distances. They're especially good with flat copy and provide good edge-to-edge sharpness. But, they work well at normal shooting distances, too. In fact, one advantage of macro lenses over other close-up gear is that they also let you focus out to infinity—something you can't do when using extension tubes, close-up diopter lenses or a bellows. So, if you want the ability to shoot telephoto landscapes and also be able to zero-in on intriguing flowers and insects along the way, a macro lens is a great choice: It can focus close enough to produce a life-size 1.0X magnification at the image plane, yet also double as a normal tele lens, good for landscapes, portraits and anything else you'd use choose to shoot with that focal length.

10 Comments

    A pretty useful tutorial for those who don’t have much hands on experience with this type of photography.

    However, the mountain landscape photo used to head up this article is just garish. The color is out of control. Unfortunately, the temptation to pump up color to this unnatural extreme is all too common among photographers. And, ironically, the photo publications do little to explain why, just because you can do it, it doesn’t mean that you should — or that it even makes a better photo.

    One more comment: I wouldn’t put all catadioptric (mirror) lenses in the same category when it comes to sharpness.

    Handholding the camera with any lens necessitates “squeezing off the shot” manually from the camera shutter release, but if your camera is on a tripod,usse a remote ( with a wire or with the infra red electroics) release to eliminate any camera body motion which would blur the image details.

    Neil, I disagree with your opinion that the picture was deliberately over saturated. This shot is more complicated than it looks. Living in Colorado, I have seen mountains from yellow to almost blood red. How much red is in a sunrise or sunset is totally dependent on atmospheric density. The photographer used a split neutral density filter to balance the highlights and the shadows. Toss in the fact that the shadow area is sky lighting and very strong blue, while the mountains are straight sunlight containing more red balance. To get the shadow area to look a more ???natural?۝ color, it will require post processing. If done as a single overall color correction, it would make yellowish mountains a more red color. If the shadow areas were a little dull, the photographer may have added some saturation. Actually, this is getting way too complicated. I think I will go back, enlarge it, and really just enjoy a photographer?۪s great picture.

    I’m not sure I really trust your judgement, when you go bust on one of the first issues you tackle. The normal lens for 35mm and for APS-C is the same – approximately 50mm. The only thing that matters is the distance between the shutter and the film plane. The crop factor is irrelevant.

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