A picture paints a thousand words. At least, that’s what an old English saying said. I believe that it is true in some ways, however, photographers should at least identify what they are looking at and how that picture is created.
One of the most common problems among photographers is finding the right lenses. It is a make or break in capturing every moment or when focusing on something in the wild. This article will help you find the best Nikon lenses for landscape photography. Specifically, it will look at which one comes with features catering to photographers specializing in capturing wide-angle landscapes.
Best Landscape Photography Lenses for Nikon Cameras in 2020
Best Nikon Landscape Zoom Lenses:
- Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Lens
- Tamron AFA012N700 SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Wide-Angle Lens
- Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR Lens
- Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens
Best Nikon Landscape Prime Lenses:
- Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED Fixed Lens
- Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED Fixed Lens
- Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
Best Nikon Landscape Lenses for DX Only:
- Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Zoom Lens
- Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM Lens for Nikon
- Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens
Must Have Features for Lenses for Nikon Cameras?
Nikon is a Japanese company that has been specializing in optics and imaging products for decades. Its name is not only synonymous to cameras but is also known for its microscopes, measuring instruments and binoculars. The company’s dedication to perfecting the science behind lenses is alone enough reason to consider the best Nikon lenses for landscape photography.
But how do lenses offered by this Japanese brand compare with what its competitors offer? You can answer that by knowing what are the most important features to have in a camera lens. Here are some of the must-have features when looking through a Nikon lenses review and other reviews third-party lens providers:
Nikon is one of the brands that is known for its professional-grade cameras, lenses and other equipment for photographers. The best Nikon DX lenses and the best Nikon FX lenses are a testament to how the brand continuous to perfect the design and production of this photography essential. A great camera lens designed for professional use is something that comes with the following:
- Full-time manual focus;
- Crop reduction;
- Superior optics;
- Image stabilization;
- Internal zoom; and
- Silent autofocus.
This feature is the ability of the camera lens to offset imperfections in an image. It can include darkening near the corners of the frame, making straight lines appear curved, or color fringes near the edge. Vignetting, chromatic aberration, and distortion are the three most common methods used in lens correction.
Compositional flexibility is the biggest advantage offered by using an ultra-wide camera lens. This feature allows you to easily change the amount of background in your image and adjust the framing of a distant scene without the need to change your position.
To get the most out of ultra-wide lenses, veteran photographers recommended looking for the following features:
- Focus shift; and
- Aperture range.
A telephoto zoom is the ability the lens has to magnify an image so that it could appear as the subject of the photograph. The manner in which lenses are able to achieve this feature is by changing the focal point of the lens. Lenses with a focal range of above 100mm are considered as telephoto.
The biggest advantage offered by using a telephoto lens, especially for landscape photographers, is that you can get close to a subject without being physically near it, however, the biggest limitation when using this kind of zoom is that images tend to be more susceptible to camera shakes.
Some type of vibration reduction technology is a must, especially if you tend to use the full focal point when shooting outdoors.
Ten of the Best Lenses for Nikon Cameras
Nikon has several camera lens lines with each of them offering something for every kind of photographer. This list also includes telephoto lenses from other brands. All of them are highly recommended by landscape photographers. The following are some of the best of the best for the Japanese brand’s camera line-up.
Best Nikon Landscape Zoom Lenses:
The AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm lens is the perfect piece of equipment for landscape photographers. There are numerous reasons why every landscape photographer should have it.
First, it features a flexible zoom as well as a constant f/4 maximum aperture. These two features enable consistent illumination amid any zoom range and varying lighting conditions. Second, this Nikon lens also comes with an optical design with three aspherical elements and two extra-low dispersion elements. It is a helpful feature in reducing distortion and aberrations so that you can only have sharp, clear and accurate pictures. Lastly, the AF-S Nikkor is integrated with a Silent Wave Motor making it not only fast but also capable of producing accurate autofocus.
Now that we have covered how it performs, let’s look at its size.
The AF-s Nikkor 16-35mm is a big lens. It is bigger in size when compared to the 17-35mm f/2.8 and almost the same size as the 14-24mm f/2.8. Its size is a bit of a downside, but that’s not its only weakness. When adjusting zoom, its zoom ring tends to be too stiff while its focus ring is a bit too loose. You can also encounter some quirks with lens distortion and vignetting.
- Impressive optics
- Capable of producing great sharpness and clarity in corners
- Comes with Vibrant Reduction
- Soft details when using a wide aperture
- Produces heavy distortion and vignetting
- Too big
You might say that this one isn’t a Nikon manufactured lens and you are right, however, it is one of the best camera lenses for a Nikon camera.
The Tamron AFA012N700 SP 15-30mm is all about quality and clear images that are delivered by its dependable performance. The camera lens promises to be a flexible piece of equipment in every demanding situation and all kinds of photography spaces. The AFA012N700 SP comes with an optical construction of 18 elements in 13 groups and expanded Glass Molded Spherical element, a full-time manual autofocus mechanism and 9-blade diaphragm construction among others.
In terms of performance, the first f/2.8 image stabilized ultra-wide angle zoom lens delivers everything you expect it is capable of. The Tamron camera lens is able to deliver great sharpness figures even when compared to a Nikon lens. It even tops a Nikon lens because it avoided the focus shift issue found in the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G lens. The biggest advantage that comes with this lens is its image stabilization feature. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt that it is one of the most affordable lenses in the market.
- Great image stabilization
- Great sharpness
- Quality of the camera lens can be an issue
Compact, powerful and comes with a great telephoto lens. These are some words to describe the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G. This camera lens comes packed with features that includes the standard 5x zoom (24mm) to telephoto zoom (120mm) capability, built-in Vibration Reduction II and the advanced lens technologies of the Japanese manufacturer. Technologies like the Silent Wave Motor, 2 Extra-low Dispersion, Nano Crystal Coat and Super Integrated Coating (SIC) are also found in this Nikon camera lens.
The AF-S 24-120mm f/4G is an excellent performer where it counts. The camera lens’ performance can easily compete with professional-grade made lenses from Nikon and other brands. The biggest selling point of the AF-S 24-120mm is its image stabilization feature and being lightweight. The combination of both is a great feature especially when shooting landscapes and outdoors.
While it may already be years old, this Nikon camera lens is still able to deliver quality at a slightly lower price point compared to other Nikon camera lenses.
This camera lens also comes with its own shortcomings. The first and perhaps a deal breaker for many is its weak performance when it comes to shooting at 120mm, particularly on the edges of the image. The lens also suffers from vignetting and distortion.
- Superb image stabilization
- Weak image quality when shooting at the longest end of its zoom capability
- Images may have a bit of distortion and/or vignetting
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras
The Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E VR is a professional mid-range camera lens that delivers the sharpest image in Nikon’s offerings for the category. This camera lens features f/2.8 constant aperture with electromagnetic diaphragm, focal length range of 24 to 70mm, 4 stops of Vibration Reduction and the pairing of the new Aspherical Extra-Low Dispersion (ASP/ED) and traditional AS, ED, and HRI elements. This combination brings about a new optical precision standard.
Quality is achieved by the camera lens in several ways. Its 24-70mm zoom is capable of creating great edge-to-edge sharp images at 36 megapixels wide-open at f/2.8. Additionally, sharp images are also made possible by the new Vibration Reduction technology integrated into the lens.
- Great edge to edge sharp images
- Vibration reduction technology
- Great list of Nikon technologies integrated
- Bigger and heavier compared to other lenses from Nikon
- A bit pricier
- Mostly made of plastic
- Incompatible with most cameras due to its electronic diaphragm
Best Nikon Landscape Prime Lenses:
Touted as the Japanese brand’s fastest ultra-wide-angle camera lens, the AF-S20mm f/1.8G is the perfect lens for photographers who want to freeze expansive landscapes.
This Nikon lens is a compact, lightweight FX-format that features an ultra-wide perspective of a 20mm focal length, low light capabilities and f/1.8 ED aperture in the shallow depth of field. It also comes with maximum reproduction ratio with 0.23x aspherical lens elements and extra-low Dispersion glass elements. Given all those things, the lens can produce a 20mm, 94 degrees angle of view that can be used for both photographs and videos.
Based on our time with the 20mm f/1.8G, it was able to deliver and exceeded our expectations when it comes to a Nikon-branded camera lens. The only thing is that it felt like it is more like a luxury rather than a necessity. The f/1.8G has quick and accurate autofocus that is capable of delivering excellent sharp pictures especially at maximum aperture. It also passes with flying colors when it comes to handling chromatic aberrations, distortion and ghosting as well as flare, however, you get its limitations when handling coma at f/1.8 stopping down to f/2.8 or when cropping a frame.
- Ultra-wide angle capability
- Lightweight compared to other professional-grade Nikon lens
- Slightly affordable
- Weak corner performance
- Excessive vignetting when shooting at infinity focus
- Plastic-like feel
The 24mm f/1.8G ED from Nikon is a great camera lens for landscape photographers who usually shoot in low light conditions. This camera lens is packed with various features including a combination of Nano Crystal Coat, Extra-low Dispersion glass and Aspherical lens elements for sharp photos without ghosting. It also has an integrated combination of wide-angle perspective and a fast f/1.8 aperture. This combination is a useful feature as it can enable you to shoot subjects so that they stand out against a softly blurred background and have greater depth of field by going closer to your subject. All these plus the standard Nikon lens technologies make the 24mm f/1.8G a versatile piece of equipment for landscape photography.
When tested in real life, this Nikon branded lens is a superb performer. A given as it is among the most preferred lenses among professional photographers and even amateurs. Its high-quality and high-performance optical characteristics is what makes the lens capable of delivering sharp and clear images. The 24mm f/1.8G is also an affordable camera lens. This factor makes it a sweeter deal compared to other Nikon branded lenses and other offerings from competitors.
- Capable of producing sharp images due to its optical features
- Great value
- Low weight
- Solid build
- Despite its superb sharp images, it is still not an f/1.4 alternative
- Not so pleasing bokeh
- Issues in handling LoCA
Sigma is also a Japanese brand specializing in cameras, lenses and other photography equipment. A well-known brand for professional photographers and amateurs alike, it also churns out quality and affordable items in the photography equipment market. The 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Arts Lens is the best evidence of their work.
The lens comes with an advanced optical construction and robust build. It also features every camera lens essential including three “F” Low Dispersion elements and four Special Low Dispersion elements. These elements are useful in achieving reduced chromatic aberrations. It is also packed with aspherical elements and an 15-element-in-11-group optical design. The lens also comes with Super Multi Coating to reduce flare and ghosting for higher contrast and color fidelity.
As part of the brand’s Art (professional) grade series, the 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM is really a professional-grade lens at an affordable price point. It is capable of producing images that you thought were not possible at a wide aperture of f/1.4. Its optical performance can also compete, if not outperform, most of those in its category. Yes, even the pricier alternatives. Lastly, this Sigma lens comes in a robust solid build that makes it an ideal investment that is for long-term use.
- Outstanding performance even at a wide aperture
- Great build
- Justifiable asking price
- No weather sealing
- Weak performance at the borders of the DX/APS-C image
Best Nikon Landscape Lenses for DX Only:
Nikon really does have a long list of great camera lenses. The AF-S DX Nikkor 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G is one of them. The Japanese brand touts that this lens is great for capturing dramatic, ultra-wide 110-degrees picture angle. The lens features a focal length of 10-24mm, close focusing to 0.8 feet, a SWM that enables fast, accurate and quiet autofocus function and aspherical elements capable of reducing coma and other types of lens aberration.
The Nikon 10-24mm did not disappoint in real life tests. The lens did show some amount of distortion but most Nikon cameras do address this automatically. In terms of ghosting, it is totally free of ghosts even when you do really do some weird shooting position or movement. Additionally, it was able to produce sharp images even at wide-angle, however, there might be issues with sharpness when zoom comes at 10mm at f/3.5, but this issue is only visible in the very farthest corners of the image.
The build of this Nikon lens continues the legacy of its predecessors. It is more plastic-like compared to former models but it is because the lens is a pumper zoom instead of the zoom which extends inside a tough, fixed outer barrel. Despite having a more plastic feel to it, its construction is robust and solid and can be easily compared to other Nikon lenses.
- Resistant to ghosts and distortion
- Cheap, plasticky built
The 18-35mm f/1.8 is another contender from Sigma’s professional-grade Art series of camera lenses for Nikon cameras. Marketed as a revolutionary product, this lens features a wide glass molded aspherical lens with Special Low Dispersion glass, a Hyper Sonic Motor for smoother and faster autofocusing and a 9-blade rounded diaphragm that create great background blur. All of this is encased in a Thermally Composite Material that makes this Sigma lens smaller and lightweight.
In terms of real-life use, Sigma’s 18-35mm was able to deliver great sharpness and other landscape photography essentials. That’s a great feat given that it is the first constant f/1.8 zoom lens for DSLR cameras. The sharp and detailed images produced were even present even at its widest aperture.
Its construction is another reason to grab this lens. It is small in size and lightweight making it ideal for carrying around when doing days-long landscape photography. It has a robust and solid build so you can be sure that it will last for long-term use.
- Color fidelity
- Small and lightweight
- Autofocus accuracy
- Not compatible with full-frame cameras
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras
The AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR marks the first time Nikon decided to incorporate its Nano Crystal Coat in a Nikon DX-format lens. This means photographers are given a more powerful and all-purpose optic allowing them to capture images with greater clarity and precision.
This Nikon lens comes with features like a wide 24-120mm focal range, a large f/2.8 to f/4 aperture for shooting in low light environments and the brand’s Vibration Reduction image stabilization system with up to 4 stops of image stabilization. Its optical properties include four Extra-low Dispersion elements and three aspheric elements that reduces the chances of ghost, distortion and chromatic aberration.
In terms of build, the 16-80mm comes in a solid and robust body while retaining a lightweight and small footprint. One issue that may turn off some is the lens’ plastic body. However, it does make it lighter in your bag as it only weighs 480 grams, which makes it more lightweight than its cousin, the Nikon 24-120mm f/4.
- Small and lightweight
- High speed Vibration Reduction performance
- Softness in the corners when shooting at longer focal lengths and wide apertures
- Slow autofocus
- Small focus ring
- Noisy autofocus
The wide range of camera lenses for your Nikon camera can get confusing, however, knowing which features you need will definitely help you in getting the right camera lens for you.
In this line-up, the best Nikon telephoto lens is the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 24mm f/1.8G ED Fixed Lens. This camera lens pretty much has everything you need for landscape photography. It also addresses common issues experienced in shooting outdoors especially when doing an expansive landscape.
The 24mm f/1.8G is fast, sharp in capturing images and comes in a small and lightweight package. That’s a combination that is very hard to resist among landscape photographers. It has fast and accurate autofocus, easy-to-control manual focus, minor-to-moderate barrel distortion, and ultra sharp images from edge to edge.