Landscape photography requires a wide angle lens, which according to many landscape blogs, articles and tutorials comprise of focal lengths of 16mm – 35mm. This is all well and good and there are several 16mm – 35mm lenses out there specifically aimed at landscape photographers. These lenses are fine if you shoot a full frame camera but if you put them on a camera with an APS-C senor, i.e. a crop sensor, these lenses have an effective focal length of 25.6mm – 56mm. 25.6mm is still considered wide, but it’s hardly ultra-wide is it?
If you want to get an effective 16mm – 35mm lens for a crop sensor camera you need to get one around 10mm – 22mm, and the best of these lenses are below:-
CANON EF-S 10MM - 22MM F3.5 - 4.5
Focal Length – Full frame/APS-C:- N/A/16mm – 35.2mm/ Aperture:- 3.5 22/4.5 - 29/ Min focus:- 9.4”/ Dimensions:- 3.31” x 3.54”/ Weight:- 13.6oz/ Image stabilization:- No/ Price (approx.) $USD/£ GBP:- $600.00/£420.00
The Canon 10mm – 22mm is a lens for APS-C cameras only and has an effective focal length of 16mm - 35.2mm, which is considered the best and most useful for shooting landscapes. 16mm gives a huge field of view for those panoramic shots, and if 16mm is a little too wide for you (and it is for many photographers) this lens allows you to zoom in tighter. This is one versatile lens and will cover 99% of landscape photography situations.
The image quality of this lens is superb and images are sharp, crisp and colourful but not oversaturated. Distortion, fringing and all the other common problems associated using wide angle lenses are well controlled, and when issues do creep in they are easily dealt with using some editing software.
The build quality of this lens is good, however it is not the best, but then that’s how Canon managed to keep the weight down compared to the physical dimensions of this lens.
Buy the Canon 10mm – 22mm f3.5 – 4.5 from Amazon.com (US citizens) or buy from Amazon.co.uk (UK citizens).
TOKINA 11 – 16 F2.8 AT
Focal Length – Full frame/APS-C:- N/A/17.6mm – 25.6mm/ Aperture:- 2.8 - 22/ Min focus:- 11.8”/ Dimensions:- 3.31” x 3.51”/ Weight:- 19.4oz/ Image stabilization:- No/ Price (approx.) $USD/£ GBP:- $440.00/£450.00
The effective focal range on a crop sensor Canon is 17.6mm – 25.6mm, which is not only smaller than on the Canon 10 – 22 but not as wide either. This may or may not be an issue for you, depending on your shooting style however it is something you should be aware of.
With a maximum aperture of f2.8 the Tokina has the widest maximum aperture of the lenses in this group. A wide maximum aperture is not needed for landscape photography as narrower apertures are required to maximise the depth of field, but it is sometimes useful for shooting other subjects. Even though the Tokina has an f2.8 aperture images taken this wide are a little soft, and are seldom sharp enough to be usable. Stop this lens down and the sharpness is something else, and a little better than the Canon lens.
The image quality of the Tokina 11 – 16 is superior to the Canon, however this is only noticeable if you go pixel peeping or when creating very large prints. Still, the Tokina does have better image quality nonetheless.
The build quality of the Tokina is awesome and puts the Canon to shame and this has an impact in the weight of this lens. Despite being virtually the same dimensions as the Canon 10 – 22 this lens is quite a bit heavier, but this is to be expected. The Tokina looks bombproof, feels bombproof and actually is bombproof.
The issue with the Tokina is the smaller focal range and the fact it isn’t as wide, but then if you don’t need to shoot so wide does this really matter? Only you can answer this. If you don’t need to shoot so wide and can live with the small focal range the Tokina is an excellent buy and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with it.
Buy the Tokina 11 – 16 f2.8AT from Amazon.com (US citizens) or buy from Amazon.co.uk (UK citizens).
TAMRON 10 – 24 F3.5 – 4.5
Focal Length – Full frame/APS-C:- N/A/16mm – 38.4mm/ Aperture:- 3.5 – 24/4.5 - 24/ Min focus:- 9.4”/ Dimensions:- 3.28” x 3.41”/ Weight:- 15.4oz/ Image stabilization:- No/ Price (approx.) $USD/£ GBP:- $500.00/£375.00
The Tamron has an effective length of 16mm (which is as wide as the Canon) to 38.4mm, which may appeal to you. The 3.4mm extra at the long end provides more framing and composition options, which is the good, but it does have an effect on the overall image quality of this lens, which is the bad.
The image quality of this lens is good, and it is capable of capturing stunning landscape shots however it is not in the same ball park as the previous two lenses. The difference in image quality is more noticeable at wider apertures and when creating large prints. At narrower apertures, lower resolutions and when creating smaller prints you won’t notice the difference in image quality unless you go pixel peeping.
The build quality of this lens is typical Tamron, which I can only describe as acceptable. This lens feels up to the job but not sturdy, and definitely not bombproof like the Tokina lens. Given the cost of this lens, and the fact that Tamron aim their lenses towards the mid to lower end of the market the build quality is to be expected.
If you want the 16mm wide end and the additional 3.4mm at the long end are of use this is the lens for you. If you don’t want to create very large prints or not going to use high resolutions this is the lens for you. If, however, you want the option of creating large prints of the highest quality you may want to look elsewhere.
Buy the Tamron 10 – 24 f3.5 – 4.5 from Amazon.com (US citizens) or buy from Amazon.co.uk (UK citizens)
SIGMA 10 – 20 F3.5
Focal Length – Full frame/APS-C:- N/A/16mm – 32mm/ Aperture:- 3.5/ Min focus:- 9.4”/ Dimensions:- 3.44” x 3.47”/ Weight:- 18.4oz/ Image stabilization:- No/ Price (approx.) $USD/£ GBP:- $450.00/£330.00
With an effective focal length of 16mm – 32mm the Sigma lens has the wide end but loses out on the long end, which depending on your wants and needs, as well as your style may or may not be a problem for you.
The constant maximum f3.5 aperture is nice as it makes getting consistent exposures throughout the entire focal range easier and less of a faff, but it doesn’t impact the image quality. The image quality of this lens is on par with the Tamron, and not as good as the Canon 10 – 22 or the Tokina 11 – 16.
The build quality of the Sigma lens is better than the Tamron but nowhere near as good as the Tokina, and I would say it is closer to Tamron end than the Tokina end which is to be expected.
Buy the Sigma 10 - 20 f3.5 from Amazon.com (US citizens) or buy from Amazon.co.uk (UK citizens)
CANON EF-S 10MM - 18MM F3.5 - 4.5
Focal Length – Full frame/APS-C:- N/A/16mm – 28.8mm/ Aperture:- 4.5 – 22/5.6 - 29/ Min focus:- 8.7”/ Dimensions:- 2.9” x 2.83”/ Weight:- 8.5oz/ Image stabilization:- No/ Price (approx.) $USD/£ GBP:- $280.00/£215.00
The first thing you’ll notice about this lens is its size. This lens is tiny, and not to mention lightweight. A small and discreet lens is perfect for street photography or when you don’t want to attract attention but when it comes to landscape photography? I am not so sure…………..
The build quality and image quality of this lens are good for a budget lens but not in the same league as the other lenses above. I have seen many forum posts from Canon 10 – 18 owners claiming this lens is simply the Canon 10 – 22 with a smaller focal range and price tag, however I guarantee this is not the case. This is a budget lens and as such it is not as well built and the image quality is not as good (both of these facts are noticeable) and this is reflected in the price. Please don’t buy this lens expecting Canon 10 – 22 results as you will be disappointed.
If you are serious about landscape photography this is not the lens for you, and rather than wasting money and buying and buying one of these I would suggest you save some more and dig a little deeper for one of the other lenses above. Alternatively, buy a used or second hand version of one of the previous lenses.
If you want a cheap and cheerful wide angle lens that will capture good landscape photos for personal use or sharing on websites, blogs and social media the Canon 10 – 18 is going to be right up your street.
Buy the Canon 10 – 18 f3.5 – 4.5 from Amazon.com (US citizens) or buy from Amazon.co.uk (UK citizens)
So what is the best landscape camera for crop sensor Canon cameras? Based on build quality and image quality alone the outright winner is the Tokina 11 – 16 f2.8 AT lens however this may not be the best choice for everyone. Before investing in a landscape lens you need to look at the way you shoot, identify exactly what you need and what you require and buy the best lens to fit.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.
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