Landscape photographers have very specific needs when selecting lenses.
And as there is currently only a limited range of glass on the market for the Canon M50, this can sometimes make it a bit of a challenge to find the right product.
That being the case, in this guide I’ve put together a list of the best M-mount lenses currently available for landscape photographers; with specific emphasis on lenses that provide a suitable angle of view for landscape photography while maintaining excellent image quality.
Included in the guide are a variety of options for different budgets and shooting styles, both from Canon and from third party manufacturers.
Among the somewhat limited range of lenses available for the M50, Canon offers a few very nice pieces of glass. What are generally lacking, however, are very fast lenses, and ones specifically well-suited to landscape photography.
It’s no coincidence, then, that there are nearly as many third party offerings in this guide to landscape lenses for the M50 as there are native options.
Of these, the Samyang/Rokinon 12mm f/2 is perhaps the best (I say “perhaps” not because there’s any doubt about the quality of this lens, but merely because what’s right for one photographer may not be ideal for another).
Made from metal and premium grade plastics, the Rokinon 12mm’s build quality is highly durable.
It’s also nicely compact and feels well-balanced on the M50.
While the advantages of a fast f/2 aperture will be lost on most landscape photographers, there’s certainly no harm in having the extra stops of light there just in case.
Especially if you also dabble in other photographic styles from time to time.
If that’s you, though, be aware that this is a manual-only lens.
That means manual focus and manual aperture.
And in many ways this seals its credentials as a specifically landscape-oriented bit of glass.
Indeed, although some portrait photographers are also happy to focus manually, not many other photographers are.
So if you do plan on shooting other styles in addition to landscapes (or portraits), make sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into.
With that said though, if you are accustomed to what passes for manual focus on most Mirrorless camera lenses –i.e. the almost universally disliked focus-by-wire system – you may be very pleasantly surprised to experience Samyang/Rokinon’s true manual focus action.
It’s very smooth and satisfying indeed.
Above all, though, what makes this such a great landscape lens is simply how sharp it is.
Image quality is excellent. As is the color rendering.
Another advantage of this lens is its ability to take traditional filters via a 67mm front thread.
You can even stack multiple filters without causing vignetting.
Clearly Samyang had the needs of landscape photographers in mind when they designed this.
Taking into account the M50’s crop factor, 12mm will function like an 18mm lens on full frame.
That’s very wide, and you’ll need to get fairly close to your main subject if it is to be anything more than a small dot in the frame.
For landscapes such as a mountain range, this is unlikely to be a major issue.
But if instead you’re hoping to isolate a single tree in a field against its background, you’d need to be almost under the tree for it not to become totally lost in the scene.
This makes the Samyang/Rokinon 12mm f/2 a very specific tool, for a very specific job. Namely capturing very wide, dramatic vistas.
But if that happens to be a job that you regularly tackle in your photography, there are likely no better options available for the M50.
Note that, although not a native Canon lens, the Samyang/Rokinon 12mm is available with a Canon M-mount, so no adapter is necessary.
For those shooting almost any other genre of photography, the slow, non-constant maximum aperture of f/4-5.6 will make this lens decidedly unattractive. A deadweight even.
But it’s a rare landscape photographer indeed who shoots with the diaphragm open any wider than f/11. Or, in a pinch, perhaps f/8.
And where portrait and astrophotographers lose out, landscape photographers gain; as the EF-M 11-22mm is an excellent little lens for shooting the natural environment.
For a start, there’s the convenience of having every focal length the average landscape photographer is ever likely to need contained in a single compact package.
Then there’s the excellent image quality. And while the lens probably delivers a little better in terms of sharpness at its widest zoom settings, IQ nonetheless remains excellent throughout the range (yes, even at those wider aperture settings that you’ll never use anyway).
Although flare is surprisingly minimal, the lens does suffer from a noticeable degree of vignetting. As ever, though, this is more a problem at wider apertures, so not something that most landscape photographers will even notice.
Image stabilization is rarely at the top of any landscape photographer’s list of must-haves. And in any case the M50 body already has you covered for this anyway.
But it’s not inconceivable that a situation might arise where IS could be handy.
So the fact that the 11-22mm comes with this feature – and that it works excellently – certainly doesn’t count as a point against it.
In fact, the only real drawback to the 11-22mm is simply that it’s not the cheapest of Canon’s M-mount offerings.
But if you’re serious about landscape photography, and are willing to put down the money, rest assured that the Canon 11-22mm f/4.0-5.6 delivers very nicely indeed.
With an angle of view equivalent to 24mm on full frame, and offering excellent image quality, the Sigma EF-M 16mm f/1.4 is one of the best M50 landscape photography lenses currently available.
Perhaps the best for those looking for a moderate wide-angle prime.
Images are sharp and contrasty, and color rendition particularly attractive. However, as the lens displays a degree of barrel distortion, it’s better suited to shooting natural environments where this won’t be so noticeable (although cityscape enthusiasts shouldn’t write it off either, as barrel distortion is easy to fix using software anyway).
Whether you choose to focus by means of AF or manual operation, the action is smooth and accurate.
There’s no image stabilization. But considering that landscape photographers generally shoot with their camera on a tripod anyway, that’s likely neither here nor there.
More important to those in the habit of heading off into the rugged outdoors is build quality.
And here Sigma gets full points for producing a lens that, while not fully constructed from metal – some parts are made from some solid looking plastic – nonetheless inspires great confidence in its longterm prospects.
Although a third party lens, Sigma’s 16mm f/1.4 is available with a Canon M-mount. So, just like the Samyang/Rokinon 12mm above, no adapter is necessary in order to use the Sigmma on the M50.
A tiny pancake lens that weighs next to nothing, the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 is an ideal companion for M50 users who want to shoot landscapes without having their mobility compromised.
In fact, stick this on your M50 as you hike off into the wilderness in search of unspoiled terrain, and you’ll hardly notice that it’s even there.
At 22mm, this is the equivalent of a 35mm lens on full frame. That’s a fairly restricted field of view by most landscape photographers’ standards.
But not everyone likes their vistas so wide.
And 35mm actually offers a nice balance between getting plenty of a scene in the shot while not losing the subject under a vast expanse of empty sky nor ending up with converging parallels.
Once again, this makes it a good choice of lens for those wishing to head out with a single piece of glass and yet equipped to shoot a whole variety of styles and scenarios.
Manual focusing is smooth and satisfying.
Although, it is of course of the “by wire” variety, so making micro adjustments might be something of a chore.
Meanwhile AF action is nicely accurate. Admittedly it’s not super fast, but speedy autofocus is unlikely to be a priority for landscape photographers anyway.
Indeed, much higher up most landscape photographers’ list of priorities will be image quality. And here the 22mm f/2 really shines.
Photos are crisp and detailed – especially at the center.
And while the corners can be a little softer when the lens is used wide open, that’s generally not how landscape photographers shoot anyway.
There is some vignetting and flare, but absolutely no barrel distortion whatsoever; making it particular well-suited to urban landscapes, where bowed parallels would cause havoc with architecture.
True, there’s no image stabilization. But, as a landscape photographer, you’ll probably be shooting with your M50 on a tripod anyway – so that’s not really a concern.
The Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f/2.8 is very, very small; very, very wide; and also pretty darned sharp. Sounds good, right?
So why isn’t it my number one lens?
Well, the Laowa 9mm fails to take our number one spot for M50 landscape photography lenses simply because I personally find an angle of view equivalent to 13.5mm on full frame to be just too wide for regular practical use.
But that doesn’t mean that you’ll be of the same opinion.
And if you do have a place in your camera bag for an M-mount lens that creates a truly extreme and dramatic perspective, there are few better than this. And almost certainly none wider either.
Unusually for such a wide angle lens, there’s almost no distortion. And despite the extremely short focal length, it isn’t a fisheye.
So as long as you shoot your subject fully front-on, you won’t get bendy parallels.
Build quality is excellent.
And despite the size the lens actually takes tiny 49mm filters, making it especially well-suited to landscapes.
The lens is super sharp at the center, even wide open – not that you’ll be likely to shoot many landscapes at that aperture anyway.
And image quality is superb across the frame from about f/5.6 through to f/11; now that’s more like it!
Vignetting is pretty consistent throughout the aperture range though, due to the diminutive size of the lens.
And you’ll likely notice a high degree of flare when shooting into the sun, too.
As with many of the third party optics available for the M50, be aware that this is a fully manual lens.
And while the focus ring is perhaps a little over-resistant, it allows for very precise adjustment of the focus point.
There has always been a highly formulaic and derivative side to landscape photography.
And social media has only made this worse, with hordes of people traveling to a few highly popular locations to recreate the same shots as their favorite Instagram influencers.
This sheep-like approach to photography extends to gear as well; the popular photographers use this lens, so I’ll use the same one too.
So not only are the locations and techniques often the same, but also the point of view and composition ends up being almost identical, too.
There are many good reasons why experienced landscape photographers value wide angle lenses, and will reach for them before anything else. If indeed they ever reach for anything else.
But there are also many good reasons for not using a wide angle lens all the time.
At least if you value originality in your landscape photography.
For a dedicated user of wide angles, shifting to a mid length or telephoto lens can seem like a bit of a challenge at first.
But that’s kind of the point; challenge often produces more interesting results than just playing it safe.
Not everyone will want to feel challenged in this way, of course, But for those who do, shooting with a standard lens can be very rewarding.
And when it comes the Canon M50, there’s no standard lens more rewarding than the EF-M 32mm f/1.4.
It’s not a cheap lens, by any means. Indeed, despite effectively being a one-trick pony, it costs more than most of the other (more versatile) lenses we look at here. But as small horses with a limited repertoire go, it’s a beautiful one.
Of course, there’s a limit to how much people are interested in reading about the rather predictable traits of a 50mm (equivalent) lens.
But from the point of view of landscape photographers, all you need to know is that the Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 is solidly built from metal, and yet is small and weighs very little; it focuses smoothly and has a focus limiter switch; and above all, it’s very sharp and produces nice bokeh. What more could you ask for?
Nothing that can’t easily be fixed in post: a little barrel distortion, some color fringing.
There’s also some vignetting at wider apertures. But frankly, as a landscape photographer, that’s not your problem.
Canon’s EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 may not be the most exciting lens on this list, but it meets the needs of a specific niche of photographer;
namely those who enjoy shooting landscapes, but aren’t so hardcore as to want to invest in dedicated landscape-only glass.
Such a photographer will be looking for something that permits producing good landscape photographs in a variety of conditions, but which doesn’t rule out the possibility of also shooting other genres from time to time.
If that’s you, the Canon 15-45mm might just be what you’re looking for.
For a start, the 15-45mm offers good, if perhaps unremarkable, optics.
True, the lens displays a lack of definition at the corners when used at its widest settings. But as a landscape photographer, that’s probably not the aperture you have in mind to use anyway.
And as it is, most of this edge-softness clears up once you stop down to a more landscape-appropriate aperture.
At which point the lens produces nicely sharp images. Especially at slightly longer focal lengths.
Less positively, the lens suffers from both barrel distortion and vignetting. Although these problems are of course easily fixed at the editing stage.
If landscapes are your main passion, image stabilization probably won’t be high on your list of priorities.
But IS certainly wouldn’t hurt for when shooting in high winds or other unstable conditions.
And it could come in handy if you plan on shooting other styles of photography alongside landscapes.
Meanwhile, manual focus is a pleasure to use, and AF works admirably.
Build quality could be a little better though; made entirely of plastic, it’s not the kind of hardwearing tank you’d want with you as you scale the Matterhorn.
To summarize, then, there are better landscape lenses available for the M50, but they all come with a certain degree of compromise in other areas.
Ones that not every landscape photographer will be willing to accept; such as manual-only operation, a fixed focal length, or a prohibitively high asking price. In some cases all three at once!
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a convenient multi-use lens that will allow you to shoot nice landscapes alongside other genres, the EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 ticks all the boxes.
And at a reasonable price.
Just be aware that the slow maximum aperture of this lens makes it less-suited to producing photographs in low light conditions without a tripod.
In this respect, though, the 5-45mm f/3.5-6.3 is by no means unique among M-mount lenses.
What to Look for When Choosing a Landscape Lens for the Canon M50
There’s a certain kind of photographer that has an almost fetishistic fixation with fast maximum apertures.
Craving ever wider f/stops, even if it means that almost none of their images are in focus beyond a pinhead-sized spot.
In contrast, landscape photographers worship at an entirely different altar.
Here sharpness, detail, and extensive depth-of-field are revered.
And all three are achieved by stopping down the diaphragm rather than opening it up.
That’s undoubtedly a good thing for landscape photographers; fast apertures cost money.
Indeed, while portrait or documentary photographers might be willing to sell a few bodily organs in order to secure a couple of extra stops of light, landscape photographers remain largely indifferent to the allure of cavernous aperture openings.
If you also plan on shooting other genres with your M50 beyond landscapes, you may (or may not) have need for fast glass.
But those who have no plans to shoot anything other than landscapes will likely spend their entire lives in the sweet-spot between f/11 and f/16, aiming for maximum depth and sharpness.
If that’s you, you can save yourself a lot of money by going for slower lenses.
Before we get too smug about the virtues of landscape photographers, though, it’s worth remembering that we also have irrational obsessions of our own, too.
None more entrenched than the quest for ever greater sharpness.
Don’t get me wrong; sharpness, detail, and contrast are rightly valued in a landscape photography lens.
I certainly wouldn’t encourage anyone to purchase a lens that doesn’t deliver well on all three of these fronts.
But that’s exactly the thing; very few modern lenses aren’t capable of producing images that are sharp, detailed, and contrasty.
At least at the kinds of apertures we’ll be using them at.
Sure, there can be considerable variation in how lenses perform at their widest aperture settings.
On optically inferior lenses, the corners are often quite soft or lacking in contrast when used at, or around, maximum aperture.
But even cheap lenses that suffer from such problems tend to deliver sharp and detailed images by the time they are set at an aperture appropriate for landscape photography.
Of course, many lenses also suffer from a variety of optical aberrations such as color fringing, flare, vignetting and the like. And naturally any heavily afflicted lens should be avoided. But it’s important to keep in mind that most – although not all – problems of this kind can be fixed with a minimum amount of effort at the postproduction stage.
In short, check out image sharpness and detail. And be on the look out for optical defects.
But don’t get too obsessive about image quality either, as the majority of lenses available for your M50 will be up to the job.
At least on this front.
In landscape photography skills and technique typically count for a lot more than tech specs.
A zillion dual pixel points, real time subject tracking, and deep learning eye-AF.
In recent years, cameras have become more like advanced computers from a science fiction novel than the still largely mechanical boxes they were even just a few years ago.
If you’re a photojournalist, or you shoot action sports or wildlife, the innovations currently taking place in autofocus systems will have increased your ratio of acceptably sharp images to duds by a factor of “ absolutely sh*tloads”.
Meanwhile though, most landscape photographers simply shrug and go back to setting up their tripods in the rain.
As a general rule, there’s certainly no reason for landscape photographers to avoid all lenses with impressive autofocus capabilities.
They are just unlikely to make much difference to either your working methods or the results.
In practice, however, M50 owners – indeed, users of all Mirrorless cameras – who are very serious about landscape photography might prefer to skip AF-equipped lenses altogether and go for fully manual focus ones instead.
The reason for this is that, firstly, manual focus tends to be more accurate and convenient than AF when shooting landscapes.
And, secondly, if a Mirrorless lens has AF, then its “manual” focussing – rather than being truly manual – is likely to be simulated electronically.
This means that rather than the focus ring being directly linked to moving parts of the lens by mechanical means, instead a turn of the ring sends an electronic signal to the camera, which then moves the lens elements for you by way of the focus motors.
Unsurprisingly, this indirect manner of focusing tends to result in an experience that is, at best, often very unsatisfying.
And at worst totally imprecise.
You’ve probably started to detect a pattern here: whatever other photographers think is important in a lens, landscape photographers will argue otherwise.
Not everyone appreciates the added burden of having to focus manually, though, so we leave this decision entirely up to you.
Primes vs Zooms
Primes and zooms offer their respective advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a summary to help you decide.
Prime lenses are relatively simple optically. They just need to do one thing; produce a sharply focused image at a single focal length. Consequently they have few moving parts. This means that they are typically sharp, small, lightweight, and affordable.
One the downside, if you seek to vary the focal lengths you use in your photography, you’ll need to pack a whole bag full of glass in order to cover the range offered by even just a moderate zoom. This means that primes aren’t always the most convenient option.
A zoom lens is like several primes packed into one. It takes some major feats in engineering to make a lens that not only offers a continuous range of focal lengths, but permits sharp focusing of the image at all of them. Achieving this typically involves a compromise of some kind. It may be size and weight, it may be image quality, it may be maximum aperture, or it may be price. If you’re really unlucky, it will be all four of them.
Having said this, for photographers who spend a lot of their time backpacking off into the great unknown, the ability to cover a wide variety of scenes with a single lens can be very appealing.
Size and Weight
There are two principal types of landscape photographer; those who pull on their walking boots and all-weather microfiber hiking smocks to brave the hostile elements in search of obscure views under dramatic skies; and those for whom the biggest challenge of the day is finding a parking space within easy walking distance of the gift shop and cafe.
If you’re the former type of landscape photographer, the size and weight of a lens can make a considerable difference to the degree of discomfort you will likely experience on the average trek.
If you’re closer to the latter charicature, any advantage gained by going for a smaller, lighter lens is likely to be offset by that extra bag of donuts.
While the range of lenses available for the Canon M50 continues to grow, it does so at a rather slow rate when compared to other Mirrorless brands and models.
And although Canon’s native line of M-mount offerings does include a number of wide angle lenses suitable for landscape photography, many photographers will find some of the currently available third party glass more appealing.
This will be especially true for those photographers who value true manual focus over focus-by-wire systems; often an important consideration for landscape photographers.
Whatever your personal preferences though, hopefully you’ve found something that meets your requirements in my guide to the best landscape photography lenses for the M50.