Out of all currently available RF lenses, which one will give you the best landscape photograph, and which should you add to your kit?
The best Canon RF lenses for landscape photography is the Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM.
It has the range and versatility to become your go-to lens. The zoom saves you time switching between lenses, and the images are everything you’d expect of Canon’s impeccable quality.
Read on to discover more about how the lenses perform, their perks and drawbacks, and the landscape shots to which they’re best suited.
The Canon RF 15-35MM F2.8L IS USM lets you go wide for impressive landscape shots that capture the scale of your surroundings.
Alternatively, get up close and play with composition, lines, and features of the environment with a range of wide-angle options.
For some, the range is too much and could stop at 28mm. Still, the possibility of going to 35mm makes this lens highly versatile and, therefore, perfect for either urban or landscape environments.
Shooting wide-angle means you can grab beautiful foreground detail or put your perspective onto scenes, such as cityscapes, where a lot is going, with lines and layers.
The Canon RF 15-35MM F2.8L IS USM will give you incredibly sharp detail across your shot.
One significant feature of the Canon R series and RF series of lenses is the large-diameter RF mount combined with the short back focus design.
This feature delivers photographers control of the DOF and aperture. The result? Impeccable images, either close up or from a distance.
The Canon RF 15-35MM F2.8L IS USM is an impressive professional piece of kit that’s got excellent build quality, which feels reassuring in your hands.
As it’s made of plastic, the lens is also a decent weight though perhaps larger than some would like.
As an L-series lens, you get the best of the best. The glass has two UB elements and three aspherical elements to reduce any chance of chromatic aberration.
There’s also (ASC), which you’ll want since it reduces glare or ghosting. Built-in IS capability also limits blur or judder.
As well as protective coatings on the glass, the lens’s rugged design includes vibration and impact reduction and weather-proofing components so that you can push the lens to its limits in testing environments.
There’s minimal distortion from this lens, though you can expect some when at its widest setting.
However, the images are sharp, the color quality is consistent, and this is just a beautiful lens to use. Additionally, the minimum aperture of F2.8 makes this a good lens for night-time shots.
A further note is that the lens is similar in size and shape to the 70-200mm, so be prepared to mark it up to save you time when you’re reaching in your kit bag to pull out the right lens.
This lens will bridge the gap between your 15-35mm and your 70-200mm, but is it any good for landscape photography?
In a word, yes.
As part of the L-series of lenses, the images you can get with your Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM are impeccably sharp, and the zoom allows you to draw in on distant backgrounds and isolate features that you want to enhance.
While it doesn’t have the zoom capability to that extent, we guarantee you’ll categorically want this versatile, go-anywhere, shooting anything lens as part of your kit.
From F2.8 to F22, its range of aperture delivers a depth of field that’ll let you isolate landscape features and shoot them fast, even in low-light.
Alternatively, close down the aperture and bring all the drama and detail of the landscape into the full-frame format.
The large diameter RF mount and short back focus mount mean rich, crisp detail across the frame.
With aspherical and UB glass, plus SWC and ASC coatings, the lens reduces any chance of chromatic aberrations, ghosting, or flare.
Thanks to the L-series features, you can confidently expect extraordinary image quality rich in accurate tones and color quality.
While it’s typical for landscape photographers to shoot with a tripod, the image stabilization inside the lens means you can go handheld and still snap images without blur or judder.
Shooting at 24mm will produce some softening of the image around the edges of the frame.
Adjusting to 28mm soon compensates for this drawback.
We’ve mentioned it earlier in other L-series lenses, but we’ll highlight it again: the manual adjust control ring is prone to accidentally being knocked.
This minor flaw means you wind up changing previous settings, so you can’t assume your lens will be as you left it.
Shallow depth of field for the price, but this is a niggle more than a serious drawback.
We had to include the RF-mount Rokinon 14mm F/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens for Canon as a manual, prime lens that’s the real-deal for landscape photography and won’t break the bank.
Straight out of the box, the Rokinon 14mm feels excellent. It has good build quality, a sense of solid construction, and the focus ring has a pleasant smooth movement. The aspherical, coated lenses limit chromatic aberration, and they set you up to snap good sharp images with no ghosting or flare. The weight of the lens is an advantage, too.
The Rikonon 14mm is the perfect rf lens for astrophotography; open up that aperture, mount the camera on a tripod, and set yourself up to grab some fantastic shots of the night sky.
Similarly, the wide-angle will give you plenty of creative options for shooting landscapes in all their glory. Make the most of the f/2.8 for creative shots or close down your aperture to capture the big picture.
The beauty of a telephoto lens for landscape photography is the time it saves you switching between format sizes.
With the tight framing you get when you’re shooting at 70mm, you can pick out detail, cropping your image, so it includes the most arresting part of a landscape while including some broader detail.
Or you can go in seriously close on distant objects.
At 200mm, the mountain range off in the distance comes closer to fill up that large diameter RF mount.
With just one lens, you can capture the same subject in entirely different ways – and brilliantly.
The Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM has all the positive attributes you’d expect of Canon’s L-series specifications.
It compensates for flare or ghosting thanks to its special coating.
There are so many parts to this lightweight and compact lens, and each one is there to ensure outstanding image quality.
The lens contains two aspherical elements, one super UD and one UD lens, to correct distortions and ensure perfect coloring without aberration.
And it’s fast to focus thanks to its dual Nano USM, so when your landscape situation is changing rapidly, your lens will keep up with environmental changes in light so you can get the shot you want the moment you want it.
Another standout feature is the lightweight and compact size. It sits neatly inside your kitbag, is a manageable weight and size.
Another bonus is the range of aperture the lens offers. With it, you can shoot fast in low-light environments and drop bokeh into your background for a creamy quality that’ll highlight your subject.
Alternatively, shoot everything in precise detail with a minimum aperture of up to F32.
I’ve scoured reviews of this lens, and it’s hard to find any drawbacks to the lens.
Of course, many would like to see it carry a smaller price tag, but that’s all we’ve found so far besides mountains of praise heaped on the quality of this lens and the images it captures.
The three lenses we’ve covered form Canon’s ‘holy trinity’ of lenses. In other words, if you could pack only three lenses into your kitbag, these are the three that would put you at an advantage in close to any situation.
But that does not mean we’ve finished assessing the best Canon RF lenses for landscape photography.
We’ve got plenty more to come, including a look at what you can do with a prime lens to create distinct, characterful landscape photographs.
Now it’s time to cover other lenses in the RF range that offer a smaller maximum F-stop.
I believe there’s a strong case for putting an 85mm lens in your landscape photography kit, particularly when the lens is the Canon RF 85MM F2 Macro IS STM.
With the Macro lens option combined with the rigor that you’ll need as you apply what’s typically considered the classic portrait lens to landscape, you’re opening your photography to a world of opportunity.
Because it’s prime, you will have to develop a creative, purposeful mindset to compose your images.
It’s a lens that crops out most of the background, prioritizing the subject in question.
This lens is all about you taking the time to examine the landscape before you, searching for the detail and the right quality of light, tone, or shade.
Add to the 85mm the fact that you have a maximum F-stop of F2 and the opportunity to shoot Macro; the Canon RF 85MM F2 Macro IS STM is ideal for shooting close up, intricate, complex landscape detailing, the reflection in a dewdrop, sunlight upon lichen, for example.
And it’s going to capture those qualities even in low-light settings.
Prepare to shoot landscapes as you’ve never shot them before.
Get up close on the detail that makes up a landscape, or explore the lines that draw the eye towards your subject.
With the 85mm, you’re going to get creative, sometimes abstract, and often powerful, compelling images, which is why we’ve included it.
Every lens detailed in our article represents some of the best lenses that are available today.
No matter which you select, you won’t be disappointed. But which should you choose when your focus is on gaining the best landscape photograph?
Let’s take a look at ways to help you decide.
Which Lens Should You Choose?
As you’ll notice from our article on the best Canon RF lenses, we’ve included F2 lenses and up.
For many photographers, F2 is overkill. Most landscape photography is at stops between F8 to F11 to ensure sharpness without too much gain. However, if you want to shoot in low-light or night-time situations, you’ll want a maximum F2 stop.
Without a doubt, if you have the budget, opt for the L-series versions of the lenses for professional-grade images.
However, suppose you are starting in landscape photography or a serious hobbyist with a limited budget. In that case, the options we’ve highlighted that are not L-series will still deliver excellent images, color range, and field depth.
After all, this is Canon we’re discussing.
Check Out Your Old Landscape Photographs
If you’re still stuck trying to decide which lens is best for your style of photography, we recommend you pull out your top thirty to fifty landscape photographs.
If they’re stored on your computer, all the better since you’ll be able to check out the shot data.
Look for Patterns to Help You Decide
Is there a pattern to the type of landscape photographs that make it into your top ten?
When we’ve sorted through landscape photographs before, we’ve found ourselves favoring particular styles captured on a specific lens. This could well be the lens you need to get before any other.
If you prefer epic landscapes where everything in your frame shows in detail, an F2 lens may be overkill.
You won’t need the shallow depth of field, necessarily. On the other hand, if you’re the kind of photographer who loves to pull distant mountains closer, so they dominate the image, you’ll want a powerful zoom lens.
There is no one size fits all lens for landscape photography.
It’s about what you prefer as a photographer.
However, by equipping yourself with equipment the caliber of Canon RF, you are setting yourself up for awesome quality images, no matter what or where you shoot.
I’d love to know your favourite lenses for shooting landscape.
Do you have a go-to prime lens that wins every time or does your zoom get more outings?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.