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9 Best Nikon Lenses for Landscape Photography in 2021 [Top Picks]

Enthusiast photographers like me love to do landscape photography once in a while. So if you’re one of them and looking to get the best Nikon lens for landscape photography, you’ve arrived at the right place.

Panoramic images of lofty ice-capped peaks and pristine lakes are overwhelming. There is much that you can do with your Nikon camera. They offer a wide array of lenses suitable for landscapes and are brilliant at capturing vivid and captivating photos.

After testing over 16 different lenses for over a month, I am finally here with a guide to the Nikon lenses that work best for landscape photography. I’ve picked only 9 out of 16 that would provide outstanding results. But before you get to the list, it’s important to know a few factors to keep an eye on while getting a lens, and they’re here:

  • Format: Nikon offers lenses for both DX and FX cameras. DX cameras capture a cropped image, whereas FX cameras using a good prime or wide-angle lens provide wide frames.
  • Zoom: The degree of zoom is not very important in landscape photography. This is because you are trying to capture the width instead of focusing on a particular object.
  • Aperture: It is preferable to have a lens that is capable of f/2.8 or lower. This is because most landscape photography is done using the smallest focal length.
  • Weight: Critical if you have to carry a camera, tripod, and two lenses. A more massive lens would be difficult to carry around on even a short trek of a couple of miles.  
  • Weatherproof: It is essential that the lens must be dustproof. Many of the better lenses are both dust and moisture-proof.
  • Durable: Landscape photography would mean that the camera kit has to be able to take the rough with the smooth. While most lenses would not survive a fall off the cliff face, it is advisable to pick sturdy ones.

Best Nikon Lenses for Landscape Photography in 2021

It is no news that landscape photography is increasing all the more lately, and no other brand does it as good as Nikon. I’ve curated and reviewed the top lenses you can consider for your journey. Whether you’re an ardent vlogger or a professional – I’ve got you covered! Keeping in mind the wide arena of usage, I handpicked the 9 lenses that you can choose from:

  • Type: Zoom Lens
  • Focal Range: 16-80mm
  • Aperture: f/2.8-4
  • Weight: 1.10 lbs

Priced at AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR is a premium lens with the coveted Gold Ring, which indicates that you are using professional-grade equipment. The lens has 17 elements arranged in 10 groups. 4 of these are Extra-low Dispersion elements. The diaphragm made of 7 blades can stop down to f/22.

It can be used with DX cameras made by Nikon and has an effective full-frame focal length of 24-120mm. The performance is satisfactory across the focal length, and there is not much chromatic aberration. For landscapes, it is perfect with the claimed 4 stops offered by the VR system.

Due to nanocrystal coating, there is sharpness in the images that are not found in cheaper lenses. At 16mm, there is considerable distortion and vignetting. However, using digital correction in post-production will quickly get rid of these problems.

The lens system offers decent value if you want a great landscape lens that also does other stuff well. There is very little ghosting, and my pictures of the sunset were vivid and beautiful.

For photographers looking to shoot outdoors but not spend a considerable amount, this is a nearly flawless lens and would produce beautiful quality images.

Pros
  • Offers 5X zoom for faraway objects
  • f/2.8 aperture for exceptional low light performance
  • Compact and not at all heavy
  • Good autofocus
  • Efficient image stabilization
Cons
  • Slightly expensive for the enthusiast
  • A lot of vignetting at 16mm
  • Type: Zoom Lens
  • Focal Range: 70-300mm
  • Aperture: f/4.5-5.6
  • Weight: 1.50 lbs

The AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR is a perfect lens for outdoor photos. In spite of being an f/4.5 lens, it does offer a great depth of field, and the VR technology reduces shaking. It does not pretend to be a premium lens but does its task efficiently and is ideally suited for shooting outside.

Being an AF-P lens, it boasts of a stepper motor, and the minimum focusing distance is about 1.2meters. With toggles at the side, you can easily change between manual and autofocus and turn on VR.

A large knurled ring at the front controls the focal length and a narrow ring at the base for focusing. When extended, the lens nearly doubles in length. There are 18 elements arranged in 14 groups. The filter thread size is 67mm.

The stepper motor makes autofocus efficient and speedy. At 70mm, you would notice some vignetting if you use f/4.5. The effect almost disappears by f/5.6. At 200 to 300mm, there is considerable vignetting.

Unless you are shooting directly into the sun, chromatic aberration is well controlled. The images at 70mm are sharp and well defined.

Pros
  • Good image at all focal lengths
  • Solid image stabilization
  • Good build quality
  • Reliable and quick autofocus
  • Minimum vignetting at lower focal lengths
Cons
  • Autofocus not compatible with older Nikons
  • The bokeh effect is not very good
  • Type: Prime Lens
  • Focal Range: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.4
  • Weight: 0.64 lbs

The AF-S NIKKOR 50mm F1.4G is an all-rounder prime lens suitable for landscape and outdoor shots. For years the 50mm focal length was considered a standard lens that provided perspective closest to that seen by the human eye.

The main advantage of this lens over its predecessor, 50mm F1.4D, is that you can change from auto to manual focus by just rotating the focus ring. But it has some degree of barrel distortion and requires 58mm filters.

The lens is compatible with all Nikon DX and FX cameras. With 8 elements arranged in 7 groups, it has Super Integrated Coating. The autofocus is up to the mark, and to change it to manual just twist the ring. My landscape shots revealed vibrant colors and a lovely bokeh effect.

Due to the high-powered CMOS sensors, you can only use them at f/2 and above. Stopped down to f/2 vignetting is almost non-existent. There is no noticeable ghosting, but in this respect, the f/1.8 lens I featured above does better.

It does improve over the F1.4D in that there is no corner distortion. My test images showed there is a degree of flare when shooting directly facing the light source. But I suppose the use of a good lens hood can take care of that.

Pros
  • Excellent image quality across the width of the frame
  • Better than F1.4D at large apertures
  • No chromatic aberration
  • Silent and smooth autofocus
  • Very minimal vignetting
Cons
  • Requires use of a hood to shoot into the light
  • Autofocus is slower than screw driven F1.4D lens
  • Type: Prime Lens
  • Focal Range: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Weight: 0.40 lbs

The AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G is the latest version of the classic 50mm f/1.8 lens that Nikon introduced back in the 70s. It is compatible with all digital Nikon FX and DX cameras, including the low-end D3XXX series.

It has 7 elements arranged in 6 groups with one aspherical element. The 7 blade diaphragm can stop down to f/16. The focal length of 50mm is equal to 75mm on the DX-format cameras. I found it had a 47° angle of view on FX and 31.5° on DX. This is a reasonably priced lens that does landscape photography really well.

The plastic barrel with a metal lens mount feels solid and well built. All the lens movements for focusing is internal, and it can survive a fall with no visible damage. The M/A switch allows you to change from manual to autofocus and back instantly.

Nikon has used Super Integrated Coating that reduces flare and even the photos I took facing the sun were not burned out. The Silent Wave motor is fast and accurate. At this price point, it is an exceptional offering for outdoor shots. The sharpness and clarity of the images were quite impressive.

Pros
  • Lightweight and easily carried outdoors
  • Inexpensive to own
  • Exceptional optical quality at this price point
  • Smooth autofocus
  • Can be used for portrait photos as well
Cons
  • Cannot be used by Nikon CX series
  • Autofocus is not very fast
  • Type: Zoom Lens
  • Focal Range: 16-85mm
  • Aperture: f/3.5-5.6
  • Weight: 1.07 lbs

At $700, the AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-85mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR is a medium-priced lens that is perfect for landscape shots. Its ability lies in being able to handle any light conditions at every focal length. A versatile lens that provides reliable performance is how I shall describe it.

Suitable only for the Nikon DX range, it has 17 elements in 11 groups. Two of these are Extra-low Dispersion elements, and three are aspherical. The 7 blade diaphragm can stop down to f/22.

In my tests, I found that the sharpness decreases a little as the lens zooms in. At 35mm, it performs well at f/8, and at 85mm, I obtained the best results with f/5.6. There was a nice contrast in the images and no visible ghosting. At 16mm, the field of view is extensive and quite perfect for the outdoors. There is no exaggeration of colors, and the rendition was natural.

The filter thread is 67mm and does not rotate with zoom but does move with the lens barrel. The lens mount is made of metal, and the body is made of good-quality plastic.

Overall I found it to provide decent images and will be an ideal part of your lens collection if you are an enthusiast. For professionals, something more expensive is needed. But then, a professional would not be using a cropped DX camera.

Pros
  • Useful zoom range
  • Efficient VR system
  • Exceptional images at 16mm
  • Wide-angle of view
  • Low chromatic aberration
Cons
  • Not much different from 18-55mm kit lens
  • The autofocus is not fast enough at times
  • Type: Zoom Lens
  • Focal Range: 16-35mm
  • Aperture: f/4
  • Weight: 1.50 lbs

An excellent Gold Ring Nikon for wide-angle landscapes and cityscapes, the AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR will set you back by $1000.

This is the sharpest Nikon wide-angle lens that I have seen. It outperforms the old and trusted Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 by far. When it was introduced in 2010, it had the rare distinction of being the first wide-angle lens with image stabilization.

With 17 elements arranged in 12 groups, it is a complex system. There are three aspherical elements and two Extra-low Dispersion elements. The nine-blade aperture stops down to f/22.

The images were impressive but not overbearing. As mentioned above, the sharpness is mind-boggling, and the pictures were precise and clean. There was a slight hint of chromatic aberration, which can be largely ignored.

It can take close-ups of 12 inches from the image plane or about 4 inches from the tip of the lens. There is considerable fare when it is pointed at the sun, but other than that, the disappointments were minor.

Does VR have any use in a wide-angle lens? Not as much as a telephoto lens, but you can use smaller apertures for low light. Overall it does not compromise and is worth the price. It is quite long and heavy and much larger than the 70-300mm Nikon lenses.

Pros
  • Fantastic image quality
  • Good build quality
  • Dust and moisture-proof
  • Efficient autofocus
  • Minimal distortion
Cons
  • Quite large and heavy
  • Can’t handle flares well
  • Type: Prime Lens
  • Focal Range: 24mm
  • Aperture: f/1.8
  • Weight: 1.32 lbs

An excellent prime lens with a fast f/1.8 aperture, the AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED is easy to use on both DX and FX cameras and produces superb images of the outdoors and wildlife.

The lens system consists of 12 elements in 9 groups, of which two are Extra-low Dispersion elements, and two are aspherical. The side surface of the front element has a nano crystal coating to reduce ghosts. The 7 blade diaphragms stop down to f/16. The angle of view is quite large, 84° in full-frame. In DX, that drops to 61°.

It offered us a remarkably subtle performance. The outer shell is made of sturdy plastic and the lens mounts from brass alloy. At only 1.32 pounds, it is compact and not too hefty. The focusing ring is ridged and easy to rotate. There is no aperture ring since this belongs to the G series.

The Silent Wave motor focuses quickly and noiselessly. There is no VR and only a single toggle for Manual/Autofocus modes. The focusing mechanism is internal, and the length of the barrel remains constant.

While it is not a macro lens, it does provide the ability to focus quite close. The images of the horizon were clear with no distortion at the edges and no flares either during sunset.

Pros
  • Extremely sharp images
  • No visible distortion
  • Lightweight design
  • Good build quality
  • Close-up images possible
Cons
  • No vibration reduction
  • Quite expensive
  • Type: Fisheye
  • Focal Range: 8-15mm
  • Aperture: f/3.5-4.5
  • Weight: 1.07 lbs

The AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED is the first from Nikkor to capture 180° images. It is an extremely useful albeit expensive part of a photographer’s kit. You can easily zoom up to 15mm in full-frame but get 180° images. It is compatible with all full-frame Nikons and DX models made since 2007.

To provide an enormous depth of field, there are 15 elements in 13 groups. Two of these are aspherical elements, and three are Extra-low Dispersion elements. The 7 bladed diaphragm stops down to f/22.

There is a toggle on the side for switching between manual and autofocus. It comes with a lens hood that can only be used at 15mm, or you will see its outline in the images. For landscape, you would be using the largest focal length, and that is not a problem.

There is a reasonable control of chromatic aberration. There were no purple fringes in the photos we took. Distortion is, of course, a given since it has an unnatural angle of view. The lens can focus as close as 16cm, and it is quite impossible to get a bokeh effect with this lens.

It produces stylish outdoor images, and unlike most other fisheye lenses is not bulky. The lens system is dust resistant and is a premium model, as indicated by the 14 carat Gold Ring.

Pros
  • Fluorine coated for smudge removal
  • Capable fisheye lens
  • Can shoot circular images at 8mm
  • Tough build quality
  • Lightweight and portable
Cons
  • Not affordable
  • Hood gets in the way of any image of less than 15mm focal length
  • Type: Wide Angle Lens
  • Focal Range: 14-24mm
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Weight: 2.20 lbs

Here is the most expensive lens that I’ve reviewed so far. Nikon labels the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8G ED as a visual masterpiece. That is not at all far from the truth. It is an ultra-wide-angle zoom but not a fisheye lens. You could use it with a DX camera but paying a hefty amount to use only the center of a wide-angle image is overkill. It is perfect for all FX models.

The images I took were magnificent, for lack of a better word. Even at f/2.8, the corners are sharp as a tack, and that is a real delight. The front is an enormous 98mm in diameter, and the lens system weighs over 2.20 lbs. Due to its width, the front cannot accommodate filters. On FX cameras, you get a 114° field of view with no distortion.

There are 14 elements arranged in 11 groups. Two of these are Extra-low Dispersion elements, and three are aspherical. The interior surface of the front element has a nanocrystal coating. The diaphragm is made of 9 blades and stops down to f/22.

Being a professional-grade lens, the outer barrel is made of metal and is dustproof. Needless to say that it produced the best images that I have seen in a long while.

Pros
  • Sharp full-frame image even at f/2.8
  • Wide field of view with no distortion
  • Superbly built
  • Capable of dramatic scenery shots
  • Fully dustproof
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Can’t accommodate a filter

Frequently Asked Questions

How many lenses would I need for landscape photography?

If you are investing in only one lens, then it is best to buy something that is 24-70mm f/4. It will be unable to give you perfect wide-angle shots but is the best all-rounder. If you are going to carry another, then buy one with a minimum focal length of 14 to 24mm capable of low aperture.

Is it better to buy or rent?

That depends on the frequency with which you do landscape photography. There is also a matter of expertise. You cannot expect to do well with a lens you picked up a few hours back since you do not know its performance under specific conditions.

Can DX be used for landscape photos?

Of course, it can be used, but the effect will not be as good as a full-frame photo. You will also not have a wide-angle of view offered by FX cameras.

Verdict

  • In an all-around comparison, considering versatility, price, and performance, I chose the cheapest lens I have reviewed on this list as the best value for the money option. At only $200, the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G is a lightweight and compact lens that can capture beautiful images.
  • The runner up choice would be the AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED. It is a great wide-angle lens that is not exorbitantly priced. It is well designed and, optically speaking, an excellent accompaniment. Extra-low Dispersion elements remove all traces of flares and ghosts and deliver impeccable results.
  • If you’re okay spending on a premium lens, the Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR is a solid option to invest in.