Best Lenses For HDR And Landscape Photography

The Walt Disney Concert HallThis is probably the coolest building in Los Angeles. It was designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry in 1991 and construction began in 1999.I went out to shoot this location in HDR. I was really hoping it would rain to get nice slick reflections on the ground but the opposite happened. The weather cleared up giving me nice skies which I'm also happy with. Read more about this photo of the Walt Disney Concert Hall and my HDR method at AlikGriffin.com

After shooting photography for a decade and HDR photography for half of that, there is a lot little weird nuances you end up figuring out. 

One of the biggest questions I always had starting off was, What lenses should I buy and what lenses are best for what? For example, what lens should I use for HDR Photography?

Although this question does vary with style, there are fundamentals. Sports and Nature photographers typically use long lenses, Landscape photographers typically use Ultra Wides, Portrait Photographers typically use Mid to Long range lenses.

What Lenses Are Best For HDR And Landscape Photography?

HDR Photography has because it’s own weird little thing and it’s really kind of become almost trendy these last 5 years. And It requires a totally different mindset and usage of gear than all the other traditional photography. So what about Lenses, what do I need for HDR Photography?

It took me awhile to really understand this question and the answer comes when you look at it the other way around. You have to ask yourself; What kind of situation should I shoot HDR Photography? And the answer should be obvious, when I need a High Dynamic Range.

Shooting Situations

Typically you don’t end up needing a high dynamic range on very long lenses like a 200mm, because you’re pretty much focused in on a single subject. However, when you’re much wider, say at 14mm, you are capturing an entire scene filled with lots of different lights, shadows, area’s of contrast and dynamic colors, etc, so it only makes sense that the best lenses for shooting HDR photography would be something wide or ultra wide. 

I find myself rarely shooting HDR on anything over a 70mm unless it’s a very specific thing in a high contrast area such as zooming in on a pier and capuring all the different details from a distance. And only sometimes will I shoot HDR on a 50mm, but that’s mainly when I’m going for some sort of effect.

My HDR Lenses

My main HDR photography lenses are my Samyang 14mm, my Canon 16-35mm f2.8L II or my Canon 24-70mm f2.8. And sometimes I’ll shoot HDR on my Zeiss Sonnar 35mm T* with my Sony A7r.

However, I shoot on a full frame camera. When shooting on an APS-C camera you’ll want a much wider lense to make up for the crop. Like the Tamron 11-16mm. 

List of Ultra Wide Lenses

Here is a list of some of the most popular ultra wide angle lenses for HDR and Landscape photography. I’ve posted a variety of lenses of different qualities. You get what you pay for when it comes to these.

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Full Frame Cameras

Nikon FX

Nikon 14-24mm f2.8

Canon EF Mount

16-35mm f4L IS

Sony E Mount

Zeiss 16-35mm f4

All Other Brands

Samyang 14mm f2.8

Samyang 24mm f2.8

Sigma 20mm f1.8

Sigma 12-24mm f2.8

APS-C Cameras

Nikon DX

Nikon 12-24mm f4

Canon EF-S

Canon 10-18mm

Canon 10-22mm

Sony E

Sony 10-18mm

All Other Brands

Tokina 11-16mm

Sigma 8-16mm

Sigma 10-20mm