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Matt "Photographer | Filmmaker"

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Two Awesome Budget Lenses for Landscape Photography

Photography Gear / Off / 2017-09-03

Would you believe me if I told you that most of my landscape photos are taken with only two lenses that cost me under $400 each!

When it comes to choosing a good quality wide-angle lens for landscape photography it can be a difficult choice for a beginner, as there are so many lenses out there now.

I know when I first started out with landscape photography I also didn’t have a huge amount of money to spend on lenses, especially after buying a camera plus all the additional gear like spare batteries, camera bag, tripod, Circular PL and ND filters and so on.

But lens choice is super important as the choice of lens will determine the overall quality and sharpness of the photos you’re capturing. While the quality of the glass is the most important factor, there are also other things to consider like:

  • Does this lens perform well when paired with my camera body?
  • Is the lens fast enough in low-light and will I be able to make good use of the lens in a variety of situations?
  • Is the lens prone to lens flares and chromatic aberration?
  • Am I going to use this lens for video and does it have a manual aperture ring that allows me to change my aperture on the fly?
  • What size is the filter thread on the lens and how much are ND filters going to cost me in this size?
stormy ocean seaweed landscape
Taken with Samyang 14mm at F13, 1/2 sec, ISO 200
3 years ago I switched from Nikon to Sony and I bought my first Sony A7s when it was first released in 2013.

The big decision to change to Sony was based on the fact that I was filming a lot of weddings at the time and I needed a reliable camera with a high dynamic-range, that could perform well in low-light.

After buying my Sony A7s I then had to think about buying new lenses. Being a new release, the Sony Full-frame FE mount lenses were very expensive and at the time there were only a couple of choices for wide-angle lenses.

When I ordered my A7s, Sony also had a deal where you could choose a free Metabones adaptor, so I decided on the Sony LAEA4 adaptor which allows you to use Sony A-mount lenses on the E-mount full-frame body.

I started looking at the Sony A-mount lenses and discovered that there was a lot more choices for fast wide-angle lenses in the A-mount range. After reading a lot of reviews about other people getting good results while using the A-mount lenses on their Sony A7 series cameras, I was convinced that this was a good direction to go in.

I was especially interested in the Samyang (Rokinon) lenses as they offered very sharp and fast lenses with manual aperture rings which would be ideal for both photography and video work.

These lenses were also very affordable and produced some beautifully sharp and impressive images.

Sand dunes desert landscape
Taken with Samyang 14mm at F11, 1/640 sec, ISO 100

The Budget Ultra Wide-Angle Lens of Choice


Getting to the point, it was at that time that I purchased my first A-mount lens, the Ultra Wide-angle, Samyang 14mm T3.1 Cine Lens.

You’ll be pleased to know that this lens is also available in Canon, Nikon and Sony FE mount. There is also a version for Olympus and Panasonic Micro four thirds cameras.

Samyang 14mm T3.1 Cine Lens

Samyang 14mm T3.1 Cine Lens

Samyang 14mm T3.1 Cine Lens.
Cost: $380-$400 (Aus)

sun down rocky quarry
Taken with Samyang 14mm at F11, 1/10 sec, ISO 100

What I like best about this lens!


  • Produces very sharp (even around the edges) and high quality images especially at F11-F13. This makes it ideal for capturing landscapes where you want everything to be in focus, as much as possible. The focus marks on the lens are also very accurate.
  • At F2.8 this lens lets in a huge amount of light, making it fast enough for night photography and astrophotography. I have captured some of my best and most spectacular Milky way shots with this lens.
  • The fact this lens is only manual may be a down-side for some people but personally I much prefer using manual focus. Being able to focus using a proper focus ring allows you to really fine-tune your focus perfectly. Focusing manually is also good practice and much easier to pull focus when capturing video.
  • 14mm on Full-frame allows you to capture a large area of the Milky Way, making this lens perfect for astrophotography.
  • Super wide at 14mm with an angle-of-view of around 115 0 when used on a Full-frame camera. Having such a wide angle allows you to capture dramatic and powerful images, the wide-angle can add an epic sense of scale to the composition.
  • This lens is excellent for Time lapse photography, because it is a full-manual lens, there is no flicker that you get when using Auto lenses. I have taken many thousands of photos and hundreds of time-lapses with this lens.
  • Very solid and well-made but not too heavy to carry around all day long. I have carried this lens on many long hikes and it doesn’t way me down at all.
  • Both the aperture and focus rings are very smooth, making this lens perfect for videography work.
shining torchlight milkyway galaxy
Taken with Samyang 14mm at F2.8, 15 sec, ISO 12800

What about ND Filters for Long-exposures?


Because the lens has a permanently attached petal-type lens hood you will need to buy a special adapter made by Samyang, in order to use ND filters. The good thing is the adapter can be found for a reasonable price:

Samyang Filter Holder SFH-14

My only wish was that the lens hood was detachable so that you were able to use different ND filter sets.

But if you’re really serious about using this lens for landscape photography then the Samyang ND filter kit is definitely a worthwhile investment:

Samyang 14mm ND Filter Set

dragon rock seascape sunrise
Taken with Samyang 24mm at F11, 1/4 sec, ISO 80

My go-to lens for landscape photography


My go-to lens for landscape photography and the lens I always carry with me is the Wide-angle, Samyang 24mm T1.5 Cine Lens.

While this lens usually goes for around $600 I was lucky enough to get this lens on sale for $400.

Samyang 24mm T1.5 Cine Lens

Samyang 24mm T1.5 Cine Lens

Samyang 24mm T1.5 Cine Lens.
Cost: $400-$650 (Aus)

National carillon canberra fine art
Taken with Samyang 24mm at F8, 2 1/2 min, ISO 250

What I like best about this lens!


  • 24mm is a perfect all-round Focal legth for landscape photography, architecture and street photography. 24mm is about the widest you can go on a Full-frame camera without getting any distortion or fish-eye effect. It’s wide but not so wide that things start to look unnatural. For this reason this lens is super useful!
  • Very fast at F1.4 (T1.5) which again makes it ideal for astrophotography and shooting in low-light situations.
  • Very sharp from the center to the edges, especially between F9 and F11. I’m never disappointed with the results I get with this lens!
  • The lens hood is detachable which I much prefer to a fixed lens hood.
  • The filter thread size for this lens is a common size of 77mm, which means that you have heaps of options for using different ND filters for taking long-exposures.
  • Just like the 14mm this lens is very solid, well-built and the glass is quality-made.
  • This lens produces some very nice sun stars when shooting into the sun at anywhere between F13 and F18.
  • There is very minimal distortion, it handles lens flares very well and chromatic aberration is pretty much non-existent.

It’s a bit bulkier and heavier than the Samyang 14mm but apart from that I have nothing bad to say about this lens and would recommend it to anyone.

Commissions

This is to notify you “the user” that I have linked to products on this page that I can earn a commission from. However, this does not in any way influence my decision to promote these products.

If you’ve read the article above then you will know that I use and will continue to use all of the products I have recommended in this article,  because they are awesome products!

To be completely honest I am linking to products on ebay because that’s where I originally bought my own products from. By linking to the products it is simply a way to support the time and effort that I have put into writing this article and to help me with the cost of maintaining this website.

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