Contrary to popular belief, telephoto zooms are one of the best lenses a landscape photographer could have in their arsenal.
Hear us out. Using telephoto zooms for landscapes isn’t as bonkers as it may sound. Yes, wide-angle lenses are fantastic for landscape photography as they allow you to capture sweeping vistas; however, when you’re out and about, you’ll often come across a scene where exquisite details could become lost.
With telephoto zooms, you can quickly isolate specific features and details in a scene and make them the star of the show. On top of this, you can also create gorgeous compression, making far-away objects — like distant mountains — look much closer than they are. Compression like this can help add incredible depth to your images.
In this roundup, we will look at seven telephoto zooms, which cover most major platforms and mounts that are lightweight, weather-sealed, sharp and incredibly versatile. These lenses will serve any landscape photographer well, especially during the fall.
Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD — Lightweight and affordable
Tamron’s 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD is a stellar optic for landscape photography. Because it’s a third-party lens, you can get a significantly faster maximum aperture for roughly the same price as a first-party f/4 zoom without compromising in many areas, including optics and build quality.
This option from Tamron for Sony E mount photographers features dual linear focus motors. In addition, a whopping six low dispersion elements help create gorgeous colors, high contrast, and low ghosting and flaring. The bright f/2.8 aperture will make capturing landscapes during dawn and dusk easier, and the weather sealing will protect your investment while out in the elements. You can read our full review of this lens here.
Fujifilm XF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 R LM OIS WR — Rugged, sharp and easy to use
The Fujifilm 70-300mm f/4-5.6 R LM OIS WR has a super long list of features that make it great for landscape photography. First, this lens has the longest equivalent focal range of any lens on this list. With the Fujifilm crop factor of 1.5x, you’re looking at an equivalent focal range of 107-457mm. Fancy doing some wildlife photography between landscape shots? Well, that’s no problem with this lens.
The weather-sealed design will come in handy during the fall months. It’s light at 1.3lbs, and the 5.5 stops of stabilization will help you save time by not having to set up a tripod. This lens’s colors are nice and vibrant, so your images of fall leaves will pop. This lens is incredibly affordable as well. Telephoto zooms for Fujifilm’s X mount cameras don’t get much better than this.
Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S — One of the best telephoto zooms for landscape photography
Landscape photographers who use Nikon Z mount cameras have it good when it comes to lenses. Nikon has knocked their Z mount optics out of the park, and they made no exception to that rule with the NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S. This lens is simply stunning in every area. The lens features solid construction and incredible optics to help you create incredible landscape images no matter what conditions you find yourself in.
This pro-grade lens features a multi-focus stepping motor autofocus system, which enables the lens to be quick and precise when autofocusing. The optical image stabilization will help you handhold this lens easily, the programmable control ring lets you set up this lens to work for you and your style of shooting and the weather sealing makes it so that this lens can be used no matter what the weather is doing; providing you use a weather sealed camera. This lens is pricey, but it’s more than worth the cost of admission. Be sure to check out our full review.
Olympus 12-100mm f/4 PRO — Incredible stabilization and stunning optics
The Olympus 12-100mm f/4 PRO is a superb lens for landscape photography. The manual focus clutch will let you quickly override the autofocus so you can nail the shot. The weather sealing will fight off the weather when you’re in the field, and the colors it renders are gorgeous.
When used with an Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera, dual body and lens stabilization kicks in. You can easily forego a tripod because handholding this lens for up to five seconds is a piece of cake. And no, we’re not exaggerating. The 24-200mm equivalent focal range means you can shoot sweeping scenes and focus on one gorgeous feature from that scene with ease. The lens weighs just 1.23lbs and is small enough that it won’t burden you on long hikes. It’s a must-have when it comes to Micro Four Thirds telephoto zooms.
Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II — A new standard for telephoto zooms
The first version of the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 was less than stellar. Sony knew this, so they went back to the drawing board. What they came up with is nothing short of breathtaking. The Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II is one of the best telephoto zooms for any platform. It will make all genres of photography, including fall landscape photography, shine.
Not only has Sony improved the optics in this lens, but they have also managed to make it lighter than the previous lens. The 29% reduction in weight makes it much easier to carry around. In addition, the weather sealing has been improved, and so have the autofocus motors, which are now four times faster than the motors in the previous lens. The image stabilization is top-notch, and the coatings used on the elements help boost contrast and help render some of the best colors seen from a Sony lens yet. You can find our full review here.
Panasonic Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f/4 — This telephoto zoom makes L mount cameras shine
There aren’t many telephoto zooms available for those who use L mount cameras. However, when you have one available that’s as good as the Panasonic Lumix S f/4 Pro, it doesn’t matter. This lens lives up to its Pro moniker thanks to its stellar build quality, excellent weather sealing, and sharp optics. So whether you’re focusing on a lone tree in the distance or the peak of a mountain, this lens will capture all of the glory.
The constant aperture of f/4 is more than enough for landscapes, and the lens stabilization makes it easy to handhold. However, there is a built-in tripod collar if you prefer to use a tripod. The double focus motor system (one linear and one stepping motor) will ensure you never miss a shot. It weighs 2.17lbs, which isn’t bad for a full-frame 70-200mm lens. If you shoot landscapes with L mount cameras, you should take a closer look at this lens.
Canon RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM — Low weight, high performance
The Canon RF 70-200mm f/4 is a stunning lens with sharp L series optics. Weather sealing, optical image stabilization, rapid autofocus motors, solid construction, and fluorine coatings make this an ideal lens to take with you on your landscape photography adventures.
Say goodbye to your tripod. When paired with the EOS R5 or EOS R6, this lens will give you 7.5 stops of image stabilization. The configurable control ring can be set to control just about any setting you desire. This will help keep you in the moment and out of the menus. Amazingly, it weighs 1.5lbs! This full-frame telephoto zoom is approaching Micro Four Thirds lens weights. Now that’s impressive.