If you’re one of my regular readers, then you know how much I dig short telephoto lenses. Compared to zooms of the same range, they’re lighter, more compact and considerably faster, which means that you’ll be more likely to carry them with you in the backcountry. Often times, the glass quality is simply better too, which makes for sharper landscape photos in crisp winter air.
Another aspect that I like about fixed lenses is that with no options for zooming in our out, you’re forced to work your creative muscles a bit more. In other words, you have to use what you’ve got. By removing any possibilities for changing focal length, your compositional and framing skills get a better workout. They’re also relatively affordable.
Although wide angle lenses are often the first choice for shooting landscapes, I love the way that short telephotos bring you in just a little bit and let you accentuate just one or two elements in the scene. By narrowing your angle of view, it sometimes makes it easier to simplify the scene in your viewfinder.
My go-to short telephoto is the Nikon 85mm f/1.8. I’ve got the older “D” series lens, but the newer 85mm f/1.8G version is a great upgrade. Also, it has the AF-S silent wave autofocus motor, which comes in very handy when using it to photograph people and action. And, with the current Nikon lens rebates, the newer “G” version of the 85mm f/1.8 is $100 off. Canon also has an 85mm f/1.8 USM lens.
For my Fuji cameras, I really like the Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2. It’s amazingly sharp, amazingly fast, and it does a beautiful job throwing the background slightly out of focus
With all of the times that I use short telephotos, I consider them to be an extremely valuable lenses to have in your outdoor photography arsenal. Here are a few examples from Alaska and Canada to show you how I do short telephoto landscapes. Maybe they’ll give you some ideas of your own. At any rate, enjoy and have a cold day.
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