looking for the right lens

I'm looking to do some
better landscape photography. I'm thinking of investing in a new lens (used is ok too). Any suggestions what I should be looking for? I am strictly an amateur and this is just a hobby, soI don't want to break the bank... I shoot with a nikon D3100. Any suggestions would be helpful.
Thank you


  • The first thing I'd do is determine what about the standard kit lens is not satisfactory. The 18-55 is a pretty decent landscape lens, reasonably sharp and since one generally wants a bit of depth of field anyway the slow speed is no big problem. It's not exciting, but it's reasonably versatile.

    If you want wider views than the 18 gives, it's going to cost you some money, but there are some wider angle zooms that are not enormously expensive. Make sure you check compatibility with the D3100, as some of the latest P lenses may not work.

    I find usually that a focal length of 16 mm. (equivalent to full frame 24) works pretty nicely, and beyond that, although you can get very nice effects, the composition becomes more difficult. A very wide angle will require you to take account of more spurious elements, and to accommodate a deep foreground. It also exaggerates perspective. While very handy at times, it can be a challenge to composition. When I was shooting 35 mm. film I found 20 (about 13 in DX) as wide as I wanted to go. At that focal length, you'll have fantastic depth of field, but the odd perspective will start becoming a necessary element in composition.

    If you're more or less satisfied with the coverage of the 18-55 but want a better lens, there are a few out there, including newer versions of the 18-55 that have a bit more sharpness and better vibration reduction. My current walk-around lens is a 16-85 DX, which is not particularly sharper than the 18-55 but has better coverage and is better built, but it's relatively expensive even used.

    If you do a lot of landscape work, one thing to look for is a lens whose front element does not rotate (internal focus will generally suffice, but some lenses may rotate when they zoom too). This will allow you to use things like a polarizing filter or a graduated ND filter without having to readjust it every time the focus changes. The standard kit lens with a rotating front element is basically impractical for this unless you turn off AF.

    You might check out KEH.com for used lenses. Their quality and warranty are good, and although their prices are not rock bottom the quality rating is very conservative. You'll be hard pressed to see the difference between "excellent" and new, and even the bargain grade is often quite nice, and guaranteed.

    Remember too that older AF lenses that do not have an AF motor in them will not auto focus with your camera, so make sure you know and read the terminology for any lens you look at. A very wide lens will be pretty easy to focus manually, since its depth of field is very great, but you don't want any surprises.
  • thank you sir. Apparently, I need to concentrate on learning my current lenses before graduating to a different one.
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