Landscape photography is a fascinating genre of photography and also one that is going to test your mettle as a photographer. This is because this genre can be very demanding. It will test your exposure, composition, ambient light handling, and post-processing knowledge. And when you think you have almost got the hang of things, nature hits you with her elements. Therefore, a lens for nature photography, landscape photography, in particular, must handle anything and everything mother nature has to throw at it. That brings us to the first requirement.
Many lenses are branded as weather sealed. But they are not always correctly weather sealed. They have a rubber gasket around the lens mount that prevents dust and moisture ingress. But they don’t have weather sealing around the zoom and the focus rings. These are two areas susceptible to moisture and dust intake. A truly weather-sealed lens will have proper weather seals in all these areas. It will prevent moisture and dust ingress and function without issues, even when exposed to snow and rain. In some situations, you will have to use a clear filter too.
There is no right focal length for shooting landscape photography. It all depends on your vision and how you want to shoot it. So, even though the world of landscape photography revolves around using wide-angle lenses for the most part, there are landscape photographers who have shot with a telephoto lens and captured stunning close-ups of distant elements. For example, a telephoto lens will allow you to shoot a mountain face and capture its moods under different conditions. So, while a wide-angle lens will only give you a distant view of the mountain, a telephoto lens will get you close and capture an interesting perspective.
Image stabilization is a must-have. Even though a majority of times you will only shoot landscape with a tripod set-up, you need built-in image stabilization to give you that freedom to take a shot without having to fiddle with your tripod set-up. At moments when the light is fleeting, and you only have a few seconds when the light changes being able to do that can make the difference between a great shot and a wasted opportunity.
Lens brands use certain elements to ensure the lens performs acceptably when exposed to hard light. For example, Nikon uses Extra Low Dispersion elements (ED) in many lenses. These lens elements suppress the effects of chromatic aberrations and color fringing, producing a better contrast and overall image quality. The same way Canon uses its ultra-low dispersion elements to do the same. Many lenses use components to counter the effects of ghosting, internal reflection, and flares. For this purpose, Canon uses Subwavelength Coating (SWC) and Air Sphere Coating (ASC) in premium lenses. Check out other elements that lens makers use to counter the effects of had lighting.