Do You Really Need a Wide-Angle Lens for Landscape Photography? Photographer Thomas Heaton Says No

British pro Thomas Heaton’s latest video has a provocative title: “Throw Away Your Wide-Angle Lens.” Does he mean it? Not really, but Heaton, who is an acclaimed landscape and nature photographer, does have a point to make about lens choices when shooting outdoors.

“Ok, so don't actually throw away your wide-angle lens,” Heaton says. “This video has been made to show that not all landscape images need to be photographed with a wide-angle lens. Actually, long lenses are equally as effective and have many benefits.”

Specially, Heaton says he’s trying to clear up some misconceptions by novice photographers who might think they need to load up their camera bags with wide-angle glass to shoot landscapes. Heaton admits he was the same way not long ago, saying his first go-to lens was the Sigma 10-20mm. These days, however, his approach is different.

“If you really want to explore the landscape and get more out of your photography and start to pick out different images and compositions within the bigger landscape, you need to be reaching for a long lens,” Heaton says.

His argument is that if you’re capturing a scenic vista with, for example, a 16-35mm lens, you’re going to get “pretty much one photograph” out of it, namely a nice wide-angle landscape shot.

“The trick with landscape photography is to really look at the landscape and ask yourself this question: why am I photographing this? What is it that you love? Is it that mountain in the far distance there? Is it the beautiful clouds? Is it the light hitting those trees down in the valley? And what you find is that if you ask yourself that question and break out a long lens, you turn that wide vista from one big photograph into two, three four five different images.”

Heaton likens it to “being like a sniper and targeting different parts of the landscape.”

So, what is Heaton’s long lens of choice for landscapes? You’ll have to watch the video to find out. You may be surprised but Heaton does offer ample reasons and image examples to explain his selection.

You can see more of Heaton’s great photography tutorials on his YouTube channel. You should also check out this how-to video from another pro photographer with his tips on using both wide-angle and telephoto lenses for landscape photography.