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Which lens is best suitable for mountain top photography?
Old 01-18-2018   #1
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Which lens is best suitable for mountain top photography?

Hi,
I wonder which focal length is most suited for taking photos when being high up in the mountains. Using a wide angle lens my make mountains appear far away and small while using a short tele may not include the large mountain ranges. Would a 35mm or 50mm lens maybe be suitable here?

Thanks for your feedback.
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Old 01-18-2018   #2
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I typically go hiking on smaller mountains, and I've found 50mm to be perfect. It's not too wide, but it's also not so tight that you can't fit everything in.

911180010021 by Scott Carr, on Flickr

This photo was shot with a 50mm while walking up a side hill from the valley. Any wider and I would've gotten a water processor in the photo, but any tighter and it would've been to tight in my opinion. My vote is for a 50mm.
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Old 01-18-2018   #3
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Do you want a view of the mountain:
Nikon Df, 28 2.8 Ai-S
_MAD0033 by Michael DeLuca, on Flickr

Or in the mountians:

Leica M6 TTL 21 4.0 Voigtlander
06950023 by Michael DeLuca, on Flickr
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Old 01-18-2018   #4
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Check out the Landscape forum on FredMiranda. Plenty of working pros there. Look at the images you like, and see what lenses they used.

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/board/46
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Old 01-18-2018   #5
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for me - 28 and 35mm (and I do climb and photography a lot). If I need to take only one - 35mm.
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Old 01-18-2018   #6
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Thanks for the feedback.
I am considering taking a lift up the Alps to elevations over 10,000ft, and then take photos of mountains from there.
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Old 01-18-2018   #7
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I would then possibly consider, in addition, 90mm too.
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Old 01-18-2018   #8
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Whichever lens you use Raid make sure you use a UV filter and perhaps a polarizing filter (e.g. if there is snow about). One thing I have found with mountains is lots of UV light due to the reduced filtering effect at altitude. You need to cut UV haze to get clear shots. It is said that digital sensors do not have the same susceptibility to UV haze as film. I am not sure but would not take the chance and I am sure that a polarizing filter will help with reflected light.

In terms of the question of which lens I think that when taking shots of "big" scenes their magnificence depends on their expansiveness. It is always disappointing I find to go somewhere where you are overwhelmed by the vast vistas only to make images that end up looking "small" and truncated. So a wide angle - perhaps 28mm would be my choice (with perhaps a small longer focus lens thrown in as back up in the event that a detailed shot of something is desired). I don't know that I would go ultra wide as distances tend to be large in mountains and everything recedes too much with ultra wide angle lenses, potentially leaving large areas of unfilled foreground and tiny mountains in the background.

One thing to consider is the possibility of taking some panoramas and stitching them afterwards. I sometimes use the Microsoft digital ICE software which is stitching software available free on the internet when making such images. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/rese...posite-editor/

Three or even four shots side by side will turn into a lovely panorama if the images are executed properly. The following, though not of mountains, was made in the Adelaide Hills using just such technique. Here I wanted to capture the rolling hills and tightly controlled order of the lines of vines. ICE works very well in this situation as there are few straight lines to become distorted by the software when manipulating the image to stitch together. This also somewhat solves the problem of how wide to go as wider shots can be created in post. In my case I also grouped that shot with a few less wide angle shots to get closer details as well. Hence my suggestion that you may wish to consider a longer lens too.

Vines and sky by Life in Shadows, on Flickr
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Old 01-18-2018   #9
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35mm (Contax T3):



90mm (Contax G2 + Sonnar 90mm):



Both Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan.
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Old 01-18-2018   #10
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Raid, The real answer is that it depends. I use mostly the 35 & 50, but it depends on the size of the mountains & the specific shape of the valleys......& also where you are relative to the peaks. I've photographed a lot out of helicopters using a leica with a 35 & the fuji 6x9 with normal & wide. In Alaska, the Alps & Himalayas I've used everything from a 24mm to a 105 (on 35).
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Old 01-18-2018   #11
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Raid, I have used a 24mm lens extensively in the Rocky Mountains, and the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. I have seldom found a use for anything wider. But the trick is that you must include something interesting in the foreground. The distant mountain ranges will appear too small if it is to be the main subject. But if there is something of interest in the foreground, then it works.

And as always, the 35mm lens must always be in the bag, as well as frequently on the camera.

Let me see if I can scan some chromes soon to illustrate my point.
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Old 01-18-2018   #12
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I would take a zoom.

Something like an 18-55mm on an APS-C body or a 28-70mm on a "full-frame" body.
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Old 01-18-2018   #13
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Thanks for all the useful tips and recommendations.
I will most likely take my M9 with 35/1.4 and M8 with 50/1.4 for a view from the top of very high mountains. I will leave my Hologon 16/8 for street photography after returning to "base".
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Old 01-18-2018   #14
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When we toured the American Southwest a few years back, I took along a 21mm, 35mm, 50mm and 90mm. I probably used the 50mm the most, followed by the 35mm, then the 90mm. I used the 21mm the least, but I did use it to take some very dramatic photos.

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Old 01-18-2018   #15
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Raid,

When I used to photograph the Colorado mountains, I used 28mm, 50mm and a 135mm in my film days. Later on digital, In used a Sony R1 with a zoom lens with the equivalent 24-120mm. I found that more than adequate, and I often shoot at the wider end. So I'd suggest that you choose your prime lenses within that range.

I often shoot at around 12,000- 14,000 ft. above sea level. With digital, I often didn't use a polarizing filter, but at those elevations, the sky will naturally be rendered darker than shooting from sea level. So if I used a polarizing filter at all, I likely would not turn it to its maximum power. I had made the mistake when I used film in my younger days---the strong action of the polarizing filter that I used almost turned the sky black.

Panoramic shots are very suitable for that type of landscape. However, if you used a polarizing filter, you'd better re-adjust the strength of your polarizing filter after a shot or two. Otherwise you'd end up with very uneven skies on the horizontal plane. I'd say that you should use a tripod when you need to make those adjustments along the way.

Granted, most of the mountains in Switzerland are not as high. I remember the one that I visited (Mt. Titlis) was just a bit over 11,000 ft. But you still should have a strong UV filter for that.

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Old 01-18-2018   #16
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Hi Raid,

Just for illustration, here is my photo taken at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado[IMG]

https://www.rangefinderforum.com/rff...photoid=278696

Note the sky getting darker the further you go above the horizon. This effect is more pronounced on high altitudes as compared to photos taken at sea level.


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Last edited by Tin : 01-18-2018 at 16:48. Reason: Wrong link was inserted
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Old 01-18-2018   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter_S View Post
35mm (Contax T3):



90mm (Contax G2 + Sonnar 90mm):



Both Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan.
Peter ... Beautiful!
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Old 01-18-2018   #18
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The Alps is a big place....yes a 90 definitely. France, Switzerland...Italy?
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Old 01-18-2018   #19
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Hi Raid - personally, my primary lens for that would be a 50mm, although a 75mm might also work.

Here's a shot from Mount Haleakalā (10k feet) with a 55mm lens:

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Old 01-18-2018   #20
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Sorry, I was just looking at my picture taken in Banff at the top. It was one of the examples where you need it wide. Today I just can't find it. Then I was in mountains last time I used 17-35 and 70-200 lenses on FF camera. I used all range.
This is what I was able to find today from the top shots.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/Q01w5LMEDxy6qkIJ2
It is 36 mm on FF.
This on is another top view taken with 17mm on FF
https://photos.app.goo.gl/A9VpcMMjXLposmNu1

Don't forget what you could always swipe panorama with mobile phone. Or use 50mm or even 35 in portrait orientation to take three overlapping shots and stitch them later on.
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Old 01-18-2018   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deardorff38 View Post
The Alps is a big place....yes a 90 definitely. France, Switzerland...Italy?
France, Switzerland, and Italy.
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Old 01-18-2018   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tin View Post
Raid,

When I used to photograph the Colorado mountains, I used 28mm, 50mm and a 135mm in my film days. Later on digital, In used a Sony R1 with a zoom lens with the equivalent 24-120mm. I found that more than adequate, and I often shoot at the wider end. So I'd suggest that you choose your prime lenses within that range.

I often shoot at around 12,000- 14,000 ft. above sea level. With digital, I often didn't use a polarizing filter, but at those elevations, the sky will naturally be rendered darker than shooting from sea level. So if I used a polarizing filter at all, I likely would not turn it to its maximum power. I had made the mistake when I used film in my younger days---the strong action of the polarizing filter that I used almost turned the sky black.

Panoramic shots are very suitable for that type of landscape. However, if you used a polarizing filter, you'd better re-adjust the strength of your polarizing filter after a shot or two. Otherwise you'd end up with very uneven skies on the horizontal plane. I'd say that you should use a tripod when you need to make those adjustments along the way.

Granted, most of the mountains in Switzerland are not as high. I remember the one that I visited (Mt. Titlis) was just a bit over 11,000 ft. But you still should have a strong UV filter for that.

Tin
Mt. Titlis may be reached from Lucerne in a half-day trip. It seems that 35mm-90mm is recommended. I never use filters with RF cameras.
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Old 01-18-2018   #23
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Well Mont Blanc is 15,780' and the Alps have a much greater vertical relief from the valley than Colorado does.
Raid, if you visit the Italian side of Mont Blanc out of Courmayeur...a 90 will come in handy.
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Old 01-18-2018   #24
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A uv/skylight filter at a minimum is advisable.
It’s a hassle to use a polarizer with rangefinders but they can be useful.
Zeiss T* coated lenses seem to have a polarizer effect at times. Take your modern zeiss glass if you can

For Rangefinder, I would take a 35 and 90 if that was a choice.
Next year I’ll be back in Switzerland for a family visit.
Sony A7 with 55mm and the Fuji GF670 with fuji 160s will make the trip.
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Old 01-18-2018   #25
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I could take the Biogon 35/2 and the Tele Elmarit 90/2.8.
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Old 01-18-2018   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deardorff38 View Post
Well Mont Blanc is 15,780' and the Alps have a much greater vertical relief from the valley than Colorado does.
Raid, if you visit the Italian side of Mont Blanc out of Courmayeur...a 90 will come in handy.
I will take with me a short tele. I usually do not bother with a tele when I travel.
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Old 01-18-2018   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Sorry, I was just looking at my picture taken in Banff at the top. It was one of the examples where you need it wide. Today I just can't find it. Then I was in mountains last time I used 17-35 and 70-200 lenses on FF camera. I used all range.
This is what I was able to find today from the top shots.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/Q01w5LMEDxy6qkIJ2
It is 36 mm on FF.
This on is another top view taken with 17mm on FF
https://photos.app.goo.gl/A9VpcMMjXLposmNu1

Don't forget what you could always swipe panorama with mobile phone. Or use 50mm or even 35 in portrait orientation to take three overlapping shots and stitch them later on.
Both images look great. Thanks.
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Old 01-18-2018   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by f16sunshine View Post
A uv/skylight filter at a minimum is advisable.
Itís a hassle to use a polarizer with rangefinders but they can be useful.
Zeiss T* coated lenses seem to have a polarizer effect at times. Take your modern zeiss glass if you can

Yes, the Zeiss Vario-Sonnar zoom lens on the Sony R1 did have a polarizing effect. I credit that to its good contrast, but I may be wrong. Hence, I've never used a polarizing filter with that lens.

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Old 01-18-2018   #29
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Take a lens, any lens, and that's it (35mm is about right for me, but YMMV). You can't take the mountain with you anyway, it's too big for a photograph. Whatever you take is just a tiny bit of slice....
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Old 01-18-2018   #30
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When we toured the American Southwest a few years back, I took along a 21mm, 35mm, 50mm and 90mm. I probably used the 50mm the most, followed by the 35mm, then the 90mm. I used the 21mm the least, but I did use it to take some very dramatic photos.

Jim B.
For mountains, 35mm and 50mm may turn out the most useful, Jim.
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Old 01-18-2018   #31
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Whichever lens you use Raid make sure you use a UV filter and perhaps a polarizing filter (e.g. if there is snow about). One thing I have found with mountains is lots of UV light due to the reduced filtering effect at altitude. You need to cut UV haze to get clear shots. It is said that digital sensors do not have the same susceptibility to UV haze as film. I am not sure but would not take the chance and I am sure that a polarizing filter will help with reflected light.

In terms of the question of which lens I think that when taking shots of "big" scenes their magnificence depends on their expansiveness. It is always disappointing I find to go somewhere where you are overwhelmed by the vast vistas only to make images that end up looking "small" and truncated. So a wide angle - perhaps 28mm would be my choice (with perhaps a small longer focus lens thrown in as back up in the event that a detailed shot of something is desired). I don't know that I would go ultra wide as distances tend to be large in mountains and everything recedes too much with ultra wide angle lenses, potentially leaving large areas of unfilled foreground and tiny mountains in the background.

One thing to consider is the possibility of taking some panoramas and stitching them afterwards. I sometimes use the Microsoft digital ICE software which is stitching software available free on the internet when making such images. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/rese...posite-editor/

Three or even four shots side by side will turn into a lovely panorama if the images are executed properly. The following, though not of mountains, was made in the Adelaide Hills using just such technique. Here I wanted to capture the rolling hills and tightly controlled order of the lines of vines. ICE works very well in this situation as there are few straight lines to become distorted by the software when manipulating the image to stitch together. This also somewhat solves the problem of how wide to go as wider shots can be created in post. In my case I also grouped that shot with a few less wide angle shots to get closer details as well. Hence my suggestion that you may wish to consider a longer lens too.

Vines and sky by Life in Shadows, on Flickr
I have never done stitched images, Peter. Your image came out looking very nice.

Using M8 and M9 with 35mm and 50mm may do a good job.
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Old 01-18-2018   #32
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My son has summited Mount Rainier and Mount St Helens recently. He's climbed many mountains in the Olympic peninsula over the last year. Several years back he summited 6 peaks in 5 days in Glacier National Park. Only lens he had was the one in his iPhone. I have most of his photos from Montana and his Rainier and St Helen ascent. I'll try to post a few.

Here he is on the summit of s smaller mountain in the Washington State Cascade Range:

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Old 01-18-2018   #33
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July 4th 2008, we summited Divide Mountain on the border of the Blackfeet reservation and Glacier National Park. He was 14 years old then. I had a Canon G9 back in those days.



Bring something, anything, and take plenty of photos.
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Old 01-18-2018   #34
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The biggest one you can carry.
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Old 01-18-2018   #35
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Port Hills above Christchurch NZ

90mm Elmarit M


Lyttleton harbour
by Richard, on Flickr


ZM 25mm Biogon


Port Hills
by Richard, on Flickr



Ovens Valley from Mt Feathertop, Victoria, Australia around 1981. 50 Summilux v2 with UVa filter.


Ovens Valley form Feathertop.jpg
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Old 01-18-2018   #36
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Quote:
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Peter ... Beautiful!
Thank you!

Polarizers are indeed something you want to take. I use two - one on the lens; the other is in my hands to read the correct rotation number. Else I need to take the filter on/off for each shot. With polarizers, I would be cautious with anything wider than 35mm, however.
For mountain photography (I need to go light all the time) I find 35mm and 50mm to close to each other. When the reach of 35mm is not enough (one summit, for example), the 50 does not really solve that. And the M9 has enough resolution to crop (just like putting a 35mm on your M8). Plus I do not like to change lenses frequently.
Thats all subjective, off course.
My mountain lens setup this year will likely be 21 - 35 - 75mm.
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Old 01-18-2018   #37
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Raid, for my recent motorbike trip in the Northern Italian Alps I bought a 24/3.8 Elmar-M and used it a lot. So I would say take as wide as you have or maybe try and afford a wider one if you can! It's great if you want to show people and the scenery. I was also carrying a 50/2.8 Elmar-M and 90/4 M-Rokkor, so I wasn't just relying on one lens, but they are all relatively compact.
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Old 01-18-2018   #38
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Example from Elmar-M 24/3.8 on Sony A7S on top of Stelvio Pass, Northern Italy.

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Old 01-19-2018   #39
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I do not like to change lenses frequently....so my most used in the Alps are my 50 and 35.

here 50 on M 7



and here is the equivalent of 35 ( it's 24 on aps-c sensor of the Leica x1)



This is th CV 12/f 5.6 on the Bessa R



On the other side if you like details this is the 75 cv always on the Bessa R



At the end it depends a lot on you photographic style. In your case I think 35 + an alternative wider or small tele could be the ideal solution.

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Old 01-19-2018   #40
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A certain well known but nowadays much maligned manufacturer chose 105mm...
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