If you think of an ideal focal length for a landscape lens, you might think something in the neighborhood in the 24-35mm range. That gives you something wide to take the most of the landscape in that’s laid out before you. And while I definitely shoot a lot of stuff at that length, I tend to shoot about equally as much at the opposite end of the spectrum, especially in the fall where the ratio is much more in favor at the long end. I believe I purchased my 100-400 lens in 2000, and it has seen a lot of use since. Though it isn’t that sharp maxed out at 400mm, I think my copy does rather well and have no complaints. That lens never used to come off the camera during the fall and it just got to the point that I wanted even more reach and sharpness.
Enter fall of 2009 when I purchased a used Canon 500mm. This lens is pretty much reserved for the wildlife and bird shooters of the world, but I had far different plans. It’s certainly no play toy and not a purchase to take lightly. I suppose I’d get more use out of a nice used car instead, but I knew I’d get a good bit of use out of this lens for years to come. And in the two-plus years I’ve had it, I’ve shot 2,600 pictures with it, though certainly most are bracketed exposures. There are no signs of slowing down. There aren’t a whole lot of landscape-only photographers out there who employ the use of one of these things, but it has found a nice home in my toolbox. Actually, it takes up a lot of room when going on trips, but there’s no way I’d leave it at home unless I’m out for a backpacking trip. I’ve even been dumb enough to carry its weight and trudge up the steep walls in the Great Sand Dunes a couple of times! It really is as sharp everyone says, even with either of Canon’s teleconverter offerings, the 1.4x and 2x.
I usually find it relatively easy isolating sections of a given landscape and my results might indicate I slightly favor the intimate landscape, but I’ll photograph whatever looks good at the time. I suppose I don’t have much of a point with this post other than to share results that are from a bit outside of the box from a landscaper’s perspective. Below are some of my favorites with this lens to date.