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The best Canon mirrorless kit for landscape photography

Which are the best mirrorless cameras and lenses for landscape photography? Canon Ambassador and multi-award-winning nature photographer Radomir Jakubowski reveals his favourite kit from the Canon EOS R System.
A meandering river surrounded by forest, shot under an orange and purple sky.

The groundbreaking technology in the mirrorless Canon EOS R5 has been a game-changer for landscape photographers such as Canon Ambassador Radomir Jakubowski. "I always used to use Live View for landscape photography with a DSLR, but now I have Live View in the viewfinder, which is very convenient," he says. "It means that I can zoom into the image at 100% and check that it's sharp enough from the front to the back." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens at 16mm, 0.3 sec, f/8 and ISO100. © Radomir Jakubowski

Landscape photographers have long relied on Canon's EOS DSLRs and EF lenses to document the changing face of the planet. But the burgeoning Canon EOS R System opens up a new world of possibilities. With their full-frame sensors and advanced mirrorless technology, Canon EOS R cameras are at the cutting-edge of imaging, though it's the revolutionary RF lens mount that's the real game-changer. Canon's RF primes and zooms are designed for optical excellence, and with their compact size and reduced weight, they're a great choice when trekking to find the perfect viewpoint.
So which are the best Canon mirrorless cameras for landscape photography? And, whether you're supplementing an EF or EF-S camera or fully migrating to a full-frame EOS R System, which RF prime and zoom lenses should you choose?

Here, German nature photographer and Canon Ambassador Radomir Jakubowski details which mirrorless bodies and lenses make the best choices for his work, while Mike Burnhill, European Professional Product Specialist at Canon Europe, also offers his invaluable technical insight.

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A long exposure of a river running through a forest, creating an ethereal look.

Radomir took this image at the Bavarian Forest National Park in Germany while it was pouring with rain. "I used a polariser to cut down the reflections and capture the really clear green and brown colours that you only get during very heavy rain." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens at 18mm, 20 sec, f/11 and ISO100. © Radomir Jakubowski

A Canon EOS R5 camera on a tripod in the rain, set up by a stream.

Radomir says that he loves to shoot in challenging weather, and his weather-sealed Canon EOS R5 performs well in tough conditions.

1. Best mirrorless camera for landscapes: Canon EOS R5

With its 45MP full-frame CMOS sensor, high-resolution displays and weather sealing, the Canon EOS R5 is a camera that's right at home in the great outdoors. "Before going mirrorless, I used to shoot with a Canon EOS-1D X Mark III and a Canon EOS 5DS R," reveals Radomir. "I could see that mirrorless was going to be the future, so I bought a Canon EOS R in January 2020 just to see how it worked. I could see how much power and potential there was inside the EOS R System, and the Canon EOS R5 is now the camera I mainly use for landscapes.
The Canon EOS R5 camera.

Canon EOS R5

The EOS R5's uncompromising performance will revolutionise your photography and filmmaking.
"I also have the Canon EOS R6," Radomir continues. "If you want a main body and a second body, then the EOS R6 really complements the EOS R5. If you have to print larger than a metre, the Canon EOS R5 is obviously a better choice, but for most work they are quite similar."

Mike agrees that a high-resolution sensor is always desirable for scenic shots: "It allows you to clearly see the individual components and organic structure of the landscape," he explains. But he also highlights some of the smaller features of the Canon EOS R5 that can make a big difference for landscape photography. "For example, you no longer have to carry a cable release with you because you can use the Canon Camera Connect app to turn your smartphone into a Bluetooth remote release," he says.
Yellowing autumn trees on a hillside in front of a steep rock face.

Radomir often works with a Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM lens when shooting in the mountains. He took this image in Switzerland, using the telephoto zoom to isolate the autumn colours against the dark mountain in the background. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 at 145mm, 0.8 sec, f/14 and ISO100. © Radomir Jakubowski

2. Best mirrorless system telephoto lens for landscape details: Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM

"The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM is the best telephoto zoom I have ever used," enthuses Radomir. "The image quality is outstanding, and when you're shooting relatively close, it performs like a prime lens.

"I often take this telephoto zoom lens to isolate details in the landscape," he continues. "It's quite light and really small, which is useful if, like me, you are often in the mountains. I also like the fact that it has a standard 77mm diameter filter thread, which means I can use it with my polarising filters to reduce reflections and improve colours in the landscape."
The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM lens.

Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM

With 5-stop Image Stabilization and L-series build quality, the RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM delivers detail, clarity and an exceptional telephoto performance.
"The high level of compression that the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM can achieve allows landscape photographers to see things in a very different way than the standard wide-angle view," adds Mike. "It's fully weather-sealed and about the same size as the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens. It was going to be difficult to improve on the image quality of that lens, so we added an extra 100mm as that's more beneficial than chasing ever-decreasing margins of image performance enhancements."
Tall pine trees rising out of the mist in a large valley.

This photograph was taken in the same location as the sunrise image at the top of the page, although slightly earlier in the morning. The Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM lens enabled Radomir to frame the trees that are visible in the bottom left of the wider shot. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 at 115mm, 1/8 sec, f/11 and ISO100. © Radomir Jakubowski

3. Best mirrorless system lens for general landscape photography: Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

"I love to work with telephoto lenses for landscape photography," says Radomir. "When I don't know what to expect, I take the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM. But when I'm familiar with the location and can anticipate what will be going on in the landscape, I will take the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM.

"The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM can sometimes be a little bit long at 100mm, so the RF 70-200 F2.8L IS USM is more useful for general landscape photography. You can combine it with the Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM or the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM and cover a lot of ground with just those two lenses. I really like the fact that it's so small and more than 400g lighter than the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM."
The Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM lens.

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

This high-performance F2.8 telephoto zoom offers exceptional image quality in a compact body, designed to work in all conditions.
Mike is equally enthusiastic about the compact size of this lens. "It readily fits into a camera bag and is a much easier lens to carry around than the EF equivalent. And of course, the Canon RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM is even smaller. It's comparable in size to the Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM and is a great option when you don't need the faster maximum aperture of the flagship zoom.

"The RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM is an L-Series lens, so just like the f/2.8 version, it's totally weather-sealed. It even has the heat-resistant paint that we use on our super telephoto lenses, so in bright sunlight it doesn't suffer from any drop in image performance. Optically, the Canon RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM is absolutely stunning. It's better all the way through the zoom range than the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM, which is razor sharp. It's also smaller, focuses faster and closer, and features better IS."
Mountains reflected in a rock pool.

Radomir used the flexibility offered by the Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM lens to frame this reflection to great effect. "I composed the shot so that the mountains looked the right way up in the reflection and cropped tightly so that you have to think about what you're looking at," he says. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 at 53mm, 8 sec, f/22 and ISO100. © Radomir Jakubowski

4. Best mirrorless lens for travel landscapes: Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM

"For some landscape photographers, a 24-105mm or 24-70mm zoom lens is the most important one in their bags," reveals Radomir. "I like to have a lens that offers more than 70mm at the long end, which is why I went for the Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM instead of the RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM. It just means that I don't have to switch to the RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM as quickly, because I have an extra 35mm focal length to play with."

Mike adds: "Optically, the Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM is superior to the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM, but there are other things within the system that make it more appealing generally. It has the better focusing system and better IS, and it's also a smaller size."
The Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM camera.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM

A highly versatile zoom lens offering photographers and filmmakers an ideal balance between performance, portability and image quality.
A church in the mountains in Switzerland, with a river running through the rocks in the foreground.

Radomir captured this low-light image of the church in Lavertezzo, Switzerland using his EF wide-angle zoom, mounted to a standard EF-EOS R adaptor. "The church is in the Verzasca Valley, where there are lots of interesting stone details created by the river over millions of years. It's a great location for combining nature and architecture in the same image," says Radomir. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens at 35mm, 30 sec, f/13 and ISO200. © Radomir Jakubowsk

5. Best wide-angle lens for mirrorless landscape photography: Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM

For those shots where you want to squeeze as much of the scene into the frame as possible, reach for the Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM. The widest native lens for the RF system, it takes the classic 16-35mm f/2.8 lens that has been in the trinity of professional Canon L-Series lenses for many years and expands the possibilities.

"Again, it demonstrates that the RF system is allowing us to push what landscape photographers are able to do," says Mike. "With the EF version there's no IS, so we've crammed that in, as well as implementing reduced focus breathing. Even that 1mm difference between 15mm and 16mm makes an incredible difference to the coverage of the subject. Moving from 300mm to 400mm in a telephoto lens might not be that noticeable, but every millimetre counts with a wide-angle lens."
The Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM camera.

Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM

Capture more, even in low light, with this fast f/2.8 L-series RF-series ultra-wide angle 15-35mm zoom with 5-stops of Image Stabilization.
Despite the advantages offered by the Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM, Radomir currently shoots with the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM, attached to his Canon EOS R5 via the standard Mount Adapter EF-EOS R. One of the benefits of moving to the EOS R System is that you can take your favourite EF and EF-S lenses with you. "For landscape photography, I'm normally working at an aperture somewhere between f/8 and f/16, so I don't need the faster maximum aperture of the RF lens," he says.

There are three mount adapters available, including Drop-In Filter Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, which enables the use of drop-in filters. "You can use this to add a polariser to any EF or EF-S lens, including the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM where it's not possible to fit a filter to the front of the lens," explains Mike. "A variable ND drop-in filter is also available, which is useful if you want to use a certain shutter speed and aperture combination, or if you want to shoot a long exposure landscape."
A path through a forest at night. Fallen leaves are scattered all around.

Radomir prefers the flexibility of a zoom lens for landscapes but keeps the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM in his bag to take advantage of the large maximum aperture and vignetting to enhance the mood of pictures – such as this dark forest scene. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 at 8 sec, f/1.8 and ISO100. © Radomir Jakubowski

Textures in a riverbed shot close up, resembling an aerial landscape.

The close-focusing capability of the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM enables Radomir to shoot 'micro landscapes', such as the textures in this riverbed. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 at 1/160 sec, f/10 and ISO400. © Radomir Jakubowski

6. Best lens for handheld landscape photos: Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM

"When I'm going out without the real intention of taking pictures, I always take the Canon EOS R6 and the RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM with me," says Radomir. "I use it for everything – from landscapes and portraits to reportage and macro. I like the f/1.8 aperture and the vignetting. I know some photographers say that they can just add a vignette when they process their images, but for me that's part of the character of a lens. I also love the combination of 35mm focal length and 5-stops of image stabilisation (IS), which makes it possible for me to shoot one-second exposures handheld."

"Landscape photography can cover many different aspects," elaborates Mike. "It's not just about going into the countryside, it can focus on cities as well. The Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM is a very compact lens and, with the fast aperture and IS, is really well suited to shooting in low-light conditions, when cities and urban areas take on a magical glow."
The Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM lens.

Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM

A wide-angle prime lens with a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture and macro capabilities.
Light coming in among the trees, illuminating the autumn leaves of a low branch.

"I underexposed this shot by two or three stops to highlight the yellow and orange leaves. The tree really pops out of the image because I used the large f/2 aperture of the Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM rather than f/4 on the RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM, and the vignetting of the lens makes the corners even darker," says Radomir. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 at 1/2000 sec, f/2 and ISO100. © Radomir Jakubowski

7. Best mirrorless system lens for moody long-lens landscapes: Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM

"Although I prefer to take the Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM or the Canon RF 70-200 F2.8L IS USM when I shoot landscapes, I really like the fact that this lens is so lightweight," explains Radomir. "When I go out with my Canon EOS R6 and Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM, I put the Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM in my pocket. When I'm not sure what I will be shooting, I prefer to use prime lenses rather than zooms. I find that I can focus on my photography better with primes.
The Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM lens.

Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM

Take your portraits to the next level with a compact, lightweight RF prime lens that flatters your subjects and inspires you to discover beautiful detail.
"There are not so many landscape images that lend themselves to the Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM, but you will always find some shots that really suit the large f/2 aperture and the attractive vignetting."

Mike says that although the Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM is not a classic landscape lens, it's a very good all-rounder: "The close-up ability does allow you to get a different perspective, with the half life-size magnification giving you a good balance between details in the foreground and the background when you need it."

Kirjutanud Marcus Hawkins


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