What is the Best Lens for Beach Photos?

It’s summertime, and the beach is calling.

The best way to create memories through the shared experience with your family and friends at the beach is by capturing the moments.

But getting a quality beach shot is not always easy. As you enjoy the blue waters, light, and sand, the camera doesn’t take ideal photos in such conditions.

Worry not, though; you’re good to go with the right lens and camera settings.

Best camera lens for beach photography

So what is the best lens for beach photos? The lens depends on what you’re looking to achieve.

A long focal length (75-100mm+) gives intimate and deliberate shots ideal for portraits.

In contrast, a narrower focal range (16-35mm) is perfect for capturing the beach landscape and much of the surroundings.

In addition, adjust the camera setting to fit the beach conditions for a perfect shot.

Capturing beach shots is tough, but this article guides you on selecting the best lenses, tips for quality beach photos, and perfect shoot timings.

What to consider when choosing the best lens for beach photography

The type of beach photography you are trying to achieve

There are two types of beach photography, landscape, and portrait.

Landscape photos focus on the environment and surroundings, while portraits are mainly the people at the beach or other props.

The best time to take these photos is at golden hours when the sunrise or sunset throws out the magic colors.

Focal length matters

Focal length is the distance between lens and image when the subject is focused, usually indicated in millimeters.

Picking the best lens depends on the goals you want to achieve; wide or narrow shots of the environment and subjects, wide-angled or closer landscape shots?

Or do you need a close, intimate portrait of subjects on the beach?

Here are a few suggestions depending on what you need the lens for:

16-35mm

This lens is ideal if you’re looking to capture more of the landscape and beach.

Still, it works for wide-angled portrait shots which allows you to capture more of your subject’s surroundings.

Be mindful of distortions; keep your subjects at a fair distance but careful not to lose them. You risk losing your subject when closer to the end of this focal length.

50-100mm

The focal length of 50mm to 75mm is ideal for both portraiture and landscape photography, with only a few modifications.

For example, the lower end of this focal range (50mm to 75mm) is perfect for portrait photos while capturing a few beach settings.

The semi-telephoto appearance is obtained at 85 mm to 100 mm.

100mm+

This long focal length is intimate and deliberate, ideal for beach portrait shots even though you won’t capture much of the surroundings.

It eliminates distortions, and you focus on the subject. For instance, you can highlight a single aspect of a scene in landscapes.

Lens type

There are two types of lenses for perfect beach photography, prime or zoom.

Prime lenses are specifically designed for certain types of beach photography, either landscape or portrait.

So, pick one that suits your needs while buying or renting.

In comparison, zoom lenses allow you to change your focal length without switching your position but at a higher cost.

Let’s discuss the major differences between Primes and Zooms below:

Speed

Primes are faster with a larger aperture, allowing more light and giving out more bokeh or soft blur to your background.

It’s perfect for shooting night beach photos with a soft, blurriness background.

Since Primes are not versatile, you’ll have to perchance several lenses making them more costly than Zooms.

Conversely, zooms are slower but versatile.

Zoom lenses have a narrow aperture, limiting the amount of light that goes through the lens, meaning you won’t achieve that soft blur background as in primes.

However, the ability to zoom in and out without moving compensates for that aspect.

Sharpness

Primes lenses are sharper since they have a single focal length with less glass for light to pass through.

At the same time, zooms have multiple focal lengths in one lens, limiting the image’s sharpness, especially when you zoom in and out. 

Moving parts

Zooms have a large moving outer barrel that allows you to zoom in and out, physically moving the parts.

This is a major concern for photographers, particularly when taking beach photos.

Sand is a nightmare when it comes to lenses.

On the flip side, prime lenses have an autofocus function which means you never turn a barrel—perfect for beach photography.

Tips for the best beach photos

Top camera lens for taking beach photos

Find a focal point

A focal point can be anything interesting like a chair, people, a set of footprints in the sand, or a monumental wave.

Position it carefully for a more dynamic photo, preferably on one side rather than the middle of the shot.

Explore the golden hours

This is the time shortly after sunrise and just before sunset when the sky is soft and redder.

The light is amazing with warm colors and shadows, creating an ideal focal point and shot.

A polarizing filter is important

This filter deepens colors and subdues glare from reflective surfaces. It’s ideal for mid-day beach photography to prevent overexposure and enhance blues.

Go wide

A wide-angled lens highlights objects in the foreground to appear bigger creating a sense of depth.

If your subject is tiny or at a distance, wide lenses can make it look prominent.

Shutter speed and exposures

Use a lengthy shutter speed to get a water-blurring effect since beaches feature plenty of moving water.

Because beaches are bright, use a neutral density filter to block light and create a well-exposed image and bracket exposure.  

Final Thoughts

Great photos make awesome memories, but capturing quality beach photos is a task. Know what you want, select the best lens per your needs, and adjust the settings.

Take advantage of the golden hours. With these tips and little adjustments, you can make beach photography fun and enjoy great photos after your vacation.