Have your thoughts ever wandered onto the idea of buying the best lens for surf photography?

If you love marine life, waves, or summer, the chances are that they have.

Surf photography is an awesome niche since it is full of joy and positive vibrations that summertime brings.

It is also one of the most popular types of photography, and it will continue to be so in the future. Because of all this, photographers need to purchase high-end optics.

image for surf photography lenses guide

Unfortunately, the internet doesn’t come as too helpful in providing useful buying guides, and many camera people are left to roam the market all alone.

Since I like sea & surf photography, I have decided to make a comprehensive guide that has the aim of helping fellow photographers in improving their gear.

Best Wide-Angle
Nikon 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E Lens

Is superb, and the lens produces sharp pictures across all focal lengths and aperture ranges.

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11/28/2022 09:52 am GMT

Nikon 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5 has an optical construction of 15 elements in 13 groups, with seven rounded diaphragm blades. The angle of view is 180 degrees, and the closest focus distance sits at 0,5 inches, with a maximum magnification of 0,34x.

It doesn’t have optical image stabilization, but it is weather-sealed and has a protective fluorine coat, which makes it a perfect candidate for challenging weather conditions. The key reason why I put it on the best lens for surfing photography list is the incredible versatility.

The lens offers an ultra-wide performance at 15mm, and it becomes a fish-eye lens at the fullest at 8mm. Although it is a costly one, for the price of one, you are getting two lenses.

I also like the awesome hood design, because it allows one to move the hood at 8mm, and it doesn’t block the fish-eye effect, but at other times, it offers protection from unwanted light. Another vital point is the compact design. It is a very light lens that can easily be transported in any camera bag. If you are looking for the best lens for surf photography from the beach, then Nikon is the lens for you.

The overall image quality:

Is superb, and the lens produces sharp pictures across all focal lengths and aperture ranges. It also does a rock-solid job in preventing distortion and chromatic aberration issues. I like using the manual focus since it allows me to lock on the subject, and it doesn’t focus-hunt at all. The only drawback I have found is a variable aperture, but a constant one would come at a much bigger cost, so it is acceptable. Furthermore, the low light performance is great, even without OIS, so I would call it a good compromise.


  • Versatile focal length
  • Fast focus,
  • Compact design
  • Weather-sealed


  • Lack of OIS
  • Variable aperture

Best Wide-angle
Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 Lens
$2,198.00 $1,998.00

The Sony lens has a solid build and a top-notch quality, smooth bokeh and a high resolution images while also being weather sealed.

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11/29/2022 03:41 am GMT

Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 offers an optical design of 16 elements in 13 groups, with 11 rounded diaphragm blades. The angle of view is 107°–63°, with a minimum focus distance of 0,92 feet, and a maximum magnification ratio of 0,19x.

This Sony doesn’t come with optical image stabilization, but it does have a fast f/2.8 aperture that fulfills the task of providing solid low-light performance. The key reasons why it made the best surf photography lens list relate to the design.

Sony designed a surprisingly lightweight lens that has the highest design quality in terms of materials used in the manufacture. Moreover, the lens is weather-sealed, so it can take on different weather conditions. In terms of optical performance, and picture quality, the lens deserves solid praise. It delivers tack-sharp images at all times, all while managing distortion and chromatic aberrations quite well.

I was also genuinely surprised:

by the quality of images taken at f/2.8 and 16mm of a focal length since I don’t see every day a lens that wide that can take in that amount of light. I was also impressed by the color transmission and the depth of contrast. On the plus side it is worth mentioning the presence of 82mm filter thread (although there are traces of vignetting once you use the filter), and the ability to pair on E-mount mirrorless cameras.


  • Versatile focal length
  • Weather-Sealed
  • Compact
  • 82 filter thread


  • Lack of OIS

Best Wide-Angle
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L Lens

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L is a high-performance ultra-wide-angle zoom lens with an f/2.8 aperture throughout the whole zoom range

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11/29/2022 11:18 am GMT

Canon 16–35mm f/2.8 has an optical design of 16 elements in 11 groups, with nine rounded diaphragm blades. The angle of view is 108° 10′ to 63°, with a minimum focus distance of 11,02 inches, and a maximum magnification of 0,22x.

Although it lacks optical image stabilization, it is equipped with a wide aperture to cover low light situations. The key reason why I have decided to include it on the best lens for surfing photography list is the extraordinary focal length.

Compared to 11-24mm, or 24-70mm, one can avoid the complexity of size, lack of filter support, and distortion that occurs in the foreground. The focal length of the given example is more than sufficient to cover most of the landscape and surf photography needs. The general image quality is outstanding, with crispy details at all focal lengths, and great sharpness at the maximum opening.

Edges don’t creep, and the vignetting levels are negligible. I didn’t have issues with chromatic aberration, and I also like the color rendering this Canon provides, along with deep blacks.

The aperture is phenomenal under low light, as is the focus system, with its responsiveness in accuracy and the total lack of jamming and hunt issues. From a design point of view, it is a true “L” grade lens, with a fine manufacturing finish and robust design.


  • Versatility
  • Fast aperture
  • Solid focus
  • Great design


  • Lack of OIS

Best Telephoto
Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 Lens
$2,465.98 $1,998.00

Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 an telephoto lens that produces incredibly sharp images and the bokeh effect is beautiful while offering many other cool features.

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11/29/2022 03:36 am GMT

The second Sony here comes with an optical design of 23 elements in 18 groups, with 11 rounded diaphragm blades. The angle of view is 34° to 12° 30′, with a minimum focus distance of 3,15 feet, and a maximum magnification of 0,25x. Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 also has optical image stabilization and a removable & rotating tripod collar. Furthermore, it is dust and moisture-resistant and safe to bring in challenging environments.

I included it on the best surf photography lenses list due to its impeccable sharpness that can match fast primes of the highest quality, and the sharpness is present throughout the whole focus range. Moreover, it produces a fantastic bokeh effect, with circular and defocused backgrounds and crispy subjects. The general image quality is astonishingly beautiful, with an excellent color transmission, great rendering, and deep blacks in contrast areas.


I did notice chromatic aberrations that are visible at high contrast scenes, and the flare issues do occur when facing harsh sunlight. On the other hand, I am content with the autofocus system since it doesn’t focus-hunt, and it is a couple of times faster compared to price range competitors.

Design-wise, it is a solid and robust lens with an impeccable finish, although it is quite heavy. The only drawbacks in that regard are a small zooming ring and a tripod mount that I wish was bigger.


  • Fast aperture
  • Excellent focus
  • Robust design
  • Bokeh


  • Heavy
  • Chromatic aberrations

Best All-in-one
Nikon 80-400mm f.4.5-5.6G Lens
$2,299.95 $2,096.95

This is a fast lens from a Nikon company with an excellent optics, superb image stabilization and one of the best autofocus in the market.

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11/29/2022 02:22 am GMT

Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 sports an optical design of 20 elements in 12 groups, with nine rounded diaphragm blades, and an angle of view of 30° 10′ to 6° 10′, with a minimum focus distance of 5,74 feet, and a maximum magnification of 0,2x. It also has optical image stabilization, together with removing & rotating tripod collar.

The main factor that influenced me to put it on the best lens for surf photography from the beach is a phenomenal overall sharpness, even at the maximum opening.

I tested it stepped down a few notches, and the results were, naturally better, but even at an f/4.5 it still produces razor-sharp and crispy images. The focusing system is another selling point since it is quite fast. Although the tracking autofocus is quite loud, the system is responsive and accurate, and if you are around waves, you probably won’t notice the noise.


the lens is a close-focusing one, so it allows one to capture close objects. I am also content with vibration reduction (OIS) because it has enabled me to capture moving objects, without motion blur and hold the scene in place. Color rendering is solid, with nice contrast and a natural palette. Design-wise, the lens is heavy, but it is robust and feels good in the hands.


  • Versatile focal length
  • OIS
  • Fast focus
  • Robust design


  • Price
  • Heavy


As the article outlines, purchasing the surf photography lens requires a certain level of know-how-to and patience in exploring the market options.

Although there is a whole array of choices, it is possible to pinpoint the most highly valuable optical pieces that suit your style. No matter what brand or manufacturer is your preference, if you choose any of the lenses from the list, your portfolio will improve in no time.

Now that you have learned something new from this article, it’s time to choose a lens that will help you become a better photographer. If you’re still confused about which lens is best for you, we suggest that you test this one.

Check out our other articles, especially the best lenses for bird photography and best lenses for night sky photography, for great tips on how to get better at taking pictures.

Disclaimer: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

These Are 5 Best Lenses For Surf Photography in 2022
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These Are 5 Best Lenses For Surf Photography in 2022
Are you trying to find the best lenses for surf photography? Discover the 5 best surf photography lenses for better images in this article.
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