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 excellent 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
$1,246.95 $999.00

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

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03/23/2023 03:18 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 I put it on the best lens for surfing photography list is its incredible versatility.

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

I also like the excellent 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:

It is superb, and the lens produces sharp pictures across all focal lengths and aperture ranges. It also does a rock-solid job of 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 higher cost, so it is acceptable. Furthermore, the low-light performance is excellent, 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

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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03/23/2023 08:17 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 has a fast f/2.8 aperture that provides solid low-light performance. The key reasons it made the best surf photography lens list relate to the design.

Sony designed a surprisingly lightweight lens with the highest design quality in terms of materials used in the manufacture. Moreover, the lens is weather-sealed and 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 a lens that wide every day that can bring 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 an 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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03/23/2023 03:53 pm 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 has a wide aperture to cover low-light situations. The extraordinary focal length is the key reason I have decided to include it as the best lens for surfing photography.

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 example is sufficient to cover most of the landscape and surf photography needs. The general image quality is outstanding, with crisp details at all focal lengths and excellent 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 an actual “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
$2,413.64 $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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03/23/2023 01:30 am GMT

The second Sony has 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 matches fast primes of the highest quality, and the edge is present throughout the 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 the excellent color transmission, superb rendering, and deep blacks in contrast areas.


I noticed chromatic aberrations 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 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 pretty heavy. The only drawbacks are a small zooming ring, and a tripod mount that I wish was more significant.


  • 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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03/23/2023 01:16 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 the tripod collars.

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

I tested it and 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 pretty fast. Although the tracking autofocus is quite loud, the design is responsive and accurate, and if you are around waves, you probably won’t notice the noise.


The lens is a close-focusing one, allowing 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 excellent contrast and a natural palette. Design-wise, the lens is heavy but 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 precious optical pieces that suit your style. No matter what brand or manufacturer your preference is, your portfolio will improve if you choose any of the lenses from the list.

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

Discover the Best Lenses for Surf Photography in 2023 [Exclusive] 📸
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Discover the Best Lenses for Surf Photography in 2023 [Exclusive] 📸
Get ready for the waves with the top 5 surf photography lenses for 2023. Discover expert picks for stunning shots today!
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