Welcome to the forum
I can't help you with the lens manual, but regarding your second problem, it sounds like a simple case of there being too great a contrast range to capture in one photograph.
There are a number of ways around this problem. A common way is to use a gradient ND (neutral density) filter to balance the exposure (the dark part of the filter goes over the sky area to reduce brightness). Also you could take more than one exposure, exposing for each area in your scene (eg, one for land and one for sky), then combining them digitally on your computer (eg, using layer masks in Photoshop). Finally you could mitigate these difficulties by choosing carefully where you photograph. Photographing into the light will be the most problematic, whereas photographing with, for example, the sun behind you, will give you the best conditions for achieving a workable balance between the brightness of the land and the sky.