What Camera do I need for Landscape Photography?

Check out any of the many social media or photography websites, and it won’t take long for you to realize that the landscape category is by far the most popular, perhaps because of how accessible it is. Contrary to popular belief, today almost any point-and-shoot camera or smartphone will allow you to take exceptional landscape photos.

However, these cameras lack the versatility and features you’ll need to improve as a landscape photographer. That is why most of the enthusiast and professional photographers opt for cameras with a SLR or Mirrorless system.

But what is the best camera for landscape photography? Unfortunately there is no simple answer to this question. Each camera is a compromise between positives and negatives, and it falls to each one to weigh those pros and cons to arrive at the best possible decision.

In this article, we’ll go over the features and functionality that make a camera ideal for landscape photography, which specs are the most important to consider, which ones you can do without, and what mistakes to avoid before deciding.

Brand.

I sincerely believe that all brands offer great products, even so, my first piece of advice would be to carefully study which brand you are going to marry. And yes, I say marry because photographic equipment is a great investment, which you acquire over time. As you grow as a photographer, so do your needs.

Once you buy your first camera, you will generally be tied to that brand, since all future purchases you make will be for that specific camera and brand.

Selling your photographic equipment to start with another brand is usually a difficult and very expensive process. The reasons can be several, but generally it is because the brand does not offer what you need or because the competition has products that better fit your needs. That is why you should study carefully what each one offers, if they cover your present and future needs, and especially if they are a safe bet in the long term.

Full Frame Vs APS-C

There is and has been for a long time an ongoing debate on this issue. As a general rule, a larger sensor will have a higher dynamic range and higher ISO performance, especially in low light conditions.

While it is true that in some respects APS-C sensors are increasingly offering similar quality to full frame cameras, it is also true that full frame cameras are becoming more competitive on price, evening the scales.

If your budget allows it, I personally recommend a full frame camera, since the advantages it offers over APS-C cameras make them more suitable for landscape photography.

Competition is fierce, and manufacturers strive to constantly bring new products to market. Often times, today’s camera doesn’t offer much more performance than the model it replaces. If the budget is a factor to take into account, I advise you to buy a camera of a previous generation. On many occasions it will offer you more or less the same thing at a lower price.

Lenses.

A very important consideration before deciding on a specific camera, are the objectives that you will use with it, especially those mentioned in this article: “the 3 essential objectives for landscape photography”.

The quality of the lenses often has more of an impact on the quality of the final photo than the camera body itself. Make sure that the brand of the camera that you are going to buy also has the objectives that you will need and that these fit with your budget.

Reflex Vs Mirrorless.

Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, but this topic is for a separate complete article. Without going into too many details and with the current market situation, I personally recommend a Mirrorless system. Not because they are necessarily better, but because it is the system that brands are betting on and investing more in, making this system a much safer investment in the medium and long term.

Megapixeles.

Another of the great debates in the world of photography, and that can create confusion. There is a lot of information on this topic, but I think there is also a lot of misinformation, which can lead to misconceptions.

Yes, a camera with many megapixels will have a higher definition and dynamic range, so the details will be exquisite and it will have an advantage in scenes with a lot of contrast. But also by having more megapixels packed into a sensor of the same size, these pixels are smaller, so they perform worse in low light and high ISO conditions. Also, if you want to take full advantage of that higher resolution, you’ll have to pair your camera with lenses with more refined optics, and therefore much more expensive.

The question you have to ask yourself is, what use are you going to give to your photos?

If you are going to print your photos with an A3+ size (32x48cm), display them on your website or upload them to social networks, 24 megapixels are more than enough, and it is also considered today as an ideal point. You won’t notice the difference between 24 and 40 megapixels unless you zoom in to 100% in Lightroom and check every single pixel.

Where you will notice the increase in megapixels is if you are going to print your photos in much larger formats such as A1 (60x84cm) or A0 (84x119cm), if you are going to crop the images a lot in post-processing (which is not necessary if you compose well), or you dedicate yourself professionally to photography and you are going to cover the investment with your work.

Also keep in mind that this higher number of megapixels affects other areas. For example, the files will weigh much more, so memory cards and hard drives must have greater capacity. The computer you use should also be more powerful when handling larger files. Lightroom and Photoshop can suffer a lot, so the experience can be frustrating if you don’t have a powerful computer.

Dynamic Range.

One of the most important qualities in a camera is its dynamic range, but it is an aspect that is not usually paid as much attention.

The dynamic range is the range of tones that your camera’s sensor is capable of capturing, from the lightest tone (white) to the darkest (black). Dynamic range is measured in EV steps, and the higher the number, the more dynamic range you will capture.

When shooting, this means your camera is able to pick up more shadows and highlights, which is very important in landscape photography, especially when the scene is high in contrast. If you go outside the dynamic range, the image will be pure black or white, with the consequent loss of information.

Iso.

The ISO allows you to adjust the sensitivity of the sensor to light. As you increase the ISO value, you also increase the exposure, but as a consequence you add digital noise to the image, losing sharpness and quality. That is why, as a general rule, in landscape photography you will always photograph with the base ISO value, that is, the lowest that the camera allows.

For general use, your camera should not shine in this section. But if your priority is night photography, northern lights or the milky way, you will benefit greatly if your camera performs well at high ISO values.

Autofocus.

Generally, in landscape photography you will have more than enough time to compose and focus the scene calmly. As long as your camera has a reliable and consistent autofocus is more than enough, it is not worth investing in a camera with ultra-fast autofocus.

FPS.

They are the initials for frames per second, and it is the capacity of your camera to capture in bursts. In other words, if your camera has 8 FPS, it means that it can capture 8 consecutive images per second (until the buffer is full). It is a feature that does not work in landscape photography in the vast majority of cases, so nothing happens if your camera has low FPS.

Weather Resistance.

Harsh weather conditions keep most people indoors, but for landscape photographers these are unique moments to capture incredible images. It is worth investing in this section and that your camera is built with durable materials and is suitable to withstand the elements. Each manufacturer names it in a way and it can be confusing; “weather sealed”, “dust and moisture resistant”, etc. Check the manufacturer’s data sheet and what it guarantees exactly.

Articulated screen.

The articulating screen is one of those features that you can’t live without once you try it. Achieving a good composition often involves positioning your camera at unusual angles. An articulating screen will allow you to compose the scene with ease and much more flexibility.

Ergonomics.

Manufacturers spend a lot of time and effort designing cameras that are ergonomically suitable, but how it fits in your hand is up to the individual. As with clothing, you should try it on first to see if it fits you. The same thing happens with cameras; Does it fit well in your hands? Can you hold it firmly? Is the button layout adequate? How about the weight and volume? These are important questions and that you can only answer once you have tried it, so go to the nearest store and see for yourself.

RAW Format.

The RAW format is an image file that contains all the data captured by the sensor. This format collects all the information without loss, so it offers a lot of flexibility and quality when it comes to post-processing the image.

All modern cameras record in RAW format, just make sure your camera has it, you know it’s there, and always shoot in this format.

Sensations.

So far we have gone over all the technical details, specifications and features that make a camera ideal for landscape photography. But there’s one more feature that’s often overlooked: How does your camera make you feel?

At first glance, it may seem like a ridiculous question, since the camera is simply a tool that allows you to take photos, but in my opinion, a good camera is much more than that. The best camera for you is a camera that makes you feel amazing, a camera that makes you want to take a picture every time you see it!

Find a camera you’re passionate about, and you won’t want to leave home without it!

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Compatible on all devices (Windows, Android, iOS), and the free Lightoom Mobile app, Lightroom Classic and ACR.

What Camera do I need for Landscape Photography?

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The 3 Essential Lenses for Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is a genre that spans a multitude of different styles, from up close and intimate images to sweeping panoramas. In order to cover all your needs, you must have the right equipment.

Lenses are possibly the most important piece of equipment to consider, perhaps even more so than the camera itself. You will change the camera from time to time, good objectives are forever.

Much of the cost of photographic equipment will go towards lenses, so choose carefully before deciding which one to buy. There is a huge offering on the market and it is easy to get lost with so many specifications and terminology, especially if you are just starting out.

In this article we will analyze the 3 objectives that you will need as a landscape photographer and will give you the necessary advice to decide and invest your money wisely.

Prime vs Zoom.

Fixed focal lenses for landscape photography are highly impractical. By not having a zoom, they will greatly limit the composition. You should have many, many prime lenses to meet your needs, and you usually don’t even need the advantages that prime lenses offer. The large diaphragm opening and the greater definition that they usually offer do not counteract their impracticality.

A mistake that is made with this type of lens is to think that you can zoom simply by changing your position, and this in landscape photography is completely wrong. If you zoom in or out of your subject, you are completely changing the perspective of the scene, while if you zoom in, you are cutting the field of view by changing the focal length.

In addition, many times it is impossible to physically approach or move away from the subject for the simple reason that the terrain where you are prevents you from doing so.

Diaphragm Aperture

There are some exceptions, but generally in landscape photography you will use an aperture of F8 to F11 to have a greater depth of field, and it is also in this aperture range that the subjects are sharpest.

If we do not take into account astrophotography and the northern lights, this means that the 3 essential lenses you need for landscape photography should not be bright, which will save you a lot of money, weight and volume.

To give you an idea, a lens with a constant aperture of F2.8 on average usually weighs and measures 35% more, and costs twice as much as one with an F4.0 aperture. It makes no sense to invest that money and carry the extra weight and volume if you are not going to take advantage of it.

Image Stabilizer

Personally I prefer lenses to have an image stabilizer. However, most modern cameras already incorporate the stabilizer in the body, and some brands even allow both stabilizers to work together.

In the vast majority of cases you will photograph with a tripod, but there are cases in which the stabilizer will come in handy, so I recommend having it on at least one of the two (lens or camera). It will be very useful if you have to shoot handheld and even if it is mounted on the tripod and there is a lot of wind, especially when using a telephoto lens.

Weather Resistance.

Shooting landscapes means that you will spend most of your time outdoors, under all kinds of weather conditions. To avoid possible damage, make sure your lens is sealed with gaskets on its moving parts, and is constructed of durable materials.

Autofocus.

Although landscape photography is a rather slow genre, investing in autofocus lenses is worth it. There are just times when focusing manually can be tedious, for example when shooting handheld.

The landscapes have hardly any movement, so you don’t need the latest technology in focus systems. A consistent and precise autofocus will be more than enough.

Focal Distance.

I’m going to be talking in full format terms, so if you’re using an APS-C or Micro 4/3 system you’ll need to take into account the crop factor of your system:

SONY/NIKON APS-C: 1.5

CANON APS-C: 1.6

MICRO 4/3: 2

Wide Angle | Ultra Wide Angle.

It is the most popular lens for landscape photography and it is for less. The reason they are so revered is because of their focal range, which ranges from 12mm to 35mm. This wide range of vision allows you to capture images with a perspective that the human eye is not used to seeing, resulting in unusual and impressive images. That is why they are considered an essential lens for any landscape photographer.

Also, wide lenses are excellent at conveying depth, which means you’ll get consistently sharp images, from foreground to background, something we almost always look for in landscape photography.

The big question when purchasing this lens is to decide on a wide angle or an ultra wide angle. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

Depending on your brand, you will normally find the following options:

ULTRA WIDE ANGLE: 11-24mm, 14-24mm or the most common 14-24mm.

WIDE ANGLE: 15-30mm, 17-40mm, the most common being 16-35mm.

In the wide-angle lens you can attach filters, even screw-in ones that minimize camera movement when placing them. They are also more versatile as they have a longer focal range, allowing you more flexibility when composing.

The big advantage of the ultra wide angle is those extra 2mm in its shortest focal range. It may not seem like much, but those extra millimeters make a big difference in the real world. On the other hand, these objectives have a convex front element, so filters cannot be easily adapted. There are specific filter holder systems for these objectives, but they are large, heavy and very expensive, so I do not recommend them. Also its shorter focal range makes it less versatile and you will have to swap lenses more often.

Standard Zoom.

As the name indicates, this zoom is considered the standard lens in the photographic world. Ranging from 24 to 70mm, it is possibly the most versatile lens of all. It provides a field of view similar to the human eye, and as such, can create more realistic and pleasing images.

At 24mm it’s wide enough to get glorious views with a more natural composition, and at 70mm you’re entering short telephoto territory, giving you enough focal length to play with composition and focus more on detail.

Luckily it’s easier to choose in the range of standard zoom lenses. Here the big debate is between choosing a 24-70mm or a 24-105mm. The 24-70mm is usually available with a constant F2.8 aperture, but as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it’s not a necessity for landscape photography. Another advantage is usually a greater definition by having a smaller focal range, but this varies depending on the objective and brand.

The main advantage of the 24-105mm is obviously that extra 35mm of focal range, which makes it an even more versatile lens.

Telephoto | Super-Telephoto.

These lenses are generally more associated with wildlife photography, although they definitely have a place in landscape photography as well, and can enhance your photography by seeing the world in a different way. Its long focal range allows you to dissect and isolate details of the landscape such as lines, patterns, textures or silhouettes, giving rise to more abstract images, adding variety to your portfolio. They are also an excellent option for excluding much of the landscape when the light is not good, or when the scene lacks interest in the foreground.

The typical range of a telephoto lens is usually between 70 and 200mm, and the super telephoto lens goes up to 300, 400 and even 600mm. Generally the 70-200mm range is sufficient, but some people prefer 70-300 or 100-400 to have even more range.

70-200mm lenses tend to have more definition than a 70-300mm or 100-400mm, although that always depends on the specific brand and lens. Also the 100-400mm tend to be much more expensive and heavier, although the offer on the market is always growing and there are excellent options at competitive prices.

Resume:

  • Fixed focal lenses are not practical for landscape photography.
  • Do not invest in bright lenses, a maximum aperture of F4 is sufficient.
  • Get lenses with a stabilizer if your camera doesn’t have one.
  • The construction and tightness of the lens are very important.
  • You don’t need ultra-fast focusing lenses.
  • Consider the crop factor if you are using an APS-C or Micro 4/3 camera.
  • If you opt for an ultra-wide angle lens, check first what filter system you can use, perhaps a wide angle is more convenient for you.
  • As for the combinations, any of these options will cover all your needs, so that the team is not the factor that sets your limits:

14-24mm + 24-70mm + 70-200mm. This combination is known in the photographic world as “the holy trinity”, and it is the most common combination. (A variant would be to change the telephoto lens for a 70-300mm).
16-35mm + 24-105mm + 100-400mm is also a very interesting alternative, if you opt for a longer standard zoom.

Conclusion:

Every photographer has their own style, which means the concept of the best lens for landscape photography will vary depending on your needs.

If you’re just starting out and you’re still unclear on your style, I advise you to practice with whatever camera and lens you have on hand. With time and practice, you will find that you start to gravitate more towards a certain style, and then you will know what your needs are.

I hope this article has been helpful to you, and it clears up your doubts about what each objective offers and what qualities, or not, you should look for in them. If you have any other questions, or you liked the article, do not hesitate to leave me a comment

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Compatible on all devices (Windows, Android, iOS), and the free Lightoom Mobile app, Lightroom Classic and ACR.

What Camera do I need for Landscape Photography?

Each camera is a world, and choosing the one that best suits you is not an easy task. Learn about all the features and functionality that make a camera ideal for landscape photography.


The 3 Essential Lenses for Landscape Photography

As a landscape photographer, lenses are possibly the most important items in your kit. Discover which are the 3 essentials, and what characteristics or not, you should look for to invest your money…


7 essential habits to improve as a landscape photographer

All successful photographers share certain habits in common. Adopt these 7 essential habits to boost your effectiveness and increase your chances of capturing memorable images.