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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