When it comes to landscape photography, if you had an unlimited budget you could splurge on all sorts of fancy bells-and-whistles equipment to enhance your experience. But since most of us don’t have a money tree growing in our back yards, it helps to know which photography equipment is essential for a landscape photographer, and which is simply a nice to have.
So we’ve put together this handy guide to the basic gear you need to get started as a landscape photographer.
Okay, so this one is kind of obvious! You don’t need a fancy camera to take a fabulous landscape image. In fact, once you know the fundamentals of landscape composition, you can even use your mobile phone to capture a stunning sunrise or beautiful beachscape.
BUT… as with all genres of photography, the more control you have over your camera and settings, the more scope you have to be creative and the better the end result. So if you’re serious about landscape photography, a camera with full manual mode is the best option.
Related: Which Digital Camera Should I Buy
You don’t want to be lugging your entire lens collection from one location to the next, so versatility is key. If you only have the camera bag space or budget for one lens, a good quality wide angle zoom lens is a great choice for landscape photography. It will allow you to get those sweeping wide angle shots, while also offering the capability to zoom in on the smaller details of the scene in front of you.
Models vary between camera brands, but most offer a 24-70mm in either f4 or f2.8 which ticks all the boxes. An f2.8 will be the more expensive version, but if you only intend to use it for landscape photography, f4 will meet your needs.
If you want to explore astro photography, ideally you’ll also want to have a super wide angle lens such as a 12mm or 16mm. However, 24mm will also do the job.
Related: What Lens Should I Use?
If you’re looking for instant gratification, landscape photography probably isn’t the genre for you. It’s definitely one where patience is required!
And for this reason, a sturdy tripod is definitely high on your gear list. Not only is a tripod fab for avoding camera shake when using long exposures, it is also handy for capturing consistent compositions and ensuring your horizon lines are tack straight.
When choosing a tripod, these are the most important things to consider.
You will be trusting it to support your expensive camera equipment so it needs to be sturdy enough to stand up to the task! Good tripods will state how much they hold, and if it doesn’t say, avoid. Aim for an absolute minimum of your camera and heaviest lens combined.
The weight of the tripod itself is also important. On the one hand it needs to be light as you will likely be carrying it around with you from location to location. But it also needs to be strong so that it doesn’t topple over with your expensive gear on it! So the best materials to look for are carbon alloy and aluminum.
Carbon alloy is the best, aluminum is a cheaper but quality alternative.
A good sturdy tripod generally will have a removeable centre pole which adds extra sturdiness.
Finally, check the maximum and minimum height of your tripod.
You need to be able to set it up at a height that is comfortable for you to work at for extended periods of time.
You might also need to adjust the height significantly higher or lower than your standing height depending on what you’re capturing or how you want to compose it. So check how high it can be extended, and that the centre pole can be removed which allows you to lower it further.
The head is where you attach your camera and your options are ball head or pan & tilt.
Ball heads tend to be easier to manouver your camera angles and can more easily track a subject if needed.
Pan & tilt heads can be a little fiddly to adjust, but are more accurate in getting your camera straight. Once you get used to your specific pan & tilt head, you will become faster at adjusting it.
So we’ve already mentioned that your mobile phone can double as a landscape camera in a pinch. But in fact, your phone is actually one of the most versatile pieces of gear in your camera bag. There are a number of ways you can use it when planning and executing your landscape shoot:
Now that you have all your gear lined up, of course you’re going to need something to carry it all around in!
So, of course you need a sturdy camera bag with plenty of space for all your bits and pieces. When choosing a camera bag, bear in mind that you may be carrying it for long distances between locations. For that reason, a backpack is the best choice as it’s both comfortable and can fit a reasonable amount of gear.
Look for one with:
We Recommend: We love the Tog Loot backpacks
When you’re out shooting landscape photography, you’re likely to be carrying your gear around from location to location. So less is definitely more when it comes to packing your camera bag. But there are a few essentials you need to make space for:
If you loved these tips and want more, check out our photography workshop – Landscape & Night Sky Photography.
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