What camera equipment do I use for landscape photography?

Welcome to the new blog section of my website. I'm by no means a professional, but I've been photographing since 2006 and I've learnt a few things along the way and I want to share all that with you.

I'm still fine tuning the coding and design for the website (I'm a website designer/developer by trade) so I'll just start off with a quick post about what I use to take my photos.

I've been asked a lot what camera equipment I use. The body is always the same, the lenses and other gear totally depends on the situation. Also complicating the fact is that I've recently switched to a new camera setup so most of my old lenses had to make way for new. But here's my general setup currently and in the past.

Full frame landscape photography equipment

Full frame referring to the size of the sensor in the camera, most consumer level cameras have APS-C sized sensors and whilst the higher end stuff will be “full frame”. You can use most lenses on either format camera, but the focal length of the lens won't be the same due to “crop factor”. I won't go into too much detail about that as I'll leave that for another time.

Camera - Canon 5D MK III

Only a few months old, I purchased this baby almost as soon as it was available, it's 22.3 megapixel beast that retails for between $3500-$4000 at time of writing. I always use a cable release to take the picture to eliminate camera shake i.e. when you press the shutter button on your camera you're actually shaking the camera. 

Lenses - Tokina 17mm f/3.5 RMC, Sigma 24mm Super Wide II f/2.8

I mainly use two fully manual lenses (no auto focus or on-camera aperture control) that I bought off second hand for a steal. These are from the film era and are constructed from metal land built to last.

The first is a “ultra wide angle” Tokina 17mm f/3.5 RMC which I got for $250. Super sharp across the frame and has a nice focusing action. I  use this for most of my landscape photos.

The second is  a more standard wide angle, a Sigma 24mm Super Wide II f/2.8. It has less edge/corner distortion than the 17mm Tokina towards the edges as is characteristic of ultra wide angles, so I generally use this when shooting multiple exposure panoramas.

Filters – Hard edge and soft edge neutral density

I use Hi-Tech 100x150mm hard and soft edge ND filters on a Lee filter holder. I find these essential for sunrise/sunset photos to balance out the brightness between land and sky. I also use normal ND filters to increase exposure times on my seascape photos.

Tripod – Manfrotto 055 Pro B legs with Manrotto 488RC4 ball head

I bought the legs and head six years old when I bought my first digital SLR, I haven't found any need to replace them as they are of superb construction and have never skipped a beat despite the conditions they've been through  - salt water, sand, mud, dirt, rivers etc. A good quality, sturdy tripod is a must have. Any tripod is better than no tripod as they say, but a quality tripod ($300 plus) beats a cheap one any day of the week. You wouldn't want to trust thousands of dollars of equipment on a $50 tripod would you?

Backpack – Vangaurd Biin 45 sling back pack

I can shove a fair amount of equipment into this little thing, usually 2 or 3 small lenses (one attached to the body) and filters, wallet, keys, phone, all of which is easily accessible without ever having to take the back pack off.

APS-C / Crop sensor setup

I used a Canon 30D for many years before upgrading to a full frame. I squeezed out every inch of capability from this thing until the shutter release button started playing up. For landscape photography I used a 12-24mm Tokina F/4 lens which was made for crop sensor cameras specificlaly. It was built like a brick and very sharp, but I couldn't use it on my full frame 5D MK III so I sold it. 

Conclusions

Whilst not everyone will be able to afford a full frame camera or all the best equipment, the most important things for me when taking landscapes is to have a quality ultra-wide or wide angle lens along with  a strong sturdy tripod. A $5 cable release off eBay also is a good buy.