If you want to get out into the countryside and take creative landscape images, you’ll need to set yourself up with a decent camera and all the right accessories. We list the best kit for landscape photography.
First and foremost, a sturdy yet preferably lightweight tripod is essential – without one you won’t be able to shoot at slower shutter speeds.
A set of filters is also a good idea. Polarising filters can be used to increase the vibrancy of natural greens and blue skies. With ND grads, only half of the filter is treated to reduce the amount of light entering the camera. This allows the darker area to be positioned over brighter areas – such as the setting sun or illuminated clouds – to preserve highlight detail. Regular grads, meanwhile, can be used to help attain slower shutter speeds or higher aperture settings, or a combination of the two.
Here we’ve hand-picked some essential accessories along with a selection of DSLRs that are ideal for shooting landscapes with.
Lee Filters Big/Little Stopper
The terms ‘Big’ and ‘Little’ don’t refer to the physical size of these filters; instead, the terms refer to their respective light-blocking power, with the Big Stopper providing 10 stops and the Little Stopper providing six stops. Both filters are of the square variety and available in two sizes: a smaller 75mm filter designed for Lee’s CSC-friendly Seven5 format, and a 100mm designed for Lee’s DSLR-orientated 100mm system.
Each filter is constructed from high-quality glass and comes in a padded metal tin for safe storage. They allow you to experiment with long exposures – using the Big Stopper, say, you can extend a regular 1/60sec exposure up to 15 seconds: ideal for capturing motion in water or some movement in clouds on a windy day.
Lee even supplies a handy reference card that provides a range of shutter-speed conversion times, saving you the trouble of doing the maths yourself.
Manfrotto MT190CXPRO4 tripod
The MT190CXPRO3 is a four-section carbon fibre tripod that is light in weight yet stiff and stable. Capable of bearing up to 7kg of weight, each leg section is held in place via Manfrotto’s patented Quick Power lever-locks.
These provide plenty for your fingers to get hold of, making them easy to adjust. Once locked shut, the legs remain firmly in place with no creep or give even when the tripod is placed under load. Each leg can be set to one of four angles – 25°, 46°, 66° and 88° – with a reassuring click audible as the spring-loaded locking mechanism passes through each of the settings. Each leg is capped off with a durable rubber gripper.
Overall, the MT190CXPRO4 combines excellent build quality and flexibility at a competitive price. Closing down to just 52cm and weighing in at just 1.6kg, the MT190CXPRO4 is also well suited to long days trekking through the hills.
Lowepro Photo Sport BP 300 AW II
The Lowepro Photo Sport BP 300 AW II is a relatively new all-weather rucksack designed for photographers looking to get active outdoors.
The pack is essentially split into two, with a space at the top that you can use to store general items such as food and spare clothes, and a compartmentalised bottom space designed to accommodate one professional-size DSLR and a spare lens.
In addition the bag can also hold a two-litre hydration system although this is not supplied with it. The padded shoulder straps are fully adjustable and complemented by a padded waist belt and sternum strap. The belt also hosts small, easy-access pockets for keys and suchlike.
The bag itself is fashioned from lightweight N100 nylon with UTS coating to provide an initial barrier of weather protection. For extra protection in really wet conditions you can also deploy the built-in All Weather AW Cover.
Lee 100mm System Foundation Kit
If you want to take great landscape images, then a decent set of ND and/or ND grad filters is a must-have accessory. Lee is a hugely respected filter manufacturer that is trusted by numerous landscape professionals, including the likes of Joe Cornish and David Noton.
The Foundation Kit contains Lee’s bespoke 100mm filter holder and comes pre-assembled to hold two 100mm-wide filters. An extra set of guides are supplied, enabling you to expand its total capacity to three filters. You’ll need to buy an adapter ring to fit the filter holder to your lens (£20-40), along with the individual filters to go in it which vary in price.
Lee also offers a range of filter packs that will save you a bit of money, the pick of which is probably the ND Grad Set (£200). This contains three ND Grad filters in 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 strengths, with a choice of hard or soft gradation options.
The Photographer’s Ephemeris app
The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) is an innovative app that can be used to help you plan landscape shots by providing you with detailed information about where the sun (and the moon) will be in any given location at any given time, thereby giving you a good indication of how the landscape will be illuminated.
Given that the TPE can be used to predict where the sun and moon will be in the future, you can use it days, weeks or even months ahead of a planned trip to give you an indication of where the sun will be.
Just be warned that it’s not the easiest app to initially get your head around and does require some learning – thankfully there are plenty of tutorials to be found online, with YouTube providing plenty of useful video help for new users.
The app is currently available for Android, iOS and Windows/Apple desktop computers.
Price: £1,390 body only
Sensor: 24.3MP full-frame (35.9 x 24mm) CMOS
Max resolution: 6016 x 4016 pixels
Sensitivity: ISO 100-12,800 (exp. to 51,200)
Dimensions: 140.5 x 113 x 78mm
Weight: 840g with battery and card
The D750 combines an advanced feature set with extensive customisation to produce a fantastic all-round camera that’s ideally suited to landscape photography.
It has a 24.3MP full-frame sensor and Nikon’s EXPEED 4 image processor, and a particularly useful feature for landscape photographers is the D750’s highlight-protection metering, which can be used to ensure that highlight detail is retained during the metering process.
The D750 is solidly built and while it is not fully waterproofed it does benefit from the same weatherproofing as the D810, so it should be able to cope with a bit of inclement weather.
Sony A7R II
Price: £2,600 body only
Sensor: 42.4MP Exmor R back-illuminated CMOS
Max resolution: 7592 x 5304 pixels
Sensitivity: ISO 100-25,600 (exp. to 50-102,400)
Dimensions: 126.9 x 95.7 x 60.3mm
Weight: 625g with battery and card
Sony’s full-frame SLT model can resolve exceptional detail, making it ideal for creative landscape photography. The A7R II’s sensor is back-illuminated, meaning more light can reach the sensor. While individual images are massive when shooting at full resolution, the BIONZ X processor keeps processing times speedy, and you can choose to shoot at lower resolutions. You could also consider its predecessor, the A7R (£999 body only).
This has a 36.2MP full-frame sensor though it isn’t back-illuminated. It lacks the newer model’s 5-axis image stabilisation and 4K video capture, but it’s still a lot of camera for the money.
Price: £1,599 body only
Sensor: 36.4MP full-frame CMOS
Max resolution: 7360 x 4912 pixels
Sensitivity: ISO 100-204,000
Dimensions: 135.5 x 110 x 85.5mm
Weight: 1,010g with battery and card
Released this year, the K-1 is Pentax’s first full-frame DSLR and its flagship DSLR. With a 36.4MP full-frame CMOS sensor and Pentax’s latest PRIME IV processor, it boasts Pentax’s Pixel Shift Resolution technology that employs the camera’s built-in image stabilisation technology to deliver even more true-to-life colour and finer detail.
Fully weather-sealed, the K-1 is robust and solid. Ergonomics are good, physical controls are plentiful and the 3.2in LCD can be tilted from side to side as well as up and down.
If you’re after a full-frame DSLR but don’t want to break the bank then the K-1 is worth serious consideration.
Canon EOS 80D
Price: £999 body only
Sensor: 24.2MP APS-C CMOS
Max resolution: 6000 x 4000 pixels
Sensitivity: ISO 100-16,00 (exp. to ISO 25,600)
Dimensions: 139.0 x 105.2 x 78.5mm
Weight: 730g with battery and card
The 80D is Canon’s latest double-digit EOS model for enthusiasts. With a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor, it retains the 70D’s innovative Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, whereby each pixel can in effect ‘double up’ as a traditional light-registering photodiode and a phase-detection AF point for enhanced AF performance when the camera is used in live view or video mode.
Despite the lack of weather sealing the 80D’s construction feels solid enough to protect it from accidental bumps.
While Canon has kept the anti-aliasing filter intact, the sensor resolves excellent levels of fine detail at lower and mid-range ISOs.
Fujifilm X-Pro 2
Price: £1,350 body only
Sensor: 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III
Max resolution: 6000 x 4000 pixels
Sensitivity: ISO 200-12,800 (exp. to ISO 100-51,200)
Dimensions: 140.5 x 82.8 x 45.9mm
Weight: 495g with card and battery
The robust, weatherproofed X-Pro2 replaces the X-Pro1 as Fuji’s flagship CSC, and it updates the older model with a range of upgrades and additions, including a new APS-C sized 24MP X-Trans sensor.
The X-Pro 2 lacks an optical viewfinder, but boasts a hybrid viewfinder that combines optical and electronic technologies to very good effect.
Used in optical mode the viewfinder can be set to display a parallax corrected electronic frameline for more precise framing, while the electronic display provides a super-sharp 2.36m-dot resolution and 100% frame coverage. As a CSC it’s also the smallest, lightest camera of all the models here.
Price: £2,140 body only
Sensor: 36.3MP full-frame CMOS
Max resolution: 7360 x 4912 pixels
Sensitivity: ISO 64 – 12,800 (exp to ISO 32-51,200)
Dimensions: 146 x 123 x 81.5mm
Weight: 980g with battery and card
Released in 2014, the Nikon D810 is the oldest model to be featured here, yet it remains a fantastic camera for landscape enthusiasts.
Wth a 36.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor the D810 is capable of resolving fantastic levels of fine detail, though if you want to reduce file sizes enabling the 1.5x crop mode results in a total effective resolution of 14.5MP.
The D810 further benefits from a wide dynamic range that enables it to retain more highlight and shadow detail when faced with high contrast scenes. The D810 benefits from magnesium alloy and weather-sealing and while large and heavy, it is comfortable to hold and controls are well set out.