So you have decided to pursue landscape photography, and are about to spend some serious amount of money (or not, it can be done on a budget). We will help you identify the best investments you can make for your new venture.
You do not need to buy everything mentioned in the list but do go through it and try to understand what might work best for you. Remember, you can always upgrade gear down the road as well. Maybe you want to start off with a basic tripod or entry level camera. Practice with those for a few years, then get the next step up.
Here are the best landscape photography investments you can make:
Disclosure: Some of these links are affiliate links for Amazon, Adobe & Peak Design themselves. I’ll make a small commission if you purchase any items from these links.
1. The Perfect Camera
If you are serious about jumping into landscape photography, ditch the smartphone and get a good-quality camera, like a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Smartphone images work for things like social media where the image is on a small screen but when you want to start printing off your images or having more editing capabilities, you’re gonna want something more than a smartphone.
You can adjust the settings according to your liking and capture the image with your personal touch. Most smartphones do have the ability to change certain manual settings, but big cameras make it a lot easier and you can actually see a quality difference in the resulting image.
The Nikon D850 is a perfect professional level camera and one of the best landscape photography investments you can make. With it being a professional level camera, you can easily use it for family sessions, wedding and other niches if you wanted to try something different down the road.
It’s a full frame camera with a super high resolution of 45.7 megapixels making it a favorite of landscape photographers. It’s also an upgrade to my workhorse camera, the Nikon D750, so I’m a little biased towards Nikon! But there’s also plenty of other brands and options like; FujiFilm, Canon, Sony, Panasonic, among others. If you’re on the hunt for something a little more budget friendly or for more info use my post, choosing your first camera, to help.
2. A Solid Lens (Or Two)
It would help if you had a camera and lens that complement each other to capture that perfect moment in nature. Thus, to get the cleanest and sharpest images, you need a lens that would mesh best with the above mentioned Nikon D850.
The Nikon 14-24mm F2.8 is one of those lens and is fully compatible with Nikon D850. It is undoubtedly among the best landscape photography investments you will be making on this journey. Between an ultra wide-angle lens and full-frame capabilities of Nikon D850, you will have the finest equipment to capture mesmerizing shots of nature.
You may also want to pair that another lens. You can go with an all purpose Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and/or zoom lens Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 for a long reach.
And again, the above mentioned zoom lens are Nikon specifically and can cost a pretty penny because they are professional grade. There are many other options, especially the type lens I’m about to mention below.
You can also get a 24mm prime lens (which doesn’t zoom) and a 50mm prime lens to go the lighter weight/cheaper route. That’s how I prefer it. Read more about prime lens here.
3. Filter It!
Filters protect the lens glass while also managing glare and enhancing colors. Doing so does not affect the image quality. And you can change filters depending on what you want the result of the photograph to be.
Here are some filters that you might want check out:
- Polarizing Filter – To reduce reflection
- Neutral Density Filter – To reduce the light coming into the lens
- Graduated Neutral Density Filter – Used to manage contrasts in case of high contrast situations
- Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter – To shoot against the sun
Playing around with filters gives you the freedom to get your desired outcome. Especially out on the beach or in the mountains where the foreground image is a different brightness compared to the background. Or maybe too bright overall. Read more about filters here.
4. A Dependable Tripod
There are a wide variety of tripods available in the market. With varying qualities, uses, weight, etc so they have a wide range of costs.
In the case of landscape photography, you will often end up on strange terrains, possible strong winds and maybe crappy weather. It is good to invest in a decent tripod to keep your camera steady and secure.
When investing in a tripod, be mindful of the following things:
- It’s carrying capacity
- The weight of the tripod
- The type of head
- How the legs adjust
- Size of the tripod when broken down
For a tripods carrying capacity, you should be safe with most standard tripods. The only time, you’ll likely need to consider it is when you’re interested in buying smaller travel tripods that may have bendy legs so they wrap around things, like the Joby Gorillapod. Which have their uses, but maybe not as a good first tripod investment.
The weight of the tripod can greatly vary along with the size of the tripod when it’s broken down. Higher end travel tripods are made of carbon fiber so they’re a lot lighter weight and they may be better engineered to pack smaller.
Some tripod legs are adjustable and locked using clips, while others maybe screw/turn based. That typically comes down to preference.
Overall, this gadget will be holding your precious equipment, so do not try to be stingy here. But if you have to, just know that it likely won’t be the lightest or easiest to pack, so plan ahead.
If you’re looking for suggestions, we recommend you buy the Manfrotto 055XPRO3, a full-size tripod that can hold up to 9kg/19.8lb of load. Although it can’t be considered travel-friendly, it is a fine piece of equipment to keep your expensive camera and lens steady. Or the Peak Design Travel Tripod if you’re looking for something more travel friendly. I reviewed mine here.
5. A Lightweight Yet Sturdy Camera Bag
As a landscape photographer, you will find yourself traveling, hiking up the mountains or wondering a lovely beach quite often. You can’t drag around your material everywhere you go. Keep a lightweight photography bag with you to carry things around and make them easier to get a hold of.
You’ll likely need to carry more than just the camera, lens, tripod and filters you are using. You may need it to carry a few essentials, like a rain jacket, snacks or even a drone if thats your thing.
There’s a ton of camera backpacks out there but I’ll first point you in the direction of the super popular Lowepro ProTactic 450. Or the Peak Design Everyday Backpack. These are both really solid bags with a good amount of storage, great cushioning and even decent weather protection.
6. Software for Editing
Ideally, you may be the photographer that wants capture the perfect image through your lens up front and not have to edit at all. I don’t quite shoot that way, I like bringing my images into Adobe Lightroom after a photo adventure.
Editing software can be one of the best landscape photography investments thats not often considered an investment. But it definitely is.
Although Lightroom is subscription based, you make the payment once a month. Then you yield significant benefits like producing better images and workflow efficiency.
I’ve recently posted How to Use Lightroom – A Photographer’s Beginner Guide if you purchase it, then want to learn more about it.
There’s also Capture One, which is another popular photo editing software. I really like how it handles my Fujifilm RAW files. It’s got a few different features and ways to do things when compared to Lightroom but it’s also really popular and well liked. It can also be paid in full vs the monthly subscription style of Lightroom.
7. Invest In Yourself
There….I said it!
As cheesy as you make think this sounds, it’s actually quite valuable. Invest in learning and improving your skills. Always practice. The time you spend outside running around and “playing” with camera settings can add up over time.
You’ll develop a set of indispensable skills or maybe a unique style.
Maybe you’ll find you have a nack for selling prints and working with big galleries to get your images put up on the walls.
Or you get hired by your favorite outdoor brand to take some pictures for their next big marketing campaign.
The possibilities are endless!
Try not to get overwhelmed if you’re worried about making the right investments. You’ll figure it out and get it all squared away. As a landscape photographer, you hold the reins, you can take your time.
Invest in the gear and invest in yourself. You got this!