Landscape photography is a relaxing hobby that allows you to show people how you view the space around you. It's a form of self-expression that is easy to do anywhere in the world, and—contrary to popular belief—you don't have to have a massive budget to get started.
The Best Landscape Photography Equipment for Beginners
I have been doing photography for a long time, and some of my favorite landscape pictures were taken using inexpensive cameras and lenses. While it's fun to read about new tools and gear to buy, I firmly believe the best camera for landscape photography is the one in your hands. That being said, I often get asked to give specific recommendations for cameras, so I have put together a quick guide with some of my favorite gear for landscape pictures.
The Best Camera for Landscape Photography
For landscape photography, a DSLR will almost always outperform a simple point and shoot one for two main reasons. First, they allow you to control important factors such as how fast or how slow a shutter release occurs, which is crucial in many settings. Secondly, they allow for lens changes, which can afford you a wider shot than a standard frame.
Here are some of the best cameras for landscape photos:
Canon EOS Rebel T6. This DSLR is the perfect entry-level camera for a photographer just starting out or wanting to play a bit more than a standard point and shoot. It costs about $400 brand new which includes a basic lens.
Canon EOS Rebel T7. The T7 is the newer version of the T6 and costs about $50 more. That price also gets you the same basic lens at the T6, but as a whole, this camera has a larger sensor which can help with any low-lighting situations. If you have the extra money, I'd recommend this over the T6.
Canon Rebel T7i. The T7i is a substantial step up from the T7, but there's a jump in price-point too. This mid-range camera costs about $700 but is loaded with features such as 24.2 megapixels and full 1080 video if you plan on using your camera to record anything. It's compact but powerful—and certainly a crowd favorite.
Nikon D3400. If you prefer the Nikon brand, this camera is a great entry-level DSLR. It will cost you about $350 brand new with a basic lens. It has a continuous shooting mode that allows you to capture about 5 frames per second, which is important to know if you plan on doing other types of photos as well.
Nikon D3500. This is the next level up from the previous camera. It will cost you about $50 more, but you'll get a camera that is slightly more compact with slightly better features. One notable addition is the use of built-in WiFi to transfer photos to your phone or camera remotely. Again, if you have the extra money, I'd recommend this one over the 3400.
Nikon D5600. If you have a bit more money to invest, this is an excellent mid-level camera. For about $550, you'll get a camera with an impressive 24.2 megapixels and ISO that can range from 100- 25600. ISO is important for those who want to do low-light photography such as shots of the stars or mountains right before dawn.
The Best Landscape Photography Lens
All six cameras listed above come with a basic 18 – 55mm lens. The lower the number is, the wider the camera will be able to see. In landscape photography, a wide lens is an important tool to capture an entire setting, rather than just a part of it. The 18-55 should do a fine job, but if you opt to purchase the camera without a lens and choose an upgraded or different one, here are some landscape photography lenses to consider:
- Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 (for Nikon)
- Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens
- Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5
- Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G
Can't Afford a New Camera for Landscape Photography?
If you simply don't have the budget to buy a new camera, you can still get started doing landscape photos. It'll require a little more out-of-the-box thinking, but that's part of the fun of photography! Here are some other options you can consider instead of a new camera and lens:
- Your Phone. You might be surprised, but the quality of images you can produce if you have a newer phone model is actually pretty high. Of course, you will not have anywhere near the creative control you would with a DSLR, but if you just want to have some fun, give it a try!
- Rent or Borrow. If you have a friend with a camera, ask if you can borrow it for an afternoon and practice shooting photos. You can also rent a camera from online or a local photography shop. This is a great way to test out a camera before committing.
- Purchase a Used Camera. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay are three excellent ways to purchase used landscape photography equipment. Ebay is preferred by some because you can view the ratings for a seller, and many offer return policies. However, Craigslist or Facebook may afford you the most savings—just use caution.
Other Tools that are Helpful for Landscape Photography
Outside of a camera and lens, there are a few other items that will make landscape photography much easier. Again, these items are affordable and easy to come by.
- Tripod. Outside of a camera, a tripod may be the most important tool you can own. Without a tripod, getting those crisp, sharp images can be extremely difficult (and near impossible in low light settings). Tripods can be found for extremely affordable prices, particularly used ones.
- Backpack. As you accumulate more gear, a photography backpack will become a need, but in the beginning, it is more for convenience. If you are planning on hiking or traveling out somewhere to take landscape photos, it is a lot easier to place items in a padded photography backpack than carry each item in your hands.
- Items for Inclement Weather. If you plan on being outside for a long time to get that perfect shot, be prepared for anything. An umbrella, poncho, jacket and/or a camera cover will keep both you and your gear safe and protected.
- An L Plate. This handy little tool lets you change between portrait and landscape on your tripod easily.
- Snack and Water. When you are the hunt for that perfect shot, you will likely be outside for quite some time. Be prepared with food and water—you don’t want to have to give up on a good shot.
Landscape Photography Tips for Beginners
Now that you are all set with your gear, let's talk about how you are going to use it all to create amazing landscape photography.
Where are Good Places to Take Landscape Pictures?
The best thing about taking landscape photos is that literally anywhere can be a great spot to shoot! However, if you need a few ideas about where to begin, these are some of my favorite spots for landscape pictures.
Popular Destinations/Iconic Images. Many people decide to try landscape photography out when traveling to a popular destination they wish to capture. If you feel a bit overwhelmed by crowds, or want to try a different angle, try to take photos of places that aren’t considered the norm. Such as, when you go to a beach town, take photos of the unique houses there rather than just the coastline to take more personalized photos.
Botanic Gardens and Parks. Your city's botanic garden or a local park can be the perfect spot to practice taking photos. During the right time of day, you'll also find them vacated and free for shooting.
Local Nature Reserves. Many cities have nature reserves or hiking areas. Choose one and go off the beaten path to get unique shots. Various types of terrain such as hills, marshlands and rivers can lead to new views and excellent shots.
Area Highlights. Every area has something they are known for, from mountains to prairies. Whether you shoot lakes, deserts, rivers, or hills, they are all photographable and can be visually stunning.
Quick Tips for Landscape Photos
- Try a new angle. Instead of shooting at eye-level, get down on the ground or up higher.
- Use a long exposure. Instead of a quick shot, try a long exposure to get a different effect. This is especially fun to do around water.
- Don't be afraid to include people. Just because you are doing landscape photography does not mean people can't be in your images. People (and animals) are in landscapes all the time and can be part of visual interest.
- Play with your focus. Try focusing on different parts of the scene in front of you. If you are shooting in a field of flowers, focus on a bud and take a few snaps, then focus on the flower three feet in front of you to get a different angle.
- Play with your editing. After you take your images and upload them to your computer, you can try different effects such as black and white or boosting color slightly.
Landscape photography is an easy, convenient and fun way to create lasting memories, document the world around you and flex some creative muscles. Thankfully with today's digital world, you have nothing to lose—if you don't like the shoot, just delete and try again. Have fun and enjoy!