Welcome to your ultimate guide and advisor for your new landscape photography camera. This article is about finding the best camera for landscape photography for you. One right upfront. Of course, there isn’t one perfect camera for all photographers. Rather, it depends on how and where you want to be with the camera, what you plan to do with the pictures after they have been taken. And what your personal requirements for quality, weight, price, and many other criteria and their weighting are for you. Therefore this article can only be my personal opinion and experiences of the last 15 years and pass them on to you as advice and purchase recommendation.
Sony a7R III Mirrorless Camera
|42.4MP Full-Frame, Front End LSI Image, 3″ LCD Screen, Processor, High-Resolution 4K HDR Video||Check On Amazon|
Panasonic Lumix G7
|4K Digital Camera, 16 Megapixel, Lumix G VARIO 14-42mm Mega O.I.S. Lens, 3-Inch LCD, DMC-G7KK (Black)||Check On Amazon|
|FX-format; High Resolution; 45.7 megapixels; full-frame 4K UHD; dedicated AF processor||Check On Amazon|
- Criteria for the Best Camera for Landscape Photography
- Our Selection of the Best Camera for Landscape Photography
- Sony Alpha 7R III: Best camera for Dynamic Range
- Canon EOS 5Ds R: Best Camera for Nature Photography Beginner
- Nikon D850: Best Video Camera for Shooting Nature
- Fuji GFX 100: Best Camera for Landscape Photography
- Nikon Z7: Best Affordable Camera for Landscape Photography
- Panasonic LUMIX G DMC-G70: Best Camera for Nature and Wildlife Photography
- Nikon D5600 for Landscape Photography
- Canon EOS 800D: Best Camera for Landscape Photography Under $1000
Criteria for the Best Camera for Landscape Photography
There are many different criteria that make a good camera. Naturally, these are slightly different and weighted differently for each photographer. I chose the criteria here based on my experience of the last 15 years in the field of landscape photography and what is important to me in a camera.
The seven Evaluation Criteria
I’ve been out and about with my cameras a lot in recent years. Countless strenuous mountain hikes on foot, many very, very long road trips. The cameras always had to endure a lot. From sandstorms in the desert to beautiful forests and fields, to wet and cold caves in Iceland with icy spray water, pretty much all types of landscape were there. With the knowledge of this time and my experience, I have selected the seven evaluation criteria dynamic range, megapixels, image quality, weight, price, selection of lenses, and operation.
1# Dynamic Range
The dynamic range of a camera or the sensor of the camera describes the amount of light that it can absorb in one exposure. If you have ever had completely black or white areas with no drawing in the picture while taking a picture, you know what I’m talking about. You can’t get anything out of that in post-production either. This is why a high dynamic range is so important. The human eye can pick up around 20 f-stops of light, the best cameras currently 14.8 f-stops. You can also work around the problem with gray graduated filters or multiple exposures, but this is more complicated and takes longer.
Sometimes you just don’t have the time to calmly set up the tripod and take several exposures of the same scene, but it has to be done quickly.
When it has to go that fast, every move should be perfect. You should have a basic understanding of the interaction between shutter speed, aperture, and ISO as well as reading the histogram.
How many megapixels for landscape photography? The sheer number of megapixels does not directly correlate with the image quality but is important nonetheless. As a pure hobby photographer, you can almost ignore the resolution of the camera. Pretty much every camera that you can buy these days has a resolution sufficient to make at least A4 prints.
Calculation example and illustration!
A small sample calculation to illustrate this. Suppose you want to print out a photo that is 20 x 30 cm. This corresponds roughly to the standard size DIN A4 (210 mm x 297 mm). To generate this size in 300 DPI, you need a resolution of 3508 x 2480 pixels, which corresponds to approximately ~ 8.6 megapixels.
Example cameras and resolutions
For comparison and so that you get a better impression, here are a few cameras and their resolution. The Canon 5DS, which is second in this comparison, has a total of 8688 x 5792 pixels. The Sony A6300 generates files with 6000 x 4000 pixels. The Sony A7RII displays an impressive 7952 x 5304 pixels. With the current cameras, a much larger print than the normal magazine cover size DIN A4 is easily possible. That should be enough in most cases.
Poster DIN A2 and DPI
If you want to print posters from your photos, e.g. a DIN A2 print in 300 dpi, this corresponds to a size of 420 x 594 mm and 4961 x 7016 pixels. The larger your prints, posters, or even posters are to be, the less DPI you need for it. The reason for this is that our eyes can only see extremely fine details when we stand close. That’s why a large poster needs less DPI than a small one. It is usually viewed from further away as a small picture. By the way, DPI is the unit of measurement for the resolution in print and is called “dots per inch” or translated as “dots per inch”.
Tip: not all megapixels are created equal. The pure resolution is no guarantee of quality and cannot easily be compared across devices. The photos of a 40+ megapixel cell phone camera are always subject to those of a single-lens reflex or system camera. The reason for this is the sensor size.
3# Picture Quality
The image quality of a camera depends on many different factors. The noise behavior and the associated lowest native ISO value of the sensor of a camera play an important role.
In general, the larger the sensor in a camera, the better the image quality and the noise behavior of the photos and their image data. But not everyone needs this quality too. It depends on your own requirements and what you have to do with the created images afterward.
Sensor Size and Image Quality
Due to their size, full-frame sensors generally deliver a higher image quality than crop (APS-C / DX) sensors or even cell phone cameras. Cameras in cell phones now have a high number of megapixels, but they have a relatively small sensor, so that the actual image quality often cannot keep up with the manufacturers’ marketing promises. The larger the sensor, the greater the quality of the image data.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Another advantage of the full format cameras is the higher dynamic range compared to the smaller APS-C sensors. Of course, they also have disadvantages, such as the higher price and usually a higher weight. The crop sensor cameras score here. They are easier to carry on long mountain tours and cheaper, as are the corresponding lenses and other accessories. With a direct comparison of the same focal length, you have less distortion due to the smaller image section. The smaller sensors also achieve more depth of field more easily than large sensors, which are used, especially in classic landscape photography, to build up images (near-to-far image composition) more focus stacking is necessary to have the photo in focus in all areas. The smaller sensors definitely have their advantages in nature photography.
Tip: You can find out more about sharpening photos for print, website and social media here
You have to weigh up these advantages and disadvantages for yourself, which is more important to you personally. I started with a Nikon Crop, then later switched to Canon full format. Due to the high dynamic range of the cameras, back to Nikon, but then also in full format. I’ve been on the road with this setup for many years now and I’m very satisfied.
Excursus: Crop factor
Crop factor: A little digression at this point. The conversion factor of the focal lengths (i.e. the image section to be seen) between full format and crop sensors is slightly different from manufacturer to manufacturer. For Canon (APS-C) it is 1.6, for Nikon (DX) and Sony it is 1.5 compared to the 35mm full format (for Nikon FX). High-end compact cameras and small system cameras of the CX-format have a factor of 2.7.
Ok, but what exactly does that mean now? This means that if you have taken a wide-angle image composition with a 16mm focal length on a full-format camera and want to photograph the same image section with a Canon crop camera, you need a 10mm wide-angle lens. That means 10mm on a crop sensor corresponds to 16mm on a full-format sensor, since 10*1.6 = 16.
Noise behavior (ISO value)
The noise behavior or image noise in the image file generated by the camera is extremely important for the image quality. It should be as low as possible. Here, too, the size of the sensor, but also other factors, play an important role. So pay attention to the native ISO value of the camera. This should tend to be as low as possible. Most cameras default to ISO100. With the cameras of the Nikon D800 series, however, it is, for example, at ISO64 and can be expanded to ISO32. If you use this native ISO value for your recordings, the camera will have its best noise behavior. This means that if possible, there is no noise to be seen in the photo.
If your images are contaminated by too much image noise, it no longer makes sense to print them out in large size and they are also more likely to be rejected for sale by resellers, editors and art directors, etc. because they pay attention to very high image quality for their customers.
High ISO value
Not only the lowest ISO value of a camera is important, but the highest also plays a not insignificant role. It is not without reason that camera manufacturers try to outdo each other with each camera generation. You need the highest possible ISO value in order to be able to increase the sensor sensitivity, i.e. the ISO value, in situations with little light in order to keep the shutter speed as low as possible (with constant aperture and sharpness).
Situations, where you use a high ISO, include party photos in poorly lit rooms without a tripod, night photography, and, as a subspecies, photographing northern lights (or aurora borealis) in the northern night sky. You use a tripod and you have all the time in the world to expose the photo, but then the dance of the falling lights looks very blurry and no longer perceptible. So you want to keep the exposure time as short as possible. Depending on the situation, moon phase and ambient light, usually between about 6 to 12 seconds. The image shown here was exposed for 15 seconds at ISO800 and aperture F / 2.8. The 100 percent section shows the noise behavior at an ISO value of 800 and is therefore already relatively visible.
Since you don’t just want to sit on the couch at home with the brand new camera and marvel and admire it as the holy grail. But also want to get out into nature and take photos, the weight plays a not insignificant role for the transport of the equipment.
Camera, lenses and accessories
It starts with the camera and basically the weight of the rest of your photo equipment is based on it. Be it the lenses, tripods, filters, batteries, the required backpack, and other accessories. The housing of a large full-frame professional camera alone can weigh twice as much as an entry-level crop camera. Then there are correspondingly heavier lenses. Good “glass” has its price and also its weight. This total weight of the camera + lens must then be able to be held by a tripod. Above all, its plate on the tripod.
Stand with sufficient load capacity
After my system change, I had a rather dangerous situation at the Wolfswarte in the Harz Mountains when the large Nikon camera with the very heavy Nikkor 14-24mm (almost 1kg) simply folded forward during a long-term exposure in portrait format and almost fell over with its tripod. Then I bought a more stable tripod, which is of course heavier to carry.
Hiking and air travel
So if you want to go on a lot of strenuous mountain hikes and have to carry a lot of equipment up the mountain anyway, choosing a smaller and therefore lighter camera may be better for you. Since image quality and dynamic range are more important to me personally, I accept the higher weight and see it as free training for the legs and back. Even if it’s annoying sometimes!
When traveling by air, due to the high weight, I often had problems getting all of my equipment in just one backpack in my hand luggage. This then had to be divided among several people or you had to overcome with a heavy heart and leave some lenses or accessories and extras at home. Not an easy decision.
As with most things in our lives, the price also plays a role in the decision-making process when buying a camera. How many services do I get for as little money as possible? Or one wonders what is an outstanding image quality or enormous ISO values and a low weight worth to me. That of course depends on the purpose of the camera and what you plan to do with the pictures.
If you want to make a living from selling your photos and now or later earn your money with them, you shouldn’t necessarily save on the image quality and buy the cheapest possible camera.
In case, if your focus is more on extended trips and capturing memories and holiday impressions, an entry-level low-budget camera can be useful for you. You should invest the money saved in experiences.
The actual price of a camera must therefore be viewed in relative terms.
6# Lens Selection
If you are interested in one of the cameras presented in this article, you will most likely want to use the best prime lenses for landscape photography. Otherwise, you could opt for a bridge camera or the Leica presented below with a permanently installed lens.
For the market leaders Canon and Nikon, there are enough original lenses directly from the manufacturer for almost all camera models. When it comes to the sheer range, Canon has the lead when it comes to lenses. The lenses of the L series, such as the Canon L 16-35mm, also produce the most beautiful sun stars when the aperture is closed.
As for the sharpness to the very edges of the picture, I am still convinced of the quality of the Nikkor 14-24mm. If you are used to other things and then open a picture taken with this lens to 100%, it really knocks you out and you have to see that you can finally get your mouth shut again.
Originals and alternatives
Sony has followed suit very well in recent years and has also set up a large range of original lenses for its mirrorless system cameras. There is a little lack of alternatives compared to the other two manufacturers. You have to decide for yourself whether this is even important to you.
Focal length and Aperture
Whether this point plays a major role for you or not also depends on whether you want to experiment a lot or already know exactly what and with what you want to photograph in the future. Especially at the beginning you try out one or the other lens and then realize after a while that you are no longer using it. Be it a fixed focal length with a large aperture and beautiful bokeh or a macro lens or a very long telephoto lens.
When choosing a lens, it is important that there are very good lenses, directly from the manufacturer or from a third party, in your preferred focal length ranges.
7# Operation (haptics, menu)
Even among landscape photographers who work most of the time on a tripod, the feel of the camera plays a certain role. It just has to feel good in the hand and suit you. Due to the high dynamic range of my camera, the built-in internal sensor stabilizer in combination with the lens image stabilizer, you need the tripod much less than before and therefore you have the camera in your hand more often and longer.
Much more important than how the camera feels in your hand, however, is that you can operate it quickly and precisely, as if you were sleeping and with your eyes closed. The menu should be clear, you can create favorite settings and profiles and the concept should be easy to understand.
Concept has to suit you!
There are also different tastes and preferences. For example, I like the Nikon concept with the two dials on the top right of the housing. Somehow I missed that at Canon. Others will probably bother the two wheels again and feel at home and in good hands with Canon. You can only find out by trying.
It is important that you like the operating concept and that handling the camera is second nature to you.
Our Selection of the Best Camera for Landscape Photography
Sony Alpha 7R III: Best camera for Dynamic Range
- High resolution 42.4 MP
- Inspiring Shooting speeds
- Lens compatibility
- Long battery life
- Best ergonomics
- Fantastic autofocus system
- No built-in intervalometer
- A bit expensive but worth the cost
The Sony Alpha 7R III is the first full-frame system camera with a back-illuminated sensor. The current camera in Sony’s range of DSLM cameras, the Sony A7R III, combines the compact size and low weight of a system camera with the quality of the 35mm full format Exmor R CMOS sensor. It offers a strong 42.4 megapixels and of course the possibility to use interchangeable lenses. The great advantages of this camera are, thanks to the good sensor, the large dynamic range, and the low weight of the camera.
Sony is currently constantly expanding the range of lenses for this system. If you don’t need or want that many megapixels, you can alternatively get the Sony A7 III. It offers 24.2 megapixels with otherwise identical equipment and performance features, but at a significantly lower price.
Canon EOS 5Ds R: Best Camera for Nature Photography Beginner
- Higher resolution images
- Effective megapixels CMOS sensor
- High-Density Reticular AF
- Low-pass filter (LPF) effect cancellation
- Fine edge sharpness
- Advanced Mirror control mechanism
- There’s no wifi built-in
- Only work with EF lenses
The Canon 5DS R is Canon’s number one landscape photography DSLR camera. It is a bit lighter than the direct Nikon competitor and has an outstanding range of many good interchangeable lenses directly from Canon and many third-party suppliers. The large sensor offers an unbelievable 50.6 megapixels and thus a gigantic wealth of detail for your pictures. You can then have them printed in a very large format and licensed.
If you don’t want this high resolution, Canon also offers the slightly lighter and one year younger Canon EOS 5D Mark IV as an alternative with 30.4 megapixels. Since I’ve been on the road with a Canon full-format camera myself for a number of years, I can more than confirm their good feel. Even today my hands itchy whenever I see a 5Ds R or a 5D Mark IV and I would love to use the camera again. Not only does it look beefy and compact, but it is also simply great in the hand.
Nikon D850: Best Video Camera for Shooting Nature
The Nikon D850 is for me the absolute flagship of all cameras in the highly competitive market for landscape photography DSLR cameras. Since the legendary D800 and D800E appeared on the market without a low-pass filter, but with an outstanding dynamic range, I have been using these Nikon full-frame cameras and am personally very satisfied with them. The latest generation of this series offers up to 9 frames per second at full resolution and a strong 45.7 megapixels and – as usual – an impressively high dynamic range.
Thanks to the high ISO sensitivity between 64 and 25,600 (expandable to 32 to 102,400), it masters all low-light situations without any problems and can record 4K UHD videos without a crop factor. Those who are satisfied with 36.3 megapixels and want to experience the comfort of the same large dynamic range can opt for the excellent predecessor, the Nikon D810, and save a lot of money.
Fuji GFX 100: Best Camera for Landscape Photography
Fuji also plays in the medium format for the landscape camera segment. It has brought a very good camera onto the market with the GFX100. The large 102MP CMOS sensor is even image stabilized. According to the manufacturer, up to 5.5 f-stops, which means that longer exposure times are possible without a tripod. And you can still take pictures by hand in difficult lighting conditions and still get sharp pictures. With a weight of 1.4 kg, it is even relatively light in its area.
Nikon Z7: Best Affordable Camera for Landscape Photography
- Revolutionary optical performance
- 4K Ultra-HD video
- Compatible with lenses
- The XQD cards are outrageously expensive
- The Z7’s very low light AF performance is good, but not as good as the 850s.
The Nikon Z7 system camera (DSLM) is quite new on the market. In terms of performance and quality, it is comparable to the test winner Nikon D850. But currently, it has a small selection (currently 2) of native Nikon and third-party lenses for the Nikon Z system. In addition, it has a little less dynamic range than the D800 series cameras. However, it scores points over the winner with the 5-aperture image stabilizer (instead of 3 on the D850). Its small size and correspondingly small pack size, its gigantic viewfinder with real-time histogram, and the practically non-existent sensor dust. The auto focus is not yet on the level of the DSLR competitors. Therefore it is not a camera for animal or sports photography. For pure landscape photography.
Panasonic LUMIX G DMC-G70: Best Camera for Nature and Wildlife Photography
- 4K video recording
- A better choice for high image quality
- A high visibility viewfinder
- Maximum focus point
- High-speed AF with DFD technology
- Cheap price
- Auto focus is a little sluggish
The Panasonic LUMIX G DMC-G70 is a handy and versatile system camera. The sensor has a good 16 megapixels and a very good image quality. The housing offers an OLED viewfinder and LCD touchscreen. As an inexpensive all-around entry-level camera, you can also record Ultra HD videos with it. What sets it apart from other cameras is extremely fast auto focus. So if you want to do wildlife or sports photography in addition to landscapes, this camera could be your entry point. If you already have other suitable lenses for this Panasonic camera system, the choice for this camera should be even easier.
Nikon D5600 for Landscape Photography
The Nikon D5600 is an absolute top entry-level SLR camera from the industry giant Nikon. This means that there is also a large selection of very good interchangeable lenses available. What also sets it apart is the 24.2-megapixel DX CMOS sensor and a standard ISO sensitivity between 100 and 25,600 ISO. Those who like frippery will not miss out either. The camera is SnapBridge compatible, ie controllable via Bluetooth and WiFi. It also offers a 3.2-inch tilting / rotating touch monitor. The camera is a bit like my very first DSLR, the Nikon D80, and reminds me of it.
Canon EOS 800D: Best Camera for Landscape Photography Under $1000
The Canon 800D SLR digital camera is a perfect introduction to the world of DSLR cameras. The manufacturer Canon, as well as many other third-party providers, let you choose from a whole hodgepodge of different lenses and many useful accessories for this camera. The 800D offers a large 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor with very solid image quality with many fine details. In addition, the camera has an optical viewfinder with 45 cross-type AF measuring fields, which ensures fast autofocus even in low light. As usual with Canon, the camera is quick and easy to use and offers continuous shooting at a maximum speed of 6 frames per second, which is fine for landscape photography. Absolutely top is the 5-axis image stabilizer, which protects against camera shake when taking pictures without a tripod.
There are many very good cameras on the market. The manufacturers are constantly developing these further and improving functions, handling and responding to customer requirements. You can’t really go wrong when you buy a modern DSLR or DSLM camera these days. They’re all pretty good now. It just depends on your personal preferences, what your subjects are, and what is important to you on a camera.
In addition to the good (if possible sealed) housing and sensor, the lenses are particularly important. It can be worthwhile to look at the second-hand market for slightly aged top cameras with relatively few releases and to invest the money saved in good lenses and travel.
If you don’t want to go wrong at all, my clear recommendation to buy the flagship among landscape photography cameras is the Nikon D850. It offers absolutely everything that you can expect and need from the best camera for landscape photography. Namely robustness and the highest dynamic range that is currently available on the market (for an acceptable price). In addition, there are enough megapixels for the later sale and licensing of the images and of course top lenses for every purpose.